After we finished reorganizing the craft room, I felt like I needed to use it right away. Besides, I was still avoiding packing :)
I've been reading Amy Karol's blog, angry chicken, for a while. Amy does a little bit of everything on her blog, sewing, knitting, and lots of general crafting. When I heard she was putting out a book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing, I went and pre-ordered it right away.
When I was first looking through the book, I wasn't sure if it was really for me. It's definitely a good book for beginners - if you've never used a sewing machine before, I think you could really get started with this book. Although I'm not exactly a pro, I wouldn't really describe myself as a beginner. I'm sort of in the middle. Although there's definitely a big chunk of beginner material in the book, there are some neat more advanced patterns, as well as plenty of tips & tricks that I honestly didn't know about (for example, her instructions on making bias tape? Genius, the only way that I'd ever give it a try). There's also a fairly big chunk of patterns related to kids, which aren't really the most useful for me. Overall though, there's definitely enough in the book to keep me interested.
Presenting... The Pleated Beauty Handbag
Pattern: Pleated Beauty Handbag, pattern in Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol
Fabric: Interior & exterior fabrics, both Amy Butler fabric, also some Timtex interfacing for the bottom of the bag, some lighter weight interfacing for the sides, and some iron-on interfacing for the pockets.
Started & Finished: 12 August 2007
- Used interfacing inside the sides of the bag, instead of the suggested flannel facing - personal preference + it's what I had on hand
- Added a second (smaller) pocket - see the bag interior picture below
- Added some quick lines of stitching to make spots for pens in one of the pockets
- Used iron-on interfacing to make the pockets stiff & sturdy
- Significantly increased the length of the straps - they're closer to 32" instead of the 20ish" length suggested - personal preference
- Changed the fabric selections a bit - used the same fabric for the interior as for the exterior pleats
- Added a strap + button to keep the bag closed - an important lesson learned from my experience with Amy Butler's Swing Bag pattern
- Added interfacing to the straps (another lesson from the Swing Bag) + sewed them differently than the pattern suggested (like a tube) because I think it makes for a nicer edge
Will I make this again? I was enthusiastic about this bag because I need a better purse for Australia. Something that fits my stuff, plus a knitting project and a book/magazine. I have the absolute worst spatial skills though - I really thought this bag would be much smaller. As it is, it's definitely not coming to Australia - it's too big for what I need. But the size is perfect for my usual weekday bag, when I need to carry my lunch, knitting project, papers for school, and even a small sweater along. I will definitely get lots of use from the bag, just not in Australia. I do still want to make a slightly smaller bag with this same style/pattern though - I think it would be great for multiple uses.
See? Plenty of room in there for everything!
My only real quibble with the book are the pattern pieces in the back of the book. I really think the pattern approach in Amy Butler's In Stitches and Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing is ideal - pattern pieces printed out full size in a pocket in the back of the book. Bend-the-Rules Sewing is a standard softcover book format though - no spiral binding (a bit of a hassle) and the pattern pieces are all in reduced format at the end of the book (so you have to use a photocopier to increase the pattern size, a major hassle IMHO). I didn't actually use any pattern pieces for this bag, but I can see that whole enlarging process being a major deterrent for me for doing some of the projects. Okay, I do have a second minor quibble - it's really hard to figure out how much fabric a project needs because no overall "fabric size" is given, just the sizes of the various pattern pieces. I can make some guesses about why they took this approach, but I think it's a hassle for me to figure out how many yards to buy and it's probably even intimidating for newer sewers.
Overall though, I do recommend the book. I think my minor quibbles are more than outweighed by the well written patterns and useful hints & tips. Thanks to Amy for putting together such a fun, inviting book, as well as taking some of the "scary" out of sewing. This book is a good antidote to my 10th grade home ec teacher, whose blistering criticism drove me away from sewing for a long time. Sewing should be fun, not about absolute perfection - I definitely think that's the main "take home" message of Bend-the-Rules Sewing.