Hi! I’m Melissa from Sew BitterSweet Designs. Thank you Sara for inviting me to be part of Purse Palooza. I have been needing a new purse for…ok, for forever! This was the kick I needed to actually make myself something new. Of course, after all the fabulous purses I have seen during purse palooza, I might need more than just one! I am reviewing the Boutique Shoulder Bag, by Bella Nonna.
First off the pattern is written for 2 different sizes, I made the large bag. I have a toddler and need to fit a lot of “stuff” into my bag. I used all quilting weight fabrics. The pattern calls for fusible interfacing (44″ wide pellon fusible feather weight) and fusible fleece. As well as 1.5″ D rings, a purse magnet and 7-mesh plastic needlepoint canvas for the bottom of the bag – this gives it stability and a nice shape. I bought a kit so everything was included. You will notice in the picture below that there are a lot more fabrics than what I used…I ended up not making the casing and tie the pattern calls for, it just isn’t my style. I also swapped out the handle fabric that came with my pattern for a solid black. I felt it suited me a little better.
The pattern comes with 2 pattern pieces (one for the large bag and one for the small bag) and a diagram of how to layout your fabric for cutting. There was also a pattern piece for cutting the curve on the gusset pieces. Everything is clearly marked. I traced all of my pieces onto freezer paper so that I could reuse the pattern over again.
Illustrations/Instructions (were the instructions easy to understand? Were there step-by-step photos or graphics? Was anything unclear?)
Let me start out by saying that I am a visual learner. This pattern has 2 diagrams for the entire pattern. There were several times while constructing this bag that I wanted to throw in the towel and turn all of the fabrics into a quick quilt! Now, that being said. The bag has been successfully constructed. I think the most unclear part is constructing the out side of the bag body and the cutting of the gusset. You are instructed to do this twice and can I just say that some fusible web and extra interfacing saved the bag. The lining portion is written perfectly, if you purchase this pattern, follow the lining instructions for the inside and outside of the bag. The only other unclear section is attaching the handles. I ended up doing this wrong, using my seam ripper and then pulling out one of my own patterns to see how I have done it in the past. As I said, I’m a visual learner and there were no diagrams for this part of the pattern.
The only modification I made was not including the casing and the tie with the bag. It just really isn’t my personality. The main changes I would make to the pattern is how the handles and tabs are attached to the bag. I would have attached the D rings and tabs to the bag, turned the bag inside out and then attached the handles to the D rings, the next time I make one of these bags, that is how I will do it. I did make the tie, I just decided not to use it. I would also change the directions for the gusset and the outer bag construction.
There are a couple of skills that I have never done before in this bag: D rings, purse magnets, both very easy. However, due to the issues with how the pattern reads and the fact that there are only 2 diagrams, I would say it is a medium level bag. It is not a purse you want to make as your first, simply because I think attaching the handles without a diagram and unclear instructions may put a person off making purses forever.
I would totally make this bag again because at the end of the day, I am really happy with the results and I now know how to make it. I would like to add that I love how the pockets are constructed and attached for this bag and I can see using the method in other bags as well. Once you make the bag and get over the learning curve you are good to go. I would really like to make the smaller version for the day when I don’t have to carry a fold up potty chair in my purse!