Sew a Small Purse Tutorial: Tiny Tasseled Tote

Sew a Small Purse Tutorial: Tiny Tasseled Tote

Here’s my own design for a small purse tutorial.

Small purse tutorial.

Small purse tutorial.

This elegantly simple bag is incredibly easy to sew and offers endless opportunities for embellishment.  It is tiny as totes go, but as a small purse it is offers plenty of space for all your essentials, with room to spare.  It features an outside pocket big enough for your phone or sunglasses, and two inner pockets, one sized for your ID and debit card.

I really wish I had an embroidery machine; if I did I would completely cover this small bag with colorful embroidery. Since I don’t, I decided to make mine understated and casual in all one color and with minimum embellishment.  I think this denim blue corduroy is nearly a neutral color and I know it will go with much of my wardrobe.

I want to buy some silk cord to make the tassel and make a bag like this in a dressier fabric, too. Keep tuned to this blog, as I will soon share another small purse tutorial for a variation on this bag that is a lot of fun to make, too.

Without further ado, here’s this small purse tutorial, suitable for beginner sewists:

Tiny tasseled tote small purse tutorial

You need fabric for the bag body and lining, a little bit of interfacing, and yarn for the strap and tassel.

Cutting instructions

Cut:

  • 2 bag body pieces (main fabric) 7.5″ by 9″
  • 2 bag lining pieces (second fabric) 7.5″ by 9″
  • (optional) 2 interfacing pieces  7″ by 8.5″
  • (optional) 1 interfacing piece 4.5″ by 8″
  • 2 main fabric pieces 5″ by 7″
  • 2 pieces second fabric 5″ by 7″
  • 1 piece second fabric 6″ by 9″

Step one is optional – interface or quilt

If you choose to add interfacing to your bag, do it now. Because my outer fabric was corduroy and the quilter cotton lining fabric less sturdy, I chose to interface the back of my lining fabric (7.5″ by 9″ inch rectangles).  If you use quilter cotton or other lightweight fabric for the outside of your purse, then interface that instead.  Also apply interfacing to one of the 5″ by 8.5″ rectangles.

Another option is to forego interfacing and quilt one layer of your bag, either the outside or the lining. Just quilt these now, before we move on to construction.

Make the outside pocket

Take one 5″ by 7″ piece of your main fabric, and a matching piece of the lining fabric and align these right sides together. Sew around all four sides, leaving an opening of at least 2″ to turn right sides out. Clip the corners, turn, and press.

Now fold over the top about half an inch, press, and topstitch. I chose to press mine with the lining fabric forward, to show a bit of contrast on the outside of this otherwise plain blue bag. You can fold towards the inside though, if you’d rather not show off your lining fabric on the outside of your purse.

Center the pocket on one of the bag body 7.5″ by 9″ rectangles, with the hem you just sewed at the top of the bag. Sew the sides and bottom of the pocket to the bag body piece about 1/8″ from the pockets edges.

Make the inside pockets

Take the 6″ by 9″ lining fabric, and fold it right sides together to make a rectangle 4.5″ by 6″. Sew with a ¼ inch seam allowance along all three open sides, leaving an opening of at least 2″ for turning. Turn right sides out, press, and top stitch the opening closed.

Now fold one short edge of this finished rectangle upwards about 2 inches and press this fold line well. Then, center this pocket on one of the 7.5″ by 9″ bag lining rectangles, and sew the bottom and sides down on the lining fabric.

Inside pocket image.

Inside pocket image.

Sew the bag body and lining

Now take the two main fabric rectangles and put them right sides together.  Make sure the outside pocket is facing with the opening pointing up, then sew the side and bottom seams.

Then repeat for the bag lining pieces, again making sure the pocket opening is facing up before sewing the sides and bottom together. Set both bag and lining aside.

Make the tassel

Wrap yarn around the four outstretched fingers of hand about ten times. Tie the yarn together at the top of these loops with a short piece of yarn, then cut through all the loops at the bottom. Take another piece of yarn and wrap it around and around the strands, about half an inch from where you tied the yarn together at the top, then tie. Voila, a tassel!

