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Silk Handbag

Ginger Abernathy from Boulder, Colo., likes working with silk because of its durability. Here she shows how to make a handbag with woven silk strip and Chinese knot details. The handles of the bag are unique shapes, cut and carved.

Materials and Tools:

silk bag
1 yd. heavy fusible interfacing
1/2 yd. fabric, each of two coordinating fabrics — 1 yd. total
fabric for lining — 1/4 yd. for bottom half of lining
7" x 7" piece of fabric for interior pocket
13" x 3" plastic canvas for bag bottom
4 purse feet
1 magnetic snap
1 sheet of craftboard 1/4" Baltic birch plywood


  1. The most fun part of the project, Ginger says, is cutting and laying out multiple fabric patterns that will work together. She says to be sure to choose tones in light, medium and dark as well as group by pattern and color.

  2. Cut the main body pieces, starting with the front and back, then the side panels, bottom/base, two pieces inside the lining and the inside pocket.

  3. The pieces that make up the body of the bag are fused with Pellon interfacing to support and give body. Use an iron, and steam to adhere the interfacing to the exterior parts of the bag and the top edge of the body.

  4. Cut fabrics into four-inch-wide strips. Fold all edges in on themselves so there are no raw edges.

  5. Press all edges down as a prefold before sewing.

  6. Take piece to sewing machine to topstitch along edges on all strips of fabric so that pieces are about an inch wide. Cut strips to size so that they are ready to weave.

  7. To do the weaving, line up all horizontal pieces on top of the exterior pocket piece. Anchor down one side with stitches. Weave in the vertical strips. Topstitch prefolded strip of fabric to finish off top edge of woven piece.

  8. To construct the bag, lay the woven pocket right side up. Stitch the left and right sides to the front panel piece. Lay sidepieces out so that the right sides are facing and do top-to-bottom stitch. Attach pieces around the circumference at the bag to make a tube.

  9. Attach the base of the purse. Stitch the long sides first and then do short side pieces. Turn the bag right side out.

  10. The lining is actually comprised of two kinds of fabric--one that matches the outside of the bag and another coordinating color. Combine these two pieces to make one large piece of fabric and then sew in the same order as the outside of the bag (front panel to side panel; back panel to side panel; then attach bottom.) Leave opening for turning.

  11. Make a Chinese knot. Use a prefolded, prestitched strip and do a tying technique.

  12. Find the middle of the body of the bag, and stitch the Chinese knot into place on the edge of the top of the bag.

  13. Make the carved handle. Craft board, trace pattern onto craft wood. Scribe It out and cut it out with a jigsaw. Distress with grinder dremel tool to match basket weave. Do a light sanding. Drill two openings in each of the wood handles.

  14. Fabric tabs will go through the holes and attach to the top of bag.

  15. Drop the body of the bag right side out into the lining (which is turned inside out). Use one pin to anchor the sides and then machine stitch around the top of the bag.

  16. Shove all parts of the bag back through the turning hole.

  17. Use an iron to press the bag flat.

  18. Topstitch around the edge of the bag.

  19. Insert a plastic support between the lining and the bag. Feed the precut piece of plastic through the turning hole.

  20. Use an awl to poke holes in four places, and attach little metal feet to the base to protect the fabric bottom.

  21. Insert a magnetic snap in the middle of the bag right below the Chinese knot. Mark the placement with a pen, cut a slit in the lining fabric, and insert the metal snap. Fold the prongs back to secure into place.

  22. Close the lining, and that's it.

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