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New Summer Handbag / Purse ~ how to make your own handbag / purse~ with free tutorial

March 29, 2013

In an attempt to convince Spring to bloomin’ well finally show its face and to lure the sun out from behind the chilly clouds, I’ve made this gorgeous summer handbag (purse to my over-the-pond followers). And welcome to my new followers, nice to see you too.

I’ve used  a slightly different method for this bag than my others as I wanted the top of the outer fabric to spill over onto the inside and thought this would make for a neater finish. This way is less confusing in some ways too.

I write each and every step down so, while it looks very long and daunting, you won’t get lost (I hope!). As usual, there are plenty of labelled photographs (in a slideshow at the bottom of the page) to help you through.

Easy tutorial for your Summer Handbag / Purse

Materials Needed ~ all measurements include seam allowance

2x main (outer( fabric (I used 30 x 31.5cm)
2x accent fabric (I used 30 x 23.5cm)
2x lining fabric (I used 30 x 9cm)
2x interfacing or interlining (if needed – I didn’t use it with this bag)
1x accent fabric for inside pocket (I used 21 x 12 cm)
1x main fabric for strap (I used a 8 x 75 cm strip, but you can always sew a couple of shorter strips together if your material doesn’t have sufficient length)
1x accent fabric for clasp tab (I used 24 x 7cm)
1x interfacing or interlining for clasp tab (slightly less than fabric so that it’s not built into the seams)
1 set of magnetic clasps (I used 18mm thin nickel ones. If your fabric is heavier, use a bigger size)
Plus all the usual gubbins; threads, fabric scissors, seam ripper, iron, tape measure and/or patchwork ruler  rotary cutter and mat (if you have them).
Getting Ready ~ the following instructions are the preamble, if you like, to the main event. Boring but necessary.
  1. Cut all the fabric and sew or iron on any interfacing now onto the main body of the bag. (I generally use interfacing on the main fabric for the body of a bag, but it depends on the fabric you use and I didn’t with this one). 
  2. Taking the two accent pieces, fold .5cm in along the length of the fabric and press.
  3. Laying the two accent pieces on top of the main (outer) fabric (both Right Sides Up), line them up so their bottom edge is 15cm up from the bottom edge of the main fabric. Pin them in place.
  4. Stitch these onto the main fabric, sewing along the length of the accent pieces, with a .5cm seam.
  5. Now we’re going to make the inside pocket. Fold the fabric in half and, starting on an edge near a corner, sew around all three open edges with a .5cm seam and leaving a 3-4cm gap for turning. Backstitch at the start and end to secure the thread in place.
  6. Trim the corners back so that your corners are nice and sharp, turn and press, making sure open edge seams are folded in on themselves.
  7. With the open edge at the bottom, place your pocket centrally on one of the lining fabrics, with the top edge of the pocket about 5cm below the top edge of the lining fabric, and pin.
  8. Leaving the top edge unsewn, sew the three remaining edges onto the lining fabric with a .5cm seam.
  9. Preparing the shoulder strap. Fold the two short ends of the strap fabric in on themselves (Wrong Sides together) about Press and pin.
  10. Fold the length of the strap fabric in on itself (Right Sides together). Press and pin.
  11. Sew along the length of the raw edges (NOT the short ends) and turn. Do this by pinning a large safety pin to one end, and feeding it through the tunnel you’ve created. Push it and the fabric through until it flips the right way round.
  12. The short end folds should be up inside the strap, out of sight. Press again.
  13. Creating the clasp tab. Fold your accent fabric in half and press.
  14. Open the fabric up again, and attach one half of the magnetic clasp: I use the backing disc that comes with the magnetic clasp to make two little marks for where the prongs are going to go through. Place this quite close to the folded middle of the fabric.
  15. Us
  16. ing your seam ripper, make two little cuts in the material  for the prongs to go through. Poke the prongs of the magnet through (making sure the clasp is on the right side of the material!). Add the backing disc and I also like to add a scrap of felt or some other tough but soft material to give it more strength. Fold the prongs in on themselves.
  17. Fold the fabric in half again, Right Sides together, and press.
  18. Starting next to the folded edge, sew the three raw sides closed with a .5cm seam, leaving a small gap on the short end.
  19. Trim the corners, turn and press.

