June 20, 2014

Bag making with Organic Cotton Plus

When Organic Cotton Plus offered me the chance to try out some of their fabric, I was happy to give it a go after seeing Lladybird and Lucky Lucille’s fantastic makes – not to mention the sustainable angle, which is what I do for my day job.

So I made a bag for Cashmerette Lauren!

I chose the Evelyn & Janette twill, being a print lady and all. My original plan was to make a skirt. However, when I got the fabric, it wasn’t quite as I imagined – instead of being black and white, it was brown and beige on a canvas “natural” type background, and also a bit heavier than I was expecting (they do have an oz weight listed, but I’m useless at understanding what they mean). Moral of the story: best to order a swatch first.

However, though it was no longer really Jenny-skirt material, it immediately announced itself to be precisely up the alley of dear Lauren, and perfect for a summer-to-fall bag!

Left: photo from Organic Cotton Plus website; Right: my photo of the fabric
I used Amy Butler’s Reversible Sunday Sling pattern. Gosh. Well. I haven’t made a bag in a long time, but it seems to be the kind of thing a beginner would think “hey! I’m not really confident enough to make a dress yet, so I’ll make a bag instead!”
For I swear the instructions for this bag were more complicated than for an evening dress. Crikey! I think partly it’s because Butler’s patterns don’t follow many clothing pattern conventions – for instance, there are no notches;  instead you have to measure various lengths on your actual fabric pieces and mark them with chalk as you go along (inefficient much?).
There is also yard and yards and yards and yards of interfacing in there, of three different types. I was super glad to get my Singer Magic Press out of the cupboard and into action. I will say though, once all the cutting and interfacing was done, actually putting it together was fairly straightforward. For the sake of expediency I left off all the various pockets.
It has cute tie handles:

And little pleats where the handles meet the bag:

All in all, a nice make! The cotton was great to work with, and clearly high quality, and I would definitely use Organic Cotton Plus again, but make sure I swatched next time.

Do any of you make bags, dear readers? Any favourite patterns? Has Amy Butler ever boggled *your* mind?!

23 thoughts on “Bag making with Organic Cotton Plus

  1. Tina says:

    Very nice. I make bags, but I must confess that I make them up as I go along. I don’t think I’ve ever really followed a pattern.

    1. Jenny says:

      I think self-drafted might be the way to go after this!

  2. tanyamaile says:

    Very cute!! I hope she likes it! I’ve never used a bag pattern. All of the purses and totes I’ve made have been simple self-drafted pieces. I did recently buy a butterick bag pattern to make a duffle with some Marc Jacobs quilted faux suede. We’ll see how that turns out.

    1. Jenny says:

      Wow that sounds like a super luxury duffle bag – can’t wait to see it!

  3. Lindsay says:

    The first thing I ever made was a purse from the BurdaStyle book and it was SO HARD! The lining, the elastic, the straps, ugh. However, making clothes was a breeze after dealing with that!

    I made Colette’s Cooper backpack for my husband last Christmas, and it came together really well. Much easier than the Burda purse! (Link: http://blog.lindsaywoodward.com/2013/12/the-cooper-backpack.html)

    1. Jenny says:

      Oooh, lovely Cooper – very man appropriate. I’m really bad at picking fabrics for menswear because I forget how they don’t like anything at all…. fun (or at least, the men *I* know). I did however sneak a bit of purple binding inside my latest make for one of my brothers 🙂

  4. gingermakes says:

    Measure and mark your own notches?! No, thanks! I’ve wanted to try the AB Weekender Bag, but bag-making seems so tedious. Yours looks really cute, though!

    1. Jenny says:

      IT IS TEDIOUS! Why would I do this when I could make a dress in the same time, eh?

  5. Very cute! Amy Butler pattern instructions are almost like a foreign language to me.

    1. Jenny says:

      Haha that’s very true 🙂

  6. It’s very cute, I like the japanesey touch of the knotted handles. My current fave gift bag pattern is the triangle bag, like this one http://pm-betweenthelines.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/triangular-bag-tutorial.html

    It’s easy, can be any size and looks very chic in a solid and cool in a print. The other bag pattern I like but have never made is the Amy butler birdie sling – Karyn at Make Something has made a few gorgeous ones….

