Pattern Review: Amy Butler Birdie Sling
Another A+ for Amy Butler on this one! I made the Amy Butler Birdie Sling a couple of weekends ago and I’m really pleased with the results. This is a large shoulder bag that would be perfect for a day at the beach or a trip to the library. There’s plenty of room for all your personal items as well as a magazine or two, a bottle of water and some snacks. I’ve also heard that this bad would be a great baby bag as an alternative to the traditional style. Although I have considerable sewing experience with garments, bags are a whole different breed and this was a first for me.
Difficulty: The instructions are very well written and I would classify the pattern difficulty between easy and medium.
Packaging: The pattern pieces are printed on a heavy weight printing paper instead of tissue, but I still found it helpful to iron the creases out of the pattern pieces before cutting my fabric. This allowed the pattern pieces to lay flat and definitely helped with the accuracy of cutting. I am already tempted to make another birdie sling for a friend, so I am glad that the pattern is so sturdy and will stand up well to multiple uses.
Pieces: There are a lot of pieces to cut for this pattern from the 3 main fabrics, and once you add in the number of pieces needed for interfacing and fusible fleece you’ve really got your work cut out for you. I highly recommend that you set aside a couple of hours to cut out your pattern pieces and all of your fabrics before you sit down to sew. It really does make a difference, and you’ll be able to pay better attention to the sewing instructions if you’re not already burnt out from spending two hours cutting out pattern pieces.
Pattern Instructions: These instructions were very easy to understand, especially with the pattern correction found on Amy’s website. If you have an older copy of this pattern you will appreciate the updated illustration for step 6B, which makes a lot more sense than the original illustration. Major headache averted! Other than that, I did not have any issues with the pattern instructions, they were clear, concise and easy to follow.
Construction: The one change I made to this pattern was the addition of a magnetic snap at the bag opening. I felt that since the bag was large to begin with, it may gape open at the top. One of my pet peeves is having my bag hanging open, so I thought the snap was worth the trouble. I followed the instructions on this tutorial (minus the buttonholes, a small cut with a seam ripper worked just fine for me), and inserted the magnetic snap after assembling the handle lining pieces, before attaching them to the outer handles and bag body pieces. The only issue I ran into was that I ended up with a little extra fabric on either side of the bag body when I attached it to the bag top, which could either be due to my pleats being slightly smaller than they were supposed to be, or a cutting error on the bag top pieces. The error wasn’t a big deal, and I just trimmed the little bit of extra fabric from the seam allowance once the side seams of the bag body were sewn together. The inside of the bag contains two pockets, a large pocket on one side, and a dived pocket on the other. The pockets are very deep (see below) and would easily hold keys or a wallet without having them in danger of slipping out.
The gussets really give this bag a nice appearance and body, unlike so many other bag patterns that hang flat at your side. When sewing the gussets you’re sewing through some very thick seams, so make sure that you go slowly and pay attention to avoid skipped stitches. Remember that if the layers of fabric you are sewing through are thick enough, they make raise the presser foot so high that the lower feed dogs are no longer engaged. Make sure that even when the layers are thick you are still remembering to lower your presser foot! Lastly, the main detail on this bag are the pleats on the outer body. If you are new to sewing pleats there is nothing to worry about, Amy does a great job of explaining the construction in the pattern instructions. The main thing to remember is to fold the pleats in the right direction once they are folded. If you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric, you will line up the two notches and press the fold towards the center, this will result in the lovely pleats on the front of the bag you see here:
Comments: I love this bag and wouldn’t change a thing about the size, but I’m also a big fan of large shoulder bags. If you are not usually a fan of extra-large bags then double-check the finished measurements before sewing and consider reducing the pattern pieces before cutting out your fabric – just remember that this will nullify the measurements in the pattern instructions, so you will have to adjust them accordingly. I would definitely recommend this pattern to a beginner and plan on making more from this pattern in the future!