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Beaded Dolphin Silk Purse

Cinnamon Cooper creates many handbags including this one made of hand-beaded silk.

Project by Cinnamon Cooper.

Cinnamon is addicted to crafting--literally! She’s created pieces using cross-stitch, needlepoint and knitting. These days she’s making fabulous handbags that feature a mother dolphin and her calf in stunning hand-beaded silk.

Materials and Tools:

design image
Thai silk for exterior of purse
satin lining
heavyweight interfacing
3 colors glass beads
metallic snap
ironing board
sewing machine
bias tape maker
needle to fit through beads
rolling cutter
self-healing mat


1. Using a graphic illustration program, create an image to use as a beading template. Print the image onto plain paper. Trim most of the excess paper away from the image.

2. Choose fabric for the interior and the exterior of bag. Iron both choices of fabric so they have no wrinkles. Cut the lining and the exterior fabric so they’re the same size.

3. Cut two strips of fabric for handles.

4. Cut a piece of heavyweight sew-in interfacing the same size as the exterior of your purse.

5. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing the same size as your illustration. Using your iron, fuse it to the back of the purse where you expect the beading to be placed.

6. Pin your template to the public side of the exterior fabric.

7. Using your paper as a guide, bring your needle through the fabric and the paper and pick up a bead. Slide the bead along the line and push your needle back through the fabric on the other side of the bead. Bring your bead back up through the fabric and go through the first bead. Pick up another bead and then anchor your thread again by going back through the fabric. Bring the needle back up between the first and second bead, go through the second bead, pick up a third bead and anchor that bead. Repeat until the design is complete.

8. Holding the beads in place with your thumb, tear the paper away from the beaded design, being careful not to pop beads off the fabric.

9. Use tweezers or small jewelry pliers to remove any little bits of paper which may remain.

10. Place the heavyweight interfacing on the back of the fabric and sew a line close to the edge on the two short sides to anchor the interfacing to the exterior fabric.

11. Position the edges of the handle even with the top edges of the purse. Attach them by sewing back and forth on the machine several times. Repeat with the other three ends. Make sure each strap is the same distance from the side seam so they’re all even.

12. Line up these two sides together with the public sides of the bag facing each other. Sew down each side of the bag.

13. Line up the side seam with the middle of the purse bottom. Pinch the corners and sew across the bag. This should look similar to the inside of a paper shopping bag when you’re finished. Repeat with the other side.

14. Repeat steps 12 and 13 for the lining of the bag.

15. Turn the exterior half of the bag right side out and use your finger to press the corners even. They should be nice and smooth.

16. Place the lining of the bag inside the exterior half. The seams should be together. Finger-press the top seam of the lining and the exterior toward the inside.

17. Using an invisible slip-stitch, sew the lining to the exterior of the fabric.


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