The main things I've made throughout the years are easy things like curtains and pillow covers. I've maintained just enough skills from my 7th grade Home Ec class to get me by.
But when I bought some fabric in Hawaii earlier this year, I wanted to make a cloth purse with some of it. Our trip to Hawaii was such a gift from God for us, not something we ever imagined doing until we found out we could fly free on our accumulated miles (Click HERE for more info about my time shopping for fabric in Honolulu.)
I had to think long and hard about this process since I'm not a natural seamstress. So my directions here are probably like "making a purse for dummies." Most skilled seamstresses will probably think this is very, very basic.
Using brown wrapping paper, I made some simple patterns for my purse. You can do the same depending on the size you'd like.
If you want a big roomy purse like I made, you can:
Cut 4 of the purse pattern: 2 of lining fabric and 2 of Hawaiian (exterior) fabric (approximately 17" wide by 15" deep/long)
Cut 2 of the pocket pattern, 1 of lining fabric and 1 of Hawaiian fabric. (approximately 7.5" x 6")
Cut 2 straps (approximately 33" x 4" each)
Cut 2 of the pocket flap, 1 of lining and 1 of Hawaiian fabric (approximately 7.75" x 3.5")
I actually cut a few extra pockets, but you can make this with any amount of pockets you want or with none at all.
Then for every piece, fold down 1/4" of the top straight edge (right side) and iron. This is for pockets and purse pieces, but not straps. Somewhere I heard that an iron was a sewer's best friend, and I think it helps.
Iron flaps on both lining and Hawaiian fabric.
Pockets first: sew right sides together (flaps on outside), making a double seam if the fabric seems like it might fray. The flaps will be sewn down into the seam.
Turn the pocket inside-out, and it should look like this with a clean top edge (ironed flap) that is still open.
Now sew that top edge "shut" so you have a lined pocket ready to put on the purse.
It should look like this.
Now pin it where you want it on the front of the purse, measuring so it's symmetrical.
Here's the inside and outside pockets pinned to a single piece of purse fabric and lining fabric. You can see (as I said before) I made some extra pockets for the inside. You make these exactly like the other pockets adjusting the size however fits your purse needs. I decided to make one of my pockets for pens and put a seam down the center of it.
Now I'm ready to start sewing the pockets to the body of the purse. I do all of this before the body pieces are sewn together because it is so much easier and because the seams on the back side will be hidden.
Sew the flap as shown above--like a rectangle. I ironed the folds before sewing to help guide my stitches.
Fold the flap over and your pocket should look like this. You can use Velcro to keep it closed, if you want.
At this point, I got out my buttons, but couldn't decide which looks best. Which is your favorite of those lined up on the pocket?
Straps: fold down the center with right sides together and sew a straight seam.
Then turn them inside out. I know there are easier ways to do this with a safety pin, but I did it the hard way.
Then iron them.
Then sew them to the wrong side of the lining.
It will look like this on the right side of the lining.
Now put right sides together for both lining and outside of purse.
And sew them together.
Then turn the outside fabric inside out, but leave the lining as it is. Then slip the lining into the outside as shown.
Pin the lining and outside at the top (this edge has already been prepared by ironing a fold down). Then stitch it on the machine. You're done!
This was my practice bag. I wanted to make a "prototype" before using my Hawaiian fabric. I've already been using this bag and I really like it because it's so light weight--no shoulder strain. And it should wash well when it gets dirty.
And I'm waiting for summer to use the Hawaiian bag, but I like it as well. Help me decide which color button to use for the pocket : )
If you're a good seamstress, you can leave me some advice, if you'd like. I'd like to help my granddaughter sew a smaller version.
UPDATE: Today my 10-year-old granddaughter picked our fabric and told me the exact size of her purse with an inside pocket, and I made the purse below. She liked it a lot.
She wanted the inside pocket big enough to hold one of the Christian heroes books she and I are reading together. If you want to read some of the 1-Minute devotions I've written about the people in these books, you can check out the Inspiring Christians archive.
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Bless you, Gail