Pattern Review ~ Sophia Carry-All

on January 28 | in Products, Sewing Inspiration | by | with 46 Comments

From Beth: Maia makes and sells beautiful bags and brought great expertise to her review of the Sophia Carry-All. Check out her introduction and her review!
Amy Butler Sophia Carry-All
Inspired by romantic travel films of the early 60’s. Stroll around town with this comfortably sized carry-all. (from the envelope back)


Sophia Carry-All by Maia, Glass Beach

Fabric Recommendations
In addition to the pattern recommendations, I think this bag would be pretty and demure in linen or a floral print. The next time I make this bag, I’d like to emphasize the retro 60’s shape with a bold and psychedelic pattern.
Allow extra yardage for matching or centering a design on your fabric.

For 44″ wide light to mid-weight fabric:

1 1/2 yards of fabric for the Exterior, including Handles and bias strips for covering the cotton cord
1 5/8 yards of coordinating fabric for the Lining
5 yards of 20″ wide woven fusible interfacing (we use SF-101 by Pellon®)
For 54″ wide mid-weight fabric:
1 1/2 yards of fabric for the Exterior, including Handles and bias strips for covering the cotton cord
1 5/8 yards of coordinating fabric for the Lining
2 1/2 yards of 20″ wide woven fusible interfacing (we use SF-101 by Pellon®)
3/8 yard of 44″ wide fusible fleece (we use fusible Thermolam Plus® by Pellon®)
1/8 yard of Timtex™ or a similar extra-heavy stabilizer
3 yards of 1/4″ cotton cording (found in the home decorating department of most fabric stores)
1 sheet of Dritz™ 8 x 10″ Heavy Duty Template Plastic (found with the quilting supplies)
22″ coordinating purse zipper (we use Coats brand zippers)
1 large spool of coordinating all-purpose thread (we use Coats Dual-Duty Plus®)
(from envelope back)

Overall Design 5 stars
This bag has a lovely shape and a fun retro quality. The interior is spacious with 4 interior pockets to keep track of smaller items.


Written Instructions 4 stars
This is the first Amy Butler pattern I’ve tried and after hearing such positive things about her designs, I was excited to tackle this one. While my finished product lived up to my expectations, I supplemented the written instructions with some additional information from the web (working with piping). I also substituted a different method altogether in one area (installing the zipper). The instructions themselves are very clear and easy to follow, just a bit sparse in some areas and I needed a little help along the way.

Diagrams / Images 5 stars
The diagrams for this pattern are great – well drawn and full of descriptions. The diagrams and written instructions compliment each other well.

Pattern Pieces 5 stars
The pattern pieces are accurate and clearly labeled. My only minor quibble is that there were no grain-lines on the pattern pieces (but that was easy to fix myself!).

Overall Level of Difficulty Difficult/Advanced (but worth the effort)
I consider myself an experienced bag-maker and there were some fairly trying moments when making this bag. However, with patience, someone with moderate sewing experience could make this bag.


Inside detail showing pocket and lining.

Modifications + Tips
~I used a mid-weight cotton quilting fabric for the bag exterior. Instead of the recommended two layers of light fusible interfacing, I used one layer of Pellon Decor-Bond interfacing. I’ve used this product a lot and really like it. This also reduced the amount of time I had to fuse interfacing (and there’s a lot of fusing with this bag!).

~Because I wanted my bag to be a bit sporty, I chose to make contrasting handles and piping. This reduced the amount of Exterior fabric I needed to around 2/3 of a yard, although I didn’t have to worry about centering a design. I used about 1 yard for the handles and piping with some fabric left over.

~I cut the bias strips for the piping 1 ¾ inches wide instead of 1 ½ inches wide and I’m so glad I had the extra clearance!

~I tried to install my zipper following the given instructions but it ended up off-center and unable to open all the way. So I installed one side of the zipper at a time, using some glue stick at the outer edge of the zipper to keep it in place.

~For a little contrast, I trimmed the interior pockets with some of the exterior fabric.

