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Jan 16
2010

Pleated, lined handbag

Roomy, pleated bag

Roomy, pleated bag

Making your own fabric bags means you’ll always have unique accessories. I have lots of them, and I get compliments all the time. They really stand out. This bag is pleated and nice and roomy as a purse. I have made this style in both a smaller and larger size, but neither ever seemed just right. This one I made somewhere in between. It holds all of my day-to-day purse stuff, with room to throw in a book or bottle of water, to boot. 

I took this out today and somebody complimented me on it and wanted one. See? That’s what I’m talking about. So worth making!

Dimensions for this bag are: 14″ wide along top of bag; 17.5″ wide at widest part of bag and 12.5″ tall at center point.

NOTE: This is one of our more popular projects. If you make it, please share pictures with us on our Flickr page! Also, submit anything made with fabrics from Warehouse Fabrics Inc. to our gallery page. Simply click “Add Photo to Gallery” just above the pictures.

Supplies

(Click fabrics for direct links for purchase at Warehouse Fabrics Inc.)

Annie sweet potato/natural - ANESWL

Annie sweet potato/natural - ANESWL

Shiba sweet potato/natural - SHASWL

Shiba sweet potato/natural - SHASWL

Dandie sweet potato/natural - DAESWL

Dandie sweet potato/natural - DAESWL

Akita sweet potato/natural - AKASWL

Akita sweet potato/natural - AKASWL

Craft fuse interfacing

Craft fuse interfacing

Fusible fleece

Fusible fleece

Piping

Piping

Have fun mixing and matching coordinating prints. You can have three or four in one bag. 

In the case of this bag, I used 5/8 of a yard of 54″ width fabric (the diamond shape) for the sides, interior top bands and straps.
I used 3/8 of a yard for the lining sides (polka dot), also 54″ width.
I used a small piece of the Shiba fabric for the top, exterior band and a small piece of the Akita for the pockets. How much of each of these you get depends on how many different fabrics you are going to combine. These fabrics are sold in 1-yard increments.

For the interfacing, I used a full yard for the bag sides and top bands. Then I realized I needed more for the straps, but I always have scraps of Craft Fuse lying about, so I just made do. Craft Fuse is single layer and not very wide, so you may need more like two yards in order to get enough for the straps.

For the fusible fleece, I used less than one yard for the bag sides and top bands.

I used pre-made piping, and one 2-1/2 yard package was just enough, with a little left over. We have a tutorial for making your own piping out of any fabric you’d like here. If you’re going to make your own, you’ll need to buy extra fabric, and remember that you’ll be cutting on the bias. All of that is described in the tutorial.

Bag sides
cut 2 outer fabric
cut 2 lining fabric
cut 2 interfacing
cut 2 fleece

Top bands
cut 2 outer fabric
cut 2 lining fabric
cut 2 interfacing
cut 2 fleece

Straps
cut 2 fabric of your choice
cut 2 interfacing

Pockets
cut 2 of flap pocket
cut 2 of flap
cut 2 of divider pocket
each out of fabric of your choice. It’s fun if it contrasts with the lining.

1/2″ seam allowances throughout, except in the case of the pockets. For those you will use a 3/8″ seam allowance to sew the pockets and a 1/8″-1/4″ seam allowance to top-stitch them to the lining of the bag.

The pattern

Pleated handbag pattern PDF

A reader was kind enough to send me the above all-in-one PDF file (thank you!). But just in case, I’m leaving the separate files below. I know this pattern was featured on a craft blog recently and so readers have been coming to it and I want to make sure I don’t delete anything necessary.

Pleated purse pattern 1
Pleated purse pattern 2
Pleated purse pattern 3
Pleated purse pattern 4
Pleated purse pattern 5
Pleated purse pattern 6
Pleated purse pattern 7
Pleated purse pattern 8
Pleated purse pattern 9

Basically, the pattern is spread across nine pages of regular computer paper. You’ll print them and then tape together where instructed. The pieces are labeled.

The process

Exterior bag

Interior bag

Joining the exterior and lining

Pattern pieces

Pattern pieces

Here is a photo of the pattern pieces with the dimensions. click for a bigger view. This will look different than the layout if you print the pieces above. I had to redo the pattern pieces to leave a border around the edge of the paper so they would print properly. But this view will give you the dimensions and help you see what the taped-together pieces look like.

