Monday, August 27, 2012

The "It's a Classic!" Purse

  Once upon a time, one of my very best friends, Niki, gave me a baby sling.  It was a fancy to do involving some complicated wrapping and various loops and I could not get it to work for me.  She and I tried everything, but it just didn't work.  Niki told me to just go ahead and pitch it, but it was made of this beautiful fabric...and we've already had this discussion about my fabric obsession!

  So, Niki has a birthday coming up and I've been trying to come up with something to do for her.  I decided a purse would be a good way to go, she's living in diaper bag land, and I know she will appreciate something pretty just for need, meets idea, meets salvaged fabric that I already know she likes (because she chose it!) and TADA!

See the little hand?  Gigi liked it too!
 I created the pattern for this purse using the basic shape of an existing bag and it slowly came together from there.  If you've never made your own purse, I highly recommend it.  Not only do you get to choose your favorite fabric and colors, but you can customize pockets and size and shape and just about everything!

  Want to try it?  This project is a little more involved than some of my other tutorials so far, but it is pretty straight forward and fun to do!

3/4 yard of outer fabric (try to use something slightly heavier than cotton)
3/4 yard of coordinating inner fabric for the lining
a button (or snap or other kind of preferred fastener)

This project has a lot of steps, but hang in there, I promise you can do it!  To keep it from being too overwhelming, I've broken it down into 4 parts.  The purse body, the purse top edge, the lining and pockets, and the strap and closure tab.

Part 1:  The Purse Body

To begin, Make a pattern for the purse body using two pieces of white paper taped together.  The top should be a straight 16" line.  Fold the paper in half and cut a curved edge.  The paper should measure 10" from top to bottom.

Fold your fabric in half, right sides facing.  Pin the pattern to the fabric and cut it out.  You should have two pieces exactly the same.

Now for the pleats.  Find the middle of each fabric piece and create a 3" fold as pictured above.

It's important to make sure that the pleats on each piece match up and that both pieces are the same size, so lay one on top of the other and make adjustments as necessary.

It should measure about 13" across the top after you have pinned your pleats.

Now sew the pleats in place using a 1/4" seam allowance so they don't shift later.
The next step is to lay the pieces one on top of the other, right sides facing, and pin all the way around the curved edge.  Then sew the edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.  And you have now completed Part 1! 

Part 2: Purse Top Edge

For the top edge, cut a strip 2 1/2" by 27" (measure the opening of your purse body and add a 1/2" to get an accurate measurement)
Sew the ends together using 1/2" seam allowance.  Your strip should now be a circle.
Pin the top edge piece to the inside of your purse body.  The purse body should still have the wrong side facing out.
If you find that your top piece is slightly larger than your purse body, create another pleat on one side to match the one you made on the purse body.
Sew around the edge of your opening using a 1/2" seam allowance and consider Part 2 complete!

Part 3:  The Lining and Pockets

Lay your purse body on your lining fabric and trace and cut it out.  You should end up with two lining pieces that look like this...
Ok, next is the fun part!  Don't look at me like that, pockets are FUN!
Think about what kinds of things you want specific pockets this case, Niki has a smart phone that is slightly larger than the I phone, and I figured she should have a pen pocket (because I don't know anyone who hasn't had to go purse diving for a pen, or worse, had a pen explode in the bottom of the bag!!!)

My first pocket measured 10" x 5 3/4" and my second pocket measured 7" 8 1/2".  I again used paper to make the pocket pattern.  Cut two of each pocket piece...this is getting a bit tongue twisty, Peter Piper anyone?...
Place the matching pocket pieces together with right sides facing, pin and sew using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Make sure to leave a 2" opening along the bottom of each pocket so you can turn them right side out.

Clip the corners and turn your pockets right side out.  Press your pockets and place them on the desired lining piece.
Making sure that the opening that you left is on the bottom, sew each pocket in place using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Now, once the pockets are sewn on you can customize them.  An I phone needs a pocket that is about 3 3/4" wide, since Niki's phone is slightly larger, I made it 4 1/4". 

Once you have marked how large you want the pocket to be, just sew a straight line from the top of the pocket to the bottom.  And good bye Part 3!

Part 4:  Strap and Closure Piece

For the strap, cut two long strips of fabric, 3" by 30" (or however long you wish your strap to be)

Lay the strips, one one top of the other, right sides facing, and sew a straight line along each long side leaving the short ends open.
It's a little bit of a pain to turn the strap right side out, but a chop stick or knitting needle can help you.  Once it has been turned, press it flat and top stitch the long edges using a 1/2" seam allowance.
Set the strap aside and lets make the closure piece!  Simply cut a 3" by 14" piece of fabric. 
Fold the piece in half with, you guessed it, right sides facing. Sew all the way around leaving one of the short edges open for turning.
Once you have turned your piece right side out, top stitch all the way around .
Ok, now you have all the players and you are ready to put it all together!
Turn your purse body right side out, and press the top edge down 1/2".  Leave your lining wrong side out and press the top edge down 1/2". 
Now push the lining into the purse body.  The folded edges should be facing each other.
Lay the bag flat so you know where to insert the strap ends.  Pin them in place.
Now decide which side will be the back of the purse and which will be the front.  Insert the closure piece into the middle of the back side.  Sandwiching the piece between the lining and the outer purse body.
Sew all the way around the opening of the purse using a 1/4" seam allowance.
To make sure the straps are extra strong, sew an x inside a box for each side.
It's Button time!  Each machine is different, but you will need the button hole presser foot.  Look in your owner's manual for machine specific instructions. 
Once the button hole has been sewn, slide a pin into the end.  This is to prevent you from cutting too far when you use the seam ripper to open the button hole.
The final step is to sew on your button!
Remember, if the button installation process is too intimidating, snaps or Velcro will also work!
And you did it!
You made your own purse and it is SEW UNIQUE...
 a designer original without the price tag!

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