Tackling Amy Butler's Cosmo Bag (a helpful tutorial)
August 11, 2013
Amy Butler's Cosmo Bag
An embarrassingly long time ago, my sister and brother-in-law gave me "Amy Butler's Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags" for my birthday. I know this because I had stashed the birthday card in the pattern pouch that was in the back of the book.
Here is the birthday card...
Ha! Loved it then, Love it now!! Thanks Erin and Chris!! Back into the pattern pouch it goes, so I can have a good laugh next time I pull out a pattern.
I decided in the last few days of my summer break to make the first bag in the book called 01: "Cosmo Bag." In her book, Amy Butler calls this a bag for beginners - I agree with her to an extent. There is some curve matching and terminology that make the bag maybe more of an intermediate level. I am not going to do a whole tutorial over this bag, Amy Butler might not appreciate that, but I do want to address some tricky parts in the instructions mostly for myself for when I make this bag again.
If you are a beginner and are going to make this bag, here are the types of fusible fleece and fusible webbing that you need. Most of the time, when I go to a big box store like Jo Ann's and ask for Shape Flex SF-101 by Pellon and Fusible Thermolam they look at me like I have a giant spider crawling on my face and point to crowded disorganized shelf where the fusibles are found. So here are pictures to help. You could easily purchase a stiffer fusible fleece for this project because the fleece is only to stabilize the bottom of the bag (the stiffer the better in this case).
Here is the fusible web. If the webbing is 20 in wide, you will need 6 1/4 yds. If it is 40 in wide, you will need 3 1/8th.
Here is the fusible fleece that I used. As I stated above, you could easily go for a stiffer fleece. The stiffer the fleece, the stiffer the bottom of the bag.
First, I cut out the pattern pieces from the back of the book. Next time, I am going to layer the webbing and fabric together and cut both at once, it will save time.
The next 4 hours of my life involved caring for a five year old and a two year old while cutting out the fabric pieces and the fusible webbing.
* not pictured are the interior pocket pieces, there was not enough fabric to cut these out. You will see the interior pocket pieces in later photos (they are red)
I lost track of the time it took to fuse all the webbing to the pieces...I may or may not have slipped into a waking coma (is that even a thing?!) during the process.
Now, FINALLY, I have all my puzzle pieces ready and it is time to assemble my bag.
The first tricky part was the description of the pleats in the outer sections of the bag.
"4c. Starting on the left side of the main panel, fold the panel, Right sides together, matching the first two pleat marks, and pin them in place. Stitch, following the pleat marks, 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in length. Backstitch at each end."
"4d. Open the panel. Press the pleat that forms on the interfaced side flat, centering the fabric evenly over the stitching line. Pin and then machine baste a 1/4 (0.6 cm) seam across the top of the pinned pleat."
Describing pleats is difficult in the first place, and this definitely could have used some pictures. I decided to take some to remind myself what to do next time I make the bag.
"...fold the panel, Right sides together, matching the first two pleat marks..."
"...and pin them in place."
"Stitch, following the pleat marks, 1/2 in (1.3 cm) in length."
"Open the panel"
" Press the pleat that forms on the interfaced side flat, centering the fabric evenly over the stitching line."
"Pin and then machine baste a 1/4 (0.6 cm) seam across the top of the pinned pleat." (you cannot really see my basting very well stitches here)
Here is the pleated outer panel
The next step was to attach the band along the center curve of the outer panels. What was lacking in the instructions is that you need to find the center of the band, by folding the band in half and match it to the center of the outer panel (which you found and marked earlier per the instructions). If you have never matched curves before, this will be your baptism by fire. My advice is use a lot of pins.
A LOT OF PINS!
Outer panel with attached center band.
Attaching the handles was pretty straight forward and there is a decent drawing describing the process. The tricky part to understand comes in step 6h-6j.
6h: "Stay stitch 3/8ths in (1 cm) from the inside edge of the band and both handles on both main panels." - stay stitching is just a line of stitching to prevent the fabric from stretching
6i: " Clip into the seam allowance every 1/2 in to 3/4 in (3.1 cm to 1.9 cm) around the curve edges of the handles and bands on both main panels. Be careful not to clip the stitching."
6j: "Fold the clipped edges in toward the wrong side on the inside edge of each handle and the top of the band, then press
Instructions for attaching the outer pockets to the outer side of the bag were very straightforward.
Instructions for attaching the sides (with pockets) were also clear and straightforward.
Instructions for attaching the bottom were also straightforward and there is a decent illustration; but I think I buggered it up a little. That being said, you cannot really tell that I buggered it up (and if you get that close, I will flick you in the nose ; )
Here is the completed outer shell. (At this point, I have put 4 evenings into this project).
Making the interior pockets and attaching them to the interior panels of the bag was very straightforward. **One little note though...next bag, I will be fusing both sides of the interior pocket rather than one side. The outer portion of the pocket ended up being nice, straight, and formed while the unfused interior portion of the pocket ended up being sort of nebulous. If both sides were fused there would be even more of a defined shape to the pocket and a little more stability to the bag.
Attaching the handles to the interior involves the same process as attaching them to the exterior panels.
The process for attaching the interior panels to the interior sides and bottom is the same as the process as the exterior.
Completed interior portion of bag.
Inside view of the interior portion of the bag (notice the red pockets)
The instructions for making the button loop are straightforward; however the book is not super specific about attaching the loop...they are specific enough for most people, but I managed to screw it up the first time. The notched edge of the band should be pressed inward. Make sure that when you pin the button loop onto the band that you the edge is turned down and not out.
*For absolute beginners - to make a gathering stitch, increase your stitch length to a very long stitch (6.0 on my Pfaff 4.0 quilting machine). Then you can grab the bobbin threads and gather the end of the button loop.
The illustration on this part of the instructions is great!
Here is the exterior shell with the button loop attached.
The next steps have you putting the entire bag together, these steps are really no different from any other bag that I have made. Basically, you put the lining (wrong side out) over the exterior (right side out). For this bag, you need to match the corner seams where the side panels meet the exterior panels and pin them really well. You sew around the sides of the bag and the outside of the handles first. Then, flip the bag right side out, press, and topstitch the inside edge of the handles and edge of the bag.
Here is the bag after the edges and outside of the handles are sewn, the bag is turned right side out, and pressed. You can see the handles and inside edge of the bag are still open.
We are almost finished. Now that the inside of the handles are topstitched, we must topstitch the sides and outside edges of the handles, to complete the look.
Here is the bag with the handles topstitched. I did a little clean up work too (removed any visible basting or stay stitches and clipped any little threads that were hanging around).
The final step is to make and add the button. I bought the Dritz 1 1/2 in. half ball cover buttons at Jo Anns.
This was seriously simple to do - you use the template on the back of the button package to cut a circle, stretch the fabric around the button front by pressing it into the hooks inside the front portion of the button; then, you snap the back part into the front and you have a button.
When I showed my husband the finished bag, the first question he asked was where did I find the button. I told him that I made it and he was very impressed.
You measure 2 1/2 in down from the center of the band and sew your button onto the front of the bag.
*Make sure that the fabric is taught and straight inside the bag or you will end up with unsightly bubbles and wrinkles that will make the interior of the bag not sit correctly. It can put stress on the button stitching too and possibly tear the interior fabric over time.
Here is the finished product. The bag is adorable - even if the fabric is not your cup of tea, the style is really adorable and the bag is large and roomy. It would be a perfect diaper bag for a new mama!