Introduction: DIY Cat Purse Using Custom Photo

About: Specializing in sewing, soldering, and snacking.

Make your own cat purse and print custom fabric at home!

I first spotted a cat face purse on a Japanese blog, as soon as I saw it, I quickly searched every corner of the nets and found it was a sold out design of a Japanese fashion label Ahcahcum Muchacha. Months after eyeing it and being unable to find it elsewhere for sale, I planned a trip to Hong Kong and vowed to keep my eyes open. Well, to my surprise, I found one!

This bag rules them all, everyone enjoys it and always asks where I got it. It's even been named, christened as "Kitty Bear" by a 5 year old while I was waiting for the bus. When I've recently looked online, it's finally made it's way to Ebay and other resale websites.

However, nothing is as satisfying as being able to make your own. This instructable will show you how to create one with any image you want, be it a meme, a pet photo or... heck it doesn't even have to be a cat face (but why wouldn't you want that!).

I have also included the pattern with the image of MY favorite cat for your convenience, so you can simply print and sew.

Now is the time where all will enjoy and reap the benefits of the cat face purse!

Step 1: Materials + Tools Needed

Sewing Machine

White medium to heavy-weight cotton fabric *make sure it's a tight weave

Lining fabric

Medium-weight fusible interfacing

9" closed-end nylon zipper *matching lining


Cutting tool

Fabric marking tool

Matching thread

Hand needle

Ink-Jet printer that uses pigment inks *preferably prints on 11 x 17

Access to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop if you plan to create your own cat image

Notes on Materials and Tools

* Make sure the cotton is a tight weave and cotton, this will produce a crisper and clearer image when it is printed on. I used a small white cotton twill with no stretch.

* The printer I used was a Epson WF 7010, this supports up to 13" x 19" prints. The pattern included is for 11" x 17", since that is more common. However, you can easily shrink this pattern and design down to size so it can fit on a piece of 8.5" x 11". You can then take out the zipper and keep it open or use a magnetic clasp.

Download Patterns and Images

If you choose to create your purse with an image of your choice, use the .ai pattern files.

If you would like to go straight to printing, use the included pattern .jpg images and proceed to Step 5.

If you would like the patterns on their own to cut out fabric with, use the .png files.

Step 2: Create Pattern in Illustrator (Optional) - Head and Ears

There are two ways I am highlighting to get to the next steps of printing and sewing.

1) use your own photo and create pattern using illustrator and photoshop

2) skip this step and help immortalize the best cat on the planet, Miss Fierce by printing out the included pattern pieces

Number 2 is straight forward.

Read on to create your own!

Creating the Body and Ears

- Open the .ai pattern file attached below in Illustrator

- Choose and open your favorite cat photo on a separate layer, a photo that is head on with the cat looking straight at the camera will work best for the included pattern.

- Resize your photo so it fills up the pattern shape nicely, if you end up adjusting anchor points and changing the shape of the pattern instead, be aware that the zipper size your use may change in length if you shorten or lengthen the top edge.

- Once you have resized it, copy and paste the photo to save one for the ears

- Select both layers, the closed path and the photo, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make

- Grab one of the ear patterns and put it over the photo. Resize the photo and rotate the ear pattern until you are satisfied with the way your photo fills the pattern up. I decided to manipulate an anchor point to cut my pattern a little closer the edge of my photo.

- Create Clipping Mask in the same way as you did for the face. Copy, paste and go to Object > Transform > Reflect and choose the vertical plane. Now you have two ears!

- Arrange the pattern pieces on a 11 x 17 canvas, or larger size if you can! I was able to print out a 13" X 18" piece with an Epson WF 7010.

Step 3: Create Pattern in Illustrator (Optional) - Handles

Creating the Handles

- Open the handles file in Illustrator - Cut and paste the body of the bag (head of the cat) on a separate layer.

- Move the body image so the handle pattern is at the top, this will create a generic fur pattern for the handles

- Take the same steps as before to create a Clipping Mask that will fit 1/4 of a 11" x 8.5" page.

- Copy and paste 3 more images placing them side by side to fill up the rest of the page. You should also have a 1/4" of white space accounting for the natural clipping that occurs when you print. If you want, you can fill up to the edges, but I like to be safe and see where my clipping will occur.


- Save your images as .jpegs, check the box next to "Use Artboards" making sure your art boards are the appropriate size: one 11" x 17" for body and ears, one 11" x 8.5" for handles.

Step 4: Adjust Color in Photoshop (Optional)

For the image to show up on fabric looking it's best, you will want to adjust some levels and contrast before you send it to the printer.

- Open your two .jpegs in Photoshop

- First I chose to make my image a bit more grey, it was looking to red for me, so I went to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance first and bumped up the Blue and Cyan

- Next go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and drag the two arrows, highlights and shadows towards the middle to lighten and darken the image up to where it looks more defined.

- In addition to you can go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast to get the blacks even darker. Feel free to choose any other adjustments you may want to in order to achieve a vibrant image that has good contrast.

- Save and now you are ready to print!

Step 5: Prep and Ink Jet Print Fabric

If you can , use a printer that contains pigment inks to ensure that the print will be water resistant. If you do not have one available and have a printer that has dye inks, pick up some Bubble Jet Set 2000 to pretreat your fabric. Use 100% cotton fabric.

If you are unsure of the ink, do a test print and wash. No more than 10% of the ink should come off if you are using pigment inks on cotton.

Fabric Notes:

- Use a tight weave, woven, 100% cotton fabric that is white to get the best absorption of ink and the truest-to-color print. I used a small twill cotton.

- Wash, dry and iron your fabric to take out any sizing. In the least, steam and iron your fabric to help with any shrinkage that may occur while washing finished purse.