How to tie a tassel.

How to tie a tassel.

Make the flap

Take one of the 5″ by 7″ pieces to your ironing board and place it right side down, aligned with the long edges horizontal and the short edges vertical. Then fold the bottom corners upward to make a point in the middle and press these fold lines well.

Tassel bag point image.

Tassel bag point image.

Then, cut along these pressed lines to make a triangle shaped piece for the flap. Cut a lining rectangle piece to match, too. Now, go back to your ironing board with these pieces. Fold  one of the edges you just cut to form the triangle back ¼ inch and crease this well with your iron. Repeat on the second triangle.

Tassel bag point crease image.

Tassel bag point crease image.

Now place the two triangles right sides together and sew together along the opposite side of the triangle from the side that you just creased. Clip the seam allowance from the triangle point, turn right sides out, align the creased seams you previously pressed, and press again.

Now insert the two short yarn tails from where you tied the yarn together at the very top of your tassel into the triangle point. Topstitch along the seam you just sewed, then topstitch to sew the side with the pressed seams closed, too, being sure to catch the yarn at the top of the tassel inside the seam.

The third side of the triangle flap remains open. Align this open edge with the top edge of the back side of your bag body, right sides together, and sew right along the edge to baste these pieces together.

Make your strap

To make the yarn strap, use 9 pieces of yarn about 4 feet long. Use 3 strands each to make three long braids, then braid these three all together. Secure ends by tying with another piece of yarn. Or opt to use ribbon or make a long fabric strap instead, if you prefer.

Final assembly

Take your main bag body and your bag lining body and insert one inside the other, with right sides together. The flap should be between the two bag bodies. Now place your strap inside, also between the two bag bodies, aligning each end with the side seams.

Use the free arm on your machine, and sew these together, leaving an opening to turn. You will sew the backside with the flap and the straps, and leave the opening in the front. Turn right sides out and push the lining side into the bag body. Now fold the edges of the opening inward, topstitch this opening closed, and you are done.

It’s reversible

Technically, this bag is reversible. Although, if I were going to reverse this bag, I would change the construction of the inner pocket. I wouldn’t want a debit card pocket on the outside of my bag. To do this, just omit the step of folding the inside pocket up to create the card pocket. Sew it on as a larger patch pocket instead, the same as you did for the outside pocket.

I hope you use this small purse tutorial to make one, too. What fabric will you use? How will you embellish yours?

Gifts to Sew for Dad

Gifts to Sew for Dad

Gifts to Sew for Dad

Sometimes it is hard to think of a great gift to sew for dad. It might seem like endless project options come to mind for most any other recipient, but gift ideas to sew for men don’t come quite as easy. Between the holidays, his birthday, and Father’s Day, you need a few good gift ideas each year—and that’s if you only have one dad to sew for!

Gifts to Sew for Dad

To help solve this perennial problem, here’s a long resource list of ideas to sew for men, including your dad, your children’s dad, or any other dad you might love.

Pillowcase

I seem to list pillowcases in every gift idea post I write! That’s because they are easy to make in a hurry, everyone uses them, and none are as nice as those that you make. So they make a nice gift to sew for dad, too. My dear always loves a gift of a new pillowcase, especially for his jumbo XL long pillow. Last year, I made him one with Star Trek fabric, it is covered with line drawings of the Enterprise.  I used a vintage yard I’ve been saving and some vintage trim, too, and made him a new one today.

I think he'll love this for his jumbo pillow. I love the extra bit the sparkly trim adds to this.

I think he’ll love this for his jumbo pillow. I love the extra bit the sparkly trim adds to this.

Pajamas

Simplicity and other pattern makers make super easy to follow patterns for pajama pants. Or you can trace a favorite pair to make a pattern, or you can follow an online tutorial.  Make them extra nice by adding pockets and drawstring waist. My dear prefers these cut quite loose and made from plaid flannel shirting; these look great on him, too.