Cut pieces

Cut pieces

Cut out your fabrics, interfacing and fleece as instructed above.

Apply interfacing

Apply interfacing

Fuse interfacing to back of outer bag sides and outer top bands. Fuse fleece on top of that.

Pin pleats

Pin pleats

Now you’re going to make your pleats. I make the left two pleats go from right to left, and the right two pleats go from left to right. It really doesn’t matter. They can all face the same way if you want. 

You basically want four evenly spaced pleats that make the side piece the same width as the top band. I just like to eyeball it and adjust as necessary. Click for a better view.

Pin the pleats and press the top few inches, but not down past that. The pleats will taper out to nothing about halfway down the bag.

Baste pleats

Baste pleats

Baste the pleats in place near the top edge, within the 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Pin piping

Pin piping

Pin piping to top edge of bag. The piping has a 1/4″ seam allowance, and I’ll be sewing the bag with 1/2″ seam allowances, so I set the piping away from the edge about 1/4″. Baste it in place. It’s easiest to do this with a piping foot, if you have one. There’s  a better picture below with some different piping.

Pin band

Pin band

Pin the top band to the side, right-sides together, sandwiching the piping in between. Sew together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Again, a piping foot really helps. Your goal is to get right up against the piping without sewing over it. This can be tough since you can’t actually see the piping and your fabric is several layers thick. I used a regular presser foot at first, and I did OK, but I had a few places to go over again to get closer to the piping, and one place where I sewed over it and had to redo. When I did the part below with a piping foot, I had not one single problem.

Finished side

Finished side

Press the band up, with the seam allowance pressed up toward the band. The piping adds a nice touch! This inspired me to put piping around the whole outer edge.

Pin piping

Pin piping

I had just enough piping, plus a few extra inches to do this part, too. I pinned and basted, just as above.

Baste piping

Baste piping

Here’s the piping foot. It has a little ridge that snuggles in over the piping for more controlled sewing. I love it! Definitely worth buying.

Pin and sew sides

Pin and sew sides

Right sides together, sew the outer pieces together with the piping sandwiched in between. Like I said, I used my piping foot. It was sort of tough because of the thickness of the fabric and the fact that I couldn’t see the piping, but I just felt for it through the fabric and sort of guided it in the general area of the piping foot’s groove. It worked like a charm! 

Note: When I sew the side pieces together here and for the lining, My starting point for pinning is always the seams between the top band and the side piece. I want them to line up so that the bag is even. It will look sloppy if those seams are not lined up.

Turn right-side out

Turn right-side out

Turn the bag right-side out. I love, love, love the piping! Why don’t I use it more often?

Add straps

Add straps

Next, make and attach the straps as instructed in this tutorial. Then come back.

Pockets 1

Pockets 1

Pin all of your pocket pieces right-sides together. Sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance all the way around, except for a space on one side to turn the pocket through. 

Trim off the corners and turn, using a pointy item to gently push out the corners.

Turned pockets

Turned pockets

Here, you’ll see the holes that we turned the pockets through. The seam allowances pretty much are tucked in already. Press the pockets flat, keeping the seam allowances turned in. The holes will pretty much disappear. We’ll sew over them in a minute and they’ll be all gone.

Pressed and top-stitched

Pressed and top-stitched

Top-stitch 1/8″ from top edge (not the edge with the hole) of each pocket — but not the pocket flap. For that, top-stitch around two short sides and one long side of the flap piece (top left).

Arrange pockets

Arrange pockets

Pleat the lining pieces as you did with the outside pieces, and sew the lining side pieces and top bands together.  

Adjust the pleats so they lay naturally, and then pin the pocket pieces on. Pin the flap over the flap pocket, with the non-top-stitched edge just above the top of the pocket, and the flap facing up for now.

Sew around the sides and bottoms of the pocket at 1/8″ or so from the edge. You’ll catch that opening that you turned through before, thus closing it up.

Sew the pocket flap on close to the bottom edge. Fold the flap down over the pocket and press.

Pen slots

Pen slots

Now we’ll make handy dividers on the big pocket. I marked a line in the center, and then a line 1″ to the left and 1″ to the right of that.

