The Weekender

June 3, 2013

weekender bag

weekender bag

weekender bag

weekender bag

tank: J. Crew / jeans: GAP/similar / shoes: Vince Camuto

pyrite pendant necklace: Native Clutter / howlite necklace: Native Clutter / ring: Street Bauble

strap deets


bottoms up


This is the fourth time I’ve made a Weekender Bag. The first three bags, gifts completed years ago, were done on an entry-level Brother sewing machine with Joann’s home dec fabric. That machine did surprisingly well – I only sewed through my finger once and the finished products were really nice. This time around was a bit different.



  • Amy Butler Weekender Bag Pattern
  • 5/8 yd Pendleton remnant from Denver Fabrics
  • Half a cow hide from Tandy Leather – there’s quite a bit leftover!
  • 138 bonded nylon in gold brown
  • 69 nylon in gold brown and natural
  • size 21 and 23 leather needles
  • 3/16″ cording
  • magnet for a seam guide
  • binder clips
  • thimble
  • Eco-Flo leather weld – this stuff is AMAZING. I basted the whole bag with it. Aaaand used it a bit too liberally in some places. It’s a really great product. Mine was purchased from Tandy Leather.
  • purse stabilizer – not pictured, but critical to the project. I used it to line the straps and the bottom section instead of using timtex (too flimsy) or veg-tan (too thick). Also purchased from Tandy Leather.
  • timtex for the front panels
  • YKK #5 Brass Closed Bottom zipper cut to 30″ from Zipper Stop
  • Kai Scissors 7250 – also not pictured but HOLY SHIT you need to try these. I’m not even going to say anything else. Just find some and cut something. You’ll never be the same.
  • Probably more stuff, but that’s all I can think of for now.
  • WELT FEET! I used 1/4″ welt feet. Huge help.

What makes this one so different? Materials. 100%. I chose to use leather, wool and substantial thread. Most machines don’t even have the lift capacity to accommodate the enormous layers that I ended up working with. And honestly, it took forever because it was kind of intimidating and I had to hand crank a lot and then my arms got sore…

Digression: I had a customer who was complaining about getting all of these injuries from her industrial machine. She said she was bruised and her hands were all messed up. At the time I was thinking, “Whoa lady, you are probably not qualified to work on this equipment. Why don’t you try to make and sell something else? That sounds terrible.” And now, I kind of get it.

For the straps I cut four lengths of 1.25″ leather strips and two lengths of purse stabilizer in a slightly narrower size. I used the Eco-Flo glue to baste the leather wrong sides together with the stabilizer in between. Once they were dry, I used my 1/8″ topstitching foot set to get even stitching. All topstitching was done with 138 bonded nylon thread. The pattern instructions have you stitch the straps to the faces twice horizontally, but I did boxes for more visual interest.

There are flaws and issues, but I’m not going to dwell on them. I will say I wish I would’ve ended the piping at the start of the bottom panel. It becomes too thick and it’s obscured anyway.


My bag would not have been possible without the help of a Kingmax GC0302 drop-feed walking foot sewing machine. This beast is my new best friend. I feel like we can overcome all obstacles together. I have plans to expand my accessories line and this thing is going to help me get there. I’m still learning for sure, but I’m getting more and more comfortable with how it operates.

This bag is my most belated Mother’s Day gift to date. Sorrs ma! It’s on it’s way!


Phew! Now what’s next?!? I have a half-finished Archer, I’m contemplating Datura and I reeeaaallllly want to make some Ballet Dresses. That means my next post will be about none of those things.


  • Cynthia

    This came out AHHHH-MAZING! Soooo nice

  • Jen

    Crap dude, all that hard work was DEFINITELY worth it, it looks so good! I cannot cannot wait to see this accessories expansion. 4real. Two other things, your hair looks awesome and I am emailing you back RIGHTNOW, ha! I just drank an entire dr. pepper, sorry for the cray talk here.

    • stephanie

      Ahhh!! Thanks!! It’s one of those things where this took me forever and was really hard, but the next one would take like a day. Or two. Thanks for the kind words on my hair. It was kind of terrifying, but now I’m like OMG I should be a redhead!!

  • Sara

    Wow that bag came out AMAZING! And your red hair and tattoo look fabulous! You make me feel more inspired to sew fashionable clothes, and to start a blog. Thank you!

  • crab&bee

    Oh my gosh… I can’t even imagine figuring out how to construct this bag. It’s just beautiful. Your mom is super lucky.

    • stephanie

      Thanks! It was just so THICK. Omg. Some days I couldn’t handle it.

      I’m excited to give it to her! I know she’ll love and use it.

  • Andrea

    Geeeeeez it looks so amazing and perfectly constructed. Definitely the most beautiful Weekender bag I’ve seen! I don’t even know where I’d source half those supplies. Seriously well done!

    • stephanie

      Thank-you so much! It’s actually definitely not perfect, but I sure tried! I lucked out with sourcing – I had been working in industrial sewing manufacturing for a while, so I had lots of help on that end.

  • Stephanie

    Amazing! I hadn’t seen that bag pattern before. Your bag is really beautiful and perfectly finished!

  • Teresa

    Okay, the weekender bag has been on my to make list for a while now. This bag, though, is helping me move it up to the top of my list. It is so beautiful and professional looking. Nice job!

  • Michelle

    It’s awesome! I love your fabric, too! You have some serious sewing skillz, Stephanie.

