The Handbag Project

I needed a new handbag and so I made one. I searched the internet for patterns and found one designed by Amy Butler, that was being offered for free through as a promotional device to launch Ms. Butler’s most recent DIY, sewing, lifestyle book.

I then searched for people who had actually made the handbag and found a few sites that were enormously helpful. The women who made these bags all offered very useful advice and shared images of their completed projects; many with progress shots. I didn’t photograph the process, but I did keep careful notes that I categorized as: My Alterations to the Design, My Deviations from the Instructions, and, finally: What I’d do Differently If I Were To Make Another Bag.

Here’s my completed bag:

Amy Butler Blossom Bag

Modified ‘Amy Butler Blossom Bag’.

I used a mid-weight printed canvas duck for everything..the exterior, the interior and it worked out fine. I applied two applications of ScotchGuard to the completed bag.

Interior photos of Amy Butler Blossom Bag

Interior of Amy Butler bag with added features: pockets for pens, glasses, notepads…

For those of you who may be interested in making this bag I offer the following comments:

My Alterations to the Design

  • Altered the strap configuration, didn’t like the fussy, cutesy, arstiness of the original. Used metal D rings. Easier and, in my opinion, cleaner looking.
  • Added small square of heavy duty interlining behind the magnetic snap closures for reinforcement and to avoid a cheap looking ‘pressure point’ on the inside flap, which would, inevitable come with wear.
  • Added a snap on “key leash” attached to a key ring so I won’t have to dig around in my bag in the dark, shaking it for the sound of the jangling keys.
  • Added pockets to the interior back lining to hold pens, pencils, small notepads, a small calculator, and business cards.

My Deviations from the Original Pattern (and Emphatic Suggestions)!

  • Created separate ‘Oaktag’ (or cardboard) patterns for the Peltex pieces, to avoid the crazy, wasteful and labor intensive work of cutting the pieces twice.
  • Used mid-weight ‘Home Dec’ fabric for exterior and interior and lining.
  • Created transparent Mylar pattern pieces in order to lay out the pattern of the fabric and visualize the completed bag. This is particularly valuable if you’re using fabric that has a repeat pattern.

 What I’d do Differently If I Were To Make Another Bag

  • I would use a product called ‘fabric stiffener’ which is available to the trade for upholstery workroom applications. This would add body to the bag.
  • Eliminate the Peltex for the divider panels. The fabric stiffener would do the trick and reduce the unnecessary bulk of the panels, make it much easier to sew and manipulate.
  • Add an exterior pocket on the back for a cell phone (even though I don’t use a cellphone….but, sadly, that day of the electronic leash will arrive and I ought to be prepared).
  • Secure the interior lining to the bag in a more serious way than that suggested in the pettern/instructions.
  • Maybe allow for a wider seam allowance.
  • Maybe make the bag slightly smaller (it’s a BIG bag).


My revised version of the free internet pattern by Amy Butler.

My revised version of the free internet pattern by Amy Butler.