Cutting Fabric:

I suggest using a rotary cutter and straight edge to ensure straight lines and squared corners. Use scissors carefully.


- 2 11" x 17" or larger format sheets for head and ear layouts

- 2 8.5" x 11" sheets for handles

Back Fabric:

- Get out the white packing labels, peel and stick one on the back of each letter size sheets

- Use 2 labels for the large format sheets, and cut another one up to fill in the gaps

Load Printer:

- Take our paper tray and remove all existing paper. Adjust the tray size guides so your paper is snug in place and replace. My paper gets loaded face down, do a test print to see which side of your paper gets printed on before loading.

- Connect and hit print to send your files over! Your sheet should load without any problems. If it does not, make sure the fabric is backed up all the way in the tray and loaded properly.

Once Done Printing:

- Peel off the packing labels, do it slowly. If there is left over paper and adhesive, simply wet that area and rub off.

Step 6: Cut and Interface Fabric

After printing you are ready to cut everything out to prep for sewing!

Notes on Cutting:

- Do not cut out the handles individually like I have in the image, instead cut off two at a time, you can fold along joined edge and sew one seam instead of two this way.

- All seam allowance (SA) is included, so no need to add any!

Cutting Head, Ears and Handles:

Cut out all pieces from printed fabric sheets

- 2 faces

- 4 ears

- 4 4" x 10.5" handle pieces

Pin or weight face pattern to lining fabric and fusible interfacing.


- 2 lining

- 2 interfacing

Cutting Zipper Inserts:

On your lining fabric AND fusible, measure and cut:

- 2 10.25" x 4" rectangles

Once everything is cut out, grab the iron and fuse the interfacing to the back of the two purse body pieces and the 2 zipper inserts.

Step 7: Sew Ears

- Sew 1/4" seam allowance around top of ear, leaving bottom open.

- Clip around point of ear and trim off SA a bit

- Turn inside-out and iron flat

- Place and mark where you want the ears, turn ear points downward and pin

- Sew 1/4" from edge of ear piece, clip upper corner, so when you press them up, you do not see the SA peaking out from behind the ears

- Press ears up and sew again 1/4" from sewn edge to secure ears down.

Step 8: Sew Inside Pockets (Optional)

Personally I like pockets in my purse to hold my phone and keys, so I sewed two of them to the lining. This isn't a necessary step, but it's nice to have some extra spots for storage.

Cut out 2 rectangles from the lining material

- 1 5" x 5" for change

- 1 7" x 5.5" for my Android phone (about the same size of an iPhone)

- Fold over one of the short sides 1/2" then 1/2" again (roll hem) and stitch down.

- Iron the remaining 3 edges towards the middle 1/2"

- Pin 1.5" down from top of lining pieces, one pocket on each side and edge stitch down

Step 9: Sew Handles

- Sew two handle pieces together along the shorter edges and press with iron, repeat so you have two handles twice the length of original printed lengths

- With the printed sides facing each other, sew both handles along the length to form two tubes

Turning Handles Inside-out

- Using a big safety pin, push it through one side on the end of one of the sewn handles

- Push it towards the inside of the tube using your fingers to fold the raw edges inside

- Grasp the end of the safety pin while it's inside, pushing it along through the middle. Shimmy it along, the tube will scrunch up, keep pulling the safety pin along while helping it turn inside-out.

- Once the safety pin emerges from the other end of the tube it becomes a bit easier and you can then grasp the end of the fabric and continue to pull the tube inside out.

- Do this to both straps and press so they are nice and flat.

Step 10: Sew in Zipper

Sewing Zipper to Inserts

- Take the zipper inserts, fold the shorter sides in 1/2" and press.

- Fold and press the long edges 1" so they meet in the middle.

- Take your zipper and pin one side, with the teeth over the folded edge of the zipper insert, centering the zipper along the length. Pin in place.

- Go to the sewing machine and stitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot. Once you get close to the zipper pull, stop sewing, lift your presser foot and close the zipper pulling the zipper pull past the sewing foot.

- Fold over the other side, creasing the zipper insert in the middle, stitch in place with your zipper foot.

- Repeat on the other side

Sewing Zipper to Lining

- Mark and pin one side of the insert 1.5" down from the lining's raw edge and centering it between the sides of the cut piece. Edge stitch along the top.

- Repeat on other side of lining, pin and pick it up to check to see if things are centered and the zipper is placed facing up towards the opening of the bag.

Step 11: Sewing Body and Lining of Bag Together

Attach Handles to Body

- On both sides of the purse, ,mark 2" from the top raw edge, line this mark up with the middle width of your strap, while lining up the raw edge of the strap with that of the top. Pin.

- Sew down in place 1/2" from top edge

Attaching Lining to Body

- Pin together and mark about 6" at the bottom of the lining layers, sew from top edge to marks on each side

- Sew together the body face-to-face 1/2" all around and clip along the curves, this will give you a nice rounded shape once you turn it inside-out.

- Open up the zipper of the lining layer and pin the top of the lining to the top of the purse body, sew 1/2" all around.

- Once sewn, go through the opening in the lining, grab the body of the purse and pull it inside-out. Then stuff the lining back into the body of the bag.

- To sew up the opening in the lining, fold under 1/2" SA and top stitch. You can hand stitch, though I find that using the machine creates a stronger connection.

You're almost done!

Step 12: Finishing

- Iron the opening of the purse to ensure the lining lays nicely inside.

- Choose a thread that matches that matches the color of your print and make a couple stitches between the ears and the strap. This way your ears will stay up while it is worn.

Finished! Make sure to ask questions and share your creations in the comments below!