4 hours to a smarter packed traveler

Per the norm… it all started with a trip to my local fabric store….

Carry on bag

They have a second building with tons of home decor fabrics at discount prices. Rolls upon rolls of upholstery fabrics that are just a delight to behold. Most of them run about $18-25 a yard which is super cheap compared to most places.

But still…. Ouch!

I’ve been going to make me one of these Amy Butler Weekender carry on bags since I first saw the pattern, years ago. Well, this week I decided it was finally time. I need one! My usual carry on isn’t big enough for my laptop and if I have to gate check it then the purse I carry is dictated by the size of plane I am traveling on because I then have to toss my laptop in to my purse. This is so not cool.

I spent probably an hour trying to decide on which fabric to pick, what coordinate for the lining and piping… “Ouch, this is going to be way more expensive than I thought or dreamt”, kept rolling through my head, hindering a decision. Then I spotted the green print propped up along the side wall and thought that was sweet with the raspberry and orange flowers, but of course I’d done that 100 times already. Everything in there is sweet! But this one wouldn’t show the grunge of traveling like the off white Parisian print I was carrying around on a 54″ roll…. As I continue digging around, trying not to have all these rolls spill down on me, while holding on to fabric… I spot the orange one and it is has the same raspberry in it and appears to come from the same collection. Then I spot the sign that says all rolls of fabric 1.00 off per yard. Can’t beat that. I take a look at the tag and what??? 4.97??? Then a dollar off? Woah! You’ve got my attention now!

Amy Butler Weekemder fabrics

It’s it funny how quickly you can decide on fabric choices when there is a bargain to be had?!!

And yes, I bought way too much fabric, I didn’t have the pattern with me and apparently reading those small numbers, off a website from my phone, cost me a yard and a quarter of fabric, I didn’t have to spend. At least now I have extra to make coordinating pieces…

I’ve made lots of bags and this pattern had no real surprises to it. It does get really, really thick in places and you’ll want to have a stock of heavy-duty needles, because no doubt your break at least one, I broke 2. I started out on my newer machine, a Janome 6600P. I’m not a big fan of the 3 different zipper feet I have for this machine and since that’s what you use pretty much the whole time, because of all the cording, I wasn’t having fun. Once the fabric got to about 10 thicknesses, that machine makes a horrible noise and says “stopping for safety reasons” and there you are, stuck. Turn it off, turn it back on, wait for it to reload…. Adjust all the settings, again, or else hit the zipper foot with the needle…. Every time I turned around… What is up with that? Does anyone know how to bypass that? I don’t believe it stopping for safety. I just want to sew!!!

Janome 6600P

That’s when I decided to step up to my older machine, which I highly prefer for zippers and cording, anyway. I say step up because this one is set up as at counter top height as a standing sewing machine, which I really do love! I bought this Bernina 1080 in the early 90’s, back when it was still made in Switzerland. At that time I was sewing, for a living, out of my home, and this baby was a powerhouse, still is. It has put in more replacement zippers than most people can even imagine. The throat on this machine isn’t as large as on the Janome, but that really wasn’t an issue here. The only reason I bought the Janome was because this one was aging and I knew I would eventually need a back up machine for service time, which can be slow.

Bernina 1080

So the changes I made, weren’t changes as much as additions. I added a 6″ x 8″ patch style pocket on one side of the interior and on the other I added a pocket the full width, lined with Peltex, similar to the exterior pockets. It’s the perfect size for my Macbook Pro!

Added pockets in my Amy Butler Weekender bag

I happened to already own the Peltex, the super, heavy-duty interfacing, the pattern called for, so I did use it on the front, back, base, large interior pocket, handles and just two layers in which Amy refers to as the false bottom… I did not use any other interfacing. With the heavier weight fabric, it was just not needed. Plus the time involved in cutting, ironing…. not a fan, if not absolutely necessary. And it wasn’t.

Adding hardware to Amy Butler weekender bag

I changed the way the zipper went in because I am persnickety about zippers. The way I did it caused the lining to need less seam allowances so it needed to be trimmed off close to an inch, on each side, before the center panel was treated as one. I stitched and folded the lining back tightly against the zipper so there is no chance of the lining getting caught in the zipper. Actually I stopped reading the pattern about here, because I don’t believe in hand stitching. If you can figure it out, you can work the lining and the front piece, kissing good sides together and stitch from one bottom corner, over the top and down the other side, (with the top zippered panel inside it), then pull it inside out and Wa La! No hand stitching! Repeat for the other side.

I lengthened the shoulder straps to 52″, the perfect, toss it over my shoulder length for me.

I also added these heavy-duty brass swivel snap clips with a tab attached down, in the side pocket, allowing me to attach a detachable shoulder strap, if I pack it too heavy. And because this bag holds so much, it weighed it at about 30 pounds, fully loaded this morning.

Amy Butler weekender bag with changes

Finished Dimensions for the Weekender Bag:
14” wide across the top of the bag
17” wide across the bottom
14 1/2” tall
7 1/2” deep

And in just four short hours and less than 20$ later, it is done, and I am out of here!!

