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This is a purse I made. I created the pattern. The finished product measures  18 1/2" W laying relaxed. The body of the bag is about 11" H but with the handles extended, it's about 24"H. The swirl design is my interpretation from a post I found  on another tutorial site. It's hard to judge how long it took me to complete the project as I mostly work in the evenings while I am watching television. This is a rather complex pattern and I would consider it an intermediate level sewing project.

This is my first tutorial so bare that in mind when you read through it. I hope it meets with your satisfaction and does not leave anyone confused.

Good luck to you on your project.

Step 1: Pattern Creation

   The first step is to choose what you want the purse to look like. For me, that was a slouch purse, but i also wanted it to have a little structure so it didn't flop over if i set it down. I had seen a tutorial at http://theboytrifecta.com in which he made a purse using inspiration from an Anthropology bag he liked. I loved the ruffle pattern and i knew i definitely wanted to use it, but the purse itself was much to small. Also i wanted to make a square bottom finish ( ill explain later)So my pattern was designed keeping that in mind.   
   Next, creating the pattern: I have never taken a pattern making course, so this was a challenge for me. I am sorry that describing the pattern process is rather difficult for me. I am not sure how many of you will be able to follow. Plus, I didn't take any photos because i forgot :(. Creating a pattern is kind of like creating it in reverse. You have to have an image in your head of the finished product. Imagine every detail, where to put pockets, how you plan to close the purse, body details like darts to give it structure. Then mentally going backwards from finished product to create the pattern pieces required.
I took pictures of the main body  pattern i designed since I still have the pattern. The center panel is 13 3/4" wide at widest and 12 1/4 high. The ends are 8 1/2" w and 12 1/4" H. The angle is set at 80/100*. You don't have to be a math wiz here. The angle is used only for looks. You can choose what ever angle you like, so long as the angle on your other pattern piece is the opposite. If you line up the 2 pieces of the pattern they should look like one continuous line. If it is different  then one of your pieces has an incorrect angle. Notice the end piece has a missing square on the bottom? This is for the square bottom finish I mentioned earlier. That square is 2" by 2". The flat bottom will use 2" of the bottom of the center panel piece as well.  Also, Since i wanted a gathered effect i added darts to the ends and the main body. However i wasn't thinking clearly when I created my pattern. The center panel,main body, should have been bowed outward on the bottom, and then gathered in. The way I did it using gathers off a flat bottom gave my purse a slight concave effect . ( it is very noticeable in the photos of step 9) Lesson learned!
There are other pattern pieces to it which I don't have pictures like; the handles,  the lining, the top facing the small strips around the handles. The lining is simple, as it mirrors the body pieces. The handles are 6 straight   4" strips. The decoration straps where just straight. 2 1/4". with rolled and surged edges on picot finish setting. The facing was 4 1/4" with 1 side rolled picot finish. As the pattern was not finished before finished cut measurements were unknown... and remain unknown as i didn't record them :S. Sorry like I said...first tutorial. PLEASE make sure you try your pattern out on scrap fabric and make a trail run purse so you don't ruin your good fabric!! Make changes or adjustments now!!

Step 2: Fabric Selection and Pattern Cutting.

I wanted a leather purse. Leather, however, is retarded expensive. Plus, this was my first attempt at a purse and working with fabric that was going to be very thick. So instead of leather I chose a knock off leather. The fabric I ended up using was 1 I had left over which I had used to make a dog coat. It is a distressed leather look-a-like that had a finished cotton backing which made it rather stiff. I like this fact as it would help give my purse the structure I required. The lining was actually old cotton napkins I had laying around in my linen closet that had never been used. Both fabrics were limited in amount so I had to be careful not to screw up.  As you can see in photo 4 ...I did screw up but luckily it wasn't ruined. Hence why I said  in step 1 to make a trail run purse. And, even though I did make the trail run purse, I made changes to the pattern afterwards. 1 of which did not work. The end pieces together  looked like a bumble bee butt, so I cut part of it off that pattern piece.
 