  • Mamie

    Love your bag. I’m curious about your industrial sewing machine…does it also sew clothing or is it just designed for heavy duty. I have a single stitch portable Juki that’s a cross between a home machine and industrial. I used to have an industrial, never tried sewed leather…but sold the machine now. I have not tried sewing leather on my current junior Juki yet, but heard it’s possible from others. Wanted to get thoughts from others who make accessories and clothing.

    • stephanie

      It can sew clothes as well! I have a special foot that turns it into a regular drop-feed. I got it primarily for leather and home decor, but will be using it to sew clothes occasionally too. A wool coat would sew up nicely on my walking foot. Same with jeans!

      Did you?!? Was it a Juki DDL? Yes, you could’ve sewn leather with it! Lightweight leather anyway. It’s not necessarily ideal for those purposes, but a lot of people who would like to sew leather or do upholstery buy single-needle, drop-feeds first because they’re less expensive. They can trade-in or upgrade later.

      I’m sure home machines can sew leather too.

  • emily marie

    WOAH. I am so impressed with this thing! Way to be! Thanks for listing all your supplies and sources too- I have a large piece of marigold leather and needed some inspiration!

    • stephanie

      You’re welcome! I thought they might be helpful to someone trying to tackle the same thing. Oooh, marigold leather? I hope you get to that soon!

  • Caroline

    AMAZING! So inspired to make one!

  • anna

    amazing! I love your style. Man, I wish I could find leather like that around here. But then I would probably hoard it away in fear of messing it up! Maybe I’ll have to do some serious hunting. 🙂

    • stephanie

      That’s part of what took me so long – fear of screwing something up! And I survived! Start with scraps. I was constantly test sewing.

  • sallie

    Holy shit this is amazing!! Seriously gorgeous! I don’t know how you do it. I can honestly say I’ve never been terribly inspired to make a bag – but this… this is so effing inspiring. I’m pretty inspired to steal it. If I could. Your ma is ONE lucky lady!!

  • liza jane

    I know others have said it before, but this is really amazing. I’m so impressed and I can’t imagine using an industrial machine like that. And yes, your hair is awesome!

  • Ginger

    YOU MADE THIS FOR YOUR MOTHER?!?!?! After all the work that went into it, I really don’t think I could give it away! You’re a saint, lady, a SAINT!

    I seriously have no words for how much I love this bag. I’m kinda burning with jealousy. Just a little bit.

    Love the hair and the tat, too! You look fab!

    • stephanie

      Ha ha! I actually can’t look at it anymore. We’ve spent too much time together and I see flaws that really bother me. I feel bad about giving her my first draft, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Thank-you so much! On all accounts. I was nervous about dyeing my hair, but you know who totally inspired me? Gertie! I love her pink hair. Red is obviously not as wild, but it was still a big change for me.

  • steven a.

    what’s next is you send that bag to me because i need it in my life.

  • Elise

    Wow, fabulous bag. I’ve never thought about making one but this needs to go on my list! Great job.

  • crystalpleats

    This bag is truly amazing. And its extra amazing that you are gifting it! I would have a hard time parting with it.

  • Kristina

    Wow, that bag is amazing! I can’t imagine ever sewing with leather so I’m so impressed by people who do!!

  • Sam

    A fantastic bag and it looks so professional!
    I would LOVE to know if you did the piping yourself? I have never been able to make leather or vinyl piping that looks good, and I can’t seem to find any pre-made.

    • stephanie

      Hi Sam! Thank-you so much. Yes, I made the piping. I cut strips of leather (I can’t remember the width – sorry!) then wrapped them over 3/16″ cotton cording. With a lengthened stitch AND a zipper foot, I slowly stitched about 1/8″ away from where the final stitch would be. This is preparing the cording. The instructions for the bag have you do the same for home dec fabrics. I then basted the piping to the bag with the leather weld.

      Leather piping is tricky! It’s kind of stretchy, so I was sure to really pull and stretch it out while basting it down. The corners were still a little bunchy.

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Amy

    Ooh, I love making leather bags, but it’s been awhile. I *really* loved hearing about sewing it on a walking foot machine, bruises and all. Your tattoo looks stunning at least from far away! Would love to see more of the design–are there feathers in there?–I take it that it’s new?

    • stephanie

      Do you?! Did you use patterns or draft your own? I’d love any recommendations. I found a tote on Kollabora that I’d like to try. It was such an interesting process – using new materials is always intimidating for me and working with leather was doubly so. I shouldn’t have been so nervous because it was really fun to sew with! I am so excited about the possibilities on that machine! Ahhh! So fun. I think I have enough leather left to make a small tote or purse, which I desperately need, so I’ll get to that soon.

      Thank-you! Yes, it’s newish. I got it last fall. I don’t know why I thought my first tattoo should be a half-sleeve, but there it is. It’s just peonies – no color. I’m really happy with it and have plans for a few more, but it was painful enough that I haven’t been in a huge hurry to get back!

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  • awfully nice

    There is probably nothing I can say that hasn’t been said, but this bag is just beyond awesome.

  • diiva

    The link of the bag pattern has some error…could you please email me the pattern

  • Marsha Davis

    I love this bag. It’s perfect. I had this crazy idea to make bags for my daughters out of Pendleton blankets for Christmas this year. However I failed to consider that 1. I have VERY little experience sewing and 2. I don’t have a sewing maching. I mistakenly thought I could get a cheap machine at Joannes, find an easy pattern on pintrest and badaboom…a bag could be made. Then I saw your fabulous bag and all the work it took. Do you ever make bags for others, using their material? Do you know of any easy bag pattern that wouldn’t look cheap for a novice sewer? Would love feedback from others as well. Thanks!

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