Betty Bowler Bag in Pink and Green Floral Vintage Barkcloth

pink and green vintage barkcloth betty bowler bag

I feel a little greedy to admit that most of my sewing is Selfish Sewing.  Sure, my mom gets blouses and dresses, Adam got a Newcastle cardigan, my girlfriends are getting quilts (oh yeah, and then there’s all the sewing and knitting I’m gifting for my wedding that are still in progress). Hmmm… Maybe I’m not so selfish. That’s a nice realization! To celebrate Selfish Sewing Week, I was given the Betty Bowler bag pattern by Swoon and promptly sewed it up for myself! Proudly selfish on this make!

pink and green vintage bark cloth betty bowler purse

I love the fun shape and perfect size of this bag (yes, I like big bags and I cannot lie). The vintage-y shape seemed like the perfect use of this gorgeous pink and green floral barkcloth that I had in my stash. It was clearly once a pair of curtains and had snags, stains, and fading. But boy-oh-boy does it make a great bag! The striped handle is a heavy twill that is again from my stash and destined to someday be a pair of pants. I lined it in the leftovers from my pink and green floral ceylon. There is supposed to be a contrast panel in the center of the bag but I opted to leave it off so that I could show off as much of the great barkcloth as I could.

cat on bolts of interfacing

This was the first really structured bag that I’ve made and it called for a heavy iron-in fusible interfacing as well as iron-in fleece. Of course, being a rational obsessed sewist, I opted to buy bolts of both instead of just the yardage I need. So, hopefully some more bag making is in my future! If you make this bag, do NOT scrimp on the interfacing. It really does need all of the layers to keep it structured. I thought that I could get away with one less layer because I used a barkcloth instead of a lightweight cotton like the demo bag, but it really would be one notch better with that final layer of interfacing.

pink topstitching on betty bowler

I first sewed the bag with pink topstitching all over. And then I added a second layer of topstitching because the first just wasn’t working and I thought that a second would make it pop more. Bad idea. Hopefully this is the only time I will ever have to say that I like something better without pink topstitching. I ended up ripping apart the whole bag (including an already cut welt pocket for the zippered pocket!) and re-sewing it with off-white thread to match the barkcloth. I’m SO glad that I took the extra time to do so, because I knew it would drive me crazy and I’d never quite be happy with what should otherwise be an awesome bag. But man did that involve a lot of seam ripping!

iron fuse lining to outer

A new-to-me idea that I encountered in sewing this bag is to take two pieces of fusible interfacing, sew them together fusible sides out, and then place them at the bottom of the bag. Then you insert the lining and fuse the lining to the bag by ironing it down. Great idea, right? Super sturdy bottom, lining always in the right place, win! And it was kinda fun to set my iron inside of my bag :)

front pocket betty bowler bag

For the front zippered pocket, I used a scrap of quilting cotton that was my grandmother‘s. I don’t know the age of the fabric, but I do know that it makes me think of her when I use the pocket.

betty bowler bag vintage barkcloth

Thanks to Rachael for including me in Selfish Sewing Week. See all of the awesome makes and join in with your own at Kollabora. There’s a giveaway for a ton of great patterns as part of SSW, so get in on that action, too!

Comments 12

  1. Ooh, very nice! I’m so impressed by your dedication in ripping out all the top stitching and starting over. I’m way too lazy for that sort of thing, even when I know I really should.
    I like the sneaky matchyness of the bag with the dress – that’s the kind of thing that always makes me ridiculously happy, even if I’m the only one who ever knows about it. :-)

  2. Love it! I’m impressed that you did so much seam ripping over the pink top stitching – I agree it doesn’t look perfect in the photo, but I think my laziness would get the better of me. Well done!

  3. Hey, Erin, aren’t you supposed to be writing a thesis?! When the heck do you have time to sew SO DARNED MUCH?! You are very organized, live above your office, or have a cat who assists, perhaps? (Bella manages, she does NOT assist)

    Love this bag; great for summer. I may have to make one for myself. And the vintage material? *swoon*

    1. Post

      My cats like to get involved with my sewing but they most decidedly do not actually speed me up by sitting on top of every WIP. (And let’s not actually talk about the amount of time I’m spending in my craft room versus the amount of time I’m spending in lab these days).

  4. Another beautiful bag, Erin! I am not normally into florals, but I’d own that in a heartbeat!

  5. what a gorgeous bag!! i love how it’s huge! perfect for sewing, or anything! :) Great print too. thanks for sharing!

    I’m really not much of a sewer, but visiting sewing blogs always makes me want to pick it up again!

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