    1. Jenny says:

      That triangle bag is really unusual and cool – I’ll definitely have to keep that in the mental rolodex for the future

  7. amy butler patterns really do seem to be needlessly complex. i made her honeybun pouf, which was a layer of cotton sewn to a layer of batting sewn to a layer of canvas. then the whole thing is faux-tufted & stuffed, sew on a zipper, & add a giant button to the middle of each. & those fabric layers? are all wedges sewn together (ninety in total, if you include all the different fabrics). & the seams all have to be graded before construction. & then the seams are topstitched. etc etc etc! basically i sewed the equivalent of an actual piece of furniture. just cutting all the wedges took me two days. i thought my arms were going to fall off. & even with all that complexity & strangely specific construction instruction in some places (like how she tells us to sew five wedges together to create a petal, then another five, & then another five…like, why not just let me figure out how to sew the wedges together myself, it’s not that complicated), there was very little detail about other parts. like, once you sew all the wedges together, you’ll have a hole that will be covered by the giant buttons. but i was flummoxed as to how to attach my button to…a hole. i had nothing to sew it to! & her zipper instructions were also really confusing. i’ve sewn dozens zippers in garment-making. her instructions were confusing & my zipper wound up looking terrible.

    that said, i still want to try making her weekender bag. just to see if it’s really as stressful & difficult as people say. i doubt i will reach for another amy butler pattern though if there is something else similar enough i can use instead.

    1. Jenny says:

      Wow, what a trooper for making it all the way through that! I think I would have given up pretty early on! Hopefully it is well used now 😀

  8. I’ve made lots of bags, most of which were Amy Butler patterns. Tons of interfacing and crazy thick layers! I made both diaper bags in her book, Little Stitches for Little Ones. I’ve been sewing since I was 5, and I struggled- mostly because of the thickness. I’m pretty sure I went through 10 needles on one of the bags. They sure were beautiful, but it was hard to give them away after all that work!

    1. Jenny says:

      Yes, the interfacing requirements are crazy! When I saw that it said you needed 15 yards of interfacing for a single bag I was like “pshaw” and of course what happened? I ran out :# You’re a good friend to be making them for everyone 😀

    2. I really love her swing bag pattern. It is not as difficult and doesn’t require any interfacing, although you do need to sew a heavy weight fabric to the main fabric. It only requires 5/8 yd of each. Only really special friends get the crazy intense bags, most just get a swing bag. 🙂

  9. Paisley says:

    I’ve made quite a lot of bags – starting out with a lot of improvised bags with varying degrees of success. I’ve never tried an Amy Butler pattern. My go-to bag design source now is Noodlehead. I’ve made 4 of her bag designs and plan to make more.

    1. Jenny says:

      Ooh thanks for the tip, I’ll have to check it out!

  10. This bag is super cute! Too bad the photo from the website was SO different than what you received in real life. That’s a major pet peeve of mine with online shopping. I hope they’ll update their photo after seeing this post.

    Every once in a while I get the urge to make a bag, but the long list of “ingredients” always turns me off. So much interfacing, hardware, etc. Sounds like a lot of money for a bag!

  11. Kenna says:

    I’ve made the weekender and a few others. I LOVE the weekender but holy heck making it is a mission. It’s held up very well and the pain has faded as I’m contemplating another. I use an industrial machine in that one.

    I also like sew sweetness bags and they are much more straightforward!!

  12. Harmony says:

    Thanks for bringing the fabric to life so beautifully. I am sorry the color was a disappointment. Every monitor displays colors differently which makes it literally impossible to make colors appear accurate on everyone’s monitor. You might be interested in using our organic cotton sateen for that dress you had in mind. It is lighter weight and has a lovely drape. http://www.harmonyart.com/prints/Evelyn.html NOTE: this is very dark brown (almost black) on a light natural ground color. 🙂

  13. Rayetta Sanchez says:

    Beautiful bag! I am making one now. I am a seasoned quilter & bag maker, & I found the instructions super confusing. Definitely not for a beginner. Love how the bag is turning out, but don’t think I’ll make this one again! Lol

Let me know what you think!