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Christen Daniels
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Latest post in the Weekender Sew Along - Cutting and Interfacing! So excited to be starting this bag. Are you ready to jump right in?! #sewing   #WSA2014

Amy Butler Weekender Bag Sew Along - Cutting and Interfacing

Yay! Its Wednesday again and its time to get started with our Weekender Bags! Today, we’re going to go over cutting the pieces of our bag. Chrissy, Nicole and I decided to change up the schedule a bit, so today’s post is going to go over cutting here with me as written in the pattern, and Saturday I’ll post on making piping, handles and assembling the main outer panels. If you are doing the piecing method with Chrissy or Nicole, they will be going over piecing panels/pockets and quilting them today with assembly of the two main outer bag panels, piping and handles on Saturday.
Weekender Bag Sew Along Schedule

Wed. April 30 – Planning Your Fabrics & Materials
Wed. May 7 – Cutting & Interfacing
Sat. May 10 – Sewing the Outer Panels
Wed. May 14 – Sewing the Outer Bag Together
Wed. May 21 – Finishing the Bag & Link Up
Wed. May 28 – Winners Announced

We think it breaks things up better for everyone into smaller chunks anyway, so let’s jump right in!

Last week we gathered all of our supplies so we’re all ready to get to cutting. Since I’m following the pattern as written, I think I’ve got it a bit easier than my co-hosts Chrissy and Nicole during this step. Chrissy is piecing her pockets (which is turning out AMAZING – you can check her progress out on Instagram) and Nicole has been making up a bunch of hexies for her large pocket panels. So be sure to check out their blogs if you are going that route.

For those of us using the pattern and 2 fabrics, our hardest part is going to be interfacing! But, this week, we just have a bit of that to break up the tedium.

First, cut out and assemble your pattern pieces. I’m sure at this point, you are wondering – well, how hard can this bag really be, it only has 3 pattern pieces?! Am I right? Well, keep thinking those positive thoughts, as I promise this bag is a piece of cake if you take your time, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Next, we’re going to start by cutting out the pattern pieces. I always start with my outer bag fabrics first, but you’ll see that my photos are with my lining fabric, as the stripes were starting to play with my eyes on the photos! LOL! So, while I’ll be using lining fabric to illustrate, the process is the same for both for the main pattern pieces.

Rather than follow the instructions in the pattern (as I think that actually wastes fabric, I fold over the side edge vs. the selvage edge. For this bag in particular, since I am using a directional striped fabric, I had to do this anyway. So, if your bag fabric is directional, think about placement to ensure all of your pieces are going in the right direction.  Since this home decor weight fabric is 54″ long, I can get both main panel pieces and large pocket pieces along the folded edge with room to spare. Be sure to only fold over enough to cover the main bag pattern piece width wise since you will need the fabric width for cutting out the top panels of the bag.

Next, cut out the top main panels of the bag. For the outer bag, it was a tight fit for me but it worked perfectly. The lining was no problem, as I folded the fabric selvage to selvage once again.

While the fabric is folded selvage to selvage on the lining, I cut out the pieces for the handles. Again, I’m going to make mine a bit differently than the pattern suggests. So I cut 2 pieces 4″ x WOF (54″ in my case). The handle will finish at 1″ wide and I think will be a great length. Then, I also cut my strips for my piping (again since the fabric was already selvage to selvage). Disclaimer: I do not make bias binding for my piping. I haven’t had any trouble with it yet, and let’s be honest: ain’t nobody got time for that! So, straight cut binding it is for me selvage to selvage. Personal preferences here people, and I’m here to tell you it works fine. Is it 100% perfect and foolproof, no. But, the results are perfect-enough for me!

Next, I cut out the side pocket pieces. I’m doing something a little bit different, and I’m using my lining fabric for the side pocket panel piece. I made the decision for two reasons. First, with directional striped fabric, I wasn’t really digging the horizontal side pocket and the vertical main top panel piece look on the side. Second, I really wanted to add another bit of pop of the coral to make the bag more “me” (navy and white stripes are a very tame choice for me, so of course, I needed to personalize a bit!).

Once the bag pieces are cut, its time to cut out the woven interfacing, Pellon SF101 and the Pellon Peltex as outlined in the pattern. I make quite a few changes to the interfacing cutting here, so I’m going to outline the list of pieces I use in my bag. Now, this is a personal preference of mine, as I like a very sturdy bag and lining.

