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"Pirouette" Handbag with Detachable Flower Pin

Learn how to make your own vintage purse to avoid paying a steep price at the store.

Project by Alicia Paulson from Portland, Ore.

Alicia has a penchant for making vintage purses, all born out of a refusal to pay $150 for a purse she knew she could make herself. Her "Pirouette" handbag is handcrafted out of silk dupioni with a matching silk detachable flower for the perfect finishing touch.

Materials and Tools:

for the purse:
1/3 yard 45" or 54" wide dupioni silk
1/3 yard 27" wide heavyweight stabilizer
1/3 yard solid cotton lining
2/3 yard 1/4" satin ribbon
2/3 yard 1/2" boning
fabric glue
4" x 9" piece of needlepoint canvas

for the flower pin:
two 5" x 8" squares of dupioni in two colors
large bead
8" of thin, flexible wire
4" of seam binding
pin back
6" square piece of felt
upholstery thread
large sharp needle


1. First, cut out the purse parts and gather those pieces together. Then glue the bag fabric to the stabilizer and cut out pieces.

2. Glue ribbon ties to right sides of lining pieces.

3. To make the handles: Fold the handle pieces lengthwise, with right sides together, and stitch a 1/4-inch seam down the edge. Slip a large safety pin into the top of one end of the tube. Feed the pin through, pulling fabric through tube and turning all until you end up with a long skinny tube, seam to the inside. Do the same for each handle, ending with two long skinny tubes, seams on the inside.

4. Feed each piece of boning through each handle "tube". Baste each handle to the top of each piece of bag front.

5. Place both front sides of bag together, pin, and stitch down each side of bag, and bottom. Squeeze corners together and stitch closed. Turn bag to right side.

6. Put right sides of lining pieces together and stitch down right and left side. Stitch 1-1/2-inches on each edge of bottom, leaving large opening. Squeeze corners together as in previous step. Leave lining turned to inside.

7. Place bag, turned right side out, inside lining. Pin around top, and stitch all the way around.

8. Pull bag through opening in lining. Place piece of needlepoint canvas through opening, into bottom of bag. Fold in edges of opening and stitch closed. Turn lining into bag, and press along top edge of bag.

9. To make the flower: Fold each 5" x 8" square into eighths. Cut heart-shaped petals with flat bottoms out of each, one color smaller than the other. You will have eight petals of each color.

10. Thread needle with upholstery thread, and string all petals together with two or three running stitches across bottom. Tie ends of thread together in knot, forming ring of gathered petals. Pull tightly! Do not trim ends of thread. Do this for each color of petals, then thread needle with ends of thread for smaller flower. Pull threads of small flower through hole in center top of large flower, pulling all four threads to back. Tie all four threads in knot. Tie ends of thread, gathering petals on thread pull small flower threads through large flower’s center back.

11. Pull wire through hole in bead, and tie a piece of seam binding around wire. Push through hole in front of flower and bend wire in back so it won’t fall out.

12. Glue pin back to 2-inch circle of felt. Glue leaf shape over metal part of pin to hold it in place. Glue felt circle onto back of flower.

13. Pin flower around handle of bag, and go to a fabulous party where you are sure to be the most darling girl ever!

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