Traci Nelson sews various sizes of felt circles to embellish her charming fabric handbag.
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Materials and Tools:
1/4 yard fabric for outside of bag (suede cloth, upholstery or vintage fabrics)
1/4 yard 100 percent cotton fabric for bag lining
1/4 yard coordinating fabric for handle
wool or felt scraps, various colors
beads, shell buttons
pearl thread (or embroidery floss) in gray or beige color
coordinating quilting thread
D-rings or belt buckles
metal snap closures
straight pins, scissors, ruler
rotary cutter, mat and ruler
water-soluble marking pencil
iron, ironing mat or board
1. Using the desired bag pattern cut a front and back piece from both the outside and lining fabrics. The front and back pieces of the bag are both cut from a double thickness of fabric. Mark the location on the outside front of the bag for placement of the felt circle embellishments using a water-soluble marking pencil.
2. Measure and cut:
- Cut one 3" x 27" piece from the lining fabric for the sidepiece.
- Cut one 4" x 30" piece for the handle.
- Cut two 2" x 3" pieces from the lining fabric for connecting the handle.
- Cut three small 1-1/2 inch circles (size of quarter) from wool or felt, desired colors.
- Cut four medium 2-inch circles (size of half dollar) from wool or felt, desired colors.
- Cut four large 3-inch circles (size of half dollar x 2) from wool or felt, desired colors.
3. Using embroidery thread or pearl cotton, sew medium size circles to the larger circles using a decorative buttonhole stitch.
4. After the circles are stitched together, sew them onto the front handbag piece at the markings using the buttonhole stitch or other decorative embroidery stitch. Beads can be added to the stitches to embellish.
5. Lay the three smaller circles spaced in between the larger circles on the front of the handbag and sew them to the handbag with a buttonhole stitch or embroidery stitch.
6. In the center of the medium circles (that are sewn onto the large circles) add shell buttons or other decorative buttons. For extra durability, when sewing buttons, sew through all pieces of wool or felt embellishments and into the bag piece.
7. Sew large silver beads onto the smaller circles.
8. To assemble the bag, pin the front of the bag to the sidepiece with right sides together. Machine-stitch the two pieces together using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
9. Pin the back piece of the bag to the other edge of the sidepiece with right sides together. Machine-stitch the two pieces together using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.
10. Turn the bag right side out.
11. Follow the same procedure the make the bag's lining using the lining fabric. Leave the lining turned inside out.
12. Find the top center of the lining and measure down an inch and make a mark on the front and back of the lining for the metal snap closure.
13. Attach the closure so the two sections of the snap are on the right sides of the lining. Add a scrap piece of the felt or wool in between the metal snap and lining fabric to reinforce the snap.
14. Insert the outer part of the bag inside the lining with right sides together and stitch around the top leaving a 2-inch opening for turning.
15. Turn the bag right side out.
16. Slipstitch the opening closed.
17. Topstitch around the top edge of the purse.
18. Using the two 2" x 3" pieces, fold each in half and sew around two of the openings using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn right side out and sew the last opening closed.
19. Press the pieces with the seam on the outside edge.
20. Fold the pieces in half, slip a D-ring or vintage belt buckle through the piece and sew the fabric to the top of the side piece on the outside of the bag. Be sure to sew across the end, up one side, across the edge close to the D-ring and down the other side in a box design around the folded piece to secure the fabric. Repeat with the other end of the handle.
21. Fold the 4" x 30" piece for the handle in half lengthwise with right sides together. Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance stitch along the long edge. Turn the handle right side out and slip stitch each end closed.
22. Press the handle so the seam is along one edge.
23. Slip one end of the handle through a D-ring, fold the end back and stitch it in a box configuration similar to step 20 to secure the handle to the bag. Repeat with the other end of the handle.
24. Stitch along all seams using embroidery thread and a buttonhole stitch or cross-stitch with a contrasting thread. Add the decorative stitching to the top seam and side seams of the bag, along both edges of the handle and the two smaller pieces attached to the side of the bag.
Traci Nelson from Elkins Park, Pa., leads a very busy life. With a lot going on in her life, she doesn't have time for a purse that falls apart. When her favorite bag did just that, she decided to make her own!