Handkerchiefs

Make these from soft cotton; they are nice in flannel, or even knit.  Use a serger to finish all sides. For knit fabrics, you don’t even have to hem them at all. To save a step, buy these pre-made and make them more fun with tie-dye or personalize them with embroidery.

Handkerchief detail.

Handkerchief detail.

Quilt

A quilt is a perfect gift to sew for dad. Make him a lap sized or larger quilt in his favorite colors if you know them. If not, you know he loves his college or pro team’s colors, or go with a muted and manly collection of scrap fabrics. My favorite quilt I made for a man was a corduroy scrap quilt, with brightly colored squares alternating with khaki squares in a Streak of Lightning pattern. Choose a high quality, super soft cotton flannel for the quilt backing, and use cotton batting for maximum comfort quilts.

Streak of Lightning quilt, Ashley Van Haeften, from Flickr.

Streak of Lightning quilt, Ashley Van Haeften, from Flickr.

Bedside or chair arm organizer

Sew an organizer pocket to go over the side of his chair and hold his remotes and things, or under his mattress to keep glasses and reading material safely at hand.

Comfy his couch

Besides making a quilt, you can make his couch even cozier with custom cushions, perhaps one which includes pockets for his remote. Or make him a cuddly plush sofa blanket.

Two layers of Cuddle Plush fabric make an ultra cozy sofa blanket.

Two layers of Cuddle Plush fabric make an ultra cozy sofa blanket.

BBQ Apron / tocque / oven mitts

Use appliqué or a fun novelty fabric to make and personalize an apron just for him. I like this reversible pattern from Michael Miller fabrics best. Make the gift even nicer by pairing it with an easy-to-make, matching chef’s hat (tocque is the proper name for these) or an oven mitt.

Reversible, adjustable apron & chef hat.

Reversible, adjustable apron & chef hat.

Handyman apron

Help him around the house by sewing a full-coverage handyman apron or an easy pocketed waist apron for holding nails or a few tools.

First aid kit

Everyone needs one. You can make it roll-up style, or with a zipper.

Zip bag

Zip bags I made for guys yesterday.

Zip bags I made for guys yesterday.

Make him a small and simple zippered pouch for holding his cufflinks and jewelry, sketching pencils, or other small items. For something a bit roomier, here is a tutorial for a boxy toiletries bag that will work well to sew for dad.

You can sew an easy zip bag in 15 minutes, or less.

You can sew an easy zip bag in 15 minutes, or less.

Phone or glasses case

These are simple and easy to make. If you prefer, make a hanging charging pouch.

Tablet tote

This one is really easy to make; scroll down to see a manly looking option. The iPlaid is a good choice for a guy, or you could make one from scrap jeans.

Laptop sleeve or bag

If you can get your hands on his laptop to take measurements, then you can make this easy laptop sleeve in an hour or less. For something with a strap, make him a messenger style bag to fit his laptop.

Lunch bag

He’d probably rather not carry a cutesy lunch sack, so here’s how to sew a reusable brown bag with waxed canvas.

Wallet

Make it bifold or trifold. Or make him a simple business card wallet.

Other kits or bags

Make a tool roll or tool bag, a cord roll, a battery bandolier organizer, a monogrammed suede bag for his liquor bottle if he carries one to go, a shoe bag for travel. I’m making a patchwork quilted ukulele bag and a drumstick bag for my hubby this year. A soft padded guitar bag is a great idea, too.

This fabric is perfect for lining his ukulele case.

This fabric is perfect for lining his ukulele case.

Cup, can, or bottle cozy

Here are free tutorials to sew these for a can, a bottle, or a coffee cup.

Keychain

Lanyard type key fobs make useful gifts. You can make them with webbing, leather, even recycled jean denim. Here is a neat tutorial that includes a way to make these with a zipper for a place to stash cash. Or make something else useful to hang hang on his keychain, like a chapstick cozy or earbud or iphone pouch.