The pattern requirements:

Leather:
-2 center panels(main body pieces) 1 cut in on each side of pattern piece so the grain of the fabric is the same on both sides.
-4 end pieces cut 2 of each side of pattern piece so you have 2 opposite pieces at each end of the purse.
-6 strips 4" full length of fabric 60" ( for braided handle)
-several strips 2 1/4"(3-4 i can't remember) full length of fabric 60" (ruffle + decoration{opposite side of purse})
-1 piece 4 1/4" strip for facing ( length of all sewn pieces together + sewing allowance)
-Any other decorations your adding. I added an exterior pocket on opposite side of purse. Pocket body and flap.The size of the pocket is personal choice. I made mine slightly larger than my cell phone. Remember to make the flap at least 1/4" wider than pocket on each side.(Picture 3). 

Lining:
-2 main body pieces
-4 end pieces cut 2 of each side of pattern so you have 2 opposite pieces at each end of the purse.
-pocket pieces if your adding one

Fusible facing med-heavy grade.
used in lining pocket and magnetic closure backing.

Hardware:
-2 magnetic closures
4 rings
4 D-rings

Once your pattern is cut mark your darts if you plan to give it a gathered effect.

Step 3: Embellishments Part 1

Embellishments must be added before the purse is assembled.  Part of the embellishment I added after part assembly, but we'll get to that in a bit.
  The ruffles:
   I finished the edge on 2 strips. I used my serger with a rolled hem and picot settings. If you don't have a serger you can fold under and press the edges and top stitch. I would not do a double fold it if your using thick fabric. First, it will be very difficult to sew and second, the ruffle is supposed to be dainty looking. Thick fabric with a double fold will be bulky and probably would not ruffle nicely. If your using a fabric that will fray, use fray check or sew a very narrow zigzag along the edge and fold just beyond the zigzag.
 Pin your first strip about 2 3/4" from the center and about 3/8' from the edge I pinned it right sides together here, but it was not necessary for the way i finished my bag. Fold the strip back on itself, right sides together and back again ,so the inside (closest to center of purse panel) part of the fold is smaller than the outside. It's kind of like an accordian. Continue folding the strip till you get a half circle. It may take several tries to get it folded evenly. Pin as you go so it doesn't unravel. Once you have it the way you want it to look cut the excess and press it down. Make sure your fabric can be pressed as vinyls may melt. Use a cloth over it just in case, so your fabric is not in direct contact with the heat. Sew just along the inside and outside edges of the folded ruffle
   Baste part of another strip down the center to create a scrunched up ruffle. Machine basting is ok as long as you use the longest stitch your machine can do and use a lower tension so the thread will easily pull. Holding 1 thread tight gather the fabric on the thread, holding the other  end of  the thread so it doesn't pull through or un-gather itself. You may want to tie knots in the thread once you have it ruffled like you want it. Pin the ruffle so the basted  line(center) on the strip  is about 1/2" past the outer edge of the folded ruffle section you just sewed down. This ruffle should overlap the folded ruffle. Pin it to so it makes a 1/2 circle on the outside edge. Cut off excess and sew along basted line.
   Repeat the folded ruffle next to the new ruffle making sure that the new folded 1 is placed under the ruffle so there is an overlap. The inside edge of the new folded ruffle should be placed 1/2" from the sewn center line of 2nd ruffle. It may be helpful to pin the outside edge of second ruffle out of the way by lightly folding it towards the inside and pinning it in place. Follow the same folding technique as with the first ruffle till you have a 3rd larger 1/2 circle. Cut excess. Press and sew the 3rd ruffle in place along outer and inner edges 
   Repeat the technique for the second ruffle again for the 4th ruffle and again placing it 1/2" from the 3rd ruffle outer edge. Pin it in a lager 4th 1/2 circle, cut excess and sew it in place.
   Voila... ruffle done :) Hopefully you could follow my instructions. If you need another example you can check out http://theboytrifecta.com and follow his instructions. They are a little different then mine but the outcome is very similar.

