Posted on 22 Comments

Mama’s got a new bag

New handbag

I’ve spent the better part of a year ogling purses on Etsy. I’ve hemmed, I’ve hawed, I’ve come close to plunking down my cash and waiting for my dream bag to arrive. But I’ve held back. Partly because I didn’t even know I had a dream bag until recently, partly because I’ve always been a “buy it for $12 at Target” kind of purse buyer, and partly because there was a little voice inside my head telling me I should try making one myself first.

I have been trying to beat down and ignore that crazy little voice for the last six months at least. Bag-making is too hard, isn’t it? What with pockets, and zippers, and interfacing, and linings, and oh! my head hurts just thinking about it. Can’t I just give The Funky Bag Lady $40 to do it all for me? She does it so well!

New handbag

Well, yesterday a birthday card from my parents arrived, and it had a check inside (thanks, Mom & Dad, if you’re reading this, which you probably aren’t, but I’m going to cover my bases and thank you publicly anyway). I started thinking that I could use that check to finance my new handbag. There are several new ones in The Funky Bag Lady’s shop, and as I sat there on the couch salivating at the delicious blues & greens she’s been making lately, Neil said, “you should make one of those yourself.”

Well, darn. There was that voice again, only this time it was real, and it was coming out of my husband’s mouth. The very husband who will never see the point in owning a $40 handbag, no matter how well-crafted by human hands it may be. So I gave it some thought, and I decided that I should try and make myself a bag. I’d have to keep my skill-level in mind, maybe skip the pockets and zippers. Probably couldn’t make it stand up on its own, either. And I’d skip those pesky magnetic snap closures. Yeah… I could do that! It would essentially be a glorified tote bag, and it wouldn’t have anything on those great Funky Bag Lady creations, but I could always go ahead and buy one of those later.

New handbag

So just like that I was talked-into making a handbag. I chose three fat quarters from my favorite fabric collection (Bleeker Street by Michele D’Amore), and two projects from two different books that I could combine to do what I wanted. I used the Simple Tote from Simple Sewing for the basic construction, but I added relatively stiff interfacing to my main piece, and I made up my own measurements. To figure out how to insert the handles and lining, I used the Pleated Beauty Handbag instructions in Bend the Rules Sewing.

New handbag

All in all, I’m really happy with it – I think it’s an impressive first try if I do say so myself, and I am pretty sure that I will attempt this again. Some things I’d like to try in a future version:

  • Giving it a flat bottom and some depth so it could stand by itself and be less tote-baggy
  • Adding an inner pocket or two
  • Making a closure of some kind, most likely embellished with a coordinating clay button

Thanks, by the way, for all of the wonderful birthday wishes yesterday! I was hoping to respond to each of them individually (I may yet!) but for now let this group “thank you” suffice. I had a nice day, that included Indian food for supper, which I love. And today, I got the weather I’d been hoping for yesterday. It’s a day late, but I’ll take it! Happy Friday!

[edited because I had a brainstorm while driving (as far as I know that’s still legal). I remembered seeing online recently a tutorial for making a flat-bottom bag. Of course, you’re supposed to do it before the whole thing is put together, so that your mess is on the inside, but it made me think of another way to get a similar effect and still keep the outside looking decent. So, I did it. And, as long as I was fiddling with it anyway, I added a snap closure with one of my polymer clay buttons for decoration.

Apparently I wasn't done

I like! It still lacks pockets inside, but at least now it looks more like what I was going for. NOW I’m done. But you know there will be more of these…]


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Posted on 22 Comments

22 thoughts on “Mama’s got a new bag

  1. It’s lovely! Much better than my own first bag, which was all raw edges and bad thread–but which I insisted on carrying around ANYWAY, because I made it, and it was MY size and colors. I’ll do better next time. But not as well as you’ve done here!

    See what Penny has been blogging about: Raiders of the Lost TV Remote

    1. Thanks! And you may notice I fiddled with it further. Now I’m *really* happy with it.

      And I’ve got a few of those “I made it myself!” kind of things around here that I insist on using despite their, uh, lack of craftsmanship. That’s part of the fun of making things (and probably why most artsy people are considered eccentric to outsiders, LOL!)