From the SF101, I require at least 1-2 additional yards than the pattern requires for the following additions:
- 2 main pieces for the bag lining
- 2 additional side pocket pieces for both the outer and lining of the pocket pieces
- 4 additional top panel pieces for the lining panels

When cutting the Peltex, I follow the instructions on the pattern exactly – I know, shocker, but no changes there. Be sure to follow the instructions to get 1/2″ in from all sides of the main pocket and main panel pieces to ensure it doesn’t get into the seam allowances when sewing.

Once you’ve cut all of your weekender bag pieces, SF101 and Peltex – you’re all cut out! Yay! I like to group my fabrics by outer bag, lining and interfacing, as that is how I stay organized the best.

Before we can call today’s work done though, we are going to go ahead and work ahead in the pattern a bit and interface the main bag panels and large pocket pieces. This was probably the trickiest part of the pattern for me when I first made the bag.

Place your outer bag fabric right side down on your ironing board with the Peltex centered within the pattern piece, and place one piece of SF101 on top, with fusible side down. So, you are essentially using the SF101 to hold the Peltex in place. However, if you are like me, and you got the fusible Peltex, then simply just fuse the Peltex to the main panel piece starting from the center out to ensure its smooth without any creases.  Then, turn over, and iron on the SF101.

Complete the above for both main outer bag panels and large pocket pieces. So, you’re panels should be nice and sturdy and ready for the next step on Saturday!
Prizes for the Link Up

We’re sew excited about all of the finished Weekender Bags that will be finished at the end of the month! And, we’re even more excited about the giveaways we have planned for two lucky winners! Starting on Wednesday, May 21 the link up will be open to share your finished weekender bag until Midnight on Tuesday, May 27. On Wednesday, May 28, we’ll announce the winners from a random drawing to win the Grand Prize or First Prize! Thanks so much to our sponsors – we’ve got some great stuff!

Grand Prize Pack
$50 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Savannah Fabric from Dear Stella
Mini Quilt Patterns from Thimble Blossoms by Camille Roskelley

First Prize Pack
$25 Gift Certificate to Sew Lux Fabric
FQ Bundle of Haven from Monaluna 
T-shirt of Your Choosing from Patchwork Threads

Man, I wish I could win! I’ll see you back here on Saturday with tales of piping and outside panel piece sewing. Until then, happy cutting! And, don’t forget to email me if you have any questions or run into any issues.

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SO excited to announce a new sew along! Join me and sew along to make Amy Butler's Weekender bag! I know this is on the "to-sew" list for many of you! #sewing   #weekenderbag

Amy Butler Weekender Sew Along #WSA2014  
OMG guys I’m so excited to announce a new sew along today – the Weekender Sew Along of 2014! So get your big girl sewing scissors out and get ready to tackle the sewists right of passage as we’re going to be making Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag just in time for summer pool days, beach days and weekend getaways.
This will be my THIRD Weekender Bag, so you can imagine that I’ve learned a thing or two with the other two I’ve made. Personally, I think this bag and pattern gets a bad rep – I LOVED making the bag and absolutely LOVED the finished product. So, I wanted to make the pattern accessible to those of you who have yet to try it to let you know that you CAN do it – plus, I’ll be here to help and answer questions along the way!

And, I have two fabulous ladies joining me in the fun to bring you a super fun 4 weeks of sewing one very rewarding bag! Nicole from Modern Handcraft will be making a quilt-as-you-go style bag with patchwork hexies and Chrissy from Sew Lux Fabric will be making another amazing patchwork version – be sure to check her first weekender finish out. All I have to say is mini swoon, and man is it swoon worthy! I’ll be following the pattern as written (ok with a few adjustments) with some AMAZINGLY awesome summer-inspired home decor fabrics.

Amy Butler Weekender Bag Sew Along Schedule

We’ll start next week with fabric selections and planning for the different versions and finish in time to bring your brand new Weekender with you to the pool, beach or just your backyard by Memorial Day!

Wed. April 30 – Planning Your Fabrics & Materials
Wed. May 7 – Cutting, Interfacing, Making the Panels
Wed. May 14 – Sewing the Outer Bag Together
Wed. May 21 – Finishing the Bag & Link Up
Wed. May 28 – Winners Announced 

Sponsors and Prizes

And, of course there will be prizes to award you for all of your hard work! We’ll have a link up at the end for finished bags and randomly select a few winners. I’m so excited that Sew Lux Fabric will be the presenting sponsor and providing a couple of gift certificates you won’t want to miss out on!

