Monday, January 10, 2011

Reversible Sunday Sling Pattern Review/Tips

I finally sat down and forced myself to do a little productive sewing! I love to review patterns and let you, the reader, in on my experience step by step...however embarrassing it might be for me! I LOVE to sew, but I have a couple personality traits that make it difficult to complete a project as the pattern designer intended. First challenging trait? I don't like to read instructions....yeah....big one, right? Second one, I stink at organization. I entered into this sewing commitment fully intending to concentrate on my weaknesses and not let them sway me from a positive sewing experience. So here goes! For those of you who have purchased this pattern, go get it. You'll need your pattern, a pencil and a cup of coffee/tea or whatever you prefer. (I suggest against anything with alcohol until after your project is complete. I speak from experience.)

The Reversible Sunday Sling by Amy Butler

First, your needed tools: These are your basics...scissors, seam ripper, pressing cloth, hand-sewing needle, straight pins, iron and ironing board, turning tool, ruler and fabric marker.

Tip: She suggests a closed pair of scissors as a turning tool which I suppose could work but my scissors are heavy Ginghers and have a very sharp point. I have bought HUNDREDS of turning tools from the Wonder Buddy to the Purple Thang. All of them work great...that is if you can actually find them when you need them (organization thing again). For this project, I used a manicure stick or "orange stick". I always have those in my medicine cabinet and it works GREAT for getting into small spaces!

Another Tip: In every pattern she writes, she suggests using a pressing cloth. This is to protect your board AND your iron from the fusible "glue" on your interfacing. I've used everything from muslin to home decor cotton. I recently started using BIRDSEYE cloth diapers. Birdseye cloth diapers are thinner and will allow the heat from your iron through the layers. They're also inexpensive, washable and reusable.

A note about your machine settings:

When I sew handbags, I like to use my straight stitch needle plate. This is a plate that was actually designed for piecing quilts. I find that when I use this plate and engage my built-in walking foot function, my straight stitch is AMAZING! This is important when putting together a handbag, especially on your decorative top stitching. Make sure you don't try and zig-zag anything with this plate inserted. You'll be dealing with a broken needle and a jammed machine!

Also, when I'm sewing my handbag pieces together, I like to decrease my stitch a little. My standard stitch is at 2.5 so I decrease to 1.5. This gives you a nice close stitch and will increase the integrity of your bag. Now, if you make a mistake and have to get that seam ripper out, it does make it more difficult to pull out your stitches but this issue is easy...don't make a mistake!! (Just kidding! I'm Queen of Mistakes!) So, for piecing the handbag together I use a 1.5 stitch, for top stitching a 2.5 and for basting a 4.5. You'll be doing all of the above on this pattern.

Fabrics required for the SMALL sling are 1 7/8 yards for the exterior, 1 3/8 yards for the lining/reversible side, 5 1/2 yards of fusible woven interfacing, 7/8 yards of fusible fleece and 1/4 yard of fusible peltex. This is using 44"/45" wide quilting cotton. She has other requirements when using 54" wide Home Decor. A note about the interfacing...USE IT! Don't think you'll get a great outcome without using interfacing. AND use what she suggests! I've used whatever I could find in my craft closet before. Doesn't work out well! She suggests Shape-Flex SF-101 by Pellon (the best interfacing ever made) for your woven, Thermolam Plus (awesome!) for the fleece and Peltex for your interfaced bottom of your bag. Please don't deviate from these products unless you are confident in the similarities of your choices compared to her suggestions.

When choosing your fabrics: Keep in mind that this bag is reversible! Make the most out of your fabric choices! I regret using a solid. I thought it would quiet the bag down and make it more soothing. Now I think it's just boring! Your exterior pockets will be trimmed with your lining/reversible fabric and your lining/reversible pockets will be trimmed with your exterior fabric choice. Go NUTS!

Step 1: Cut out pattern pieces.

A few pattern pieces are labeled with multiple numbers. You'll be using this one pattern piece for two or three different pieces. She makes this easy by labeling exactly what the piece is used for, where to fold and a number/letter combo. Pattern piece 1 is actually 1a, 1b and 1c and each piece has a solid, dashed or dotted line to follow. Pattern pieces 2 and 3 are the same. To better my organization, I put a label on each piece I cut out as soon as they were cut.

