Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kate Spade? I'd rather make one...

I can give you two reasons why I hate buying purses: 1) They really nice ones are very expensive and 2) you can never find one that is just the right size with just the right "pockets", for just the right amount of money. Several years ago a friend gave me a little cloth handbag that she had custom ordered on the Internet (I would give credit if I knew who designed it - maybe my friend  could add a comment to tell you where she got it??).  I love the bag's simplicity of design and have used it on and off through many seasons. I love that I can sling it over my shoulders, and that it is soft, light-weight, not too big and zipper-free. And, I threw it in the washer and dryer!

Being the seamstress that I am, I decided that I could easily make a pattern for myself.  So far, I have experimented with the size and used different materials and fabrics.  It's very easy to construct, so I thought I would share the steps with you and you can make your own.

Here is the latest one I finished this week, just so you can see how cute thay can be by adding your own personal flair:

Got the directions for this flower off You Tube:)

I used a coordinating fabric for the lining

You can make one of these in a few hours. My directions below are for this black synthetic snakeskin bag I made last week.  It's a little bigger than the polka-dot bag above, but the idea is the same. Note of caution for this "quasi-tutorial": the directions below are not as detailed as a beginning seamstress would need, but if you've sewn a lot, you can probably figure out how to make this "box" shaped bag anyway, without any help from me.

You need an outer fabric and a lining fabric. Cut 2 rectangles approximately 16" X 32", one with the outer bag fabric, and one for the coordinating lining.  You can vary the size , depending on how big you want your handbag to be.  You will also need 2 strips 4" X 24" of your outer fabric to make the straps. Again you can vary the length depending on how you like to carry your purse - over the shoulder, dangling on your arm or hanging at your sides.

Sew the lining "box" first: Begin by making the "pockets" to attach to the inside of the lining.  These pockets are for your important, "got to have it now"stuff and can be any size and depth.  My finished pocket strip is about 7" X 14" and is attached to the lining fabric about 3" below the top of the purse.  I divided the strip into three individual poskets, for my cell phone, pens, etc.  Once your pocket is attached, fold the lining in half, right sides together and sew up the side seams, leaving the top open.

Form the bottom of the "box" purse by forming a 90 degree triangle with the bottom folded edge at the tip.  I wanted the bottom of my purse to be about 4" across. Sew across the triangle and then trim the triangle off.

The Lining of the purse looks like this.  I did attach some stiff interfacing to the lining before I sewed the side seams and bottom.  You can add fusable interfacing or batting to either the lining or the actual outer fabric to give your purse a little more body - just depends on the fabrics you use and how stiff you want the shape to be.
The purse lining "box" shape
Construct the outer purse fabric "box" in the same way as the lining.

Make the straps:  After sewing and turning my straps right side out, I did finish them with a couple of rows of stitching on the edges. Attach each strap to the right side of the fabric at the top opening, in the front and back of the outer purse fabric, adjusting the length as desired.

Cut another strip of lining or other coordinating fabric to create a "facing" for the top edge of the purse. My facing was about 4" X 32ish", folded in half, and I interfaced it to give the top opening a little more stability.

Attach the selvage edges of the facing strip to the top edge of the purse, right sides together and stitch it down. Turn facing to the inside of the purse opening and stitch down. Insert the lining "box" inside the purse "box" and tuck the top edge of the lining underneath the facing and whip stitch the facing down to the lining.

Complete! Lot's of room, easy to get to everything!  Love it!

Finished purse - I made the little flower using the right and wrong sides of the fabric

Laurel.  Happy "Bagging":)


  1. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! Laurel I love your bags! And thanks for the little tutorial! I hate carrying HEAVY bags. Darn they are heavy empty & IF you put anything in it then you are a cooked goose! Can't wait to try my hand at this jewel. GREAT for spring! More "UNSTRUCTED" look than leather bags of winter.

    1. Charlene - thanks for visiting my blog...I'm with you..the bigs ones ar such a pain. I went to little leather purse for a while, but they are generally too small, so the pink polka dot one is just right. I also put a pocket on the inside just for my keys, as they always get lost in a purse. I'm trying to retrain myself to always put the keys in the pocket. Laurel

  2. I'm not into purses--no surprise, but your pictures remind me of a famous critic who once wrote, "When love and skill come together expect a masterpiece." Your purses appear to be made from love and skill.

    1. Dang, I am really glad you're not into purses...even the "man purse"...Ms. C is proud, I am sure:)

  3. Wherever I shop, I'm drawn like a magnet to the bag counter. In search of the perfect purse, I usually go through every one on the rack and leave with the one I came in with. I'm with Stephen. Not only are your purses masterpieces but so is your lovely jewelry. Oh, and I love your blog!

    1. Sue, that's why I hate buying them. I have a closet shelf full of bags I've "test driven" and hate! Laurel


Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

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