Freebie Friday! The Zip Top Purse

I guess this purse is more conceptual than anything >w< It appears to be a typical purse with a flap, but in this case the flap is the top of the bag, which folds over to create the flap. The folding point is made from two grommets that attach on the side where the strap is attached. Then there’s an extra pocket on the front for good measure that’s easy to access. The front skull appliqué is of course completely optional XD but I just had to add it due to my own quirky tastes.
Once again with this purse I was able to put another long-held scrap fabric out to pasture :B Like with most of my plaid scraps, I had this one lying around after I made a pair of pants with it. Also like a lot of other plaid fabrics, I kept making little projects here and there with the scraps until finally this last one put the remainder out of its misery! Woo! Destashing!


The front zipper pocket uses a bit of an intermediate zipper-installing technique, but past that the rest of the bag is pretty straightforward.
Makes one purse that is 10” wide and 8” tall

Materials & Tools:
• ½ yd. of medium to heavyweight fabric for main fabric (canvas or denim would be perfect – I used plaid twill)
• ¼ yd. of medium to heavyweight fabric for contrast strap (canvas or denim would be perfect – I twill)
• ½ yd. of lightweight fabric for lining (I used quilting cotton)
• Two 1” hook rings
• Two ½” grommets
• 10” zipper (at least) for pocket
• 12” zipper (at least) for top of purse
• Matching sewing thread
• Basic sewing tools (sewing machine, scissors, iron, needles, pins, fabric marker, seam ripper)
• Fabric paint, freezer paper, and other fabric stencil supplies OR
Appliqué supplies
• 5” x 5” scrap of appliqué fabric
• 5” x 5” scrap of light or heavy duty fusible web

Before you begin:
1. Print out the project pattern here
2. Assemble the pattern pieces, see the page here for more help
3. Lay out the pattern pieces on your fabric and cut them out
4. Mark the fabric pieces with the markings from the pattern

1. This is a completely optional step, but if you want to use the skull design, here’s where you’ll need to put it in 😀 You could follow my fabric paint stencil tutorial and paint the image on, but I went with appliqué instead and sewed it on with a zigzag stitch. Either way you’ll want to apply the fabric or paint following the pattern guidelines.

2. Next we’re applying the zipper, which is done with a technique that makes something like fabric window. Begin by taking one of your main purse pieces, specifically the one you want for the inner side of your bag (the one without the appliqué). Take one of your pocket pieces and face the two pieces together with right sides facing by lining up the zipper guideline exactly. The bottom of your pocket should be going towards the bottom of your purse. The pattern guidelines should give you an idea of this. When the box is perfectly lined up, sew completely around the perimeter of the box.

3. To open up the window for your zipper, you’ll want to clip the fabric inside the box. Cut along the guidelines indicated by the pattern, cutting as close to your stitching line as possible without accidentally cutting your threads.

4. Now you’ll need to start turning the pieces “right side out.” It will feel odd, but if you push the pocket fabric through the window to the other side of the main fabric, then try your best to get your seams flat again, it should start to look right and you’ll see what we’re going for. When you get it looking nice and your seams are all straight and flush, press the window really firmly so the seams are good and crisp.

5. Now we can attach the zipper into this open window. Slide the zipper slider down a little bit and place the zipper in the window, underneath your two layers of fabric. Hold it in place with some pins or tape as I’ve done, then sew it in place by edge stitching around the window that you just created. Be very careful when sewing over the zipper teeth, you’ll want to go slowly or just use the flywheel. Either way, you’re done when you’ve sewn all the way around the window and the zipper is firmly in place. Trim the excess zipper tape when you finish.

6. You’ve just created one side of your pocket, and attaching the other side is even easier. Simply take your remaining pocket piece and line it up with the pocket fabric that’s already sewn to the purse. Sew all the way around the perimeter, and you’re done! There’s no need to iron or finish the seams.

7. In case the previous picture was confusing, this is what your finished pocket should look like after sewing. You’ll notice that your zipper is now completely encased within the pocket and you can only access it from the front of your purse!

8. Next up is the top zipper for the purse. Begin by taking one of your main purse pieces (back or front is fine) and one of the corresponding lining pieces. Layer your zipper between the pieces along the top short edges, lining up the zipper tape. Then sew all three layers together. When you finish, press the fabric away from the zipper.

9. Now we’ll want to go and repeat this with the other side of the zipper and your remaining main purse and lining pieces. You’ll see that the appliqué should be towards the top end so it shows up perfectly on the flap when we finish. Once again you’ll want to press the fabric away from the zipper.

10. To finish up the rest of the sides of the purse, begin by unfolding the fabric from the zipper and matching up your main fabric to main fabric and lining fabric to lining with right sides together. You should have one long rectangle with the zipper in the middle. When you have that all set up, you can sew all the way around the perimeter of the purse, being sure to leave an opening in the lining so you can turn the purse right side out in a bit. You’ll need to sew over your zipper in the middle of the seam, so be sure you sew slowly over this part and use just the flywheel if necessary.

11. This is what your purse should look like so far when step 10 is complete. When you finish here, clip the corners of your seam allowances and turn the whole purse right side out. Tuck the lining back into the purse then give it a good press in preparation for the next step.

12. Next we can apply the grommets for attaching your strap. Using the pattern guidelines, install your grommets along the middle sides.

13. All that’s left is the strap! To begin the strap, start by attaching the two strap pieces on the bias by lining them up at a 90˚ angle as you see here. Then sew along the stitching line. Trim the seam allowance to about ⅜” and press the seam open.

14. To form the strap, you’ll want to take your long rectangle and fold under each edge by ⅝” (all long and short edges). Then fold the entire strap in half lengthwise. Edge stitch along the folded edges so you end up with a strap that’s completely finished on all sides.

15. To attach your strap to your hook rings, take one end of the strap and loop it through one of the hook rings. Overlap the fabric by about 1” or so, then sew a box stitch to secure the strap in place. Repeat this with the other end of your strap and the other hook ring. Then use the hooks to snap through your grommets and YOU’RE DONE!

I just love purses that use lots of hardware like this, hooks, snaps, zippers, rings, etc. Even if it’s just for show it always looks so cool >w< What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
I hope you enjoy making this project, but if you’d rather have the one from the photos, you can purchase it from my Etsy.
And if you do try making the project, I’d love to see it! And I’ll send you exclusive free patterns as a reward!

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2 thoughts on “Freebie Friday! The Zip Top Purse”

    1. The twill fabric I was using had a bit of stretch to it, so I used a really thin fusible interfacing just to stop the stretching for the rest of the project 🙂 I did forget to mention it, but I assumed people would be using a stable woven and not making due with scraps like me xD

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