Remember how I mentioned in my new year resolutions that I was going to be more honest about the times I've screwed up? Well here you go. I'm going to be honest and fess up to the fact that I totally took the easy way out (mostly for financial reasons) on a project, and the lesson learned.
Lesson #1: Use the type of fabric called for in your pattern!
I needed a new purse, and I had a brand new sewing machine, so I decided to conquer this lovely pattern offered by Sew Mama Sew. (I hope a few of you decide to also make the purse this instant; it's quite a great organizer and stuff-holder.) Although the pattern clearly specifies mid-weight home decor fabric, I decided that I really wanted the cheaper cost and pattern availability afforded by quilting-quality cotton. You know, the stuff found in 90% of Wal-Mart's fabric selection or the first ten aisles at JoAnn's. I realized fairly quickly that this substitution would give my bag a much less rigid shape than the models in the instructions, but I couldn't turn back at that point.
Unfortunately, after about three months of use, my handles just weren't cutting it. The seams had torn open at the point where my shoulder supports the bag, and all the nastiness of the stabilizer (and the paper backing I had forgotten to remove) were spilling out. It was a mess, to say the least. So I picked up my shattered pride, bought a single foot of solid black home decor fabric, and redid my shoulder straps. I've got a lot of hope for these babies. Not only are they thicker and more durable, but if they do start to rag, the fabric is dyed black the whole way through, so I won't be showing off the ugly wrong side of the straps to anyone.
So let this be a lesson to all you short-cutters out there. Sometimes, you just need to buck up and buy the correct (sometimes more expensive) fabric to get a piece that will really work!