How to Make a Simply Sassy Purse

comments (0) March 2nd, 2008     

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JenniferSauer Jennifer Sauer, contributor
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For a fresh fashion look, mix, don’t match. Add a surprising splash of color with your handbag.
Study hardware; when you shop, study designer bags, and jot your notes and sketches in a notebook.
For a fresh fashion look, mix, don’t match. Add a surprising splash of color with your handbag.

For a fresh fashion look, mix, don’t match. Add a surprising splash of color with your handbag.

Photo: Scott Phillips

Purses are the ultimate accessory;they can spice up any outfit with a punch of color or texture quickly and easily. And with a basic bag pattern, there's no reason you can't have a whole wardrobe of purses to go with every outfit, event or even every mood. Start with a softly structured bag like the one featured in Simplicity Sew Stylish 3867, and let out your fabulous inner designer.

What You'll Need:
Simplicity Sew Stylish pattern 3867
Fabric for purse
Fabric for lining (if desired)
Hardware and closures as desired

Step 1: Test the pattern
To test the pattern, sew it just as the pattern instruction sheet recommends. It’s best to wash the fabric before you cut it out. Then, when the purse gets dirty—as handbags are bound to do—you can toss it in the washer. Also start out with a very basic fabric, like the soft blue linen shown above. When you feel comfortable with the construction process, experiment with more challenging or expensive fabrics, like silk dupioni or brocade. Fabric options are limitless—just stay away from lightweight, loosely woven, or sheer fabrics (they don't hold up to rough-and-tumble treatment.) With a little practice, you can whip out an accessory in an evening—how great is that?!

  Sketch your design ideas;add notes about details such as fabric, hardware and closures.

Step 2: Streamline the process
Should you want this project to go even faster—up to an hour faster—all you need to do is edit the pattern a bit. Start by editing the notions, such as skipping the zipper. Just leave the opening as is, or add a large, sturdy snap or ribbon ties for security. Also forgo fun, but not absolutely necessary, details, like the bow. If you choose a print fabric, that extra detail may be too busy, anyway.

Step 3: Add substance to your bag
To create a more substantial handbag, you’ll need an extra hour or so. Before you begin, stiffen your fabric with light- to medium-weight fusible interfacing. If you desire even stiffer support, try heavyweight Form Flex ( or Timtex. Also add a silky (or even real silk) lining to help support the fashion fabric and cover up the stabilizer. Just cut out the lining using the main pattern pieces, sew together, and insert into the purse. Hand-sew the top of the lining to the zipper.

Step 4: Use handbag handles

Finally, top the purse off with a fancy handle. There are many cool handles and chains on the market these days that come with easy-to-follow instructions. Your local fabric store should have a nice selection, or you can visit the Web and search for “handbag handles.”

Shopping List:
If you get hooked on handbags, check out these project books. They include loads of design options, as well as step-by-step instructions.
Carry with Style (Indygo Junction Inc., 2003)
Handle with Style (Indygo Junction Inc., 2003)
Handmade Bags by Terence Terry (Krause Publications, 2002)
Hip Handbags: Creating & Embellishing 40 Great-Looking Bags by Valerie Shrader
(Lark Books, 2005)
Making Handbags: Retro, Chic, Luxurious by Ellen Goldstein-Lynch (Quarry Books, 2002)

Illustration by: Rosann Berry

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posted in: purse, handbags

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