And, the Weekender bag pattern is in stock right now and available for 15% off through April 30 – no coupon code needed and it will arrive in time to join in the sew along! So go ahead and get your pattern here!

We’ll also have other great prizes from Dear Stella, Monaluna and Patchwork Threads plus a few more! We’ll have more details on prizes and how to win in next week’s post.

So, are you in or what?!

As you can see, we’ve thought of everything! There is something for everyone with lots of options for your Weekender. Because this bag is far too involved (noticed I didn’t say difficult!!!) to make something you don’t absolutely LOVE!  Don’t forget to sew along with us on Instagram using the hashtag #WSA2014! You can find me @lovebyhand and Nicole @Modernhandcraft and Chrissy @SewLux. We hope you’ll join us! Can’t wait to see all of your bags start to pop up!!

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Introducing a new content series on Love By Hand - Sew Biz! Weekly marketing and social media tips and advice for those with sewing related businesses - or anyone really! Check out the first post on the Importance of Blogging - you won't want to miss it! #sewing

The Importance of Blogging: You Can’t Pin an Instagram Photo

If you are like me and spend lots of time on social media (ok, I realize that not many of you will be exactly like me since my day job pays me to be online all day long, but you know, if you are around and keeping up with general goings on), then you’ve probably seen a few posts in which sewing bloggers are asking the question “Is anyone out there reading blogs anymore?”

Sure, it’s a valid question, as there has been a recent shift online to social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook because well, its easier. It doesn’t take as much time to find projects I love on Pinterest as it does when going through my feed on Bloglovin. Am I right? And for bloggers, it’s a heck of a lot easier to post a photo on instagram than to write a full blog post, take photos, format and edit said photos, etc. etc. etc.

However, to all you sewing bloggers out there, as much as I would LOVE to tell you that its OK to give up your blogs and move 100% to social media, I just can’t do it. Sure, the landscape has changed over the past couple of years and you might not be getting as many comments as you used to and the market is definitely more crowded, but without a blog, your online brand will slowly disappear. Here are 3 marketing-driven reasons why blogging is important to your online brand.

1. The Power Of Search

Bloggers are at the core content creators aka content marketers, right? All of the tutorials, product reviews, and projects completed are all “content.” And, when put on a blog, are available to be searched via search engines. If you are going to invest time in blogging, you must take the time to optimize each post for relevant search terms. I have an entire 3-part series planned on SEO for blogging that will totally change the way you blog for the better to gain more traffic.

2. Building Your Business Over Time

As any great blogger will tell you, it takes time and effort to build a following and increase site traffic. Part of building your blog is to hopefully get paid for those efforts in some way either through blog sponsors who are interested in selling their products to your site visitors or through selling patterns, books, finished products or fabrics you create. Your blog or website is where you can create in-depth content that visitors can get to know you better and learn to trust you. And while most blog followers are not checking in to read every post as soon as you hit publish, many are seeing your updates on various social media platforms and remembering the last experience they had with you and choosing to return or not based on that experience.

3. Social Media Is Always Changing, Blogging Stays Constant

I’m sure many bloggers have noticed the huge changes Facebook has made recently in which they have publically declared that pages will only be able to reach on average 1% of their followers organically ie. without paying to reach them. Social media marketing changes day-to-day, and what you are doing today to gain blog visits or followers might not work tomorrow. So, its best to think more long-term about the type of content you are sharing to attract readers to your blog.

Given how quickly social media changes, its best to think about your online marketing like the above graphic – your blog is at the center creating the content that can be shared across the various social media platforms that make sense to reach your potential audience of buyers or readers.
And here’s why blogging is still important in its simplest form – you can’t Pin an Instagram photo. Social media platforms are meant to engage with followers and readers to create a community around similar interests, etc. and ultimately, drive site traffic to your blog. Instagram doesn’t allow live links within posts, nor does it allow users to pin the content on Pinterest for inspiration or use at a later date. However, your blog can do all of those things when used properly with social media platforms, as social media platforms are meant to drive traffic back to your blog where the important content lives.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful. Let me know in the comments any other topics or questions you have around blogging or social media, and I’ll be sure to answer or write a future post!

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