Finish dividers

Finish dividers

Sew from the bottom of the pocket to the top along those lines. Those will be pen pockets. To either side are bigger pockets perfect for cell phones and MP3 players. (If you sew from top to bottom, sometimes the fabric bunches and you get a tuck at the bottom. That’s why I go the other way.)

Magnetic snaps

Magnetic snaps

Add magnetic snaps according to this tutorial here. And then, of course, come back and finish up.

Sew lining

Sew lining

Sew the lining pieces together, but be sure to leave an opening for turning at the bottom.

Insert bag into lining

Insert bag into lining

Right now you have your exterior bag right-side out and your lining wrong-side out. Insert the exterior into the lining, as shown. The right sides are together, and the straps are tucked in. 

Yes, this seems backwards. Don’t be alarmed. Just trust me and it will all work out.

Pin around top

Pin around top

Line up the raw edges and the side seams. Pin all the way around. 

I find that when one layer is much thicker than the other (interfaced, fleecey exterior vs. just-fabric lining) that it’s easier to sew from the heavier side. If you sew from the thinner side, it bunches and you get little folds sewn in. So I pinned from the inside, and that’s also where I’ll sew.

Go ahead and sew around the top with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Turn through

Turn through

Turn through the hole in the lining bottom. Before you push the lining in (polka dots), you want to close up that hole. If you’re a perfectionist, you can slip-stitch by hand. If you’re me, you can just press it in place and then top-stitch close to the edge. 

Now push the lining inside and get the top of the bag lined up so the lining isn’t peeking out. Pin and top-stitch around the top at about 1/2″ from edge.

Finish

Finish

Here’s your really cool, pleated bag, ready for a day out on shopping.

Other views

Outside

Outside

Interior

Interior

To judge size

To judge size

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  • Kristy

    Thanks so much for this tutorial~ My SIL and I just made 2 each of these…love them! Very easy to follow instructions!

  • Oh I love this design!! I have some fabric that I have been dying to make into a purse, I may tackle this pattern this week! Thank You!

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  • Amy

    THIS IS THE PURSE PATTERN I HAVE BEEN SEARCHING FOR! Thanks so much for sharing. That piping looks so terrific, I may just give it a try for the very first time.

  • jean

    Very nice handbag. Thanks much for the pattern!

  • Thank you SOOO much for this! I made a little toddler purse similar to this one, but I wasn’t looking forward to adjusting the pattern for myself. I can never seem to get them sized right for me and my stuff. This one looks perfect! And such a good tip on sewing the pockets from the bottom up. Thanks again!

  • Robyn, this is soooo cute, i totally going to try that one!
    piping, eh? oh well, then piping it is..
    lovely bag, thanks for sharing,
    claudia

  • If you do not have a piping/cord foot: a zipperfoot works great too!
    Wonderfull bag and the piping really finishes it. Thanks!

  • Love this bag!! I am actually in the process of making it to be used for a diaper bag, but I have a question. I am using a thicker decorator fabric and iron on vinyl to make it waterproof, do I need to have the fleece too? Is that just to add thickness/stability? I have the fleece, but it just seems so thick to sew through ALL those thick layers. Thanks so much!! I can’t wait to finish!!

  • admin

    Hi Katie. I’m glad you like the bag. I only added the fleece for stability purposes, so if you feel you have enough layers going, then leave the fleece off. Good luck. We’d love to see the end result. You can post here about it or join our flickr group or Facebook page.

  • admin

    Yes, definitely you can use a zipper foot if need be. I find a piping foot to be tons easier, though, so I truly recommend investing in one if you sew piping very often! If not, make do with what you have on hand!

  • amy

    Thank you so much for the pattern. I loved it. This was the first time I have worked with pipping and I will try it again, I loved it. If you would like to check it out here is a link http://craftedbymama.blogspot.com/2010/06/pleated-bag.html I also wanted to let you know that I link to you on my blog.

    Thanks again amy

  • admin

    Amy,
    Thanks for sharing your finished bag! It looks great and I’m glad the pattern worked for you.
    If you’re on flickr, please feel free to share on a new group we’ve created here.
    Robyn

  • Sasha

    I love this bag, although when I click to “enlarge” the picture, the dimensions didn’t show very clearly — very faint, so unable to make the bag. Is there anyway, you could show the dimensions in a larger font? Thanks again.