  2. It’s splendid! WTG with your creative self. 🙂 I looove the fabric. Probably b/c it looks a lot like the wonderful little wristlet I bought on Etsy some time ago. 🙂 If I could sew, I’d probably have at least 2 different purses for each day of the week.

    See what Christie has been blogging about: Bag lady Emily

    1. Nice wristlet! I recognize that fabric – same designer as the fabric I used actually. I almost bought some of that, but I restrained myself 🙂

      And while I don’t forsee having two purses for every day of the week any time soon, I can easily imagine having one for every mood!

  3. Good job on the bag! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the tutorials on this website ( They are on the right column and the “Zippered Pocket in Bag Lining” is so easy and looks awesome in a bag. Pretty soon people will be paying you $40 for a nice handmade bag! Also, Peltex is fantastic for giving the bag some shape.

    See what Alexa has been blogging about: Sad

    1. Thank you for the hint about Peltex. I’ll check it out. I’ve been to u-handbag before, but never with a specific project or skill in mind. I have to check it out now with new eyes and see what I can learn!

  4. Nicely done! I just made my first bag as well. It’s meant as a gift for someone else, but I have plans to make one for myself soon. I LOVE the fabrics you used and the button goes perfectly!

    1. Thanks! I always feel like I have to make something for me first, before I am comfortable making it as a gift. My first attempts are always flawed, sometimes seriously flawed, LOL!

  5. First of all, great work! Second – this is why Neil and you are a great couple. If *anyone* ever said to me that $40 was too much to spend on a purse, I’d know they weren’t for me. :-). Now, $600, that’s over the top, but I still would like one – Coach please! I just can’t bring myself to do that.

    1. Heh. I have a small backpack purse that’s a Coach knockoff. I found it at a thrift shop for $15. That’s as close as I’m likely to get to a Coach bag, LOL! And honestly, right now I’m more into the handmade thing anyway. I feel like I’m playing dress-up when I carry the Coach-ish bag 😉

  6. That’s a gorgeous bag!! Great colors and shape.
    You should be selling these 🙂

    1. Thanks! I don’t think my process is quite sales-worthy yet – still too much wonkiness in the design. But maybe if I practice, I can get good enough to stick a couple of these in my etsy shop 🙂

  7. Lisa!!! I LOVE IT!!! you did a wonderful job… ….. makes me wish I could sew!! now that you know that you can do this… how many do you think that you will make to match your cute shirts and skirts???

    1. You know, I’d be lying if I said that idea didn’t totally appeal to me! But I think it might be a little over-the-top matchy-matchy even for me 😉 Or maybe not… time will tell just how addicted I get to making these!!

  8. Cute bag! Love the colors! This blog ( )has a great tutorial on basic purses and putting in magnetic clasps. Magnetic clasps are very easy to put in once you know how. The salesperson at Joann’s showed me in about a minute.

  9. the pockets inside might be a quick fix… could :sew pocket pieces right side together, flip out and iron. then hand sew them to the inside.might be cute with co-ordinating fabrics, scraps leftover and chunky or fat thread to sew them down with. only going through the inside liner fabric.

    very nice in deed though… love the fabrics, of course!

    See what becky has been blogging about: Pack’n them Up

    1. Thanks for the tip! So far I’m surviving just fine without pockets. The purse is so small that I can’t fit a whole lot in at anyway. That’s good to know for the future, though.

  10. I can’t even remotely believe you thought you couldn’t make one of these!! It’s fantastic and I love it! 😀

    What a beautiful job and you picked the loveliest colors!!

    Wow wow wow!!


    1. Thanks! It was more involved than anything else I’ve done, but now that I’ve tried it and I “get” it, I can see myself making more, and maybe even trying some of those harder things like zippers!

  11. If you can make that beautiful purse, and all those beautiful skirts and tops, pockets and zippers will be no problem for you!


    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence – I do think I’m starting to want to give it a try 🙂

  12. […] sell them, so I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when more than once a friend saw my new bag and said, “ooh! how much are you selling those for?” Well, I wasn’t… I was […]

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