Monday, April 15, 2013

Make It With Me - Drawstring Handbag Part 1

Are you excited? Are you ready? Good!!! But before we sew we have to cut and fuse a few things. Sorry, but it must be done :) But it's all rectangles so there aren't any pattern pieces to fuss about with. If you're just arriving you'll want to read this post for the materials list. Wanna see the version I made for a little bit of inspiration?

My camera did not want to pick up that beautiful pinky-red properly, so when you see fuchsia throughout this sew-along, just know that it's really the color above. 

OK, so grab your rulers and your cutting supplies and we'll get started.

From your main fabric, cut:
  • Two pieces that are each 18 inches by 8 inches (be careful if it's directional fabric)
  • One piece that is 10 by 12 inches (for the inside zipper pocket)
  • Two pieces that are each 5 by 9 inches (for the inside slip pocket)
 ** If you're making the patchwork version cut 42 squares that are each 3 inches square. Sew them together 7 squares across and 3 squares high with a quarter inch seam allowance, pressing the seams open. You should end up with a piece that is 18 by 8 inches when pressed nice and smooth. **

For your lining fabric, fold it so that the selvages meet and the raw edges are on the sides. Then cut the following:
  • Two pieces that are each 5 inches wide by the width of the fabric (for our straps and tabs)
  • Two pieces that are each 2 inches by the width of the fabric (for the drawstring)
  • Two pieces that are each 18 inches by 13 inches (for the lining)
  • Four pieces that are each 18 inches by 3 inches (for the top and bottom bands)

 Here's a view of how I laid out my cuts for the contrast/lining. Those pieces that have the rings on them were cut off the ends of the strap pieces (we'll get to that soon--I took the picture after I made the cut) but if you've got your yardage folded as I suggested you can get all your pieces cut out like the above.

From your woven interfacing cut:
  • Two pieces that are each 18 inches by 13 inches
  • Four pieces that are each 2.5 inches by 4 inches (for strengthening our tabs)

From your fusible fleece cut:
  • Two pieces that are each 18 inches by 13 inches
  • Two pieces that are each 2.5 inches by 29 inches 
  • You'll have some scraps--save those. We'll be using them.

Please note a few things: you must backstitch at the beginning and end of every seam, otherwise your pieces will start to fall apart; I'll tell you the seam allowances as we move along as they vary here and there; and you should read through the directions before you sew (as with any pattern).

Make the Outside Panels
Since fusible interfacing needs time to set after ironing (especially the fleece--not so much the other stuff) we're going to make the outside panels first so we can fuse them and set them aside for a bit (just in case you thought I was losing my mind and going crazy out of order on purpose :)

1. Take an outside piece, whether it's plain or patchwork, and two of the contrast bands. With right sides together, sew one to the top (along the 18-inch edge) and one to the bottom using a quarter inch seam allowance. Press your seams open.

2. Once you have that, take your woven interfacing (or craft-weight if that's what you're using) and fuse it to the wrong side. Let that cool while you repeat the process for the other outside pieces.

3. Once you have that done, take your fusible fleece and fuse it to the wrong side of the outside pieces (right on top of the woven/craft you just fused down). Make sure you get a nice good press around the edges. Set those aside to cool, and we'll work on the straps.

Make the Strap Tabs
1. Take one of the pieces you cut for your strap. Trim the selvage if necessary. Cut two pieces off the edge, each four inches long (don't cut the folded edge!!). Do the same to the other long strap piece. You should have two longer pieces and 4 short pieces.

2. Take those four pieces and iron them in half so that the five inch edges are touching. Unfold, then press the edges towards the center fold (just like making bias tape).

3. Down the center of each piece (using your folds as a guide) iron your little fusible interfacing pieces you cut.

4. Press again along your original folds (they may have flattened a bit during the fusing). You should have four pieces that are each 1.25 inches wide by 4 inches long.

5. Now we stitch (those raw ends will be buried in the bag so don't worry about them). You need to stitch as close to each edge as you feel comfortable--I find that 1/8 inch is usually doable for most people. I added a few extra rows of stitching because I like the effect--you can do the same or leave it out. Just make sure you stitch the same distance from each edge.

6. Grab your rings. Feed the tab through and pin the raw edges together. Then sew a little less than a quarter inch from the edge. You should now have four strap tabs. Set them aside but not too far aside :)

Make the Straps
1. Take those 2 long pieces you have left after cutting off your tabs. Trim them so that they are each twenty-nine inches long. Fold in each raw edge (the short ones) about a half-inch (we need to conceal those raw edges).

2. Now fold those long edges together and press down the center (as we did for the tabs). Then fold the edges towards the center fold and press again.

3. Take one of the fleece pieces and line it up down the center, making sure the edges are tucked under the fold (you'll have to trim one of the edges, but keep the scraps of fleece you trim!).

4. Fuse it in place--I usually do this by folding my fabric back in place and pressing, and then flipping the whole thing over and pressing to get a really good bond.

5. Press back in half so you have a piece that is 1.25 inches wide by about 28 inches long.

6. Hop back over to your machine and mimic the stitching you did on your tabs, whether it's just stitching on the edges, or adding a few extra rows. I did not sew around the perimeter of my straps--I simply went from end to end.

7. Get your tabs and rings. We're going to attach the straps now. Feed one end through the ring, and fold it up two inches. Pin it in place.

8. Sew a nice boxy stitch to keep it all secure. This is kind of thick, so take your time and adjust if you need to.

9. Repeat for the other end. Make sure the strap isn't twisted and the folded edges are facing the same way. Repeat for the other strap.

Ok, that's it for today. Let's sum up what you should have at this point.
  • All of your pieces should be cut out. It helps to label pieces if you might lose track of what's what.
  • We've got our two outside panels stitched and fused.
  • We've attached our tabs, rings, and straps.


  1. You have the patience of a saint! I think I've mentioned that before... Your tutorial is really detailed and fab to follow. Love the bright pinks - so perfect for Spring! Have a lovely start to the week xo

  2. Fusing gets me every flipping time, there needs to be some kind of Potter magic to make it go faster ;o)

  3. Very nice tutorial. I think your color combinations are quite lovely.

    Now to just find the time to sit down and sew!

  4. Great tutorial! I would like to make a patchwork version and I have a couple of fabric charm packs that I think will work. I found your site via your link on 'my girlish whims'. I've now signed up to follow your blog as well and I'm looking forward to reading your postings. I'm off to browse more of your older posts now...

  5. Love this. Thanks. I found you through Pinterest.

  6. Have been looking for a purse like this to make.Will try to make it right away as I need a new bag

  7. You are just so good at what you do. This tutorial is ever so complete. Thanks for your patience and generous time to share this with all of us. Rose



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