  • admin

    Sasha,
    Are you referring to this picture: http://www.warehousefabricsinc.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Pleated-bag-tutorial-001-copy.jpg

    I know it’s hard to read what I hand-wrote on there, but the Photoshopped dimensions are very readable when I click the photo, so I’m not sure what’s happening for you.

    And, of course, above that are the pattern pieces in PDF form that you can print right out on your home computer. It involves a bit of taping together for the larger pieces, but it may be easier than drawing your own.

    Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood your question or can help in some other way.

    Robyn

  • Fantastic – was just about to settle to make a pattern EXACTLY like this, so thank you so very much for this. Now, where did I put that fabric? 🙂

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  • I love this bag and want to make it! Do you know of any UK fabric stockists that stock these fabrics by any chance? Have hunted for them but cant find any and I love this fabric!!! Thanks so much for this tutorial. Its wonderful and its one of the nicest bags Ive seen recently!! x

  • admin

    Hello. I’m not sure about UK stores, but I am the blogger and don’t work at the actual warehouse. But I do know they do international shipping if you’re interested in ordering. I hope you have fun with the bag and thanks for reading!

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  • Minimanuals

    Hello, I love this bag and want to make it, I’m spanish and I can not understand some of the specific sewing words that you use. Can you explain me what the fusible fleece is? Thanks

  • admin

    Hello. I hope I can help. Fusible fleece would be kept near the interfacings at the fabric store. It’s thick and fluffy, and you can iron it on. It’s kind of like the batting in a quilt. I just use it to make the bag stiffer, so it stands up better on its own.
    Click here for a description that may be better than mine!

  • Minimanuals

    Thanks. All is clear.

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  • Liz

    Thank You so much for this free handbag pattern. It was my first attempt at sewing a bag,with your easy to follow directions all went smooth and I simply LOVE IT !!
    I didn’t have a piping foot but used a zipper foot that worked perfectly for me.

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  • Nancy

    Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I just finished my bag and I LOVE it!!!!!!

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  • Jessica

    I just made this today with an adorable corduroy outside and used a vintage flower print pillowcase for the inside fabric – it’s adorable. Thanks for the great pattern and tutorial!

  • Vickie

    I love the purse and can’t wait to make one. Thank you for such great ideas and easy to follow instructions, and tips.

  • Vickie

    Hi Again
    I just tried to open the PDF file and was uaable to access the pattern. I then tried to open one page at a time, and was still uable to open the pattern. Is there anywhere else that I can find your Pattern?

  • admin

    Vickie,
    I just clicked them and they opened for me. Are you sure your pdf reader is up to date? You can download the latest version of Adobe Reader here.
    There is an “all in one” link that somebody else made to have all the pattern pieces in one file. Then below that are each of the pattern pieces separate. These were made by different people on different programs, so I’m wondering if it isn’t your reader?
    If you still can’t get them to open, email me and I’ll try to figure out how else we can get them to you. Thanks!
    Robyn
    (You can reach me on the right side of the blog under “contact”)

  • I’ve made two bags now from this pattern and I love them both. The hardest part is choosing which one to give to my daughter’s teacher. Thanks for the tutorial. The directions were easy and the bag is wonderful!

  • admin

    Thanks for the feedback, Jenny! I’d love to see them. If you’re on Flickr, maybe add to the group?

  • Yay! I finished this last night – SO cute! I made it for a giveaway to a large group of moms. I will also be making one for myself in the near future. Great tutorial – the bag is not just “regular” but really stylish!

    It was my first try at piping and it went pretty smoothly. A few hiccups since I only had a zipper foot to work with, but ripping a couple seams or going over again were worth the final look.

    http://jacobsonhoppers.blogspot.com/2011/05/wouldnt-you-want-to-win-this.html

  • admin

    Elisa, I love it. It came out great. The fabrics are beautiful and really fun! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Evi

    What a lovely bag and great tutorial! I have made two of these bags so far and I’ve got much more ideas on matching colours and prints. Thanks for sharing!

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