CD visor or book

Plenty of dads still keep their music on CD. If yours does, you can sew him a place to hold them on his car visor. I made one with a patchwork dive flag and ocean blue fabrics for my diver dad. You can also use felt to make pocket pages and sew a folder or book for holding CDs.

Baby carrier

Dads love to wear babies, and babies love it when they do. For a new dad, make a sling type, mei-tai, or a toddler sized soft structured carrier in a manly color or fabric.

A mei-tai style baby carrier is super easy to sew and comfy for both dad & baby.

A mei-tai style baby carrier is super easy to sew and comfy for both dad & baby.

Sporting gifts

Stadium blanket, photo courtesy Fons & Porter.

Stadium blanket, photo courtesy Fons & Porter.

Hat

There are lots of ways to sew a hat. Here are tutorials and free patterns for a few different styles:

Shorts

Buy a simple pattern, or use my 10-minute way to make shorts. You can make the bandana style shorts in that link for men using four bandanas instead of two.  Just use two bandanas instead of one for each leg, and add side seams to sew these together. Add length at the rise with a matching or coordinating fabric, or cut a couple more bandanas in half and sew these at the top. Or choose a funky fabric and whip up some board shorts for him.

Tie / bowtie

Buy some silk and make him a stylish tie with a pocket square to match. Here are tutorials for a bow tie and how to add a secret wallet pocket to the back of any tie, too.

Scarf / cowl

Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you probably won’t want to give dad a scarf for Father’s Day. But for winter holidays or birthdays, a scarf or cowl makes a great gift.

Do you have other ideas?

I am sewing all my Father’s Day gifts this year. What about you? Which of these ideas will you sew for dad? If you know any good gifts to sew for dad or men that aren’t on this list, please add them by commenting below.

Quick Sewing Projects: Last Minute Gifts

Quick Sewing Projects: Last Minute Gifts

Having a list of favorite quick sewing projects can be a big help when you need to give gifts.  As I write this, Christmas is only a week away. So any fabric gifts added to the list now must be quick sewing projects. Here are some last minute gifts to sew that are easy and fun to make when there isn’t a lot of time.

Last minute gifts to sew for kids

Felt “Paper” Doll Set

I made this set in a big hurry today. This doll is for a toddler, that’s why I made such a simplistic shape. I would like to make another set when I am not in such a real rush because of having to write a blog post, too. I bet this first doll has a much prettier sister born as soon as I’m done writing this post!

Felt sticks to felt and works perfectly for making "paper" dolls.

Felt sticks to felt and works perfectly for making “paper” dolls.

Felt Crown

You can whip up a felt crown in minutes. I made a traditional looking King’s crown for my boys’ dress up bin last year and that thing has seen a lot of play. Here is another easy way to make one that includes appliqué and looks more like a Queen’s crown.

Car Carrier

This car caddy saved my sanity many times, particularly in restaurants. I saved a lot of time when I made ours by just using the serger around the edges, rather than sewing and turning this project. I used rainbow variegated thread, and this finish held up fine even though it was used by two boys for several years. They both loved this toy. Here’s a tutorial for a car caddy that is similar to ours.

Car roll.

Car roll.

Last minute gifts to sew for ladies and girls

Headbands

There are lots of ways to make headbands, and most of them are easy. I love these which are reversible, and have an elasticized back. Making them this way is even quicker, and a good way to use scraps of special trim or embroidered ribbon. Or you could cover a plastic headband with fabric. Here is a tutorial for an easy, five-minute fabric flower you could use to embellish a plain headband.

Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarves are extremely easy to make. Here’s a tutorial.

Easy Purses

For something simple and straightforward to sew in a hurry, try this adorable and reversible mini messenger bag from Crazy Little Projects. This small cross-body bag works for both ladies and little girls.  Another option for a pretty purse that won’t take you long to make is this darling fold over clutch at Flamingo Toes.

Pincushion

Here is my tutorial for my favorite pincushion, which is generously sized and features a felt flower, it’s both easy and quick to make up.

