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R.Kay Design: My Amy Butler Bag Was Bigger Than Expected

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Amy Butler Bag Was Bigger Than Expected

Finished Cosmos Bag - Gorgeous!
Last Saturday I went down to High Fashion Fabrics here in Houston to purchase some Amy Butler fabric. It was really fun and exciting and I brought home three projects.

My first project is the Amy Butler Cosmos Bag...and what a beautiful big bag it is. The pattern is in her book "Amy Butler's Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags". In fact, I think it's such a wonderful bag that I purchased some Michael Miller fabric to make a second one, since I was shopping for fabric anyway <<wink>>.

Amy Butler Style Stitches Book
So, Saturday night I started cutting. I spent a couple hours and got everything but the interfacing cut out. Then Sunday morning, I spent another hour or so cutting out the interfacing. Then it was time to steam fuse the interfacing to all the pieces, that took at least 2-1/2 hours. Finally, it was time to sew. I sewed for at least 4 hours throughout the afternoon and into the evening and the bag STILL wasn't finished.

Monday night I spent 2-3 hours and again on Tuesday, another 3-4 hours. Finally, it was finished and gorgeous.

During Construction-Exterior and Lining Side-by-Side
How many hours? Not including the time it took to go to High Fashion and pick out the fabric, I spent about 10 hours making this bag.

Conclusion...I will never make this bag again. It takes too much time. It's absolutely gorgeous and was fun to make. It will make whoever buys it super happy, but I'm trying to make a little money by selling on ETSY and spending this much time on one item is not a good return on my time invested.

I'll have to figure out what to do with the Michael Miller fabric I bought to make a second Cosmos, any suggestions?

I'll take photos for ETSY on Saturday when I can use the morning light. Then I'll get it posted. It's going to make someone very happy.


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At May 28, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Riva said...

Good to know!! Thanks for posting. BTW - Cute fabric choices!

At May 29, 2011 at 10:55 AM , Blogger Reba said...

Thanks Riva. You know, the patterns in Amy Butler's Style Stitches book are really hard to follow. I was making the Everything Clutch yesterday and her instructions for making the insert that holds cards is just convoluted. The measurements for folding are wrong and it took me WAY longer than it should have. If she had just put a pattern piece in the book for it (which she did not, there was only 1 pattern piece for that purse - the flap) and marked where the folds go, I'd been on my merry way. But no, instead she put the wrong measurements and left me to figure it all out. Not good. It really makes me think twice about buying any of her $12 patterns, I don't think so. I'll make my own first! But I do love her designs.

At May 30, 2011 at 2:34 PM , Blogger Samantha said...

Her antique clutch bag pattern is a pain to follow too.....It seems to me, the bigger the name in textile designs, the worse the patterns are to follow!

At May 30, 2011 at 5:30 PM , Blogger Reba said...

Thanks for letting me know Samantha, but I doubt I'll every make another pattern of hers. I tried to finish the clutch last night and the credit card insert that took me so long to make made it impossible to sew in the lining. I figured I'd just have to forget selling it. But after a good night's sleep, I decided to take it apart, remove the insert for the credit cards (who needs 16 slots for credit cards anyway), and put it all back together - voila! It looks great now. Oh, and the way she instructs on putting in the zip pocket, horrible.

I bought Lisa Lam's book - Bag Making Bible - her instructions are much better. But...the designs aren't as good.

I'll post the clutch soon.


At June 1, 2011 at 6:49 PM , Blogger Chibiko said...

I love this bag. It looks like a masterpiece! I love the fabric too! Now I wish I would have paid more attention when my Mom was trying to teach me to sew. :)

At June 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM , Blogger Heather said...

If it makes you feel any better it would probably take me a solid month to have finished it. It is a beautiful bag. Great fabric :)

At June 2, 2011 at 7:10 AM , Blogger Reba said... guys are really sweet! Thanks. My daughter loves it too, I need to hide it from her.

At June 6, 2011 at 12:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have tried twice to sew this bag. Both times I get stuck on the very last step in sewing the inside to the outside- especially the inside handles. How did you understand the directions? I was completely lost too. Thank goodness I know a little about sewing or I would have been completely lost for the whole thing.

I want to work my way through the whole book but that first bag does not give me good hope for the rest.

Any advice would be great.

Thank you! I am new to the bloging world so fogive my lack on knowledge on how to post comments. (I have tried this 3 times now, only way it will let me post is by annonymous!).

-Your newest follower Kaitlyn

At June 6, 2011 at 7:52 PM , Blogger Reba said...

OMG - I just typed all my instructions and the hit backspace to correct a misspelling and the whole thing was gone. I can't believe I lost it all. I'll sit back down after dinner and redo it. Don't worry Kaitlyn, I want to see if I can help.


At June 6, 2011 at 10:24 PM , Anonymous Reba @ Nikki Rae's said...

Okay Kaitlyn, I'll try again.

I take it you have the exterior and lining done. With the exterior right-side out and the lining wrong-side out, place the exterior inside the lining. Put the handle pieces together right-sides together.

Now, if you hold the handle up in front of you, you will see there is a hole where you would put your arm if you were going to carry it on your shoulder. DO NOT sew in the hole, sew only on the outside of the handles. Match up everything and sew continuously all the way over the top of the handles and down the sides of the handles, along the side of the purse where the tall pockets are going over to the other handle. All one long continuous seam.

