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!
Pattern
Amy Butler Sophia Carry-All
Description
Inspired by romantic travel films of the early 60’s. Stroll around town with this comfortably sized carry-all. (from the envelope back)

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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.
Materials
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®)
PLUS:
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.

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Inside detail showing pocket and lining.

Modifications + Tips
Modifications:
~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.

Tips:
~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.

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Conclusion
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!

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