Pattern In Action: Amy Butler Cosmo Bag


That’s as scary as I will get for Halloween.  I’m not much for haunted houses or anything haunted in any way, shape, or form.  In Los Angeles it seems we have an endless supply of haunted hayrides, haunted theme parks, haunted asylums, haunted abandoned hospitals, haunted mansions, haunted hotels, haunted celebrity star tours…  Oh, Hollywood.

One of the things I have enjoyed very much while living in Los Angeles is the infusion of Latin culture.  On any day or night you can find amazing food, great dancing and music, and at this time of the year you can find Dia De Los Muertos.  Known in English as “The Day of the Dead,” this Mexican holiday features bright, festive colors and an often charming depiction of dead spirits living the fiesta lifestyle.  It’s in the same vein as the European tradition of Halloween, which stems from Pagan traditions.  These traditions are less about haunted houses and gory scare tactics but more about honoring loved ones who have passed on.  I prefer to think that my deceased relatives and friends would rather help me celebrate my life’s successes, like an other worldly cheering crowd.  I do believe in an afterlife and just as we continue to think of our loved ones who have passed,  they think of us from the other side, too.

Dia De Los Muertos

For this bag, I chose a very festive Dia De Los Muertos cotton print (originally purchased at JoAnn Fabrics) and I think the end result is really fun!  This is the Cosmo Bag (same as on the book cover) by Amy Butler from Amy Butler’s Style Stitches.

Amy Butler

I will tell you something that IS scary… it’s known as bad pattern instructions.  In the case of the Amy Butler Cosmo Bag, the written instructions have a fair amount to be desired.  I love the bag designs and the book is beautiful, but the lack of illustrations makes these patterns deceptively difficult.  I’m a fairly seasoned seamstress and I spent two hours (count ’em, TWO) trying to decipher step #5 which is very similar to assembling a princess seam on a dress, resulting in a curved seam edge.  Except that the instructions left me completely baffled and extremely frustrated.  This could have been easily solved with a simple illustration and I found myself in similar predicaments a few more times throughout.

Cosmo Bag step #5 horrible instructions

Mr. Giles was able to bring me back to the Ohm Zone and I was able to piece the parts together.  Finally.

Mr. Giles and the Cosmo Bag in progress.

Here are some photographs that I hope will be helpful if you choose to sew this tote bag.  It should save you quite some time trying to figure out how your curved edges should fit together because it’s does not feel natural or intuitive at first.

Cosmo Bag step #5 - attach the curved edge

Cosmo Bag step #5 - attach the curved edge

Cosmo Bag step #5 - notches

The Cosmo Bag is the very first bag pattern and listed “Easy,” but I don’t know if I would recommend this for a novice sewer.  If you’re still getting your sewing feet under you, I would first complete a couple of dresses that are clearly marked “Easy” and a simpler tote like the free tutorial you can find on Noodlehead.

There are a lot of pieces to this bag because it is lined and has multiple pockets.  With the added hurdles from deciphering the written instructions, this bag took me much longer than I had anticipated.

Dia De Los Muertos cotton print

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag in progress

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag in progress

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag in progress

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag in progress

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag in progress

On the plus side, this tote bag was at the top of my unfinished projects pile (I actually cut the fabric last October) so I am super glad it’s finished!  The pockets are extra handy for all the little things I need to keep track of like my car keys, jewelry, hair ties, etc.  It turned out wonderful in the end and my new gym bag is so pretty it’s almost too pretty for gym clothes and barefoot running shoes.

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag (interior)

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag (external pocket)

Amy Butler Cosmo Bag

For my novice Moxie readers, do you think this is a bag you would attempt to tackle?
For my expert Moxie readers, have you had any projects that really stumped you with the sewing instructions?  How did you rise above it and what did you think of your finished project?

