We knew Lisa would be the perfect sewist to review the new Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags. Lisa’s Pink Lemonade Boutique blog is full of her absolutely beautiful sewing… While all of her work stands out, Lisa’s bags are especially gorgeous. If you’ve been a part of Sew,Mama,Sew! long enough you just might remember Lisa’s grand prize win in our 2007 Big, Big Bag Month Contest. You can easily get lost in Lisa’s Flickr stream, pouring over her latest bag. Lisa tried out two patterns from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags, and today she shares her thoughts on the book with us.

From the publisher: Style Stitches offers 12 basic patterns with enough variations to achieve 26 unique looks. Ranging from chic clutches and delicate wristlets to pretty hobo bags and handy coin purses, with instructions for altering dimensions, straps, and embellishments to get the desired look, each project incorporates Butler’s fresh, modern style and attention to detail. With illustrated step-by-step directions, a comprehensive techniques section, and a bound-in pocket filled with the patterns themselves, Style Stitches is an essential and fashionable addition to every sewer’s library.

From Lisa: My first impression of the book right off was that it is a visual treat. As usual Amy Butler’s aesthetic elevates the handmade to fresh modern sophistication and high style. I would have loved to make any of the bags in this book; I thought each and every one of them were unique and had great design elements. The instructions for the Origami Bag Set gives you instructions for six different sizes, and most of the bags give you the option to make either different sizes or strap lengths which I thought was a great feature. The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow, even for a beginner. Specific types of interfacing and how to fuse them are clearly laid out.

Lisa’s beautiful Cosmo Bag.

The first project I chose was the cover star, the Cosmo Bag. The design is fabulous. You have the option of a long or shorter strap, and four pockets in all. This bag is huge! It would make a fabulous weekend or project bag. I was even thinking of minimizing the pattern for a handbag option. The skill level was rated “easy” but I think I’d say it’s more intermediate. There are lots of curves and clipping to do, and a “Y” seam to attach the side panels to the bottom. The instructions say to clip after the curves are sewn, but I found it much easier to clip first. I’d definitely make this bag again.

Lisa’s Perfectly Pleated Clutch.

The second project is the Perfectly Pleated Clutch, rated “intermediate,” which I thought was accurate mainly because of the pleats. Making the pleats was a bit challenging, specifically because it’s a challenge keeping them straight. The instructions do not suggest marking them on the fabric in any way as a guide (except for the first pleat) and I realized after I started marking the fabric with a Hera Marker (which “dents” the fabric) that it’s because it’s crazy time consuming. But if you are a person who likes perfection, I’d recommend it. Me, I decided to just go for it. The first side I did came out a little wonky, but nothing to fret over, and the second side came out great. I highly recommend not starting at the very end of the fabric strip, because by the time you reach the midline, if you’ve not made totally perfect pleats they’ll get even more exagerrated and out of whack. So I started pleating mid-way, worked my way to the end, and proceeded to work the other way down from the midline. That worked out great. I also highly recommend pinning each pleat on both ends, because no matter how much steam and pressure you use, they will not stay (especially after having to flip it over to fuse the interfacing down).

I can’t stress how much I adore this clutch. The pleats add such a fabulous texture, that turns this clutch into something really special. Oh, and the pattern comes in three different sizes. I chose to make the small one, but now I want one in every size and color!

Overall, this is a great book from the incomparable Amy Butler. She never fails to inspire us to stitch our way to a more stylish life!

Thanks, Lisa! You can learn more and see tons of beautiful book images on Amy Butler’s site.

Comment on any post this week to win one of five copies of Amy Butler’s Style Stitches! Also, don’t forget to sign up for our Super Style Bag Swap!