Gift Post #3: Sweet Harmony Bag

I love my sister dearly, but she is hard to shop for. She buys what she wants, so I always have to think early and creatively. I found this Basic Grey fabric and just knew I had to use it for a gift for sissy. She is an invertate scrapbooker and LOVES Basic Grey paper. It started the whole thought process, actually.

Sweet Harmony - Full
Sweet Harmony - Full

On my week away, TFQ tempted me with doing a joint Sweet Harmony Bag by Amy Butler. My idea was that we would each make one at the same time. However, it turned out that we worked together on one bag.

This is probably the last time I will make an Amy Butler pattern.  I purposefully did not write the review right away, because I wanted to give the shock time to wear off and give the piece a fair hearing.

While the finished product turned out really well, the directions were overly complicated and the pattern promoted extreme wastefulness.

Here are some tips  and things to be aware of when making this pattern:

  1. Trace the pattern pieces on tracing paper and keep the originals all together on the pattern sheets.
  2. Trace the pattern pieces again, but smaller (approximately 3/4″ will work) for the fusible fleece and interfacing pieces. If you don’t do this, the pattern will tell you to cut them full size and then trim them down. Thus, this direction promoted a lot of waste in the interfacing, Peltex and fusible fleece.
  3. Make a separate pattern piece for the inside pocket as well. This is a combined piece and it is just too confusing not to have a separate pattern piece.
  4. Make a chart (Excel or the Google Docs Spreadsheet feature would work) of the pattern pattern pieces you will need and which fibers you need to cut them out of. I didn’t know to do this and ended up laying all the cut pieces out and reading the list over and over while counting pieces.
  5. The designers seem to have a problem with naming pattern pieces consistently. In Step 4G, they ask you to do something to a Lining Panel. This was the first time I had ever heard of this piece.
  6. This pattern and the directions don’t always make it clear which layer (fleece & interfacing or interfacing only) the designer wants you to work with.
  7. Sweet Harmony Org System
    Sweet Harmony Org System
  8. Directions should have included a rotary kit (cutter, mat, ruler). The instructions do not include these tools, but they make the process much easier. I understand that the pattern isn’t necessarily targeted at quiltmakers, however I think many sewists now have rotary cutting kits as part of their tool arsenal. If you only sew garments and accessories (e.g. no quilts) and do not have a rotary cutting kit, I think you should go and buy one. What do you think?
  9. Use tailor tacks to mark dots.
  10. Handbag pattern includes a 20″ zipper in the list of supplies needed. Then the designer wants you to modify this zipper to make it about 8″ shorter. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know how to modify a zipper. I also did not want to modify a zipper. I barely know how to put in a zipper. TFQ who has LOTS of garment sewing experience and she didn’t know how to modify a zipper with confidence either. This is another bit of waste. I ended up omitting the zipper (it’s for a an inside pocket), but I would recommend buying a 12″ zipper and not modifying anything. The pattern also gives the pattern pieces for a tote bag, which I did not make, and I believe that the 20″ zipper would work with the tote bag. I think they were trying to save space on the pattern by not listing two supplies.
  11. The marks for the magnetic snaps are below and to the left of where they actually should go.

    Sewing piping to outside pocket
    Sewing piping to outside pocket
  12. The pattern asks you to make much more piping than you actually need. You will really only need about 25″.
  13. Finally, there are not enough pictures, despite the price of the pattern, so I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time and using nice fabric. You may never make it again, so you want to like it!

I think that making all the tote bags I have made really helped in understanding the pattern and how to follow the directions. The final product is really nice and looks very professional. I als learned how to make a pocket that has a little tuck so larger things will fit and you can actually pull it out.

Outside & cell phone pocket
Outside & cell phone pocket
Sweet Harmony Inside
Sweet Harmony Inside

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

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