Rice Pack Heat Pads

These make a nice gift for everyone, but ladies in particular will really appreciate them, since they are great for soothing monthly pains. They are also awesome for pains in the neck and shoulders. I like to make them from a pretty tea towel folded lengthwise. I stir a dropper full of lavender oil into the dried rice first, this releases a relaxing scent every time it is heated. You can also freeze these, in which case they are wonderful for easing headaches.

Last minute kitchen gifts to sew

Potholders

These are fun because they are so easy. Make one like a tiny quilt by following this precious patchwork pattern from Moda Bakeshop. If there’s no time for patchwork, here’s a different kind of potholder design that’s really quick and cute, too.

Trivet

There are not many quick sewing projects that are faster than making a simple trivet. It doesn’t have to look simple, though; here is a quick pattern for a pretty patchwork trivet that can use your tiniest scraps. This can also be made from single fabrics instead of patchwork to save time.

Bowl Cover

I wish I had seen this bowl cover project before now and made some of these for me. I will, for sure. One of these would be a beautiful gift for a party hostess. You could bring an appetizer in a pretty or plain bowl covered with one of these, and let the hostess keep the bowl and the cover. These would be really nice to have for picnics or backyard barbecues.

Napkins

Paper towels are wasteful, and cloth napkins save trees. That is why napkin sets are one of my favorite gifts to make. These are super fast to sew if you have a serger. If you don’t, it will take a little longer, since you will have to hem all four sides. This looks nicest if you miter the corners. You could choose linen, flannel, even novelty cottons; if you are using a serger, narrow ribbed knit is a great choice for everyday napkins. I made this festive set as a hostess gift for a New Year’s Eve party.

Napkins.

Last minute gifts to sew for anyone

Flannel Scarf

Make two cozy soft scarves from two yards of flannel shirting. Fold the flannel lengthwise, press, and cut down the fold. For each scarf, double turn and sew a narrow hem down each long side. Then sew across the short ends an inch or so from the edge of the fabric. This line of stitching will allow the fabric to fray a bit at the ends, but stop it from fraying when it frays to this line. You’ll have to wash it a couple of times to start the fraying, but once it starts, you can pull at it a bit to move it along.

Earbuds Pouch

This is the one quick sewing project gift that I still have left on my list. I see my son untangling his earbuds from his pocket every day, so I think he will appreciate one of these pouches. I know this will be a fast project, so there is plenty of time left to get this crossed off my list.

Pocket Tissue Holder and Sanitizer Cozy

A pocket tissue holder is a perfect small gift that fits with the quick sewing projects theme. You could add another pocket to stash a small hand sanitizer with the Kleenex, or try this tutorial for a sanitizer cozy to give along with the tissue holder.

Last minute gifts for pets

Don’t forget Fido or Fluffy! It’s easy to whip up something for furry friends in a hurry, thankfully. I like sewing fleece stuffed bones for easy dog gifts. Here is a link to some other fast, easy ways of making dog toys, and here are ideas for quick sewing projects for kitties.

Fleece bones.

Fleece bones.

I hope you find plenty of time to get everything on your list done without any stress! Happy Holidays.

Sew Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Sew Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Do you make most of your holiday gifts?  Have you wanted to start this tradition?  If you haven’t, this is a great year to sew gifts for everyone on your list.Sew Gifts for Everyone on Your List

I have been sewing and/or making most every gift I give for many years now.  So I know from experience that it is easy to get stuck for ideas, especially for certain recipients.  But I have learned that with time and thought, it is possible to sew gifts for everyone on your list.

The most important tip I have learned in making holiday gifts over the years is to get started early.   With an early start you can complete your gifts in plenty of time to enjoy your holidays.   Starting in December can make for a stressful season!  Learn from my mistakes and get started now, or you could wind up as I have- sewing late into the night on Christmas Eve.

For babies, try a stuffed ball with ribbon tags for grabbing.

For babies, try a stuffed ball with ribbon tags for grabbing.

You can sew gifts that everyone will love.  Here are some ideas to consider for everyone on your list:

For Kids

Quiltshere are some tips for sewing fun, quick quilts.