~I wish I’d cut the straps longer than recommended. Mine ended up a little short, which is most likely due to my error rather than the pattern.

~Machine baste as often as possible, especially when sewing the Exterior. I found it difficult to maneuver so many layers and get the stitching next to the piping all at the same time. Basting helped me control my sewing and get really close to the piping.

~I hadn’t done much piping before and found this tutorial very helpful.

~Reduce bulk at the corners before sewing. Sewing the bottom panel for the Exterior was by far the trickiest part of this bag because so many seams with piping meet at the corners. Anticipating this, I trimmed off the corners of fusible fleece from the Bottom Panel just outside the seam-line. I also carefully rolled back ½ inch of casing at either end of the Main Panels’ piping, snipped 3/16 inch off the cord and rolled the casing back into place. Both these measures made it a little easier to sew the Bottom Panel and didn’t change the look of the bag too much.

~Go slowly. There are a lot of layers with this bag and sewing slowly makes handling those layers easier. I used my hand wheel all the time.

~Medium-sized metal binder clips worked very well in keeping those thick layers from shifting during sewing.


This was a fun bag to construct, even with its tricky areas, and I learned some great construction tips along the way. I’m pleased with my bag and have plans to make another one soon!

[tags]sewing pattern review, Sophia Carry-All pattern review, purse pattern review, bag pattern review, Amy Butler pattern, Amy Butler Sophia Carry-All pattern, Amy Butler bag pattern review, Amy Butler purse pattern review[/tags]

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46 Responses to Pattern Review ~ Sophia Carry-All

  1. Haley says:

    Do you think that pre made piping would work? or make it easier

  2. Donna says:

    Your bag is just awsome! I have been thinking about getting the pattern for this one but now that I see how lovely yours is, I will definitely give it a shot.

  3. Carri Schramm says:

    If anyone sees these (esp Beth), I’m up to the zipper. I posted a thread looking for a tutorial on purse/double ended zipper – haven’t gone back yet.

    I’d LOVE to know how you did the zipper in two steps. I have it basted, but I’m scared to continue.

    I’m a beginner and I’ve found that the instructions are amazing. The pictures are great. I just wish there were a few more pictures of the zipper instructions!!

    thanks so much

    I love your colors. I think I might try to do more of these, and as someone suggested, use the quilted material – save a step.


  4. Kristine says:

    Oooh I still need to make this bag…thanks for the tips!

  5. Solveig says:

    Thanks for the review! Looks like I just have to try to make it now. Love the fabric used here.

  6. Lil' d says:

    Oh, don’t tell me it’s hard. I’ve been catching glimpses of that bag on the ‘net and was dreaming that it might be something easy-peasy that I could throw together… darn…

  7. Mia says:

    Wow great review!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Nicole says:

    That’s a really nice bag – probably beyond my skills right now, but maybe someday…

  9. Clare says:

    This review certainly inspires me to give it a go. Thanks

  10. Pat says:

    Love the fabric choice. Cute bag.

  11. Stacy T says:

    I applaud you for even attempting, lol… The plastic template pieces scare me for some reason, so I havent even tried!!

    Love the finished bag!!! So great!

  12. Joan says:

    Your bag is gorgeous! I’m working on one right now and am having a lot of difficuly attaching the bottom panel. I’ll give it another try today using the tips you provided. Thanks!

  13. lesley says:

    I’ve been wanting to try one of Amy’s patterns for a while. This one seems to first on my list now. Thanks for the great review! I love this ‘reviewing patterns by everyday seamsters’ idea!

  14. Kahne says:

    That’s a great bag! I made the Weekender last year and haven’t been anxious to start another project of hers, but maybe now I’ll just have to…

  15. Caitlyn says:

    I agree with the handles, they are too short in the pattern. I don’t think it was a mistake on your part.

  16. Concha says:

    great review! I had my doubts about this bag and your tutorial clarified them all. Thanks!

  17. Carolyn says:

    Excellent review! Great tips too……love the use of binder clips!!!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Great work Maia, and excellent tips that one can use for sewing other things, too. I really like how you used the black for the handles and piping. It gives the bag a totally different look. And while this bag is a bit advanced for me (and my very short fuse), I’d love to see what other people come up with.