My Amy Butler carry on

Linking up with:



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A Stitch In Time 2013 1

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31 Responses to 4 hours to a smarter packed traveler

  1. Renae says:

    Just made this bag last weekend with my cousin and although I love the bag I found the whole pattern and instructions to be a bugger. We made changes too, including adding a sleeve at the bottom to slide in a piece of board or cardboard to keep the bottom stiff.

    Not sure I’ll make another one, but yours looks great and love the long shoulder strap idea.


    • sewfrench says:

      Boo. I lost my reply….
      Like I said, somewhere around reading the same directions, aloud to myself, for the fifth time, I gave up on them. Keep in mind I’ve been sewing and bag making forever! This pattern is not for a beginner, or even mid experienced, pattern reader. They could definitely do it, but the pattern is lacking….
      I also created a pocket, of sorts, for the bottom. I ironed together several layers of Peltex and slipped them in and it is very sturdy. Using the heavy weight, basically upholstery fabric, made a huge difference, too. Though next time, if there is a next time, I would probably line it with something lighter weight, just because of the thickness. Or maybe if the cording was made with something lighter weight??? That would probably be best.


  2. Penny says:

    Holy schmoly, Lori. This bag is beyond fabulous! You continue to amaze me. Triple wow.


  3. mtetar says:

    Very nicely made, and the fabric is beautiful. The machines are both up with today’s high tech I would say. Mtetar


  4. Nancy says:

    Your bag is beautiful. I love the coordinating fabric you chose for the piping and handles. Really, it looks very professional. It’s hard to imagine being able to sew so well.


  5. Lynette says:

    Nice! I love its shape – looks nice and stable.


  6. Lisa says:

    That is a nice bag! You should be proud.


  7. Kathy says:

    Wow! A lovely and professional looking bag! Beautiful and practical! I must build up the nerve to take on this pattern!


  8. legato1958@aol.com says:

    Awesome Weekender! You are motivating me to take the plunge. I love all the colors and fabrics you used!


  9. You’ve done a fabulous job on this bag. I’ve had this pattern for years and had always intended to use some brocade fabric that was a coat that went wrong. (long story). Needless to say, I still haven’t done it, but it is so elegant and, as you say, just the right size. I think you could give Louis Vuitton a run for his money.


  10. hafza says:

    Love the fabric that you choose…your bag is beautiful!


  11. Pamela L. says:

    Wow – 4 hours! I’ve read a lot about this pattern and its difficulty. I’ve seen some beautiful end results, but have been scared off because of the many many layers that are sewn together. I love your fabric choice — home dec fabric is so appropriate for a bag like this — but then those layers would be even thicker. I think I’ll continue to enjoy this pattern by looking at success by others. Beautiful bag!


    • sewfrench says:

      Yeah, I was actually very surprised it only took 4 hours. I wasted more time than that trying to decide what changes I might want to make, LOL!
      2 1/2 hours one day and 1 1/2 hours to finish it up. Like I said I didn’t use all the interfacing, so that saved a good bit of time!. And yes, the fabric choice definitely made it thicker, but I do believe it made it more structured, professional looking bag, too. Not adding the full interior pocket and eliminating one of the full exterior pockets, would help, too. Not sure I’ll even use both end pockets, one for sure, it’s water bottle size, but if trying to save myself from the thick sewing, I could probably get by with just one….


  12. Gosh your professional finish is so impressive and love the fabric.


  13. It looks amazing! And sew French!


  14. Lily says:

    Yikes! This is great!! Just got back from London and could have used this! I will maybe look for a different pattern though – but I love yours!


  15. That is just a super bag – I love your fabric choice, and how great it was such a bargain! Thanks for all this info about the pattern. I have been thinking about making this bag for ages, because I really like the shape and size…. but how I am not so sure. I’m not entirely convinced that either me or my sewing machine are up to it!


  16. Amanda Jean says:

    Lori, your bag is simply AMAZING!!!! I’m sooooo impressed! Not only with the professional look of it….but also at your bargain priced fabrics. It’s beautiful!!! Well done. 🙂


  17. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know where to start. How about *amazing* ! Your fabric is fantastic, made even more so by it’s fabulously discounted price (I love a bargain). And you is a beautiful job on the construction. Nicely done! And thank you for linking up!

    xo -E


  18. Dolores says:

    You did a wonderful job. So nice that you found a ‘bargoon’ with th fabric.


  19. mlwilkie says:

    I enjoy your blog so much I am nominating your blog for a Liebster Award. Check out the rules and the questions here: http://factotum-of-arts.com/2013/03/29/liebster-award/


  20. Hi! I’ve loved reading your blog and wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for a Liebster Award. If you have a moment to pop over to my blog you can find out more about the award. Natalie x


  21. Pauline Kennelly says:

    I’ve had the Janome 6600 for about 5 years. I l♥ve it! I did have a problem similar to yours and installed a size 16 needle and problem solved.


  22. Pingback: Amelia approved! | Sewfrench

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