How to Make a Vintage Handbag

Use a boa and marabou trim to decorate this classically-styled purse.


Ready to sport a boa? Here’s how to incorporate one into a handbag of your own making:

Materials and Tools:

basic A-line purse pattern
¼- to ½-yard of fabric
¼- to ½-yard of lining
¼- to ½-yard of fusible heavyweight interfacing
lightweight chandelle feather boa
1 yard of marabou trim
¼-yard of ultra-firm fusible stabilizing material for crafts (or 1 peel-and-stick floor tile cut to size)
3 pieces of 18-gauge stem wire (florist supply)
lightweight craft wire
beads for handle
¼-yard of wired ribbon for flower accent
large bead for flower center
small magnetic purse closure
sewing machine
needle and thread
pinking shears
straight pins
wire cutters
hot glue gun and glue
iron or steamer


1. Place the pattern pieces on the fabric and cut out the fabric pieces, matching the pattern when necessary.

2. Cut out the lining and interfacing.

3. Cut out stabilizing material for the back, front and bottom to give the purse structure. Or cut a floor tile to match the bottom panel. Note: These pieces will need to match the stitch line, not the outer pattern line.

4. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong sides of all the main fabric pieces.

5. With right sides together, machine-stitch the side panels to the front.



6. With right sides together, machine-stitch the bottom piece and facings to the back.

7. With right sides together, machine-stitch the front to the back at the sides and then attach the bottom. Line up the seams and sew the corners carefully.



8. Trim the seam allowances with pinking shears.



9. Machine-stitch the lining in the same manner. Turn the main handbag inside out.

10. Sew the lining to the facings with right sides together, leaving a small opening to insert the stabilizing panels.

11. Apply the handbag closure to each side of the facing according to product directions.

12. Insert fusible stabilizing panels in the opening between the lining and press in place. Turn the handbag right side out and press well.

13. For the handle, cut three pieces of 18-gauge stem wire long enough to slide over the wrist and proportionate to the bag.

14. String beads to the wire in an appealing and uniform pattern. The holes must be large enough for the wire to fit through.



15. Bend each length of wire into an arc shape, leaving about an inch and a half of extra wire for closing.

16. Join the three wires together by twisting them on each end. Cut away two of the wires on each end. Curl the ends of the remaining wire into a hook shape to join to the handbag.



17. To attach the handle to the handbag, poke the wire end through the center of each side panel on the outer edge.

18. Place a bead on each end of the wire inside the bag. Bend the ends of the wire back to secure the beads and cut off the wire end. Shape the handle by bending the bead-covered wires.

19. Wind the boa and trim together to create one long strand. Measure and cut this piece to fit the top of the handbag.



20. Casually hand-stitch the boa and trim together to stabilize.



21. Hot glue the boa trim to the top of handbag.

22. Cut a 12-inch piece of wired ribbon for the ribbon flower. Wind the ribbon together to form the shape of a flower.

23. Loop a small piece of craft wire through a large bead.

24. Wind the bead through the center of the flower. Bend the wire back to secure, and cut off the excess wire.

25. Wind the wire through the feather trim. Hot-glue in place. Steam the handbag or press. Trim the feathers as desired.

26. Close off the lining/facing opening with hand stitching.

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