 For the other side of the purse I chose to make a pocket . I finished the edges of the pocket fabric the same way as for the ruffles. I did this because if I had folded it under the fabric would have been very thick and difficult to sew. My pocket also has depth. I made a dart in the bottom corners and then positioned the pocket so it was sewn narrower and slightly less deep than the fabric. The depth is not necessary though.Mark this spot but do not sew your pocket down yet. I chose the spot i wanted the magnetic closure to go on the flap and then fused a piece of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the pocket flap to reinforce it.Really it would have looked better if the flap had lining fabric covering wrong side but i ran out. I installed the thin section of the magnetic closure.Make sure that the ugly metal part are on the right side of the fabric! Next I sewed the flap in position i did sew it right sides together with the center panel, but it was very difficult and regretted it after. Next I placed the pocket where it should go and with the flap folded down like it would if it was finished i marked where the magnetic closure should be positioned on the pocket body. I again added fusible interfacing to the back of the pocket. and installed the thick part of the closure. This time the ugly metal parts are on the wrong side of the fabric. I covered these  with more fusible interfacing. If you don't cover them  the metal edges stick out and can scratch ( i didn't want my cell phone touchscreen ruined). The pocket was then repositioned and sewn in place. On the outside of the flap the metal closure is very ugly. I covered an extra large button with the leather fabric and glued it to the top of the closure.

On the lining I added a welt pocket. Sigh... I always seem to do things the hard way. I am not going to get into describing the "welt pocket"as this is a tutorial all on it's own.  If you are interested in the welt pocket, please follow the instructions on this tutorial http://victoriantailor.blogspot.ca/2012/09/welt-pockets.html.  Ok, so if you want to keep it simple a patch pocket would have done fine. Cut the pocket the size you want. Square is fine but make it 1 1/2" longer than you need and the width 1/2"more than it  needs to be . Press the edges under 1/4" on the sides and bottom. Finish the edge of the top by either serging edge(if serged that 1/4" can be cut off as you serge) or folding under 1/4" and sewing it down. Fold over  1" on top so they are right sides together. Pin and sew the edges of top 1". Next fold this 1" section right side out and press. Find the center of the panel by folding it in half and making the line. Then position the pocket on the center line and about  2 1/2" from the top of the lining side panel. Make sure it's parallel  with the top edge sew sides and bottom using a top stitch. Sew an extra stitch past top of pocket top and return back down the side about 1/2" to reinforce it



Step 4: Assembly

The ends were then assembled:  At the dart marks bring the fabric together so the lines match up right sides together and pin. Sew darts on the line then on wrong side press them down to the side pin and then sew down the flap by top stitching from the right side. You can see them in the photos of step 2. The end pieces were then sewn right sides together, matching darts and edges. Clip the curve so it does not pull anywhere. The end pieces were then sewn  to the center panel pieces, right sides together. Trim all seams close to the seam stitching without cutting the seam.  If you prefer, you could instead, press the seams down to one side and top stitch them from the right side. It could be used as a way to embellish your purse.


Step 5: The Facing and Finish of Body

The facing strip can now be measured. The facing will run the whole way around the top of the bag. So measure the distance around and add 1" for seam allowance (1/2 " in each end). Sew the facing strip right sides together with a 1/2 " seam allowance. Pin the facing strip to the top of the bag right sides together. Remember that the facing has only 1 finished edge so for this part make sure you have matched the edges of the facing that has the unfinshed edge. Ensure that the end of the ruffles on the purse are going to be inside the facing. See photo 1.   Also for aesthetics, make the placement of the facing seam line up with 1 of the bag ends seam. Sew the facing to the bag using 1/2 seam allowance. At this point you can trim the ruffles close to the edge of the seam to reduce bulkiness. Press the seam towards the inside of the facing. In the center of the facing strip fuse a strip of fusible interfacing about 1 1/2 " long for the magnetic closure. Fold the facing wrong sides together and place the prefinished  rolled picot edge just over the previous seam allowance and press it. Do not sew it down yet.