Creating the bag. These following steps might seem complicated but really they aren’t. Basically you’re going to sew and fold the fabric up to give you an idea of what the finished bag will look like. Bear with me and check out the photos too to help.

  1. So, lay your two main fabric pieces together, Right Sides together, and pin the two bottom edges together. Sew these together with a generous 1cm seam.
  2. Now lay the inside fabric with the pocket, Right Sides together, on top of one of the main fabric pieces. You must make sure that the top edge of the lining fabric (i.e. the one closest to the open edge of the pocket) is lined up with the top edge of the main fabric.
  3. Pin and sew these together with a generous 1cm seam.
  4. Repeat with the other lining fabric. You should now have four pieces sewn together in one long strip as per my photo.
  5. Press the seams open
  6. Fold the four pieces of fabric in half, so that the joined edges of the main fabric are the base of the fold. Lay the folded fabric flat, right sides down.
  7. Fold each lining fabric up again so that they meet in the middle. Overlap the raw edges of the lining fabric by 1cm (to simulate the seam you will later sew). Your main fabric will be folded in such a way that the inside of the bag will have a few cms of the main fabric and the lining fabric on it. 
  8. Press the folded seams to give them definition.
  9. Turn the fabric over so that you can see the outside of the bag.
  10. Using a ruler, mark the middle of the bag just over 1cm above the accent fabric towards the top of the bag. This is where you’re going to place your magnetic clasp. Use the backing disc to make two little marks for the prongs.
  11. Unfold the fabric pieces and, working from the back, attach the magnetic clasp: Using your seam ripper, make two little cuts in the material. Poke the prongs of the magnet through (making sure the clasp is on the right side of the material!). Add the backing disc and a scrap of felt. Fold the prongs in on themselves.
  12. Fold the four pieces in half again (Right Sides together) and pin.
  13. Starting at one of the main fabric edges, sew with a generous 1cm seam around the three open edges, leaving a gap of about 4cm in the middle of your bottom edge (the two bottom edges of the inside fabric). Backstitch at the start and end to secure the thread in place.

Cutting Corners. (Ha! See what I did there?)

  • You now have a big, messy rectangle of fabric with four corners. You are going to work on each four corners to create the box shape for the bottom of the bag.
  1. Take one of the corners, and, with your fingers, line up the two sewn seams so that they are lying on top of each other.
  2. Flatten the rest of the corner down to create a triangle (with the sewn seam running straight down from the point).
  3. If you can be bothered, press this flat.
  4. Using your ruler (preferably a see through one to ensure the seams are perpendicular to the straight line), mark a 7cm line across the triangle. Sew across this line.
  5. Repeat with the other four corners.
  6. You can either cut the fabric triangles off, or leave them on. By leaving them on, you’re adding a bit of bulk to your bag which can also be a good thing.
  7. Pull the bag through the gap you left for turning and either blind stitch closed or sew closed with a very small seam.

Completing the bag. Now your hard work is starting to show! We’re nearly there…

  1. Press the top of the bag and press folds into the sides of the bag to reinforce the shape.
  2. Top stitch, with a tiny .25cm allowance, around the top of the bag.
  3. Place and pin the ends of the strap onto the sides of the bag. I decided to stitch them onto the inside but go for whatever looks best with your bag.
  4. Click the two magnetic clasps together, pin in place to stop it shifting around (making sure it’s nice and parallel with your accent fabric on the outer body of the bag).
  5. Pin on the other side of the bag with the same distance between the edge of the clasp tab and the edge of the accent fabric. Pin this side too.
  6. Stitch the open side down (you’ll have to remove the pins next to the magnetic clasp first).
  7. I like to give everything another final press (including the clasp tab so it folds over the edges of the bag nicely.
  8. You’re done! Made By Yours Truly. Admire your work, sit back with a nice cuppa or a wee tipple of your choice and await the sunshine…
  9. This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 29, 2013 12:57

    Ah now! I’m just going to HAVE to add this to my “to do” list x

  2. March 29, 2013 13:29

    Wow, thank you! I pinned it! 🙂

  3. March 29, 2013 19:26

    Terrific bag, love the colours 🙂

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