  19. Carol says:

    Great review. Thanks for letting us what did and didn’t work. I’ curious why the zipper instructions weren’t adequate, but I’ve seen some good tutes for those online, so if I try this bag hopefully I can refer to those.

  20. Rashida says:

    Thanks for this review! I love this bag, sure looks intimidating though! But I think I’ll give it a try! ^_^

  21. Stephanie says:

    I have been considering making this bag – these tips will be extremely helpful when I actually do it. I also like the modification to the black handles. It sets off the color well. Thanks!

  22. Violet says:

    Way beyond my basic sewing skills right now but this bag has an awesome shape!

  23. Sandra :) says:

    Beautiful job – your fabric is stunning!

  24. mary says:

    Love that red fabric!

  25. Amanda says:

    This looks fabulous! When I get more comfortable with my sewing in general I might just give it a try!

  26. Carrie says:

    What a pretty bag! I too have seen this pattern before and was not very interested at fist glance, however after reading this I am a lot more interested. Just have to work some more on my bag making skills!

  27. Lola says:

    I made this bag too! It is so cute! It was a little bit harder than I thought it would be, but If you follow the directions carefully…and the tips above…it really isn’t that bad. I just think you have to do it carefully, not hurry through it.
    Thanks for all of the hints! I will use them when I make the bag again!

  28. Lisa Lam says:

    I love your choice of fabric and colours, they really lift the bag.

    I’m glad you liked my piping tutorial 🙂

  29. Kristin says:

    I love the red! It is so nice to see something bright in our dreary Seattle weather!

  30. Sequana says:

    The binder clips idea is the best new tip I’ve seen in a long time. I sew a lot and never thought of it, altho I use binder clips for so many other things.

  31. Solidia says:

    Very pretty! I love the colors!! Thanks for the review!

  32. Cheyenne says:

    Wow, that’s just beautiful! I like your colors way better than Amy Butler’s 😛 Nice job.

  33. alison says:

    Great pattern review! I love the extra tips and tricks you provided.

  34. Kristin says:

    Beautiful bag and so many excellent tips! Binder clips? Great idea! Thank you for your wonderful review.

  35. Annmarie says:

    it looks fantastic! So glad to hear your experience on it-I have this pattern and I will definately use your tips!

  36. wow what a great review! Thanks for all the wonderful tips and tricks

  37. Angela says:

    Wonderful pattern review! Very detailed and easy to follow. I’d love to see a review of sewing machines on SewMamaSew. I’m in the market for a new one, and would love to hear what your experts recommend! Specifically for someone who wants to get into machine quilting.

  38. Alisa says:

    Thank you for the great review.

  39. Julia D says:

    That is a lovely bag. Thank you for the review. Maybe I’ll get brave

  40. Rebecca says:

    That bag is adorable! Great job!

  41. Christy says:

    Did you still us the timtex or just the Decor-Bond? I made her Downtown handbag with the modified instructions at her website. I did not like the way the timtex wrinkled. My fabric had noticeable wrinkles. I tried to iron it back into shape, but still not beautifully smooth. Thank you so much for the information and suggestions.

  42. kathy says:

    It’s beautiful. Thanks for the review. The comments will be helpful to anyone trying the pattern:)

  43. Tammy says:

    Oh, that looks like such a fun bag! It looks perfect for a knitting bag. 🙂

  44. Pamela says:

    Very informative! Thank you for including the piping tutorial! Off to plot a purse. 🙂

  45. Teddi says:

    I love the fabrics you chose! I have looked at this pattern before and wasn’t overly impressed but after seeing it worked up in your fabric colors, reading the review and seeing the additional photos (especially of the inside) I think I will have to have it! Thanks so much for the additional tips and hints! Your bag looks fabulous!

  46. Alisha says:

    This is a beautiful bag. Unfortunately, it sounds like it’s a bit (okay, a lot) beyond my current beginner’s skills.

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