Print and sew a pattern of a handbag from the cutest cat picture you are able to find or that you snap yourself. The straps are adjustable, so they can be tied together at different lengths, giving the wearer many styling options. This is the perfect gift for a cat lover, or self professed cat lady, and is a short and easy project for a beginner to intermediate sewer.
Step 1: Gather Materials
- 1/2 Yard medium-weight white canvas or micro twill
- 1/2 Yard broadcloth
- Matching threads
- 12" zipper (or longer, we will shortened one)
- 1/2 yard of batting
Tools + Equipment
- Access to an Ink Jet with pigment inks and that prints 11" x 17"
- Sewing machine
- Measuring tape
- Straight edge ruler
- Fabric marking utensil
- Access to Illustrator
Step 2: Image Design
Choose the image you want to make the purse from and open it in Illustrator. Using a the Magic Wand, Quick Selection or Pen tool, select the background and delete it from your image.
Alternatively you can select the cat and go to Select > Inverse, then delete.
If it isn't already, change the resolution of the chosen image to at least 300 dpi.
Resize or alter the color of the image in any way you choose, keeping the image within 9" x 15". If you keep within these measurements, you will have enough room for the seam allowance that will be added later. In terms of color correcting the image, I find it helps to up the saturation and contrast, the image will print lighter than what you see on the screen.
For detailed information on printing fabric using an ink-jet printer, check out the How to Print Fabric at Home 'ible.
Step 3: Print Cat Image
Iron out the white canvas to get out any wrinkles. Take a printer label, peel off the backing and stick it to the back of the fabric, line up a straight edge of the label with the selvedge.
Take another label and place it next to the one that was just put down to complete a dimension of 11" x 17"
Use scissors or a rotary cutter with a ruler to cut around the 11" x 17" area. Afterwards, you will have a paper-backed piece of 11" x 17" fabric.
Smooth out the fabric again after you have stick the labels on, if there are little bumps or folds in the fabric, it may jam the printer or misprint.
Head over to the printer, print a test piece of paper so you know whether to put the fabric side down or up. Take the tray out along with any remaining paper and put the sheet of fabric in, adjusting any guides to the appropriate 11" x 17" size.
Connect your computer to the printer, go in to Illustrator and hit Print. In the settings, make sure the image is at 100% scale and check all the other settings to see if they look correct.
Send the image to the printer.
Step 4: Cut Pieces
Once the picture has come out clean from the printer, revel in the cuteness and then remove the labels from the back of the fabric.
Take a ruler and fabric chalk and mark 1" out from the edge all around the image. Cut the cat image out with the 1" margin and use it as a pattern piece for the back of the purse and lining. Proceed to cut the rest of the pieces for the handbag as such:
 Purse back from the white cotton
 3" x 1.5" zipper ends from white cotton
 Lining pieces
 31" x 3" straps
 5" x 5" inside pocket from lining material (you can make this any size you want)
Step 5: Add Batting
The purse is lightly padded with batting to add to the squishy cutest that is pictured, it also lends body to the handbag.
Place the printed piece (front) and the back piece on top of the batting, pin and cut along the outside edge. Baste stitch 1/4" - 3/8" along the edge to attach.
Step 6: Zipper
Sew Zipper Ends
Measure the part of the image that you want to be the top of the purse to see how long the zipper needs to be. It helps to choose a flat part of the shape to install it in.
Take the zipper, measure the chosen length and mark the new bottom of the zipper with a pin. If the bought zipper length fits as-is then you will not need to shorten it.
Stitch above the top stoppers and where the pin is (if shorter than the bought size), you can do this by hand or with a sewing machine. Stitch back and forth in the same spot to ensure a strong hold.
Cut the ends of the zipper off, leaving a 1/2" out from the stitching. Take the fabric zipper ends, fold and iron the short edges in 1/2". Then fold them in half lengthwise and iron.
Pin them over the stitches at both ends of the zipper and top stitch in place.
Sewing to Body
Turn the zipper upside down, pin one edge to the opening of the purse, right side of zipper to right side of fabric. Stitch down 1/4" from the edge, sewing 1/8" past the edge of the fabric zipper ends. Repeat using the other side of the purse.
Step 7: Straps and Inside Pocket
Fold the lengthwise edges on the straps towards the middle 1/2" and press with the iron. Then, fold the whole strap in half lengthwise and press again. Edge-stitch down both sides of the straps. Afterwards turn the ends of the straps under 1/4" , then another 1/4" and top-stitch down.
Pin the straps in a place that makes sense to you, you will want to sew a straight line across the strap width, so make sure you don't place it on a slant or curve. Take a moment to pin and try on to get the right placement. Sew in place, stitching back and forth a couple times to add some strength.
Figure out the top of the pocket, then fold the top edge in 3/4" and stitch down.
Fold the other edges in 1/2" and steam iron in place. Take the pocket and place it on a lining piece, pin in place and topstitch down around the edge.
Step 8: Attach Lining to Zipper
The lining gets sewn on to the zipper the same way the body does, except the zipper is facing backwards. Pin and sew the lining to the other side of the zipper along the existing stitch lines. Once they are both sewn, open up the whole purse, lining and body, and press open.
Step 9: Sewing the Body
Once the zipper is sewn, put the straps out of the way so they don't get accidentally caught while sewing the purse together. I placed mine in the middle of the body before pinning.
Once the straps are out of the way, open the zipper. You will need to pull the lining through this opening when it all gets turns inside-out.
Pin the body and lining pieces together, right side to right side. Sew around the edge using a 1/2" seam allowance. Sew the body first and get as close to the zipper ends with a regular sewing foot as you can. To get in closer you can switch to a zipper foot.
After sewing the body, sew around the lining leaving a 8" opening. Clip all seam allowances down to 1/4" and 1/8" around ears and feet. Clip off the points of the ears and clip in towards any sewn corners. Turn the purse inside-out, press and inspect the outer seam that was just sewn. If it pulls in at certain areas or won't turn out easily at other places, turn it back in and keep trimming and clipping.
Once pulled inside out, the hole that everything was pulled through needs to be closed. To do this, press in 1/2", pin and topstitch down. Once the lining hole is sewn up, stuff the lining back in to the body and press again to finish.
There may need to be some hand sewing around the ends of where the zipper is installed after clipping. I had a corner near one of the ends, so when I clipped, it freed up some fabric that I needed to go in a hand-sew down.
There you have it! Now you can always have your favorite cat where ever you go.
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