Birthday Bag Tutorial

Wednesday was my birthday! YAY! I'm still excited cuz birthdays and parties make me smile
In yesterdays post I gave you a peek at the purse I made for myself.
I pretty much love it, flaws and all.
I've never made a purse like this, and I didn't follow a pattern of any kind so there are plenty of things I'm not entirely happy with and/or would do differently next time.
You live and learn, right?

This is also my first tutorial so bear with me. I may have forgotten to take pictures of some of the steps, but I will try and explain what I did as best as I can mmmkay?

Here we go!

I was browsing at Joann the other day when I ran across these wooden purse handles
 Um, do you see the $.97?? Hello, sweet deal! 
All I did to finish them was paint them with white acrylic paint, lightly sand and spray with a clear glossy acrylic top coat. Super easy-peasy. Looking back, I should have maybe put a second coat of paint on them, but oh well.

Next I cut my fabric. Here is what you will cut:
1- 19"x17" of your outer fabric
1- 19"x17" of your liner fabric
1- 19"x17" fusible fleece 
2- 11.5"x4.5" of your fabric for the handle tube
2- 11.5"x4.5" fusible interfacing

Iron the fusible fleece to your outer fabric. I almost always use fusible fleece on bags, it gives them an extra amount of sturdiness and softness...we don't want any floppy bags now do we?! 
Also iron the fusible interfacing to your smaller strips.

Next fold the outer fabric in half along the 19" side (does that make sense?), right sides together. Do the same with your outer fabric. I measured up the 2 sides about 6 inches and put a pin there. You can change this measurement to suit yourself. Then sew from the fold up the sides to the pin, backstitching at both ends.
 Do this with both the outer and inner fabrics. It should look like this

Turn your lining fabric right side out and place inside the outer fabric. Pin together all the way around. 

Where your front pieces and back pieces meet will be a little tricky lining up. Just go with it. Mine looked like this. Just make sure you get both sides under your machine when you sew them together.

Start on the top of one side and sew continuously around the entire bag. Don't forget to leave a hole on one side to turn it right side out! When you sew down the side slit towards that little tricky spot, go slowly. You will have to stop right in the middle and move the body of your bag from the front of your machine to the back so you don't sew the top to the body. Get it?? Maybe, I hope. Here's a couple pictures. In the first one you'll see all the fabric under my top flap there, and then I moved it to the back.

Ok, so here is where I temporarily got caught up in what I was doing and sorta stopped taking pictures. Oops...won't do that again.
Anywho, moving on. Next step, turn bag right side out and sew opening shut. Then I top stitched along the slit on each side. Go down one side, turn, go across the bottom, turn and go up the other side. I backstitched at the bottom to give it a little extra durability. 
Use a long stitch length and stitch across both top sides only backstitching at the beginning.
Pull your bottom thread to create a gather along the entire top of each side until it measures 11"
Are you following me?
Take your fabric pieces for the handle tubes and iron under 1/4" on each of the short ends. Stitch to finish the ends.
Now iron the long ends under 1/4" also.
I took these pieces and pinned them to the top edge of the bag on the inside first. You want to make sure you are covering up the stitching you used to make the gathers. Do this on both sides and stitch close to the fold on the tube piece. I really hope this is making sense.
Next lay your handle down and fold the fabric over to meet the front side.
 I have a picture for this! Yay!

I had pin about a third of it at a time and sew, then stop to adjust the handle, pin a little more and sew. It was too difficult to try and sew around the curves of the handles. When folding the fabric over and pining down, feel for the back and try to line them up together so you can sew straight on top of the back stitches. I didn't necessarily to the best job at this, but hey, it's my purse so I'm cool with it. It looks great on the outside, just don't check my stitching on the inside *blush*

This is where I should post an after picture and a big TA-DA! BUT, I got done and decided I didn't like how the bottom corners poked out so sharply. I thought I nice curved corner would look better. Here is where hindsight rears it's ugly head. 
So if you are actually following my directions you will want to make your curved corners BEFORE you sew this thing shut...wish I had thought this out a little better. To do this, use a water soluble marker and mark a 3 inch line in a diagonal from the bottom edge to the side, like you are making a triangle out of the corner. 
Still hoping I'm making sense here...
Sew on that line, backstitching at both ends. Then cut close to your stitching. Do this on both bottom corners of your outside and liner. 
Since I didn't do this before I sewed it shut I had to improvise and once again, it's not perfect, but since it's my bag and no one else will see my mistake, I'm cool with it. So basically I turned the bag inside out and had to sew my liner and outer bag together at the corners, then cut it off and use a zigzag stitch to keep the edge from fraying. Boo.

Definitely DON'T do it this way. I'm kinda bummed I didn't get the chance to clip these corners before I closed it all up, but oh well I guess. 

And for the big reveal...

Although there are flaws and things I would have done differently, I'm proud of it. I LOVE the fabric. It is surprisingly roomy too!

So how did I do? Are you completely confused by my tutorial and lack of pictures?
I'll do better next time...promise...pinky swear...cross my heart *wink*

Much Love~

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  1. I want one!!! I love style. The color! It's amazing!!!

  2. Happy Birthday!!..even though I am one day late :) I am so impressed that you made yourself a purse! You are pretty talented on the sewing machine. I turned out beautiful, the white handle is perfect for summer.

    XO Lindsay @ Delighted Momma

  3. Thank you for your nice comments!! It really means a lot to me!!

  4. Stopping by from TT&J. This bag is way cute. Makes me wish I was better at sewing!

  5. That is a great purse. Love the colors. I have a few sets of handles I got cheap at JoAnns but I have yet to use them. Think I will try this. Thanks.
    Oh,found you on tatertots and Jello

  6. this is SO CUTE! i am in love with it! I am so happy I found your blog! I am your newest follower and I would love it if you would check out my blog and follow me too! Thanks

  7. ummm - can I just say that I LOVE this project! What an amazing seamstress you are! This is a fabulous bag and and I'm so glad you linked up to WWWW! Thank you!!

  8. I think it looks great! You did a great job!

    Born To Be Styled

  9. Happy belated birthday :) Love the bag--it's really cute. I found your site through the Tuesday Time-Out Hop. Please come follow me back at:


    Thanks and have a great Tuesday!

  10. Great job! It is not easy to make purses!! I love the color choices too!

  11. BTW I am a new follower. So glad I found you!

  12. That is so cute!! Thanks for auditioning for OMTWI!!


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