Easy Purse

sewing purse Hawaiian cloth
I'm not a seamstress.  I made simple pants and dresses for my children when they were young to save money, but I soon learned I was a better shopper than sewer.

Make a cloth purse

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.

Make a cloth purse

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.

Make a cloth purse

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.
sew a cloth purse

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.

After the pocket is sewn to the body, pin the flap above the pocket, centered. I made the flap pattern slightly longer than the pocket so it would cover the pocket edges.

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!

sewing purses

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.

sewing purses

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.

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to have you check out my home page. It features 1-minute Christian devotions each weekday and they are sent to my subscribers. I don't send creative posts to my subscribers, but if you'd like a free subscription to my 1-minute devotions, find out how easy it is to subscribe HERE.


  1. What a cute purse! I used to sew all the time but somehow have just fallen out of the mood. Maybe this will inspire me.

  2. I love it! So cute and the fabric is so fun AND it matches your pants, lol!

    I would probably go to the store and buy a flower shaped button, just for fun. Barring that, I would use the white button on the far right. Some people would probably prefer to use a pink button to hide it so it blends in, but I would highlight it.

    Thanks so much for linking up to "Making Your Home Sing Monday" today! :)

  3. Darling purse and beautiful fabric! I would love to make a few purses or bags but just need to set aside some time to do it. I'll be pinning!

  4. Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  5. gail, your hawaiian bag is simply gorgeous! i like the white button or get a big white flower button. this may get me in the mood to make some bags with my stash fabric!! beautiful directions!!
    ^)^ linda

  6. So pretty! Makes me feel like sewing again. Especially with bright, cheery material like yours. Next time you go to Hawaii, maybe you could bring back bolts of material to sell to your readers. :) ♥

    1. Wish I could do that : )

      Actually, Brenda, I discovered that the huge fabric store where I purchased my fabric actually sells online for about the same prices ($4-$6) plus shipping.

      If you sew a purse, you need to send me a photo.

  7. Sew cute, Gail! I've been thinking I'd like to have something for when I don't need a diaper bag. Maybe I should make my own. Great tutorial, and thanks for sharing.

  8. So beautiful and handy! Thank you for the super tutorial! (I imagine it took forever stopping and taking shots along the way. So glad you did!) Thank you for sharing in the GRAND Social!

  9. Oh Gail what a great bag you must love it.....Thanks for sharing

  10. I've been thinking of making a bag, so this tutorial is perfect timing.

    I was first drawn to the white button too, but then noticed the natural colored one on the left. I like that it matches the Hawaiian feel. What a special souvenir this bag is! :-)

    Thank you for your words, they are appreciated.

  11. Great job! Love the pattern on the red one! Thanks for linking up at Romance on a dime!!

  12. I made something like this once with a padded material. You did such a good job. It is easier to sew a bag than dresses...I've done that but am not right now. It seems that things go wrong more than with a project making a bag, LOL!

    Thanks for linking this up and sharing over at WholeHearted Home.

  13. Thank you for joining last week's All Things Thursday Link-Up!! We looved your post and are featuring it in this week's round-up of favorites at All Things Thursday Link-Up {No. 18} and Featured Favorites :)

  14. This is AMAZING! I am so going to try this!! I could so easliy make my own purse- I prefer a little smaller, but I can do any color and for MUCH cheaper than buying one!! :D thanks!!!

  15. Both are pretty. You are so creative. I played too. Mine are here and here.

  16. I like your blue bag, even if it's only a practice bag. Thanks for sharing.

    Could you please MENTION Blue Monday so that others could find us? (The link is small and hard for some to spot.)

    Happy 1st Blue Monday, Gail.

  17. Hi Gail, super cute bags, love them! Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial! Would love to have you visit me sometime.
    Have a fabulous week!
    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  18. Such a nice tutorial on making those adorable purses. And what great homemade gifts these will be.
    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick


  19. Nice bags! I had a coworker that used to make bags just like these in bulk and sell them. I bought a couple from her, one for me and one for my mother. They are such nice bags! Love them.

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  21. Love the Hawaiian print bag!! Super cute!! Pinned it! Thanks for sharing this with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend!!

    Krys @thet2women.com and www.worshipingwhilewaiting.blogspot.com

  22. Cute bags! I like the pocket on the outside!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

    1. Thanks! I've gotten a lot of use out of these purses, and I enjoy the pockets.

  23. Thanks for linking up to Whimsy Wednesday! Your project has been featured this week on my blog in a sewing roundup!


    Also, you can add your project {or any project} to my website. I feature them on my main slider on the home page...follow this link to submit your project!

    Grab a button if you like...

  24. Hello Gail, very cute and what fun to sew your own purse! I did Pin It! Hope you are well and enjoying this summer weekend. Blessings, Roxy

    1. Thanks, Roxy. I also hope you are having a good weekend.
      : )


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