Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sew Liberated Art Satchel: A Review

I decided to make two of the Art Satchels from Growing up Sew Liberated for Ella & Aubrey for Christmas.  I did some quick Googling to see if I could find any reviews before I started, but all I turned up was a bunch of bloggers from the book's blog tour saying they had made the Art Satchel or that they wanted to make it. That seemed promising, and I have liked most of the other things I've tried from the book. So Will and I went and purchased fabric (he picked out the fabrics and did such a great job--that boy really has a good eye for color!), and I planned to get going. Unfortunately, the final product left a lot to be desired.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel

Cutting took forever, but I think there's no way around that since there are a ton of little pieces. However, it would have been nice to have included the shapes in the pattern rather than just giving dimensions, so people wouldn't have to do as much measuring. Once I had cut out my first batch of pieces, I just used them as templates for the next batch. When I got finished cutting out, I was in shock at how much fabric I had left! Almost 1/2 yard of each of my two main fabrics! You can definitely safely purchase 1/3 of yard less than called for at minimum. If you're not doing any fussy cutting, you could go even less than that. Interfacing just needs a small scrap--the only two peices you'll cut from it are 4.5x3" and 2x2".

Then I started sewing and the problems with the pattern instructions started showing up. The first problem was in Step #7. The instructions say to sew down the elastic at 5.5" below the top right corner. When the crayon roll is complete and the button sewn on, this will result in the elastic being below the button by about 1", which makes the crayon roll hang all whoppy-jawed, as my mother would say. I played around with a piece of paper and think changing the original measurement to be 4.5" from the top right would correct this.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Check out that funky-hanging crayon roll.

I also was not able to get as many crayon holder-slots out of the fabric as I was supposed to (I assume sloppy seam allowances caused this, but the measurements could have been off here too--who knows; I didn't go back and do the maths on this issue in my post-mortem). Since the author then would give directions based on the number of crayon slots, I had to eyeball it when deciding where to fold and sew down my crayon roll. Actual measurements from the edges would have been much more helpful than "from the fourth crayon slot...."

The second problem was in Step # 14where the instructions say to put the contrast and main fabrics right sides together. Doing this will result in the right side of the contrast fabric stitched down out of sight against the satchel, with the wrong side visible inside the marker pouch. I believe it should be wrong side of contrast to right side of main fabric. Too bad I didn't realize this till mine was already hemmed backwards. Grrrr!

The last problem I had was with the snap closure on the outside of the art satchel (Step 30). The instructions say to fuse the interfacing to the body panel and 2.5" from the left edge and 7 5/8" from the upper and lower edge. Ok, so I did that, but what the instructions don't indicate is what portion of the 2x2" square is at that point, so I aligned it so that the square didn't start till 2.5" from the edge. After not being able to close my satchels, I'm pretty sure that the author meant for there to be 1/2" from the edge to the beginning of the interfacing, and then the square would end at 2.5". This placement would have allowed plenty of room for the tab loop to close. I know this is probably my own fault for not being able to visualize how this would work in the 3D version, but the author really should have indicated the measurement on her diagram with brackets showing where the measurements indicated fell. I made it as I thought the instructions were indicating (being very careful with my measurements) and the tabs would not close on my satchels--frustrating!!!

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Holding the tab down since it was too tight to close. :(

An additional problem I ran into was that when it came time to stuff my "plexiglass" into the satchel and close it up, one of my sets wouldn't quite fit in to the satchel height-wise. There is NO wiggle room in this pattern for not cutting super-well or taking any too much seam allowance. I would definitely recommend cutting your stuffing material 1/4 to 3/8" shorter than what is called for. Luckily, my dad had cut mine and was able to go back to the shop and take off a hair more, but if I had this cut at a glass shop, I would have been SOOOO frustrated! 

The satchels did come out very cute, aside from the problems noted and their non-functional clasps. However, considering the amount of time and expense I put into these, they were quite disappointing. I didn't realize how expensive these little suckers would be either--I had about $35 of material (and that was with two pieces of my fabric at 30% and 40% off!) in them, and that was with the "plexiglass" for free since my dad did it for me with materials from his shop. I had priced a piece at Hobby Lobby, and they told me it would be about $25--jaw drop!, so I knew I'd be doing some sort of cheaper option.

So, while cute, I do not recommend this pattern because of the mistakes and level of frustration that it caused me--frustration that was definitely not entirely user error.

4 comments:

  1. I made two satchels this past weekend for Easter and found your review to be spot on. Thankfully with your tips I wasn't too frustrated. I did my crayon roll button loop at 4 1/2" and it still was a bit off. I'm thinking 4" would work best. Also for the magnetic snap on the outside I did it right at the intersection of 2 1/2" and 7 5/8" and centered the interfacing on that point...worked well. Instead of plexiglass, I used corrugated plastic from some old political signs we had.

    Thanks for your very thorough review. It helped a ton.

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    1. Oh, I'm glad to know it helped! Thanks for sharing your measurements. It's a cute pattern, if it had the correct measurements figured!

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  2. So I'm so glad I just found this post, I'm trying to make 3 for xmas gifts right now. Already made the crayon roll mistake! Ugh! I think I'm going to unpick the side where it's folded to make the crayon pockets and stick my elastic in there. Right now I'm stuck on #14 the pin your front and back marker pouch pieces together, um mine aren't going together bc of the sewing the corners, but I probably did that wrong bc the directions suck! You can't tell me know one that did the blog book tour didn't try this project and have the same issues. I wish she would acknowledge them on her website!

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    1. It is rather interesting that this is the one project from that book reviewed over and over again, and no one mentioned any issues with it. Makes you question those "independent reviews," huh?

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