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  • Writer's pictureCraft Cotton Co

Create a Mini Patchwork Handbag

Project by Helen Bowes

I wanted to make something a little different for my daughter. I prefer making to buying and with the year this way has been, it feels even more important. Hopefully, you will be able to make this for the little lady in your life.

Step 1: Gather equipment

For this project you will need:

· Fabric for patchwork – 30 x 3-inch squares

· Fabric for lining - 13x15 inches

· Fabric for strap – 6 x 15 inches

· Fabric for binding – 30 x 3 inches

· Fusible interfacing for strap – 2 ¾ x 14 inches

· 2 x Flannel/wadding/padding for strap – 2 x 14 inches

· Fusible fleece for body of bag – 13 x 15 ½ inches

· Sewing machine and thread

· Iron and ironing board

· Measuring device – tape measure / ruler

· Marker – fabric pen / tailer’s chalk

· Scissors / rotary cutter

· Pins / clips

Step 2: Cut out fabric pieces

For this bag I used a series of fat quarters based on sea horses. I wanted the pattern on the front to match that on the back of the bag so if you looked at it from all angles it would appear the same. With 5 different patterns on the fat quarters this worked out at 6 rows (3 for each side) made up of 5 x 3inch squares. Lay each piece out to form your pattern over 3 rows. Repeat so you have two sides mapped out. Your sides can be identical, or you can do your pattern as a continuing line.

Step 3: Sew your pieces

Using a 1/4-inch seam allowance, sew your patchwork squares together. Start with two pieces right sides facing. Sew down one edge, then open it up so right sides are facing you. Place the next piece right side facing away from you onto the square you’ve just sewn. Sew this together. Repeat the process so you have 6 strips, 5 squares in length. Once you have this place two of the rows right sides facing each other and sew along the long length. Repeat until you have two panels of 5 x 3 patchworks, effectively making a mini patchwork. Once complete, sew the two panels together.

Step 4: Quilt

Press all your seams so they are lying flat. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse your fusible fleece onto the wrong side of your panel. Now you can quilt your piece by dewing ¼ inch on either side of your seams.

Step 5: Box corners

Once quilted, you can fold the piece, so the right sides are facing each other to make the structure of the bag. Sew the side seams using a 3/8inch seam allowance and then press open. Fold the structure of the bag so that you form two points. Measure in 1 ¼ inches and mark. Sew across this line and trim off the excess. This will make the box corners and allow the purse to have a flat bottom.

Step 6: Add pleats

One little feature of this bag is the pleat it has. Turn the bag the right way round and fold the bag into half so you can find the central point of each side. Place a pin to mark this spot on each side. Now fold the adjoining squares so that the seam is next to your pin. Repeat until you have folded all 4 squares in and then baste in position.

Step 7: Lining

Sew your lining piece as you did your outer layer. There is no need to patchwork this, it can be done as one solid piece. Measure out your lining piece as either two pieces 13”x15” or one whole piece as 26”x15”. If using one large piece, fold this is half and sew your side seams. If using two separate pieces you will need to sew two side seams and one bottom seam. Box your corners as you have done for the outside of the bag.

Place your lining inside your bag. If using patterned fabric for the lining, then make sure that the wrong side of the lining is facing the wrong side of the outer bag so you can see the patter facing you. Using the pleats on the outside of the bag as your guide, create two pleats in the lining.

Once happy with the positioning of the lining pleats, baste the lining onto the outer fabric including the pleats.

Step 8: Make the handle

For the handle, cut out your fabric and then fold in half lengthways so the right sides are facing and press. Place your padding onto the wrong side of your fabric and pin into place. Sew along one long edge, across the top short edge and back down the long edge. Don’t sew quite to the very end of the piece. Now turn your piece the right way round. Fold the raw edges in and sew over the top. For detail, sew down the length of your handle about 3/8th inch in from each side.

Once the handle has been completed place it into your bag, so it overlaps the side seams of the bag. Your handle should rest so it is lying inside the bag. Once happy with the position, pin it and then baste into place.

Step 9: Add trim

Cut out your piece of fabric for the trim. It should be slightly longer than the circumference of the bag. To create neat ends, fold the raw edge of fabric in on itself and secure in place with a line of stitches. Trim off any excess fabric.

Now fold your fabric in half lengthways with the right sides facing each other. Following manufacturers guidance, use your iron to bind the interfacing to one side of your fabric trim. Once it has been bonded stitch down the length of the edge piece and iron the seam open. Turn the tube the right way round so the pattern is on the outside.

Place one long side of the tube to the top outside edge of the bag. Pin into place as you go round the circumference of the bag. With this edge in place, fold the binding over the top of the bag and do the same with the other long edge of the trim. When finished you should have pinned in place a trim that covers the top of the bag and goes over the handle ends. There will be overlap on the trim so tuck one part inside the other. Once happy with positioning, sew into place.

To make it so the handle comes out of the bag rather than lying on the bags base, fold it up so it projects out of the bag. Now sew along the top part of the trim where it meets with the handle. You will be going through a lot of fabric at this stage so you will want a stronger needle. Back sure you backstitch at both ends to secure it well.

Step 10: A popper or button

The bag is now complete. If you want to you can add a closing mechanism. I choose to add a popper which I hand stitched on at the point of the pleats. This means my little lady can close the bag and keep everything safe within it.

Made by Helen Bowes for The Craft Cotton Company 2021


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