“The Perfect Handbag”: pattern review

I made up the “Fold-up Shopper” from “The Perfect Handbag” by Clare Youngs for a graduation gift.


I made it up in muslin, and some light-weight upholstery fabric, which came from a Good-Will grab bag, and which I assume to be vintage. When else would you find fabric with peaches (or apples; we can’t decide,) and eggs on it, of all things?

Here are my thoughts on this pattern:

  1. The directions were a trifle confusing. For example,  in step 1,  it says to: “Turn under and press both layers to form a double 3/8in (1cm) hem on the right side of the back piece. Pin and then stitch close to the edge of the hem.  Turn 5/8in (1.5cm) to the right side along the top edge of the front and back; press.”  I took this to mean that I was to fold and stitch the sides and bottom, then fold and press the top. Which *doesn’t work.*    In retrospect, she meant that only the bottom was to be stitched; then the top folded down. This is impractical, because then one has to re-iron a portion of the sides.  It would be simpler to iron down the top  *before* you iron the sides.    This was, however, the only major trouble I had with the directions.
  2. The top-stitching was a pain. And I usually don’t mind. This probably was harder than it should have been, because the top panel was too short.  Though,  after reading over the measurements given, it seems to have been a problem with my measuring, not hers.004
  3. My bag didn’t fold up as neatly as the one shown did.009 Before you panic, remember that the fabric shown was very translucent, and therefore, thinner. Mine is quite opaque. Also, as I said in point 2, my measurements very well may have been off. I’m *really* not good at measuring squares and rectangles.
  4. I wish she would have shown a cutting diagram, showing which way the grain was to go. It would’ve saved me a few minutes of thinking.
  5. I found Claire Youngs’ button-loop measurements to be a 1/4in wide for my button. It was a simple matter to trim off the extra, before sewing. No biggie. Once again, this is a problem specific to what sort of button you’re using.
  6. Her measurements  for the placing of the loop were spot on.
  7. I do like how the finished bag looks.  I might make another.
The front. The fussy-cut applique is to cover a mistake I made.
The front. The fussy-cut applique is to cover a mistake I made.

The back

BTW, the mistake which warranted the appliqué, was an inch long slit cut in the fabric. See, I had cut out one piece of muslin, and had folded it in half to use as a pattern for the second piece. Unfortunately, I was using the rotary cutter, and was cutting along the folded edge.  Of course, it ended up taking off a sliver of fabric.  So what I did, was narrowly zig-zag the hole closed, fussy cut an apple (or is it a peach?) out of some spare fabric, cut a piece of fusible interfacing to match, fused the facing down, and stitched the appliqué on top of that.   Mum says it “adds” to the bag. I think it does.

So would I use this pattern again?  Probably.  I might do the top facing differently, or add a gusset to the bottom of the bag, but overall it seemed like a decent pattern. So, if you’ve got a day (or afternoon, if you’re speedy) open, go for it!


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