Saturday, March 7, 2009

Simple Handbag

This is the first in many posts to come on the things I love to do. And one of my many loves is sewing. Almost a year ago I started on an adventure to create handmade bags such as backpacks and handbags. This was one of my first- a simple bag with a little bit of style. Made with Amy Butler fabric and store bought bamboo handles it's an easy bag to make.

Here's how to make your own -

2 fat quarters of coordinating fabric- one for the exterior, the other for the lining
18"x 13" piece of fusible interfacing
1 set of handles
1 large button, approx. 1" wide
1 yard of 3/4" grosgrain ribbon

Cut the following from the exterior fabric:
18" x 13" - for outside body
8" x 6-1/2" - for interior pocket
2" x 16" strip to attach handles (or 4 - 2" x 4" strips)
1" x 4-1/2" strip for the loop

Cut the following from the lining of the fabric:
2- 9-1/2" x 13"

Cut the following from the ribbon:
2-13" pieces
1- 8" piece
1-2" piece

18" x 13"

(Note: always use 1/2" seam allowances and always backstitch)

  1. Make button loop. Fold 1" x 4-1/2" lenghtwise, wrong sides facing. Finger dpress down. Unfold and then fold sides toward center, press. Then fold in half again, press and top stitch down close to the edge creating a 1/4" x 4 1/2" strip.
  2. Make handle loops. Use same technique as for button loop to create a 1/2" x 16" strip. Cut into four 4" strips.
  3. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the 18" x 13" exterior fabric.
  4. Position the 13" ribbon strips 2 1/2" down from top and 2 1/2" up from the bottom. Stitch down ribbon. 
  5. Fold the piece in half, right sides facing, to create a 9" x 13" piece. Make sure to match up ribbon ends. Stitch down the 9" sides.
  6. To create the "flat box" bottom, take one side seam you just sewed and force the bag to flatten with the bottom of the side seam forming the a triangle. Measure 2" down from the point of the triangle, draw a line across. Stitch on the line. Repeat with the other side. Turn and press.
  7. Fold the 8" x 6 1/2" pocket piece in half, right sides facing. Sew all three sides leaving a 2" opening to turn. Once turned, press and place horizontally 1 1/2" down from the top and centered left to right on the right side of one of the lining pieces. Stitch three sides leaving top open to create pocket. (Make sure one of the the stitched sides has the original opening used to turn the pocket. You want this to be stitched closed.)
  8. Take the two 9 1/2" x 13"lining pieces and place them right sides together. Sew down the 9 1/2" side, turn and stitch about 3" along the bottom. Stop and back stitch. Repeat on the other side. By doing this you will be leaving an approx. 7" opening at the bottom to eventually turn the bag once you bring the lining and bag together.
  9. Repeat the "box" effect you did for the exterior of the bag in step six for the lining. Do not turn the lining.
  10. Fold the button loop (from step 1) in half and pin it to the top center of the bag exterior.
  11. Fold the 4" handle holders (from step 2) in half and pin to top of bag exterior. Two on each side. Position will be determined by the width of the handles. If you purchase handles that do not unscrew at he base, you will need to loop the fabric holders through the base of the handles before you stitch the top closed. This is a little awkward because the handles hang between the lining and the bag while you sew the top closed.
  12. Place the bag into the lining with the right sides facing.
  13. Stitch top closed.
  14. Turn through opening in lining bottom.
  15. Stitch lining open closed. I usually press down the seam allowance and top stitch close to the edge with matching thread.
  16. Press top edges of bag and then top stitch 1/4" away from edge. This helps keep the lining from curling up over the exterior fabric.
  17. Over lap and stitch together the 8" ribbon to make the base of the bow. You have made a circle. Now flatten it slightly and the the 2" section of ribbon and place it around the center. Overlap this piece in the back and secure by stitching to the base of the bow. Be careful not to show your stitches in the front of the bow. Hot glue the bow where desired onto the from of the handbag.
  18. Sew on the button and you are done!