How to Create a Collaged Purse

Assemble Asian-style fabrics to create a unique, stylish purse.


The first thing most people notice about Ruth Ciemnoczolowski ("sim-in-oh-sal-ow-ski") is her 15-letter name. The second thing people notice about her is her boundless energy and ability to chat with anyone, at any time about anything. All this energy is channeled into Ruth?s beautiful and artistic work, and her purses are a great combination of a stylish sensibility combined with a love of recycling.

Materials and Tools:

cotton backing fabric
cotton flannel fabric
dupioni silk
lining fabric
assorted fabrics to make the collage
recycled leather (leather skirt from thrift store)
spray starch
iron and ironing board
sewing machine
several different colors of thread
cutting mat
rotary cutter
straight pins
see-through plastic ruler
quilt basting spray
water-soluble marking pen
loop turner
container of hot water
mixing spoon
3 coordinating yarns
rattail cording
crochet hook




1. Select images from printed fabrics. The ones chosen for the collage purse project were a dragon, an Asian woman with Chinese writing and Kanji symbols.

2. Spray starch on the fabrics and iron to stiffen the fabrics for easy cutting.

3. Cut around the images, leaving a border of 1/16 inch of fabric around the printed image.

4. Iron cotton backing, flannel and silk fabrics.

5. Place the cotton backing face down. Spray it with quilt basting spray. Attach the flannel layer, and then spray again. Attach the silk layer.




6. Spray quilt basting spray on the back of the image pieces to hold them in place. Tear strips of fabric and spray with quilt basting spray to affix to the collage.

7. Stitching collage:

  • Machine-stitch the image borders to secure them.
  • Machine-stitch the surface with various colors of thread.
  • Sew over and over the fabric, up and down and across until you have sewn all over the fabric, with the stitching lines about 1/4 inch apart.


8. Along one long edge of the collage, measure and mark small slits 1 inch apart. Cut the slits with scissors or a rotary cutter. Tear a 1-inch strip of fabric. Using a loop turner, thread this fabric strip through the slits. Secure the strip by stitching across each end.



9. Place the collage in hot water, swirl it around with a mixing spoon and remove it. Wring it out and place it flat to dry. The surface will be textured because the fabrics shrink differently.

10. Cut the collage piece of fabric into an 11" x 13" rectangle with a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat. Cut an 11" x 13" rectangle from an old leather skirt for the back of the purse. Cut two pieces the same size from lining fabric.

11. With right sides together, stitch the collage front fabric to the leather back of the purse leaving the top open. Stitch the two lining pieces right sides together leaving the top open. Turn the purse right side out.



12. Place the wrong side of the lining together with the wrong side of the purse and stitch them together around the top.

13. Cut a piece of fabric to bind the top edge of the purse and stitch it around the top.

14. Crochet three coordinating yarns and rattail cording together to create the bag's handle. Chain stitch the yarns into the desired length of the handle, then single crochet in each chain stitch. Bind off.



15. Hand-sew the yarn handle onto the sides of the collaged purse at the top edge.

16. Hand-stitch a button to the front of the collaged purse. Cut a strip of leather from the old leather skirt and stitch it to the back of the purse and loop it around the button on the front of the purse for the closure.

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