This project came about because I realized I needed a purse that was a little more suitable for professional occasions, so I thought I would try making up a cute pattern that was a little on the subdued. I’m not quite sure if I got exactly to that mix of professional with subtle cute, but it was fun trying nonetheless! I used some extra corduroy to make this particular purse, and I think the dark reddish brown does a good job of looking stylish without being too over the top.
For this particular project I tried out a lot of new interfacing to see how it stacks up for stabilizing thin corduroy. You could leave it out as you prefer, of course, but I think the Pellon 50 I used did a good job of making thin corduroy into something more substantial. The lining includes several side pockets as well as a hidden zippered pocket. I ran out of strap adjusters by this point, so I tried out using a buckle instead. A little unorthodox, but I think I like it! Maybe you will too 😀
Materials & Tools:
• 2/3 yd. of 45” wide or 1/2 yd. of 60” wide medium weight fabric (I used interfaced corduroy)
• 2/3 yd. of lightweight fabric for lining (I used quilting cotton)
• 1 1/4 yds. of lightweight fusible interfacing (I used Pellon SF-101)
• 3/4 yd. of heavyweight sew-in interfacing (optional; see step 16) [I used Pellon 50]
• 1/4 yd. of thin cotton quilt batting (optional; see step 7)
• 10” zipper (at least)
• 1 1/4” wide buckle
• Five 1/4” eyelets
• 1/2” wide sew-in snap
• Matching sewing thread
• Basic sewing tools (sewing machine, scissors, iron, needles, pins, fabric marker, seam ripper)
• 4” x 6” of white appliqué fabric
• 4” x 6” 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 interfacing and cut them out
4. Mark the fabric pieces with the markings from the pattern
The Inner Bag
1. To break up the length of this project, we’re going to focus on the inner bag first. First is installing the hidden zipper in the back lining of the bag. To start, layer one of the hidden pocket pieces over one of the lining pieces with right sides facing. Line up the pattern guidelines that show where the zipper opening must be sewn, then sew around that rectangle.
3. Push the hidden pocket fabric through the hole so the fabrics flip over to the other side. You should now have a neat little rectangular hole from the seam sewn in step 1. Press it nice and crisp to prepare for the next step.
4. To install the zipper, lay it facing down onto the hidden pocket fabric so the right side peeks through the rectangular window. Pin the zipper in place along the edges, or if that’s a pain it helps to tape it in place or use a glue stick. Be sure the zipper slider is in the middle of the window, then sew as close as you can around the edge of the window, being careful when going over the zipper teeth.
5. To finish the pocket, take your remaining hidden pocket piece and place it on top of the one attached to the lining (right sides facing). Line up the edges and sew around the perimeter using a 1/4” seam allowance. You’ll need to push the lining fabric out of the way a bit to do this. That completes the hidden pocket!
6. The lining also has a few sewn-in pockets as well, so we’re going to tackle those next. Begin by taking two of the lining pocket pieces and lining them up along the top straight edge. Sew them together along this edge, then press the seam and turn it right side out.
7. I wanted to try a technique I’ve seen used by some other bloggers to add a bit more stability to my pocket, so this is where I cut a bit of quilting cotton the same size as one of the pockets without seam allowances. Tuck it in between the pocket pieces and anchor it in place by topstitching the previous seam from step 6. You could skip the batting if you feel it isn’t necessary.
8. When complete, baste the pocket to your freshly sewn lining piece (the one with the installed zipper). Line it up against the bottom and sew it along the sides. Here’s where you might also want to sew some divisions depending on what sort of things you carry; pencil pockets, phone pocket, keys, etc.
10. All that’s left to complete both sides of the lining is to add the inner facing. The inner facing has a bit of interfacing fused for the sake of stability. So if you’re using fusible interfacing on your bag, apply the lightweight fusible to your inner facing at this time.
11. Once the inner facing is all ready to go, you can sew it to your lining pieces. Line up the straight edges as shown and sew along that edge. Leave a gap in one of them as the pattern guidelines indicate so you can turn the bag right side out later. When complete, press the seam open.
12. All that’s left to do for the lining is connect the front and back sections via the gusset. The gusset will need to stretch around the curved bottom of the lining, so it helps to make small 1/4” or so clips into the seam allowance every 2-3” or so. When pinning the gusset, you’ll find that the circle markings in the corners should line up with the seam you just made in step 11. Once everything is all lined up and nice, sew it in place. Repeat this with the other side of the gusset and the remaining lining piece and your lining is all finished!
