Friday, March 25, 2016

Purse/Tote tutorial

I like purses! I like looking at purses in stores. I like making purses and I like hoarding purses in my closet! :)

I made myself a purse/tote, and used one that I really like the shape and size of to make my pattern. I like it so much, that I'm sure sometime I will want to make another one, so, I'm making a tutorial so that I won't have to figure it all out again! If you want to make one you are welcome to use it too. My thanks to clever people on line who provide tutorials that I give links to!

This is the bag that I really like, so I decided to use it as my model, only with more pockets. It has one zipper pocket inside, and a pocket that my sunglasses will fit in. My Ipad fits in just right, along with misc. stuff!

To make this you will need:

1 yard of outer fabric
1 yard of lining fabric
1 yard of fusilbe interfacing
One 7 inch zipper that matches lining
1 yard thin cord to make piping (if desired)
1 yard thick cord for handles

Begin by cutting out all of your pieces, a quick job with your rotary cutter!  ** All measurements are in inches, seams are 1/4 inch unless otherwise noted.

From outer fabric cut:
2 - 15 1/2  X  11 1/2  (front and back base pieces)
1 - 9 1/2  X  4 1/2  (bottom), round corners
2 - 4 1/2  X  11 1/2 (side fronts)
1 - 8 1/2  X  8  (front center outside pocket)

Front lining fabric cut:
2 - 15 1/2  X  11 1/2  (main front and back lining)
1 - 9 1/2  X  4 1/2  (bottom lining), round corners as you did the outer fabric bottom.
2 - 13  X  6 1/2  (for inside pockets)
1 - 8 1/2  X  8  1/2  (to line outside pocket)
1 - 8  X  14  (inside zipper pocket)
1 - 2 1/2  X  width of fabric (for piping)

From fusible interfacing cut:
2 - 15 1/2  X  11 1/2, fuse to front and bake base pieces.
1 -  9 1/2  X  4 1/2, round corners, fuse to bottom piece.
2 - 6 1/2  X  6 1/2, fuse to each pocket so half is covered by interfacing.
1 - 8 1/2 X  8, fuse to front outside pocket

Front Outside Pocket
With right sides together, sew top of front outside pocket to outside pocket lining with a 1/4" seam
allowance.  Press lining up, the over top edge of of pocket so there is 1/4" of lining showing on right side of pocket.

Center pocket to to lower edge of front base piece. Baste pocket piece to front base piece along sides and bottom edge.

Take front side pieces and put them right side down on the front base piece, ling raw edges with raw edge of pocket. Sew 1/2 seam and press to sides.  Baste sides and bottom to front base piece. You should have a nice looking front pocket! Now sew the front and back purse pieces together at the side seams using a 1/2 inch seam.

Lining Pockets

 If you would like to install a nice zipper pocket, there is a great tutorial HERE. For the other inside pockets, take your two pocket pieces, fold them in half along the top edge of the interfacing you already fused. Sew down each short side of the pocket, turn right side out and press.
Now play around with how wide you will need the pockets. Are you going to put your sunglasses in one? Your wallet? What might you store in the pockets? Once you know the sizes you will need, decide if you want to put pleats in the bottom to accommodate your items, and add pleats accordingly. Sorry this is kind of vague, but if I give you measurements you will have to put the same things in your pockets that I do...  :) To make the pleats I just pinched what I needed, and sewed them 1/2 inch up the bottom edge, backstitch to keep them from coming out.

The opening of your pocket is going to be about 4 inches down from the top of your lining, but you want to sew the bottom of the pocket down first, so the raw edge is at the bottom, inside of your pocket. Put the pocket face down 8 1/2 inches down from the top edge of lining. Sew across bottom edge only. Now flip the pocket up, and sew pocket to lining, stitching close to the side edges of your pocket. Backstitch at both ends. Sew front and back lining pieces together at sides, leaving an 8 inch opening in the middle of one side to use later for turning your purse right side out.

I also installed an inside slip pocket in front of the zipper pocket Just install the pocket the same as above, but no pleats. I sewed up two dividing lines in the pocket (but don't sew those lines through your zipper pocket, flip it out of the way!).

Attach Purse Bottom

Make sure you have rounded the corners on the bottom outside and lining pieces. Turn outside of purse wrong side out. Matching center front and backs, right sides together, pin purse bottom around the lower edge of your purse front and back. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures... When you get to the corners, pinch little pleats into the outside purse edge, pin, and baste around the bottom with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. It takes a little fiddling to get it all right. Once you have it the way you like it, sew over basting stitches. Attach the lining bottom to the lining in the same manner.

Finish Purse

If you would like to put piping around the top of your purse there is a great tutorial for making piping right HERE.  Baste the piping to the top edge of the purse, matching raw edges, piping edge facing down.

Now you need to make the handles.There are many different kinds of handles you can make, I used the one HERE. Baste handles on to the top edge of outer purse.

With the outer purse WRONG side out and the lining RIGHT
side out, slide the lining inside the purse. Sandwich the piping (which you have basted to the outside fabric) and the purse handles in the middle of the lining and outside fabric, sew completely around upper edge of purse, making sure you only catch the edges of the handle in the seam, you may need to pin the rest of the handle out of the way.

You are almost done! Now you are going to turn the purse right side out, using the opening you left in the side seam of the lining. It's a bit of a a squeeze, be careful if your handles are pinned inside somewhere, the pins are sharp (ask me how I know...).

Now close up that seam in the lining...

and topstitch around the top and you are done!

Now look at this perfect purse/tote/whatever!

I put some additional little do-dads like a magnetic snap and some purse feet...but this tutorial is long enough! There are loads of tutorials on line if you want to do that! I'm lovin' my purse!


  1. Absolutely adorable! Love the blue!

  2. Loving it! Not only the fabric, but the style. Nice. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter.


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