Finished Project · Sewing

Pattern Testing the Presidio Purse

Sew Well - Presidio Purse

Have you seen all the fun variations of Seamstress Erin‘s new Presidio Purse pattern popping up all over the sewing blogging internets? There are some pretty amazing ones out there. I think my favorite so far has to be Helena of Gray All Day‘s black-and-white one.  Mine feels so plain compared to that one!

I used a gray twill I bought from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco back when I first started sewing. At the time it was meant for some gray jeans, but then it sat and sat.  And, after the disaster with the non-stretch orange twill jeans, I thought better of using it for jeans at all. When the Presidio Purse pattern arrived in my inbox, I thought the twill would be perfect for a large, casual, slouchy shoulder bag.  The lining is a red cotton print, and the pockets are a crazy silk print, both also from Discount Fabrics forever ago.

Sew Well - Presidio Purse

And, after a few pretty quick sewing sessions, I had my large, casual, slouchy bag – actually, make that my giant, casual, slouchy bag!  I made the mistake of not measuring the test square until after I’d started into my cutting and noticed just how big the pattern pieces were.  It turns out my 3″ square was 3 1/4″!  And, that extra 1/4″ added up into one giant bag.  I’ve printed out so many pdf patterns that I just didn’t think about it.  I was using a different computer and printer than typical though, so I should have double checked!  I learned my lesson though.  Next time I’ll be sure to check.  Imagine what that extra 1/4″ would have done to a garment!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy with my bag.  And, it’s rare for my husband to even notice any bag I might be carrying, but he sure seems to like this one!  It’s just that when I’m testing a pattern, I like to get things accurate.  And, for some reason, as soon as I realized the bag was bigger than it was supposed to be, I just started letting things slide.  Poor Erin.  I tried to give her good feedback, but as far as the actual bag construction, I felt like I let her down.  But, more on that after I first gush about the pattern.

Sew Well - Presidio Purse

The pattern is filled with a bunch of professional details.  Let’s start from the top down.  The pattern comes with two different types of straps, one of which calls for hardware where the strap meets the purse.  And, if there’s anything I’ve learned from following crafty sewing blogs, it’s that hardware really makes a different when you want to make a professional-looking bag.  The purse closes by a zipper, and the treatment and insertion of said zipper requires no hand stitching, yet all of the edges are nice and neat.  Even the zipper ends are covered in the exact same way as my fancy, store-bought purses!  Finally, there are some really clever pockets inside the purse.  The large, zippered pocket is pretty ingenious.

Now that you know how great the pattern actually is, I’ll just go ahead and tell you all the ways I deviated from it after becoming frustrated with my printing error.  (Honestly, I also think this pregnancy has started draining all of my creative energy and motivation.  I’m so tired these days!)  First, the pattern suggests you interface lighter weight fabrics, and my twill seemed borderline – thick, but not able to stand on its own.  Instead of erring towards interfacing, my mild frustration caused me to go the lazy route of no interfacing.  Since I wasn’t going to use interfacing, I decided I wasn’t going to make the fancy straps either.  I was on a very slippery slope, you guys!  Next, the only zipper I had in my stash that would go with the casual, slouchy look was a big, metal YKK separating zipper that I also got once upon a time from Discount Fabrics.  In the past I would have run out to the store to buy the zipper the pattern suggested, but this time I talked myself into thinking a separating zipper would be nice for a bag this large since it would allow me to really open up the mouth of the bag whenever I was digging inside of it.  It works, but I didn’t think through the fact that I now have to realign the zipper bottom every time I want to zip the purse closed.  In hindsight I would have had just as large of an opening with a regular zipper using Erin’s insertion instructions, only I wouldn’t have to fidget with the zipper so often.  Not to mention it would look more professional.  Finally, I rarely use zippered pockets inside of my purses, so I opted to omit the large zippered pocket and just go with a large plain pocket instead.  To make the pockets easier to find, I used a contrasting fabric.  I also put a pocket on each side of the purse, and I stitched the smaller pocket that comes with the purse to the outside of the large plain pocket.  Basically, I didn’t follow Erin’s instructions at all.  And, I don’t think my purse pockets are as functional or look as professional as Erin intended.  Blurg.

Sew Well - Presidio Purse

So, in summary I made a giant, casual, slouchy purse that I think is pretty great but not quite as great as it should have been had I actually followed the pattern instructions.  I’m excited and motivated to make another one though, so hopefully I’ll be able to redeem myself and produce an authentic Presidio Purse. First, I’m going to reprint the pattern – to scale!  Then, I’m going to carefully select my fabrics – something thick and heavy for the exterior and possibly pleather for the insets and handles.  Finally, I’m going to follow Erin’s hardware and zipper instructions to a T – no slippery slope of laziness this time!  Erin’s planning a Sew-Along this month, so if the impending arrival of the little one doesn’t throw things off, I think it would be fun to sew my next one along with all of you!

14 thoughts on “Pattern Testing the Presidio Purse

  1. Really good review- and I actually think the bag looks great – despite your workarounds. I’m amazed by how productive you are right now, at the end of a pregnancy. I could barely get myself out of the house 🙂

    1. I think all this running around trying to get stuff done before the little one arrives has started to catch up with me. It’s 7 pm, and I’m ready for bed!

  2. Very cute! I love grey and I love slouchy purses! Maybe after the little one is born you will be happy to have a bigger purse, you may be carrying around baby bottles and things!!

    1. I hope this purse becomes a great carry-all for baby things. That’s exactly what I told Erin when I volunteered to pattern test!

  3. Oh, I feel for you, it must be extremely large with that extra 8%! I’m actually thinking of scaling it down a little bit for my next version because I don’t usually need to bring that much stuff.

  4. It looks great!! I can’t imagine how big it is printed larger, but you need to bring a lot with babies, right? I wasn’t supposed to test this pattern, but got on Erin’s mailing list by mistake and then couldn’t resist trying it out. I was a terrible tester, though, and started by scaling the pattern down to 80% once I taped that main purse piece together. Then came the too-short zipper and terrible photographs. Poor Erin… It is a great pattern, though, and there are some really lovely purses out there!

  5. I love how yours looks! I can imagine how huge it must be with that extra 1/4 inch! The bag is already big. I didn’t do the insets at all because of the print I used. After seeing so many of the other tester’s bags, I’m thinking of making another one (which I didn’t think I would) and doing the insets. I goofed and didn’t realize my instructions were out of order, so I attached the handle before attaching the lining and zipper. What a nightmare! I really want a redo just for that.

  6. Ha! I did the same thing with the zipper! I accidentally bought it (in a rush with a crying baby!) and thought the same. I kind of works though, it is annoying to close it again though!

    I think your bag is great, you are maybe a bit harsh on yourself! I definitely know the feeling of pregnancy zapping your creative brain though! I had grand plans to sew before bub arrived, it didn’t happen! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. X

  7. You didn’t let Erin down…yours turned out so nice that I’m going to make one. Sure you deviated from the directions a little, but that’s ok…it still worked and that just says it’s a great pattern!!! (Besides you being a great sewer!!!)

  8. I love your bag more than the intended. I’m a big bag lover so I’d scale it up too to achieve your big bag outcome. Thanks for sharing.

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