Friday, September 2, 2011

Fall for a new wool handbag

Fall is a perfect time to add a new purse or handbag to your wardrobe, especially when your old one is almost 3 years old, and its bottom corners are wearing so thin that you can see your floor when peering inside.  Yes, my most favorite purse in the whole world is at the end of its life and even though I'm still getting compliments everywhere I take the poor thing, it's time to (sniff) let it go.

My friend and I were having yet another craft day and she had a really cute purse made of cotton.  She got it from a seller on Etsy, of course.  I shopped around on the website and couldn't find one that I really liked that had a zipper closure.  They all had a single magnet snap and I don't feel terribly secure walking around town with all my contents secured by a single magnet.  So, what did I do about it?  Of course, I decided I needed to make one.  

I found some extra wool from a dress I made last year (that didn't turn out very nicely), so I went to work on a new fall purse.  And my friend generously gave me some leftover cotton fabric she bought from IKEA that made a perfect lining for the bag.  If you sew and you like it, continue reading for the tutorial.

Wool Handbag with tie and zipper closure.

You will Need:
about 1½-2 yds. (depending on width) wool fabric or fabric of your choice
½ yard cotton lining
2½ yd interfacing
12" purse zipper
thread, of course

Out of wool fabric:
1.      Cut two (2) rectangles measuring 20” x 12” for MAIN BODY
2.      Cut two (2) rectangles  12” x 6” for TOP TAB
3.      Cut two (2) rectangles 10”x 4” for ZIPPER CLOSURE
4.      Cut one rectangle 40” x 3½” for SHOULDER STRAP
5.      Cut two (2) rectangles 20” x 6” for FRONT TIES.   Fold in half lengthwise. Cut off one end of each folded piece on an angle (slightly more than a 45 degree angle), with the sharper point toward the fold. 

Out of cotton lining:
1.      Cut two (2) rectangles measuring 20” x 12” for LINING
2.      Make a small clip or notch at the center of the along the 20” length of the MAIN BODY LINING.  This will be the TOP.
3.      Any inside pockets you want to add.  (Instructions not included in this tutorial)

Out of fusible interfacing:
1.      Cut four (4) rectangles measuring 20” x 12” for MAIN BODY and LINING
2.      Cut two (2) rectangles  12” x 6” for TOP TAB
3.      Cut two (2) rectangles 10”x 4” for ZIPPER CLOSURE
4.      Cut one rectangle 40” x 3½” for SHOULDER STRAP
5.      Cut two (2) rectangles 20” x 6” for FRONT TIES.  Trim to fit the FRONT TIES.

Sewing instructions:
1.      Iron on interfacing to all pieces.

2.      With one ZIPPER CLOSURE” piece for the zipper closure, fold in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew ½” seam along the short ends, so that the length is kept open.  Turn to outside and iron flat.  Repeat with matching piece.

3.      Fold the SHOULDER STRAP in half lengthwise, right sides together and sew ½” seam along the length of the strap.  Turn to outside and iron flat.  Tuck the ends of the shoulder strap in by ½ inch, iron and baste closed, so that all the edges are finished.

4.      Fold each FRONT TIE piece together lengthwise, right sides together.  With the first piece, sew along the edges leaving the flat end open to turn.  For the second piece, cut 1" off the flat end, making it one inch shorter than the other piece.  Sew as you did the first piece.  Trim corners. Turn to outside, using a blunt dowel or chopstick to push out the corners.  Iron well.

5.      On one MAIN BODY piece, the 20” edge will be the TOP and BOTTOM, and the 12” edge will be the SIDES.  On the TOP, measure and mark 4½” from the edges of each side.  I clipped a small notch.  Sew two machine basting stitches between the notches at ¼” and ¾” seam allowance.  Pull threads to gather between the notches.  Repeat with other main body piece and each of the LINING pieces.

6.      Taking the MAIN BODY and the TOP TAB piece, working from the outside edges, pin the TOP of the MAIN BODY to the 12” length of the TOP TAB, adjusting the gathers to fit between the notches.  Stitch together with ½” seam allowance.  Repeat with other side.

7.      Using the directions for installing a zipper, sew a purse zipper onto one ZIPPER CLOSURE piece, making sure the zipper is along the folded side of the ZIPPER CLOSURE.  Repeat with the other size so the zipper fits evenly between the two ZIPPER CLOSURE pieces.*

    *(please note that I didn’t install the zipper until the last step and it was a giant pain, so I’m adjusting my steps, so you can avoid the same problem I did and not have to sew it in by hand on the ends.  Please also note that my pictures represent how I did it and not how I’m instructing you to do it.)

8.      Pin and baste one raw edge of the ZIPPER CLOSURE to the free length of the TOP TAB, right sides together.  Repeat with the other side.

9.      Pin the TOP of the LINING to the TOP TAB, right sides together, so that the ZIPPER CLOSURE is between the LINING and the TOP TAB, adjusting the gathers between the notches to fit the same as the MAIN BODY.  Sew in place with ½” seam allowance.

10.  Line up the raw edges of the FRONT TIE pieces to the sides of the MAIN BODY, extending up to the TOP TAB by ½”.  Make sure the FRONT TIE pieces are placed so that the folded side is toward the TOP and the seamed side is toward the BOTTOM.

11.  With right sides together, pin together the MAIN BODY and the LINING pieces (that are all connected by now) and sew together along all the edges with a ½" seam allowance , leaving about 6” open in the bottom of the LINING so you can turn it right side out.

12.  Iron seams open.
13.  Along each corner on both the MAIN BODY and the LINING, fold so that the seams line up and pin seams together, as pictured.  Measure 2¾”from the corner on each new folded edge and mark with a pin.  Using a straight edge, draw a straight line from each marking and sew along the line, so the corner is cut off.  Trim corners off.

14.  Turn through the opening in the lining so that the lining fits inside the handbag. 
15.  Iron ½” seam allowance into the opening in the LINING and stitch closed, either by hand or machine. (I did it by machine, but you may like a more finished look inside).

16.  Line up the bottom edges of the TOP TAB so that the MAIN BODY and the LINING match up.  This is rather tedious.  Top stitch along the edge where the MAIN BODY meets the TOP TAB, stopping and restarting at the edges to avoid sewing over the FRONT TIES.

17.   Center the SHOULDER STRAP edge at the side seams of the TOP TAB and top stitch in place.  It’s best to stitch from the outside, even though you can’t really see what you’re  doing, you can kind of feel where the fabric starts and stops.  It makes for a cleaner look on the outside.

18.      Tie the FRONT TIES together. 

inside view

update 11/19/11:  I made this bag again and decided not to gather the lining.  Instead, I matched centers, and trimmed the bottom to the top on a diagonal so that it would match the shape of the bag.  I was much happier with it this way.

I also added some reinforcement on the bottom.  A piece of lightweight plastic works well.

1 comment:

  1. I love fun insides to a purse! It's so much better than staring into a dark, endless pit!! (Which is why I love the Thirty One products). Sorry, had to put a plug in!