Here is the finished bag! Hooray! Here's some pictures and my assessment/review of my own bag as well as a review of the pattern and instructions.
I didn't bother with the side pockets because I really didn't know what I would use them for. I can see, though, how they might stiffen up the side panels and help the bag keep it's shape.
Here's one inside pocket and a key loop I added (because there's no way I'll ever be able to find keys again if I throw them into this monster bag.)
I did a different fabric for each side pocket because I couldn't limit myself to just a couple fabric choices. I spent Christmas money on this bag and I was determined to pack it full of designer goodness. I think it was a great idea, but to make the prints more enjoyable to look at and less overwhelming, I wish I had picked a smaller-scale, more repetitive pattern for the inside and something solid or that gave the impression of a solid for the handles.
The yellow I had originally picked for the handles kept calling to me from my scrap bag, so I pulled it out and used it for the key loop and as a couple of pieces in a patchwork panel for the inside bottom of the bag. I don't know if I'll ever see the bottom of the bag again after stuff get's in it, but it was a fun mini-quilt project and made me feel like the yellow wasn't a total loss.
I chose not to do the fabric covered button, because I don't know where they carry the kits. I like this choice instead of a big colored button that I would usually gravitate toward. I thought the wood would ground everything a little bit.
Now for my beginners opinion on the pattern itself.
Difficulty level according to Amy: Easy
I totally disagree. I have only been sewing about a year. I have made basic kids clothes; peasant dresses, ruffle pants, knot dresses and a few slightly more advanced patterns (not that they are advanced, but just more so than a ruffle pant) like Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress and Sew Sensible Sunday Dress. My first bag was Amy's Birdie Sling Bag and I thought I would be traumatized for life from all the curves and feeling like I was sewing blind at the end when sewing the inside and outside together. It was the first time I had done a lot of the sewing needed to create that bag.
When I started looking forward to making the Cosmo Bag, I was prepared for another challenge. But then I began reading reviews and seeing pictures of other people's bags and seeing folks that had completed one say that it came together easily or was a breeze... then I got excited. I built up this picture in my mind of how easy it would be compared to the Birdie Sling. Not so much.
As far as fabric yardage. I needed a yard for the exterior, half a yard (with creative cutting) for the handles, a yard for the interior and 3/4 of a yard for the pockets.
I paid no attention to the instructions for folding the fabric. You might want to, but I wanted my pattern to fall in very specific places on the front and back. The side panels were just what was left...
I got through the pleats and attaching the straps without incident.
I learned after a couple of side seams that it was easier to match and curve them in the machine instead of bothering to pin first. I did have to pin all the other curved seams.
Skip to step 12, the button loop. Pretty cool idea and one that I've added to my Birdie Sling so that it could have a closure. I failed in the pin wrapping trick to keep the gathers and I still do not understand the machine basting of the loop onto the top edge of one of the bands. I had to take it off again and reposition it when I was pinning the inside and outside of the bag together after I turned it inside out.
Side note: She says "slide the lining over the exterior..." I laughed out loud after trying to do that. It should say "stuff the exterior into the lining." Less elegant, more accurate. :)
I got bumfoozled for a second about the instructions in step 13 to sew around the "outside" of the handles. I looked at the bag again and again trying to figure out which side of the handles was the outside. When you hold the bag on your shoulder, the part this step intends you to sew face the INSIDE of the bag and touch or cross over one another at the center of your shoulder. The seam that faces the OUTSIDE of the bag when hanging on your shoulder is the one you sew at the end which she calls the "inside" of the strap. I just thought it was a bad choice of descriptors because it could be interpreted differently to different people. It was obvious after it was completed, but without a completed bag to see in person and without having done one, it wasn't easy to decipher.
I'm sure all these instructions would make more sense with pictures, but that's part of the challenge of writing instructions, they have to explain enough for someone to follow them all by themselves and without pictures or video. This pattern called for only beginner knowledge and I don't think the instructions are quiiiiiite detailed enough to take someone with little experience from start to finish of this bag.