The Outer Bag
13. Onto the outer bag! First up of course is applying more interfacing. I used more fusible lightweight interfacing on the front and back since it’s made from rather thin corduroy. Iron yours in place now if you’re doing the same.
14. Next up I added the little whiskers that really help bring together the kitty look of the bag. Trace the whisker outline onto your fusible web, iron the fusible web to your appliqué fabric, cut out the shapes, then fuse the appliqué fabric to what will be the front of the bag. If you use heavy duty fusible web you can leave it as is, but if you used lightweight fusible web you’ll want to sew the whiskers in place around the edges. I used a simple straight stitch to give it a clean look.
16. Up next is to attach the outer front to the outer back of the purse via the gusset again. For extra stability, both the gusset and the front/back use additional sew-in interfacing. For this step, pin the interfacing to the corresponding pieces and treat them as if they were one, then pin the gusset around the bottom of the purse front just as in step 12. Again, you should see the circle markings match up and you’ll likely want to clip the seam allowances to have more give as you pin.
17. Repeat the previous step with the other side of the gusset and the purse back. To make the bulk easier to manage, trim away all the heavy sew-in interfacing from the seam allowances in the previous seams.
19. Now all of that seam allowance left over is going to go towards the gusset to give it extra strength. Fold the seam allowance towards the gusset and edge stitch the gusset from the right side of the bag to anchor the seam allowance in place. Repeat this on the other side of the gusset as well.
The Extra Bits
20. The first thing we’re working on for this section is the strap. Like with all the other parts, apply the lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your strap fabric. The interfacing should not include seam allowances so as to reduce bulk, so when it comes time for sewing you can simply sew around the interfacing.
21. Fold the strap in half with right sides facing and sew down the length of it, using the interfacing as a guide. When finished, trim the excess seam allowance at the corners, turn the strap right side out (a yardstick or long dowel works nicely for this), and press the whole thing flat.
23. Unless you’ve got a center bar buckle, your buckle will need an additional loop to hold onto the strap when everything is buckled in. To make one of these, take your buckle loop piece and fold one long end 1/3 of the way in and stitch it in place. Fold the other third into the center as well and stitch it with a zigzag stitch to cover the raw edge. Then fold the loop in half with right sides (the side without the raw edge) facing and zigzag across the short edge. Turn the loop right side out when complete and ready to put with your buckle.
24. To prepare your buckle, fold the buckle tab in half and cut a small hole for the buckle tine. Loop the tab through the buckle and poke the tine through the hole. Dab some glue or fray-block liquid on the hole to keep it from fraying too badly. Baste the raw edges of the tab together, then slip the buckle loop over the tab.
25. With the strap and buckle all good to go, you can now attach it to your bag. Line up the raw ends of both the strap and the tab to opposing sides of the bag. Center them along the upper edge of the gusset (make sure the top of the buckle is facing the bag, the bottom side will be facing up) and baste them in place.
Bringing it all Together
26. With the inner purse and outer purse all finished, you can now bring the two together. Slip the lining into the outer bag with right sides facing and sew the two together along the top edge, that is the one with the little kitty ears. Go around the entire perimeter, along the short little side areas as well.
27. Just like in step 17, go back and trim the excess interfacing from the seam allowances and cut notches in the curves like in step 18. Be sure to cut clips in the corners where the front and back meet the side, then turn the bag right side out from the opening in the lining. Press the top edge nice and flat, then edge stitch around the perimeter.
28. Sew the opening in the lining closed and also sew in a snap centered on the inner facing on the inside of the bag. Use the pattern guidelines to get you started, but you might want to shift the placement depending on how your bag turned out.
29. And the very last step is to add eyelets to your strap! Depending on what kind of adjustment you want, space the eyelets accordingly, being sure that the right side of the eyelets are facing the outside of the strap. Mine are spaced about 3” apart.
It’s all finished! There were a lot of steps to this one, but I just love the look of the adjustable buckle strap and all the lovely pockets inside.
If you do try making the project, I’d love to see it! Send me a photo and I’ll send you exclusive free patterns as a reward!