Step 2: Cut all pieces from your fabrics/interfacing.

Self explanatory. Use your paper pattern pieces to cut out your fabric (keeping in mind your fabric print direction!). Use your fabric pieces as full size patterns to cut out your interfacing. I didn't do this, I used the paper pieces to cut out the interfacing. Using your fabric pieces just closes the gap of mis-cutting your interfacing too big for your fabric piece ( I assume). Since I used a pressing cloth, I wasn't too worried about this. Amy has awesome sketches on how to lay out your pattern pieces to maximize your fabric with plenty of room to move your pieces around and get exactly what you want out of your fabric.

Step 3: Apply interfacing and fleece.

Follow the manufacturers instructions for doing this. I use a damp pressing cloth with a dry iron. The steam setting on your iron will always mess with your interfacing. You want a dry heat iron setting (hot!) and a slightly damp pressing cloth (I spritz my cloth with my iron water spray).

Step 4: Making pleats.

If you've done pleats sweat. If you've not done pleats's the easiest thing you'll ever do! Amy's directions and sketches are superb!

Step 5: Make and attach straps.

Here's where you'll need that turning tool. I also have a little trick when top stitching your strap. I like to get about 1/8" from the edge on my top stitch. Well, when you hit that point on the strap, it's difficult for your feed dogs to pick that fabric up and drag it under your presser foot. I put a piece of regular printer/copy paper under the strap tip and sew right through all layers. This stabilizes your strap and also gives you something to maneuver as your sewing. Use that paper to pull the strap through after you've pivoted at the tip. This will give you a much smoother sew line and will prevent your strap tip from getting stuck under your presser foot. When you're done sewing, just tear the paper out (like an old school stamp, tear to the side, not up).

Step 6: Make and attach side pockets.

Easy step! I love how the pockets are put together so the lining fabric trims the exterior pocket!

Step 7: Sew side and bottom panels together.

Step 8: Make the exterior.

You'll be easing a bit of a curve in the bottom of the bag in this step. Her directions for this are great. My suggestion is to pin in the center bottom then pin in each top corner. Then work down the sides and across the bottom until all that's left are those curves in the bottom corners. Now you know how much fabric needs to match up and it will be easier to ease and manipulate that fabric so all fits smoothly.

Step 9 and 10: Mark and place your cell phone pocket.

Cool, super secret cell phone pocket! Love it!

Step 11: Make and attach Main Pocket.

Your main pocket is made of your lining/reversible fabric choice with the exterior fabric choice as the pocket lining. Your exterior fabric will actually be the trim on this pocket. Gosh, I hope that makes sense! I wish I would have known this before I chose my fabrics. Again, it all goes back to not reading instructions!!

Step 12: Complete the reversible side of the sling.
You'll actually go back to Steps 7 and 8 to complete this with one VERY important will leave an opening at the bottom edge of your lining so that you can turn your bag right side out once it is all sewn together.

Step 13: Sew exterior and reversible sides together.

I pressed the side seams open to reduce the bulk around the top. You will have a huge amount of bulk under the straps but that's okay. You don't have to top stitch over those...thank goodness! Match your raw edges all the way around and pin making sure that you match up those corner seams.

AND WATCH THOSE STRAPS!! You want your 1/2 inch seam allowance to hit right at those straps in the top of your bag. Just feel around and stop stitching once you hit the beginning/end of your strap and pivot your bag to continue stitching. Again, the sketches included in this step should clear up any question you may have. You may even want to fold the straps under and pin them so they don't get stuck in the side seams as you sew around the top of your bag.

When you've finished sewing around the top, she'll have you trim and notch so when you turn it right side out, your curves will press out perfectly. You'll have that hole in your lining/reversible side so you'll hand-sew this shut. Just a quick whip stitch will do. Remember to be neat if you plan on using the reverse side!

