4 Weekender Bags in 4 weeks

I've had a lot of overly-ambitious crafting ideas in my life, but this one was beyond insane - with only a month to go until my wedding I would make EACH of my bridesmaids the (infamous) Weekender Bag by Amy Butler.  That worked out to 4 bags in 4 weeks.  Of course I got my heart set on the idea before I searched the blogosphere and discovered that this was a beast of a pattern.  But, I was determined.  The first bag took me about 2 weeks (with my bachelorette party in Vail squeezed in there) and by the time it was done I was dreading the fact that I had 3 more to go.  It was everything other bloggers said it would be, and then some.  No tears, but a heck of a lot of ripped seams.  The whole process was so exhausting that the only pictures I took were with my phone!  (I promise, this is the last project I'll post with such crappy pics.)

Anyway, here's bag #1:

The second bag was SOOO much easier than the first one.  In fact, if you're attempting to make this bag, I definitely recommend making two - just so you can remember the whole thing fondly and enjoy the satisfaction of feeling like there's no pattern you can't handle.  Here's bag #2:

And bag #3:

Finally, (and trust me, it was a BIG, WONDERFUL, HAPPY finally) bag #4:

It was all worth it in the end:

Here's my advice should you decide to embark on your own Weekender Bag adventure...

Scour the blogosphere for all the hints, tips, and pictures you can find.  The tips from other bloggers that I found most useful were:

1) Use seam tape when making the prepared cording instead of sewing the seam closed. I tried it both ways and the seam tape actually creates a much cleaner look and you don't have to worry about making sure the seam is hidden when you sew the cording to the exterior panels.

2) Add interior pockets. The pattern doesn't come with any, and it's such a big bag having interior pockets is a really nice addition. I added a small zipper pocket (tutorial here), and used the large exterior pocket pattern piece to create two additional pockets inside (cut 2 extra pockets when you do your initial cutting, sew wrong sides together, then attach it to the lining by basting the sides and bottom, and sewing a seam up the middle to create two pockets.) You'll have more than enough fabric leftover to make the pockets, so don't worry about having to buy extra yardage.

3) A lot of blog posts indicated that there was no such thing as a 30" non-separating zipper. There is. I got this one and it was neutral enough to use for all 4 of my bags (you really can't see the zipper much once it's done anyway.) You might want to add a little zipper pull, though, because the zipper takes a bit of breaking in, especially on such a big bag.

4) Many of the blog posts below (and in general) were written before Amy Butler revised the pattern to improve upon her first version. If you buy the pattern now, it should have a lot of the tips and work-arounds already included (such as using Peltex instead of Timtex.)

5) The cutting for this bag takes a LONG time. Be prepared to devote most of your first day to getting everything cut. (You won't feel like doing anything but kicking back with a nice big glass of wine once you're done with this part.)

Here are the blog posts I found most helpful (i.e. couldn't have made it through the first bag without them):