Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Kennedy Bag

Recently the lovely and very talented Sara at Sew Sweetness put out a call for pattern testers for her latest bag pattern, which she had named the Kennedy Bag. Even although I had plenty of other projects on my to-do list, I was so taken with the photo of the bag that came with the call that I couldn't resist volunteering to be a tester.

At the same time I received a shipment of great home dec fabric from the nice people at Terrys Fabrics so it seemed only natural to put the two together and come up with this!

Sew Sweetness Kennedy Bag test

My version of the Kennedy Bag.

Because of an impending visit to something called Quilt Market (???) the turnaround time for testing this pattern was relatively tight, to give Sara time to co-ordinate the feedback before she jetted off to tease us all with new fabric lines and quilting heroines and heroes on Instagram!

Unfortunately I didn't pay a lot of attention to the hardware requirements for this bag until I actually came to put it together. I then discovered that despite having more bag hardware than I will probably ever need, I didn't have the correct size buckles for this pattern. A trawl round every haberdasher within a 10 mile radius failed to find them either. They were available, however, on the MacCulloch and Wallis website, so a few clicks later and I was ready to start sewing. I have visited MacCulloch and Wallis' bricks and mortar shop in London and it is a real treasure trove, so I wasn't surprised that they had the buckles listed that I needed, when nowhere else seemed to stock them.

Whilst the bag was fairly straightforward to do, there are a lot of layers at times to wrestle through the sewing machine. I counted 10 layers at one point and I could tell that my sewing machine was not very happy with it :) Still we both gritted our teeth and hoped for the best and, fortunately, it all worked out.

Which is more than can be said for my buckles order, unfortunately, one of the items in the order was out of stock and although the lovely lady who rang to tell me this could not have been more helpful in finding an appropriate substitution it meant that I wouldn't get the order in time for the deadline date for feedback to Sara.

Clearly drastic action was required!

A frantic rummage through my store of handbags unearthed this bag, which has seen better days.

Those buckles were exactly the size I needed, so some quick cutting and I was back on track.

Kennedy Bag close up and lining

You would think they were meant for that bag strap wouldn't you??

The pattern of the main fabric was perfect for some outline quilting, which was an optional step in the process. I did debate about whether to do it or not, given the time constraints but I was glad in the end that I did. I think it makes for a more sturdy bag and given that this is fairly large bag, I think a bit of extra sturdiness will be useful. Sara recommends using Soft and Stable for the interfacing, which I think would make this bag even sturdier but I have not yet tried this.

As you can see from the photo above the buckle straps are decorative, the bag flap is actually closed with a magnetic snap. I like the look of buckle closures but find in practise that they are slow and cumbersome to open and close, so I think this is a great compromise.

I forgot to take a photo of them but the bag also has a zipped external pocket on the back and a divided pocket in the interior. Sara has thought of everything!

If you would like to make your own version of the Kennedy bag the pattern will be available as a free download at Sew Mama Sew later today. The pattern is now available for download here


Exterior fabric - Verve in Linen from Terrys Fabrics
Lining fabric    - Happy go Lucky by Bonnie and Camille for Moda
Accent fabric    - Quilters Basic Dusty Style by Stof

I am delighted with my new bag and look forward to getting lots of use out of it on our upcoming trip to France.

If you are looking for more bag inspiration check out the great bags being linked up at Sew Sweetness' Purse Palooza

Sew Sweetness 

The link up is open till November 11th, so you have plenty of time to get your own version of the Kennedy bag made and linked up to be in with a chance of winning a great prize.

Linking up to

ChrisW Designs

Fresh Poppy Design

 Show & Tell Thursday's


  1. That's a gorgeous bag!! Although 10 layers does sound very scary indeed :/

  2. No wonder your machine struggled with 10 layers!!! Worth it in the end, though... a BEAUTIFUL bag, Fiona. Love that fabric teamed with the purple trims. And I'm with you on the buckles... I'm way too impatient and much prefer a magnetic catch.

  3. Gorgeous bag and way to problem solve yourself out of a challenging situation by up cycling!! Pretty fabric and quilting too!!

  4. Love it! I'm very impressed at you and your bravery to tackle 10 layers thick :). Purses are intense!!

  5. You've done a brilliant job on your bag - it's great.I think most machines would shudder at 10 layers of fabric.
    Definitely going to download this pattern when it appears.

  6. What a gorgeous finished bag, I especially like the fabric and you were right to quilt it. Well done for improvising on the buckles too. It made me think that we should look at our worn out items and take what may be useful and pop it in our work boxes.

  7. I have an old Bernina that gets dragged out for that sort of project: a real workhorse, not as pretty as the brother, but doesn't whinge at anything over 4 layers ! Gorgeous bag, and perfect fabric

  8. Awesome bag.Great job done!!

  9. Beautiful bag, and a great bit of recycling by you too. I also like the fabric you used.

  10. Great job, and that gold bag needed to be sacrificed for the greater fashion humanity good ;o)

  11. Great job and well worth the struggle through the 10 layers! LOL
    ChrisW Designs

  12. a lovely bag and worth all the effort, sewing through those 10 layers could not have been easy, did you need a walking foot or did the machine cope okay.

  13. Fabulous bag....just love it! Great solution to getting the right buckles. Enjoy!

  14. Such a great bag. You did a fabulous job. And you always amaze me at how you find the perfect fabric or notions to complete your project right in your closet. :)

  15. Wow - 10 layers! Looks like it worked out very well though!

  16. That is a nice bag. You did a great job and I love the fabric too. I enjoy making things with fabrics other than quilting cotton from time to time.

  17. Another fantastic bag! If you go on at this rate, you'll have to open a shop!

  18. So beautiful Fiona! You must be stoked. Love the accent colour and the buckles (nice thinking there!).

  19. This bag looks absolutely professional, Fiona! My machines both struggle too much with the huge number of layers that come up with good bags - I really, REALLY wish I could have one that's as strong as the factory machine I worked on back in college!

  20. That is one freat looking bag!! And the buckles are perfect! Love the quilting youve done on it too :)


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