We used vintage found objects in my grandmother's collection of crafts and linens.
By choosing these easy to use materials and simple stitches my 4 year old daughter could participate.
And we had a finished product within minutes, not hours!
Here's how we did it:
Step 1: Go on a Treasure Hunt for Vintage Materials
(1) Decorative vintage cloth napkin. Ours was a rectangle shape. It measured 10" x 7" which worked out to be a perfect size for a small purse. The napkin also had some delicate lace inserts which added a nice touch. The napkin had finished edges on all 4 sides so no hemming was necessary.
(2) Old or broken necklace or string of beads. We found a string of craft pearl beads. Ours measured about 20" which was also a good size for this purse. If the necklace is not already broken or does not have a clasp opening, you will need to cut it to form a string. If necessary, tie off the ends to prevent beads from slipping off the string.
Note that the materials shown here are examples and not the ones used in the final product. The finished purse was made the day before this contest was announced.
Step 2: Prepare to Hand Sew
This tutorial mainly uses a blanket stitch or running stitch. The stitches will be visible and will complement the vintage hand-sewn look.
If you want to minimize the appearance of the stitches, select a thread color that matches the napkin.
You'll need some of this matching thread color for attaching the handle. Those stitches are better hidden.
If you want the main stitches to be more decorative, you can use a contrasting thread color.
(2) Gather the needle and thread.
(3) Brush up on hand stitches if necessary.
Here are two good tutorials on using the blanket stitch and one on the running stitch respectively.:
Step 3: Blanket Stitch the Sides
(2) Fold the napkin in half. The decorative side should now be facing you.
(3) Use a blanket stitch to close the sides. Start stitching from the top and end at the fold. By starting at the top you'll ensure that the sides match up at the top. Pin the sides if necessary. (I didn't find it necessary since I started stitching from the top).
(4) Use your helper! I pushed the needle through the fabric and then allowed my 4 year old daughter to pull the stitches through the rest of the way.
By choosing to use a blanket or running stitch any imperfections just added to the character, and it made it easier for her to participate by not trying to achieve a perfect stitch.
(If you want a more polished look, then use a whip stitch and sew with right sides together rather than wrong sides.)
Step 4: Stitch Necklace at Top for a Handle
(2) Use a tack stitch to sew each end of the necklace to the inside of the purse. Use thread that matches the napkin. You'll want to hide these stitches.
(3) Review tutorial on tack stitches if necessary. Here is a useful one: http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/documents/2819_4826.pdf
Step 5: Enjoy!
My daughter was enjoying her purse within minutes of asking me to make one for her. And she enjoyed helping to make it.
All the materials, even the needle and thread, came from her great-grandmother's sewing and craft supplies.
I enjoyed thinking about my the 4 generations tied together in this project. Even though my grandmother has passed she was a big part of this project.
So we made a memory as well as a keepsake.