I finished my bag! I consider it a great accomplishment that I have finished an Amy Butler Weekender bag. And what's even better is that I love it, I absolutely love it! I wish I had somewhere to go rightthissecond so I could use it. For the time being, I guess I will have to stick to admiring it. I wanted to make sure I did a good post with all the changes I made and the things I found most difficult so that 1. if I ever make another I can remember exactly what I did and 2. it may help someone else. I found a lot of helpful hints and good ideas from the long weekend flickr group and the blogs linked there and just kind of pulled in what I thought would work for me. So consider that your warning that this will be long with lots of pictures.
To start with, I did what has now become quite popular and quilted all my pieces to batting and outdoor fabric instead of using the suggested heavy interfacing. I imagine this is much easier after my one experience with extra stiff interfacing in a bag, but I can't be certain. It made the pieces hold their shape well while still giving them a bit of flexibility. A lot of people use duck cloth or canvas to quilt their pieces to, but I chose outdoor fabric since it is a bit stiffer and was super cheap at the end of the summer. I made my pieces and then quilted them using straight lines, although many have done quilt as you go. I made oversized pieces and cut them down at the end. One thing I did that was really helpful when working with the outdoor fabric, was to zig zag all the edges once the pieces were cut which really stopped the fraying from getting on my nerves, something I have dealt with before. Also, I used my walking foot for just about everything. It is much easier to use that on top of the piping then to try to get close enough with a zipper foot. Clover wonder clips were also a life saver. I love them.
Other than that, I used a 24" separating zipper. So that I didn't have to worry about the separating part once it was cut down, I added zipper ends. You can't see them much in the end, but it was much easier to sew them in and I didn't have to worry about it being secure enough. I read that the recommended 30" zipper does go down into the pocket and I didn't really want that, so this worked for me.
I made the straps wider, cutting them 6" instead of 3" and I still think I would have been okay if they were a bit wider still. They are also a bit longer at about 60". I used a medium weight interfacing just in the center 3" of the strap and it seemed fine with the essex linen I used and they feel pretty sturdy. I also had just enough piping to add it to the end pockets. I like the way it looks, but I don't know if I consider it a really necessary change. I'm not as attached to the end piping as I thought I would be is what I am trying to say. And speaking of piping, I did use this method to get all the bias tape I needed out of one fat quarter, so that was pretty sweet.
As for the lining, I used a light interfacing on all those pieces, and added pockets on each side. The one side got a large one using the large pocket pattern piece which I divided in half. It is a bit thick since I did 2 layers and bound them at the top and I don't think that was necessary. It makes it a bit heavy, but hopefully it will work. The other side was meant to be a zipper pocket, right up to the point where I didn't have a zipper and didn't want to wait to get one. I opted instead to try a single welt pocket using this tutorial. I really love the way it turned out, even more than a zip one I think.
That is about it for changes I think. I thought the worst parts where putting in the zipper where it is really hard to sew from the opposite side, and trying to get close to the piping when sewing the main bag pieces together. It is so thick it is hard to tell where the piping is. I also hated hand sewing in the lining, but it looks so nice now that it is done. I hope I tacked it down in enough places to keep the lining from falling in when it is filled up. I guess we'll see.
It was a great challenge and for once I took my time and did it right. Who knew that actually pays off!! I love everything about it and I am looking forward to bringing it to sew south with me next month.