Buttercup Bag

Buttercup BagA little over a month ago, I finally bought a sewing machine (a refurbished Janome). This is something I’d been thinking about off and on for several years, but given the space constraints in my Davis Square apartment, not to mention those related to the budgetary constraints of a grad student, I had kept it on the back burner. Finally this spring I jumped in, and I’ve really enjoyed having this new crafty outlet.

I’ve made a couple of things already (a cover for my laundry bag, some potholders, a set of placemats for my Mom), most of which without any incident. I recently finished up making a pair of Buttercup Bags, a very easy project and one that I will probably make again. On the two that I made, I used an embroidered linen on the outside, and used some lightweight cotton for the lining and pocket. (I like a bag with a really fun lining.)

As to the pattern itself, the instructions are pretty straightforward. There is one typo (at least on the file I have) that messed me up – in step 14, you turn the purse outer inside out, not the lining.  I have no doubt that other people have caught this before sewing the lining and outer together, but I did not.

A couple of other little things that I ran into: I found that the band above the pleats was too short; I wound up trimming off about half an inch from the purse body to make up the difference. This could be remedied with another pleat or by following the curve and cutting a longer band to begin with, which I think is what I will try doing next time. (You could also use the pattern pieces as they are, and just cover the gaps between the bands with the strap.) I also found that the lining was too small, and I fudged a “pleat” at the side of each bag outer. These two problems are obviously related, but I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the sizes of the pattern pieces or a problem with my execution of cutting them out, or something in the way the linen behaves.

I made a couple of modifications: the easiest were using velcro instead of magnetic closures (because that’s what I had), and omitting the decorative button band. I did my own thing for the pocket inside — the pattern calls for you to cut a strip that’s twice as long as it is wide, then fold it in half to make a square pocket, which you then attach to the lining. That seemed like a waste of fabric to me, even though it’s a small amount. So, I just cut out a square, folded the edges under, and stitched it to the lining. Finally, I changed the strap as well: I cut it as noted in the pattern, but ironed some interfacing on the back to give it some more stability. I folded and stitched it according to the directions, but also ran another line of topstitching lengthwise down the middle. I’m hoping that the interfacing and the extra stitching will help give the strap enough structure that it stays nice and flat.

I do plan to make this again, with some additional modifications. To address the problem I had with the lining being too small, I’m going to cut the lining using the same pattern pieces as the outside of the purse body. I’ll seam the lining together with a 1/2” seam (the pattern calls for 1/4” seams throughout), which I think will make it fit. As written, the lining is attached to the top of upper band of the outside of the purse; to make the lining a little bit more “peek-a-boo,” I’ll cut bands for the lining from the same fabric as the outside of the bag (are you still with me?). I think if you are using very lightweight fabrics, it might benefit from the addition of some interfacing to the inside of the purse body as well.

Overall, this was a fun and quick little project that you can probably do in two or three hours, and with very little in the way of fabric and notions – the closure is probably the one thing you don’t already have if you sew, and there are plenty of other options (ribbon ties would be cute, as would some thin elastic and a button).

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