Friday, January 28, 2011

The Bag that Broke My Machine

My "Cosmo" Bag (January's kick-off to a year of Amy Butler accessories) is finally done, and I'm about done in.
Folks, making my own jeans -- which I did last year -- was easier than making this bag!

Amy, honey, I love your style, I love your fabrics, I love your books, but you are insane to rate this one "easy."

Maybe that's partly because I reduced the pattern at 78%, so the inside handle curve is smaller and less maneuverable. (Worth it, for a bag that will be more everyday useful to me; I don't need a gigundo one very often.) But maybe not. Amy's instructions sometimes seem to be written for ease of explanation more than than for ease of construction. I may not be the most expert or experienced seamstress on the block, but I'm not new at this. I have a reasonable skill set to draw on. Even so, the final steps of this bag kicked my butt.

And messed up my machine.

I was doing the final edge-stitching along the inside handle curve -- with just six more inches of stitching to do before all that remained was hand-sewing the button -- and as we climbed a mountainous pileup of interfaced seams at the corner of the band, something made an ominous popping sound.

I thought I'd broken the needle, but it's okay. I was able to finish stitching, and all's well visually: no horrific nest on the bobbin side. But now there's this kind of swishy sound with each stitch, which means something got knocked out of alignment.

First I'll try replacing the needle (I'd planned to switch to a new one after this project anyway), in hopes that the problem is a slightly bent needle. If that's not it, I'll be taking my stalwart friend in for servicing. At least I'll have a pretty bag to tote along as I drive to the BabyLock dealer. Here's the inside:

Finished dimensions of this one are...
Width at the base: 11"
Across the widest part: 15"
Depth at the base: 4"
Depth at the top: 3"
Height to top edge of center band (at the middle, above the button): 10.5"
Height with handles: 20"

Oh, and I added a piece of heavyweight box board to the bottom, for stability. I slipped it in between bag and lining before completing the final (gruelling) step of sewing the inside handle edges together.

For those just tuning in to this project, here are my comments on:
Binding the pocket edges
Doing the center band my way
Taking a few liberties with the lining

The true test of this bag will come when I use it. I think I will like it, but no way will I make it again until enough time has passed that I've forgotten how tedious fusing all the interfacing was -- or until little elves show up to do that sort of thing for me and to erase from memory the trickiest and most irksome bits.

If you're a beginning sewer and tempted by this bag, just put the book down and walk away. Start with something simpler like the Birdie Sling before tackling this one.


  1. Love your bag!

    I had the exact same thing happen when I was finishing the bag. That last step, before the button, was HORRIBLE! I am glad it is done! If I ever decide to make it I will definitely be changing up some things.

  2. Thanks for the advice. If you. who made such a great bag, feel that way about it, the rest of us should be careful :-). I'm sure the bag will grow on you, as the memories fade, because it is great.
    Fortunately I'm a the-bigger-the-better person, so I wouldn't shrink anything. But then again I go everywhere on foot or nearly, and commute to the burbs, it makes a huge difference in the amount of stuff I have to schlep (especially in winter). I am a math person though, and I can confirm that shrinking 20% can make all the difference between barely-manageable curve and not.

  3. Your bag is so pretty! I'm sorry about your machine. I also find Amy's instructions TOO MUCH.

  4. Well, it's beautiful, if that's any consolation (which of course, it is, right?) I picked up an Amy Butler book once at the store, with the idea that I might buy it on a whim. I read the beginning instructions of one of the pattern, laughed out loud, and put it down. Someone maybe needs to edit those a little.

    Still, this is lovely and I hope your machine just has a cold and not a deathly illness.

  5. That very same step was the death knell for my machine too! Granted it's very old and was already slightly in need of a tune-up, but this was the last straw. It didn't help that I was using duck canvas for the handles. Doh!

  6. @Leigh ~ I'm glad to hear I am not alone!

  7. Oh I love what you made. It sings!

    Oh the finishing. Horrible for me. I feel your pain. I am sure you will enjoy it once the bitterness fades...

    Thanks for dropping by my blog!

  8. I agree, I could not believe how difficult this bag was for an "easy" pattern & I sure hope it's not setting the tone for the rest of the book! From the looks of the next pattern, I have a feeling the Cosmo bag should have been at the end of the "Easy" section.

    Yours turned out looking great & I'm glad you stuck to it & were able to get it finished.

  9. LOVE your fabric choices!

    I didn't have trouble with the final edge stitching, but I also didn't attach interfacing to my interior so I had one less layer to sew through.

    Hope you figure out what happened to your machine and get it healthy again. :)