I had a great time making this bag and it was pretty quick. Give yourself about 3 days. The first day I cut everything out in less than 2 hours or so. The second day I had the interfacing attached and most of the sewing done (spent about 4 hours). The third day was under a couple hours finishing it all up. Your household may not be as crazy as mine and it may take you less time. If so...lucky. (My best Napoleon Dynamite impression!) If you're a beginner, it may take a bit longer. I suggest you familiarize yourself with the written instructions before sewing. This is not in my DNA. Had I done this, I don't think I would have chosen a solid for the reversible side.

I really hope this "play-by-play" has helped you! If it has, please let me know! You can post a comment here or you can email me at If I'm missing something, let me know that too! I'm still learning and can use all the advice I can get! If you are interested in purchasing this pattern or any of Amy's fabrics, you can find it in my online shop, I carry all sorts of contemporary fabrics and patterns and I deliver stellar customer service! If I can be of any assistance at all, please let me know!


A King said...

I want a bag that is big enough to be used as a diaper bag. I have 2 girls in cloth and I don't care to much about the pockets. Having just a few is fine with me but I want a LARGE bag so what do you think about the size of this bag?

A Joyful Soul Fabrics said...

Hi Ashley! I would LOVE this as a diaper bag! It does have pockets but not so many that you're overwhelmed with them. (I totally get you mean!) It also comes in two sizes. I made the smaller one and I would think it would be a perfect size for a diaper bag. Since you have two, maybe going up to the bigger size would be best. Good luck!

Laura Jane said...

Hi Joy,

Just seen your pattern review and it is very detailed thank you! I have bought this pattern (waiting for it to arrive) and am now choosing the fabrics, and I have a couple of questions if you could shed any light on them...?

1. I'd like to use a thick striped fabric for the main print running vertically up the bag. Would this work out okay (i.e. no pieces running opposite to the others)? Or should I buy more then the designated amount just in case?

2. Where do you use the fusible fleece in the pattern? I can't seem to find any locally, and its crazy money on the Internet (I'm in the UK). Do you think I could sub it for some mid-heavy weight normal fusible interfacing?

Thanks, Laura Jane

A Joyful Soul Fabrics said...

Hi Laura Jane!
First off Amy is pretty good about adding enough yardage to her requirements to account for centering a large pattern seeing as how her fabrics are mostly large scale. I don't think you'll have any problem at all with the given requirements to get all of your pattern pieces with the stripe remaining vertical. Looking at her cutting diagram, whatever stripe you purchase should run parallel to the selvage edge. That will ensure that your stripes are vertical on your fabric pieces. The only thing I am seeing is that, if you cut it out as she has instructed, your handles will have the stripe going horizontal. BUT, it looks as if there is enough fabric that you can move your pattern pieces to the direction you want, there is enough fabric leftover to do that.

Second, I'm going to be real honest with you, I do not substitute the Thermolam Plus for ANYTHING else! I've tried it in the past and was so disappointed in the outcome. The Thermolam Plus is a fusible fleece that has a higher loft than your average fusible fleece. It maintains the shape and integrity of your finished product and giving it a soft feel at the same time. It's amazing stuff! If you were to substitute it with a mid-heavy weight interfacing, you will lose the softness and strength of your bag. I know, not great news but I would never recommend something that would result in a finished product that you will be less than thrilled with! I am not familiar with a UK product that would be comparable. Maybe one of my UK readers can help us out. If not, I do sell the Thermolam for $8.99 per yard and I can research the least expensive way to get it to you. Probably first class which would take a few weeks to get to you. Email me at if you are interested in that. Let me know if I can help you with anything else!

Laura Jane said...

Thank you Joy for you're detailed answer. I think I will bite the bullet and find somewhere in the UK that sells fusible fleece. Like you say, its worth it to make the finished product the best that it can be!

I'm ordering the fabric today, when it's finished I'll send you a picture :-)

Terri said...

Hi there. I am making the larger Amy Butler Sunday sling. I am stuck on one part. I am stuck on step 6--Make and attach the side pockets.
I dont understand A. and B. I am not sure how to do it. Can you please help me?

A Joyful Soul Fabrics said...

Hi Terri! You are not the first person to tell me this! In fact, a while back I posted a video on my Facebook page that will take you through the process. Watch it and let me know if it helps. If not, let me know!