achievement unlocked: swoon patterns betty bowler


more viewfinder print fabric!

i whipped this baby up to be my go-to summer bag. i guess i have several other bags i could have used, but i really wanted to make a purse from the viewfinder fabric, because i love it so much. my winter bag is a felted wool purse from queen bee, & carrying a wool purse really sucks when it’s 80 degrees out.

constructing this bag was pretty easy for me, having already made amy butler’s weekender bag. the construction elements are nearly identical. you spend one thousand hours cutting out your fabric & interfacing, & another one thousand hours fusing your interfacing. you also have to spend some time making piping, if you hate store-bought piping like i do. (it’s always so chunky. i like very narrow piping. mine is only 1/16″ across.) then you can sew.

i didn’t include the fabric stripe design included in the original pattern because i didn’t want to mask the viewfinder fabric in any way. the stripe does serve the function of stitching through the edge of the interior pocket bag so it doesn’t droop between the layers. i got around that by handstitching the pocket bag to the fusible fleece.


yeah, i was initially skeptical of this little pocket & even considered leaving it off. i wasn’t sure a pocket with a vertical zipper would get any use. but it’s come in really handy for stashing my phone, camera, & prescription sunglasses! thanks, little pocket!

i also purchased strap webbing instead of making straps from fabric. my local fabric shop had this hot pink webbing that couldn’t have been more perfect, so why not? i made the straps on my weekender from fabric & i think they look just a little bit becky home-ec-y.


i lined the bag with a coordinating print from the cotton + steel line & ran a couple of lines of stitching through the big interior pocket to make compartments, including one that is perfect for a pen. the other two fit my kindle or a book or whatever. & the rest of the bag is VERY spacious so i can wander around all over town with snacks for ramona, library books, my appointment book, a ball for the playground, logic puzzles for downtime, & still have room to spare in case i go to the fabric store & can’t leave without buying something (which admittedly has not happened in a while).

i sewed part of the bag when i was really tired & whiffed a lot of things. nothing super-important. just stuff like going to the effort of regular stitching when basting would have been fine. i do regret not topstitching a little bit closer to the zipper coils when i installed the top zipper. i checked & double-checked but there are still a few places where i didn’t quite catch the tape, so i’m going to have to fix that at some point. i also put a little hole in my tape when i cut out the basting stitches, so i need to fix that too.

i went off-script & sewed the lining to the bag before i attached the second exterior panel. then i had to rip half the lining stitches out to get the bag turned right side out properly. whoops. again, i was very tired. i had woken up at 4:30am & couldn’t get back to sleep. i keep having anxiety attacks about moving. a family accumulates a lot of stuff in four years, & now we have to sort through it all & figure out what to get rid of & what to pack & how to most efficiently accomplish that task, etc. & i really do wake up in the middle of the night panicking over the new house not having a bathtub. anyone got a pro-tip on a toddler tub that can fit in a shower stall?

this was also the project i was working on when i sewed through my fingertip. i was feeling for piping between the exterior layers, which involved putting my fingers right next to my needle. not so smart. though that injury looks like nothing compared to my run-in with the rotary cutter the other day. i very much regret not getting stitches.

anyway, i love my finished bag & have been carrying it everyday! my one complaint is that the interfacing combo doesn’t do a ton to help the bag hold its structure, which is a shame, because a bowler bag should really hold its shape. if i made this bag again, i would use heavier interfacing & cut it out of the seamlines before attaching the panels.

more projects on the docket: today i picked up a pattern for some cute sailor shorts, & i ordered fabric to make stretch twill jeans-style pants & a retro two-piece swimsuit. i also ordered a couple of yards of pretty jersey to make another lady skater, just because i needed to add something for the free shipping, & i won’t regret having another great knit dress in the closet. i bought thread to make another bra & panties set, & the required notions for another shorts pattern i’ve had since last summer. & the jersey i ordered to make an army of black t-shirts is set for delivery on tuesday. once these items are stitched up, i imagine i’ll be pretty much set for summer clothes. maybe i’ll make some lightweight jammies (too hot for flannel).

the fabric store was packed with great sweater knits today. i don’t get it. i spent the entire winter scouring the land for knit fabric with visible loops & couldn’t find anything. now it’s 85 degrees out & there’s tons of it. jared asked if i had purchased any & i told him i hadn’t. i thought about it, but just couldn’t bring myself to buy sweater knits in may. maybe they were there because everyone else feels the same way, & i couldn’t find anything in the winter because everyone was snatching them up for their winter sewing. maybe the secret to successful sewing is sewing off-season (or at least buying fabric off-season). who knows?

instead i just bought what was on my list & then met up with jared & ramona at the insect lab on campus for their “butterfly exhibition” (ramona’s words). ramona held a caterpillar & then dropped it & said it was “heavy”. there were a million other toddlers there & a few tiny babies that made me kind of want another tiny baby. having a toddler is awesome, but having a teeny tiny baby is awesome too. it’s all awesome! kids are so great.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

3 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: swoon patterns betty bowler

  1. That bag looks great! I definitely dig the viewfinder fabric.

    We use a tub from Ikea for toddler baths. Our bathtub is cracking apart and breaking, so using the toddler tub is (theoretically) helping to keep it from leaking until we can get around to replacing the bathtub. I think I remember that you guys don’t have an Ikea near you, so I guess that’s not very helpful. Sorry!

    It hasn’t been a problem to bath a toddler in a house without a working bathtub, so I hope that’s helpful. 🙂

    1. we do have an IKEA nearby now! an IKEA just opened a few months ago in kansas city. i searched for toddler tubs on their website though & couldn’t find anything. just baby tubs. do you have a link to what you guys use?

      maybe i displacing general anxiety about moving on to the tub issue, but it’s really stressing me out. ramona loves baths, which sounds like kind of an uncommon thing among toddlers, & i feel so bad that we’re moving to a place with no tub. she HATES showers. so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: