The Handbag of DOOM: Amy Butler’s Blossom Bag

There it is, looking all ominous and menacing. It’s my version of Amy Butler’s Blossom Handbag from her hit book Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags.

“Easy?” No. Kiss my made-in-America butt, Amy, because not all of your patterns are “easy.” A more accurate title would be Style Stitches: 12 Ways to Make 26 Bags But It’s Just 11 Bags With Different Handle Lengths and Sizes and a Checkbook Cover, and Roughly Half of The Projects Will Make You Use Swear Words You Didn’t Know Existed and Throw This Book Across the Room!

The bag isn’t finished; I assembled the exterior and the lining, and I pinned the sides and the flap on just to take pictures. I am seriously considering abandoning the project, pulling the pieces apart, and using them for something else. This is probably the WORST project I have ever attempted. It’s worse than the knit shirts. This stupid purse has been a huge headache and I’m disgusted with the results.

Other people have had success with this bag, but they always give the caveat that it’s a challenge. For me, it’s more of a frustration than a challenge. The pattern is “advanced” but I believe that refers to the requisite levels of skill AND patience! Assembling the bag wasn’t difficult for me, but it’s extremely frustrating to wrestle it around my sewing machine. In addition, there are some design issues on both sides; my choice of fabric is probably one flaw in this bag, but some of the problems stem from the design and materials.

First of all, the pattern (which you can get here for free) calls for decorator weight fabric and particular type of Peltex interfacing that is thick and stiff. With all the folding and pinning and stitching and Peltex in this bag, I cannot imagine using decorator weight fabric! I had enough trouble getting layers of regular cotton fabric and Peltex folded and pinned and stitched down. My Janome handled everything well except for the loops that hold the handles against the bag (you’ll see what I mean). One of the noticeable issues with the bag is that the fabric looks very wrinkled. This is due to two factors: one is that I did not use decorator weight (which would have wrinkled a little less) and the other is that there’s no way to adhere the fabric directly to the Peltex interfacing, so it wrinkles at every bend instead of gracefully following the curves of the bag.

This is another variation I did with the bag and it sort of worked. The pattern calls for fabric loops between the handles and the brackets of the bag, but I couldn’t make them look like anything except tacky homespun crap. I opted for these metal rectangular things I found in the pursemaking section of a craft store. The bracket loops are a bit wrinkled but that’s because they are wider than the metal rectangles. I sewed the brackets on before discovering that the fabric loops look stupid and are annoying to sew on, and I didn’t want to redo the brackets. I can live with a small flaw like this. I barely managed to attach the loops that hold the handles against the bag. It was such a pain to get them on and each one took a few tries to get it right. Keep in mind, this is with normal cotton fabric; it would be MUCH more difficult to do with decorator weight! At the thickest points, I was sewing through nine layers of fabric, nine layers of thin iron-on interfacing, and a layer of sturdy Peltex.

Notice the wrinkles to the right of the bracket along the bottom of the bag. Ugh.

Here are a couple of side views of the bag. This is how it’s supposed to look (sort of…notice that it’s pinned on the inside because I haven’t finished the interior).

And this is what happens when you pinch the side of the bag; the exterior fabric separates from the interfacing and it sticks out.

This is what happens if you squish the bag; it makes a noticeable dent and creates some wrinkling as the exterior pulls away from the Peltex. Filling the handbag with items would probably mitigate this.

This is an up-close view of the magnetic snap closure. Notice how the resistance of the flap pulls the fabric around the closure. When I open the closure, it feels like it’s going to tear right out. Again, using decorator weight fabric would have lessened these problems, and I think that the closure should have been anchored in the Peltex instead of just through the flap lining.

Here’s a view of the interior. The lining doesn’t fit very well regardless of fabric weight. It’s slightly possible that turning the top edge down and topstitching it then adding the dividers will help smooth things out, but at this point, I’m no longer optimistic about it.

So, here’s my dilemma. I’m satisfied with some aspects of this handbag, like the fabric and the way the brackets and handles worked out (wrinkling aside), but I’m very dissatisfied with it overall. The negative outweighs the positive and I have almost no motivation whatsoever to finish the project. I’m considering breaking the bag down and using the pieces for something else…maybe another project down the road, or maybe the checkbook cover or cosmetic bags from Style Stitches. I’m confident that I can handle those. However, I am NEVER going to make another purse. I hate the way you have to sew the lining on and turn everything inside out. I’m also starting to dislike the look of handmade fabric purses. I’m not sure how other people make them work, and I certainly feel silly about carrying one. I really don’t see myself carrying this around, especially since it looks sloppy and wrinkled. I think I’d rather buy my purses from a department store or a vintage shop!

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