Now put your hand in between the fabric in the armhole area where you didn't sew - and turn the purse right-side out. You will end up with the exterior (right-side out) in one hand and the lining (right-side out) in the other. Push the lining into the purse to the place it will be when the purse is finished.

You now need to iron down the turned seam on the handle and sides and top-stitch where you just sewed.

To finish you need to iron while turning the raw edges in the armhole. You might need to clip the curves in order for them to fold and iron down flat, just don't clip too deep. Pin the folded/ironed edges together as you iron. Top-stitch the armhole area of the handle and you'll be finished.

Let me know if I made sense - I can post picture on another blog post if you don't get it. Hope this helps.


At June 8, 2011 at 3:21 PM , Blogger Kaitlyn said...

Reba, it did and it didnt at the same time, becuase thats what I did. But it just didn't look too "clean". I may be a crazy person, but I hate turning in sewing an edge like that. I thought maybe there was some other way to do it, but I guess I was doing it the only way you could. I will try to do a post about it.

I love that your going through the same book as I am, Im going to look at the clutch you have up. Did you happen to do the large circle bag yet? I can't remember what it is called?

At June 8, 2011 at 4:11 PM , Blogger Reba said...

Kaitlyn, you can make that turned-in edge look real nice if you clip the curves and pin as you iron. Then sew slowly when you top-stitch. You won't even be able to tell it wasn't sewn from the other side. Be sure to not clip past where the top-stitching will go when ironing, you'll see it from the outside, just keep the clips shallow.

I use a satin-stitch foot to help me go straight when I top-stitch. It has a ditch in the middle to allow for the satin stitch to go through the foot without lifting and the edge that is created by the ditch is 1/8th inch from the needle. I use that edge as a guide for the edge of my fabric and I get a perfect top-stitch (most of the time).

You can do it, just go slowly.

As for the rest of the book, I'm not sure I'm going to make any more, the instructions are too hard to follow. There are so many great patterns available, I just hate to waste my time trying to figure out what she wants me to do. Plus, I may start making my own patterns. Now that I've made a few purses, I think I can come up with my own designs soon.

Good luck!


At June 9, 2011 at 12:27 PM , Blogger Kaitlyn said...

Reba, I agree about making your own bags. I have no many I have made for myself and friends, I hate that I have not kept up with recording them all and keeping pictures. I was able to do one tutorial (its not great, but if you know how to sew to begin with you can follow it). Maybe you can help me out with something, you seem to have the creative mind. I recently got a twin size bunk bed for my 2 year old. Its one of those ones that is a bed on top, desk/dressers under (WONDERFUL space saver!). Since she is so small we have the bed on the floor right now until she is plenty old enough to be up high.

Anyways, I got a lovely bedding set from Target and it came with a bed skirt. Since it is a bunk bed it can't have a bedskirt so I have all this wonderful material and I am trying to think of something to make with it. There is always the trusty pillows or curtains, but I want something really unique and to be a fun project. Its about 12-15" long and - atleast 20" wide. Any suggestions?

You will have to come follow along with my blog so we can keep up with eachothers purses :)

At June 9, 2011 at 9:54 PM , Blogger Reba said...

Hi Kaitlyn,

I added you to the blogs I follow. As for the bedskirt, the only thing I can think of is a bear or other animal for her bed. My grandmother made a bear for me out of an old chenille bedspread and I still have it today, it sits on the bed in my quest bedroom. My daughter (who is 23) still has a little rag doll I made for her when I was pregnant, she slept with it until she went away to college. Who knows, you might just make something that will be a keepsake for her forever.


At July 9, 2011 at 7:34 AM , Blogger Staci K. said...

Reba - I just found your blog and I'm hooked. :) I also have the Amy Butler book. I have made the....dang, can't remember the name...the one that was offered for free on several blogs a while back...shoot. Anyhow, it was also a bear to make! The end result was a fabulous bag, but it took HOURS. I wonder if she makes them so complex to discourage folks like us from selling her finished bags?

Kaitlyn, I saw your question about what to do with the bedskirt. When my daughter was a pre-teem she wanted a canopy bed. I used 3 dowel rods, some screw in eye hooks and 6 lengths of chain to make her a canopy that hung from the ceiling over her bed and used the bed skirt as the canopy. Being that this is for a bunk bed I'm not sure it would work for you, it may be too close to the ceiling.

At July 9, 2011 at 6:28 PM , Blogger Reba said...

Hey Staci ~ glad you're enjoying my blog. I'd love to have you as a follower. I don't know what it takes to get followers, some blogs have so many, I guess I just need to be patient.

I'm almost finished with my new pattern and I'm going to give it away to any followers that want to try it out and give me feed back. So stay tuned!


At February 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM , Anonymous Penny said...

I have this book. I also thought the clutch was hard to follow but in the end, after much seam ripping and retrying, it came out okay.

I came across your blog when searching for copyright laws in regards to selling purses I make. I see you're brave enough to say public ally you're going to sell a bag you made from Amy Butlers pattern. I've read so much saying we can, contrary to what her website says, but part of me is still so scared to go ahead and sell them!!! So I have so many purses just hanging in my dining room begging for a home... Lol


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