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  • Madelyn - I really LOVE this bag, and I think I love it more because the print is so dang festive! Kudos to you for finishing it and getting it off of your unfinished pile… its uber fabulous! 🙂 Definitely not something this novice+ sewist would want to attempt for sometime, although there is a weekender bag that I think is an Amy Butler design (I saw it floating around on pinterest) that I would love to attempt down the line. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Inheritance : School of Moxie - […] with all the presents).  So I just brought along a lightly packed carry-on suitcase and my Cosmo Bag to hold my laptop and […]ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - THANK YOU!! I was just starting to get super frustrated with step 5, googled it and found your helpful instructions. Thank you so much. I think I may be able to get this thing finally sewn after all!ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - I’m so glad to hear it! Yes, those instructions had me in a real bind, too. I’d love to see a picture of your Cosmo Bag when you finish it! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Karen K -

    Here is an update to the book! She fixed step #5!!

    I am getting ready to make it! Wish me luck! Thanks for the great pics while putting it together!ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Awesomeness!! That makes me want to get the new edition of the book! Thank you so much for sharing the information! 🙂 Also, whenever your bag is complete, I would *love* to see your finished product! Happy sewing!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - So… Any pointers for the handles? The instruction completely confuse me. It says to pair them off, but the instructions and picture make it look like you only put one of each pair on the bag… So confuse 🙁ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Hi Kim – Yeah… those instructions! I think I might make a new one of these bags and post a sew along… what do you think? As I recall on the handles, I think you put one side, right sides together, on the outside of the bag (everything is followed by top stitching). And then you have to attach the lining to the bag, so I think the other side of the handles is attached during that time (right sides together) then the lining (w/other side of the handles) turned inside out, top stitched, and the opening is stitched closed. Another reader, Karen, commented just a couple days ago that there is a new edition of this book coming out. I sewed my Cosmo Bag using a copy from my public library but I think I may purchase the new edition. Once I do, I’ll check out the updated instructions and do a sew along! I get a lot of search hits on my blog because of this bag so I think a lot of us are out there trying to make it and struggling with the instructions. It was definitely challenging. Hang in there! Let me know how it turns out!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Spent ALL day just cutting out pieces and attaching fusing. Got to step 5 and gave up!!!! Would love a sew a long after all the time and fabric I have already put into this torturous pattern!!!ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Hi Jean – You’re in luck!! I just started assembling all of my materials to make a sew along for this bag pattern… it’s a’comin’! You might not see the first post until end of July/first week of August, but I’m going to do a post for each individual step. Stay tuned & hang in there!ReplyCancel

  • Cosmo Bag Sew Along: Preparation : School of Moxie - […] was so happy with the finished bag (when it was finally done) and I get a ton of compliments on it.  The only problem with this […]ReplyCancel

  • Cosmo Bag Sew Along: Step #5 : School of Moxie - […] first time I made this bag.  Judging from the comments and direct messages I have received from my original post last year, I can tell I’m not alone!  The thing is, once you know what you have to do, it’s […]ReplyCancel

  • Ann - finally! I though there is something wrong with me…although there are many people who find illustrations much easier to follow. I cannt see why the steps couldn’t have been photographed OR illustrated. I bought the book for the inspiration, bought the fabric…and battled with it for so long, the pieces have been laying away in the cupboard for over a year now 🙁 I have simply lost inspiration and interest. What a pitty Amy!ReplyCancel

  • Treats & Gifts : School of Moxie - […] that finished very soon to show you all!  Then I’m going to do a series of posts for the Amy Butler Cosmo Bag because all the activity on my blog clearly states how much everyone out there could use a […]ReplyCancel

  • Colleen - HI there, I read your article about the Cosmo Bag and I actually teach a class making that bag, one tip I can share is to put all your interfacing uncut on your ironing board fusible side up and then just lay your cut pieces on top and lightly press and then you can sit down and it is just like cutting out paper dolls!
    I also leave the handles open at the top and a 5 inch access point in the lining I lightly sew the handles together on one side and then fish them through the lining access and then sew then both sides across and then resew the side seams and you have a beautiful handle and the access is in the lining. I hope t his is somewhat clear, I live in Michigan.ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Hi Colleen –
      These are amazing tips! I love them — thank you!! I’m originally from Michigan. Howdy to you! Thank you so much for reading my blog. 🙂ReplyCancel

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