Thursday, March 10, 2011
Amy Butler's Cosmo Bag Pattern Review
As promised, here is my review of the Amy Butler Cosmo Bag, which appears on the cover of Amy Butler's new book, Style Stitches.
I want to start off by saying that I love, love, love the Cosmo Bag. I loved everything about the finished product and I will definitely be making another of these bags in the near future. If you remember from a couple of posts ago, my friend Allison went home with this particular bag at the Craft Swap.
However, I do have one criticism of the pattern that I think is pretty significant.
Style Stitches lists this project as being suitable for a beginner, and although I am super-reluctant to disagree or disregard anything upon which the fabulous Mrs. Butler puts her stamp, I have to respectfully advise against a beginner taking this project on.
Normally I am the biggest cheerleader for the "ambitious beginner." Someone who takes on a challenging first project, something a little bit more than they can chew. I think that's a great way to grow and learn and it definitely fits my teaching philosophy...
But, there is a big difference between a "challenging" first project and a "frustrating" first project. After having made the bag, I personally think that this would be a very frustrating project for a beginner.
It's not because any of the steps are challenging in and of themselves, but because I think there are several steps in the making of this bag where the sewist would benefit from prior experience: something a "beginner" by definition does not have.
There are places where you need to match short, fat curves, places where you need to faithfully follow directions without deviation, places where you need to follow written directions that are not accompanied by illustrations, and places where you need to be able to think ahead and anticipate a little bit.
As I said, I had no problems whatsoever, but, with 12 years experience under my belt, this aint my first rodeo! I think a beginner might attempt this and then be frustrated with their results and if it were their first project ever, I think they may even come away frustrated with sewing in general.
Now, stick with me, because that is truly the only criticism I have of this bag. If this pattern had been labeled as an "intermediate level," I would have nothing but good things to say.
Here are some other pearls of wisdom where the Cosmo Bag is concerned:
There was a lot of cutting with this bag, but that is true of any Amy Butler pattern. You aren't just cutting the bag pieces, you are cutting the lining and the interfacing and the pockets as well. Oh, the pockets! Pockets galore on this bag. It would make a great diaper bag for any young, hip moms out there.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I truly hate cutting. So that was a personal obstacle of sorts, but it always is for me, and I always overcome! You kind of have to do the cutting before doing the sewing. Maybe one of these days I will be rich and famous and can hire minions to do all my cutting for me...
If you are planning on making the Cosmo bag, set aside several hours for cutting. That's right, I said Several. Hours. And labeling the pattern pieces is a very good idea, as well, since several of the pieces look similar in size and it can be hard to keep them straight once you get going.
The biggest, most positive break-through I had concerning this bag was that for once, I used the exact interfacing Amy calls for in most of her bag projects, which is a woven fusible interfacing, or in other words, a thin muslin with a layer of fusible adhesive attached to the wrong side.
I will admit (confession!) that I usually disregard the call for woven fusible interfacing and just use the regular, non-woven fusible interfacing. Even though we carry both types at the shop, the non-woven fusible interfacing is a bit less expensive, and I never really thought it made that much of a difference, so this is usually what I steer my customers towards.
Well, for once, I thought I'd just give the woven-fusible a try and I am a total convert! True, the woven fusible is a bit more expensive, but what a dream to work with! It fuses tight and it fuses the first time. It really helps the bag pieces keep their shape and your finished bag will look exactly like the one in the picture.
Like I said, total convert... Hallelujah!
I have seen the light and must now repent for my wicked ways! Never again will I steer a customer to the less-expensive non-woven but instead go straight for the jugular and strongly suggest (demand) that they give the woven-fusible a try.
I am so in love with the woven-fusible that I listed it in the notions section of the shop. Practically every Amy Butler pattern calls for this stuff, so now you have a go-to resource should you want to give it a whirl yourself.
I think that's it for my experience with the Cosmo Bag, except to tell you that I made mine with these three fabrics, all of which are Amy Butler designs.
Can't wait to see which three I choose to make my next Cosmo bag, BUT I will have to gear myself up to do all that cutting again (any volunteers?)
Posted by Rhea Butler at 7:29 AM