This is the smaller size of this tote bag design (http://www.amybutlerdesign.com/products/patterns_display.php?id=53) which could double up as a handbag. There are a number of velvety bags in the shops at the moment so it looks current.
The instructions were a bit cramped and the diagram for the false bottom was distinctly unhelpful but we got there in the end.
The fabric allowances are on the generous side so it’s probably a good idea to have a look at the pattern pieces before you buy your fabric because you probably won’t need as much as the pattern suggests. (Unless your name is Amy Butler, ha!) I only bought 60 cm of 54″ wide material (rather than 1.5 yards suggested) and just used plain cotton from the market for the lining. Having said that, if you’ve bought lots more fabric you can do a better job with the pattern placement than me. In a perfect world the straps would match the main panels.
I used Amy Butler velveteen in Pressed Flowers from the Alchemy range. It’s lovely fabric although not the best choice for a novice bag maker as it frayed badly and developed 2 or 3 holes in ham-fisted making up. Next time I’ll use a less fragile cotton. I’ve scotchguarded the bag but am a bit nervous about subjecting it to the real world of rough and tumble.
I used a sew-in interfacing with the velveteen because I thought iron on wouldn’t work with the fabric. Amy Butler provides a useful link to a web page that gives detailed advice on sewing velveteen which is where it tells you not to use iron-on interfacing.
The pattern tells you to stitch the handles and turn them inside out, which was a near impossibility. If I did it again I’d just fold the strap wrong sides together and stitch from the outside.
I also added a magnetic clasp although this wasn’t really necessary and regrettably the two parts don’t match up so aren’t much use anyway.
I added a strip of leather to the upper edge of the finished bag, which added somewhat to the expense but feels good.
As a project, this turned out to be a bit more involved than I’d anticipated, but enjoyable in spite of it all. I do have new respect for real bag makers now!