I've been developing a raging handbag fetish lately. Big bags, small bags, totes, anything with a handle sends me into shivers of ecstasy. Somehow with middle age upon me I've turned my fancy toward all things with handles.
While I was at girls camp a week ago, one of the camp leaders taught the girls to make purses from placemats and after seeing how great they turned out (I was totally coveting Grace's Asian-inspired bag with the red wooden bead handles) I decided to make one for myself.
Trouble was, I couldn't decide which pattern I liked better so I grabbed one of each and spent a morning this week making bags--enough to satisfy even me perhaps. Maybe.
Here's the step-by-step tutorial and even if you're not a seamstress or have never made a handbag before in your life (that's me) this is so easy and goes together so well you can't go wrong. If you make one, post a picture of it because I'd love to see what others come up with.
Oh, and by the way, I ordered a bag from Lisa Lam over at U-handblog last week and word is it's done and on it's way across the Atlantic to my waiting arms. I'll have to post pictures when it gets here . . .
* One rectangular placemat (I got mine at Fred Meyer, lighter weights are easier to sew but any rectangular mat will do). No notched or angled corners.
* 28 inches of 1-inch wide grosgrain ribbon in a color that matches the place mat.
* clear nylon quilting thread
* 1 set of purse handles (I got mine at Joann Fabrics for $2.77)
Measure out a 7-inch length of ribbon and lay it on the shorter side of the placemat, four inches from edge on what will be the outside of your purse. Though most place mats are reversible be sure to place the ribbon on the "right" side or outside. See the first photograph where I'm measuring distance.
Pin the ribbon in an upward direction, fold it down, thread one side of the wooden handle onto the ribbon and then fold the ribbon upward one more time. This may seem confusing but all you're trying to do is sew the end of the ribbon onto what will be the top outer edge of your purse and to have the end of the ribbon tucked in so it won't fray. There isn't a perfect way to do this but as long as you know what you're trying to do you can come up with another way of doing it if you wish. This is the trickiest part.
Sew a rectangle around the end of the ribbon where it will attach to the purse. You could sew an x pattern as well but I used a rectangle. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the other side of the handle then repeat the whole process for the second handle on the opposite edge of the placemat. See the second photograph for the finished handle.
Fold the placemat in half, with the handles meeting and the "wrong" side (or inside of your future purse) showing. Stitch 1/4 inch seam allowance down the sides, starting at the top and working down to ensure that the top edges meet exactly. You will not need to finish any seams because the place mat edges are already finished.
With the wrong side still showing, open the purse and lay the corners flat so that they form a triangle. With the seam opened flat, sew across the corner at a distance of 1 1/2 inches from the point, about where my thumb is in photograph three. Photograph four shows what the corner should look like once it's sewn, rather squashed flat. Repeat on the second corner then turn the bag right side out.
No ironing, no finishing, it's done and ready to go! The top two pictures show two other bags I did and I like the one on the right the best. Not only was the thinner placemat easier to sew but with the border and sheen to the fabric it looks sleek and finished and the Asian wood beads on the handle are match perfectly. Lillian wants me to make her a pink one now.
Using my Custom Search Engine (see the search bar at the top of my sidebar) I found some other sites on the subject:
* Amy's Favorites has a tutorial and a different way of tackling the project (and she uses the placemat I have for our table, go figure!)
* The Monkey Basket has instructions for a basket-bottomed purse.
* Crafty Chica with her pre-lined placemat purses
* Stardust Shoes has a funky-handled bag and a placemat with great fabric
Technorati tags: handbags, crafts, purses, sewing