Soft Toys –  dolls, stuffed animals, robots, monsters. For babies, try a stuffed ball with ribbon tags for grabbing.

This rainbow book of colors is one of my favorite gifts ever.

This rainbow book of colors is one of my favorite gifts ever.

These are a lot of fun, both to make and to play with.

These are a lot of fun, both to make and to play with.

Soft Books – These are a lot of fun, both to make and to play with.  This rainbow book of colors is one of my favorite gifts ever.

Bags – make a tote bag with divided pockets for crayons and include a coloring book.  Or whip up a precious little purse to match a sweet girl’s personality.  I’ve even made a Star Wars backpack from an outgrown favorite T-shirt.

ou could sew a sack lunch, complete with felt brown paper bag; pretty cupcakes and donuts; even a whole roast turkey!

Felt Food – these are both easy and lots of fun to make.  You could sew a sack lunch, complete with felt brown paper bag; pretty cupcakes and donuts; even a whole roast turkey!  There are a ton of free patterns and tutorials for felt foods available online, but these are easy to make up off the top of your head, too.Crayon, Marker, or Colored Pencil Rolls- make a great gift for kids on-the-go.

Crayon, Marker or Colored Pencil Rolls – make a great gift for kids on-the-go.

Doll Clothes and Accessories – Sew something new for her favorite dolly.  Make a dress or two, a carrying bag with a front pocket designed as the doll’s bed, or a doll quilt.

For Anyone

Lap Quilts.Zip Bags – These are useful for everyone.  Ladies can use them for cosmetics, men will appreciate them for holding shaving and toiletry supplies for travel. Children can use them as crayon or pencil bags, or for containing sets such as legos to-go.  They also make great first aid kits for the car or travel.

Lap Quilts – Be inspired by your recipient’s favorite colors or personality and sew them something special for snuggling.

Pillowcases – You can sew a pillowcase from any yard of cotton fabric.  Choose a beautiful print or fun novelty fabrics.These are always appreciated and a great way to use fat quarters from your stash. Embellish with ruffles, pockets and/or appliqué.

For Ladies

Half Aprons – These are always appreciated and a great way to use fat quarters from your stash.  Embellish with ruffles, pockets and/or appliqué.

Needlebooks –  These are a fun little project for playing with patchwork and make useful and treasured gifts.

Folklore Bag

Folklore Bag

Purses – What lady wouldn’t like a pretty new handbag?  My favorite purse pattern is the Folklore Bag from the book One-Yard Wonders.  I like to add special details like an attached clip for easily finding keys.

Cloth Napkins – Holiday themed sets from novelty fabrics make a lovely gift. This is my go-to for teacher gifts.

Cloth napkins.

Cloth napkins.

For Men

Barbeque Apron – Here’s another fun place to use novelty fabric.  He’s sure to appreciate one emblazoned with his favorite ball team’s logo, or choose a funky fabric with vintage cars, guitars, or hot dogs.

Handkerchiefs – I use the embroidery feature on my machine along the edges.  My machine has an alphabet, so I like to sew “Bless You” on these too.

Throw Pillows – with football fabrics or something else he’ll appreciate.  Be sure they match the couch or décor in his man-cave!

Over-the-Visor CD Pockets for the Car – include a mix cd for extra fun.

For Furry Friends

Gift wrap.Dog or Cat Bed – You can make these as a simple stuffed rectangle or square, or go fancier with patchwork or other design details.

Stuffed Toys – catnip stuffed mouse or felt or fleece “bones.”

Matching Collar and Leash – I buy ugly collars from the dollar store for the hardware, then I make nicer, new collars with nylon webbing covered with embroidered ribbon.  These make a super nice gift for pet parents.

Make this the year that you sew gifts for everyone on your list and they will thank you for it!  And don’t forget the gift wrap; use holiday fabric and whip up gift bags to fit any size gift. These re-usable wrappers are zero-waste and your recipients will be happy to use them again next year.