Whew! I finally finished assembling my first Amy Butler weekender bag!! (And I leave tomorrow for my holiday!)
I didn't really make any modifications to the pattern, except that I added 6" to the length of the handles so I can put the bag over my shoulder easily, even if I'm wearing a bulky coat. As many who have made this bag before me have commented, this is both a challenging and expensive bag to make. For both the lining and the exterior I used decor fabrics that were on clearance at Fabricland ($5.00 - $6.50 per metre), and I also got 50% off the interfacing, peltex and zipper... so it wasn't nearly as costly to make as it could have been, but it definitely takes a lot of fabric and interfacing to make a weekender. And it took me an evening just to cut it all...
Construction-wise, I didn't need to use a walking foot at all to keep the layers from bunching up, but that's probably because of the way it was all "pinned" and fused. I did use my adjustable zipper foot
a lot, and it did a great job of crowding the piping nice and tight. My Janome JS1022
didn't have any problem with sewing through the thick layers of fabric, peltex and interfacing, but it still wasn't easy at all... I definitely had to wrestle with the bag during final construction to feed it through the machine. I only broke one needle, and I think that had more to do with the way the bag was pulling away from the machine than with the thickness of the layers. I used fusible tape to make the piping, as was recommended
by many other craftsters.
One of the things that was helpful in managing all those layers was a tip I learned from a marine upholstery video (11:55)
I watched on sailrite
-- I used staples
instead of pins to hold everything together. If you want to try this technique, you'll need a really good office stapler (the kind that can staple 50 pages together) and a staple remover that won't pinch and pull at your fabric too much. Here's what I used:
It was pretty easy to sew the seams leaving the staples in, since they didn't hinder the presser foot or feed dogs at all, and they were easy to avoid running over with the needle, especially if I stapled only half-way into the seam allowance. Then, after each seam was sewn, I just removed the staples from my fabric. This meant that I wasn't constantly poking myself with pins while sewing the bag together, and it was way easier than trying to force pins through the layers of peltex and interfacing.
The part that was most difficult for me was attaching the lining... First I machine stitched the long seam allowances of the the top and bottom of the lining to the corresponding seam allowances of the main bag, and then I started slip-stitching the lining to the zipper as per the instructions. I may have gotten 2 inches in before I wanted to scream out of pure frustration. So I got creative. I sandwiched some fusible tape inbetween the lining and zipper, holding it all in place with staples (what else?)... then I pressed it all together using an oven mitt to hold the seam up against my iron. Kind of crazy, but it worked. I'm not sure if it will hold, but if the adhesive fails, I can always slip stitch it later. Here's a picture of how I attached the lining:
Despite all the challenges in making this bag, I can't wait to make another!