My lining which is visible in the photos was another oops. I had to remove it in order to complete step 6. Had i  just realized i could have done this before I sewed  it down it would have saved me having to top stitch it in place and undo it . I swear i am the queen of sew and undo because i do not think my plan through. Again Live and learn :)

Mark the center of the wrong side of the facing and install one half of the magnetic closure. The closure should be in the center and on the outside(other side of pressed line)  but not right on the edge. You can see my placement in the second photo. My facing strip was made 3 1/4" and was to narrow to be sewn properly when the magnetic closure was in place. So with yours 4 1/4", you should have about 1/2" of room. Leave at least 1/4" from the edge to be able to do a straight stitch when finishing it.( You may need to use a zipper foot to get in close). Repeat on the other side of the facing for the other half of the magnetic strip. Install the magnetic closures. You can see part of the installation in the 3'rd photo here. Those prongs you see were cut through the fabric using a stitch ripper. Be very careful not to cut the holes to big, as it will affect the placement of the closure. Also, you can see in the photo the metal tab that will fit over the prongs. Once the tab is in place those prongs need to be bent down to hold the closure in place. I like to use my tiny pliers for this purpose.
 
OK here it may get a little confusing. Before you finish the facing... you must follow step 6 . Again I apologize for the confusion.

Step 6: Embellishment 2

At this point I was not satisfied with the embellishments and decided to add more. So I made more ruffled strips to match the opposite side ruffle. It is pinned the seam on the pocket side of the bag then sewn only in the center following the baste line just like the second and 4th ruffle of step 3. Leave extra strip material to attach the handle rings which will be done later (I did not do this).
It then seemed silly to leave the other side seams visible. So I added more strips. For the ruffled side of the purse I did not ruffle the strips I added to cover the seams. I thought it would be overkill. Instead I left them straight but added D-rings . The rings I used were heavy duty  horse hardware...lol (I used to have horses and these were left over from my "repair bag") The flat strips were  pinned on with the seam of the purse in the center and  under the strip.  The D rings are sewn between the strip and the bag at the midway point of the purse height. I had to leave 1/2" play where they were sewn because of  thickness of the rings and the thickness of the strips. So when you are placing the D-rings make one stitched line below and above the location of the D-rings. Sew the rest of the strips in place. There is a stitch line on both sides just along the edge of the strip to hold it down. Do not sew past the seam of the facing! I left extra strip material at the top of the bag to attach the handle rings (That part explained later). This should have been done to the ruffled strips I added on the pocket side as well!...but here another screw up I thought of it after so I had to sewn the extra fabric on after ...sigh :S. I then made a cheater strip. It looks like the strip belongs to the bottom half of the strip...but it doesn't hence why i call it a cheater. I sewed 2 strips together and finished a pointed edge which is sewn with edges turned under. Here again I regretted sewing this so thick. I should have just finished the edge of the strip with the serged picot like the other edges....sometimes I just don't think ahead. This cheater strip I sewed on top of the flat strip that is covering the seam but made sure it is sewn just below the D- rings and the point faces the top of the bag. Once it's sewn, pass the strip through both d-rings and then turn over on itself  so it points downwards and pass it through the top ring only this time. They should lay flat over one another like in the photos below These photos were taken after the purse was complete so please don't get confused ...we haven't missed a step.

OK so now we will add the lining, even though you see it in the photos before.  With the bag inside out, and lining right side out, put the bag inside the tube of the lining. They should be together wrong sides facing each other. Pin the lining top edge so it is even with the edges of the seam that was pressed in step 5 and baste it in place.

Now we can finish the facing. Pin the facing in place making sure the lining edge and seam of the body/facing are completely enclosed ( you may want to baste this in place as well) Then, on the outside of the bag, top stitch it in place. Go very slowly near the Magnetic closures. Make sure your pressure foot can go by and still sew the facing down at this spot. If your foot is to wide, change foot to either a narrow straight stitch foot or zipper foot . You can return to your universal foot once your past the closure.

Ok so now the next  thing that needs to be done is to attach the handle rings to your purse body. When we did the second embellishment. there is an over hang of the strips that are attached. Insert that overhang through a handle ring and fold the strip fabric on itself so it is wrong sides together. I left about 1" of the folded strip between the purse and the ring. Trim off excess and pin the fabric to the facing. So you should have a sandwich here; the outside strip. the middle refolded strip and the facing. I sewed once close to the ring( just strip and refold) and then i sewed several times through the sandwiched section about 1/4" apart to make sure it would not come apart from the weight of the purse. repeat for the other rings

Step 7: Squaring the Bottom

Now to square the bottom;. I did not take photos of this process...again an oops. I did have another project that had a square bottom so those are included for demonstration of the technique.

