Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pattern Review: Amy Butler Sophia Bag

Last year, when my mother was visiting, we were looking through my patterns in preparation for our annual fabric shopping extravaganza. She took one look at the Amy Butler Sophia pattern and said "That's my Christmas present from you!"

We went shopping and picked out fabric for her bag and for mine. I made mine first to try out the pattern. Her bag did not get finished for Christmas, so it became a Mother's Day gift...not really. I FINALLY gave her the bag this week as a "because you are wonderful and being here on vacation means I save on postage" present. She loved it all the same. And now that the bag is in her hands I can share my review of the Amy Butler Sophia pattern!

sophia bag 2

My bag is on the left; my mom's is on the right.

1) Like all Amy Butler patterns, this one is easy to follow. I had done piping before so I didn't have much problem with that. Frankly I didn't really follow the directions at all because I hardly ever do--there are only so many ways to assemble a purse! I really only looked at them for the zipper, which brings me to point number 2.

2) The pattern called for a "purse zipper"--two pulls that move outward from the center. My fabric store only had Coats purse zippers in black and an ugly brown. Um, no. For my bag (which I made first) I just got one long zipper:

sopha bag zipper 2

This worked fine, but is kind of a pain when you want to get into the bag. You have to open the WHOLE bag just to get in, and it's a long way around. Not too speedy.

For my mom's, I wanted to preserve the center opening so I got smarter. Instead of one 22 inch purse zipper, I got two 11 inch regular sport zippers.

sophia bag zipper 1

The only tricky part was keeping the zipper tape out of the way at the top. I ended up tucking them back and basting and then covering with the bag lining. This way the pulls would be close together like a purse zipper but I got the color I wanted! I also put on some pretty beads as zipper pulls after I took this picture, which really classed up the whole bag.

3) I had to do some fiddling with the lining to get it to work. For my bag I followed the instructions and sewed together the whole lining and stuffed it into the outer bag. While I was careful with my sewing, all the layers and piping of the outer bag made it a bit smaller than the lining (plus there was no accommidation for the turn of cloth. Thus my lining is too large. I went ahead and sewed it in around the zipper, but the false bottom covers a big wrinkle of extra fabric and my pockets go down onto the bottom of the bag. One day I will get around to fixing that.

For my mom's bag, I sewed the top zipper flaps to the sides of the lining. Then I put this in the outer bag and pinned in place. I marked where the bottom seam was and used this line to attach the bottom (which I also resized to match the bottom of the outer bag). No saggy lining on hers!

This also brings me to another point. I made her pockets like the pattern and they turned out cute:

sophia bag lining 1

I added some of the extra piping to the top of my pockets, and I like the contrast. However, the weight of the piping makes my pockets a bit saggy. Just a warning if you go that direction.
sophia bag lining 2

Judging my my mom's reaction, the Sophia bag is a success! I would definitely say that an ambitious beginner or intermediate sewer should have no problem with this pattern.

sophia bag 1


  1. You are always making the most beautiful things!! I struggle to sew together the most basic apron. :)

  2. Aww thanks! I've had lots of practice, and I'm very friendly with my seam ripper! Keep working on those aprons--you'll have something lovely before you know it!

  3. The bag is a HUGE success. I love, love, love it and it was worth the wait. I'm such a lucky mom!

  4. Oh I love this bag and after seeing yours I really want to make one. I love the fabric of your bag! Is it regular quilters cotton or is it a heavy deco weight? (It kind of looks like a linen?)

  5. edeenut,
    You should make one! It's a delighful little bag (that happens to be surprisingly roomy)!
    I used a home dec fabric for both bags, but it wasn't super heavy weight. They do have a linen-like weave, but more weight than an apparel linen. I'd say they are "curtain-weight" fabrics, which gave a nice structure to the bags

  6. Am starting my first Sophia bag and found your blog post for making yours. So helpful! I gained a lot of insight and think your idea of the two, 11" zippers is just inspired! Great solution..... Your two bags are just beautiful....