With your wrong right sides out, sew the long edge of the bottom right sides together. You will be left with a large unsewn square at each end. Pinch the unsewn edges together and evenly so the corners are now together, still right sides together. Pin and then sew the edges using a close seam. I use 1/4" seam allowance, no more.

The lining is a little different. When you sew to bottom edge you will leave an unsewn section in the center. The reason for this is that you will have to turn your bag right side out again and to do this your purse body will need to but pulled through the opening you leave.I left mine about 4" width because the purse is rather thick to squeeze through a small hole. You may need more or less 4" depending on your fabric. So you will sew a section back stitch for reinforcement ...leave a section unsewn, and start with a back stitch and sew the rest. Finish the square as you did for the bag above.

Now squeeze the purse through the hole in the bottom of the lining till it is right side out. leave the lining sticking out so you can close the hole. pinch the lining so it lays flat wrong sides together. stitch along the edge as close to the edge of the bottom seam. you want it to be as minimally visible as possible. push the lining inside the purse body and reshape it.

Step 8: Handles

The handles are made of 3 strands braided together. the strands used here are the 4" strands.  One strand at a time, sew the strand long edge right side together. You should now have a 60" tube. I have a special plastic wire for this purpose but you can use a wire or metal hanger that has been straightened. feed the wire through your tube, till it is scrunched up on the wire and both ends of the wire are in your possession. Attach the 1 end of the fabric to your wire (mine has a loop at the end so a safety pin can be attached to the fabric and loop.pull the wire back out of the other end slowly dragging the fabric with it. it can get though pulling it through especially if your using rough fabric like leather or very thick fabric. You should now have a tube that is right side out. Once all 6 strands have been sewn and turned out it's time to start braiding. Using a safety pin, pin together 3 strands. You can also baste them together if you prefer. Braid the 3 strands. For me braiding is easy, but if your unfamiliar with it see http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Adventist_Youth_Honors_Answer_Book/Arts_and_Crafts/Braiding there is a nice color photo step by step tutorial. Braid the strands evenly and snug but not tight. You don't want to see gaps, but you also don't want it so tight it's stiff. pin the ends together once your done the braid. Repeat the braiding process for the other 3 stands. Now you should have 2 braided lengths which have shrunk considerably from the original 60". Decide how long you want your handles. For me that was 25". Long enough that I can wear my purse on my shoulder or carry it hanging from my hand. You also need a 3" overhang on each end to attach it to the ring so my over all length was 31". I cut my braid at 31" making sure to have a pin securing the strand before the cut so it does not unravel. It is wise to sew through all 3 layers of braid at this point. insert 1 end of the braid through the handle ring. fold it back on itself leaving 3" of braid folded together with the ring in between. Now sew through all 6 layers( it's actually 12 layers really, as each strand is already doubled). It is very difficult to sew through. Go very very slowly. and watch that your needle isn't shifting or bending. If it is to difficult you may need to sew this section by hand. I made small strips of fabric which i wound around the stitch marks and the ugly ends of the braid sticking out. to give it a more aesthetic appearance. Wind these tightly and overlapping itself so they stay in place.The end  of this strip needs to be slip stitched by hand. repeat for all the handle ends.

Step 9: Finish

All the steps are complete. All that remains is going over your bag to check for any loose threads.

Now load it up...you have a beautiful bag!

Thanks for taking a look at my tutorial. Hope all my instructions were complete enough.
Best of luck on your own purse project.
Lynne :)
Is really nice! And so well explained too.
Ty Marcella.
This is a really beautiful bag - I love all the little details. :)
Thank you Jessy. Positive feedback is really nice.
thank you very much
I love the hardware and braided handles. Nice job!
I just love it! The ruffles look great :)

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Bio: I am medically retired. Forced to stay home, I hobby. I sew clothes, clothing reconstruction + some home decor. I also cook+ bake. I like to ... More »
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