Hooked on Needles

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour Purse

Subtitle: A fun day spent sewing with an old friend.

Jane and I met about 18 years ago (!) at the wedding of mutual friends. Our conversation over dinner that day revealed our shared love of crafts, sewing, quilting, basically all things needlework. We have been friends ever since. You've met Jane here before. She's the one who made this darling quilted and appliquéd Christmas wall hanging.

Jane had a medley of six fat quarters from Keepsake Quilting that she wanted to use to make herself a purse, but couldn't find a pattern she liked with all the features she wanted. I suggested she just make one up for herself and put into it the features she desired. She laughed. I invited her over for a day of sewing. She left with a finished purse. It was FUN!

We began our purse making marathon with a cup of tea and some scrap paper. So many good times start with a cup of tea! After figuring out overall dimensions, we headed down to the sewing room and started picking out fabrics. Since we had only fat quarters to work with, some piecing was in order and this is what we came up with...

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseIsn't this fabric just lovely? I didn't catch the name of the line, but it is from Benartex and was available in a fat quarter medley at Keepsake Quilting when purchased. So this piece pictured above is the outside shell of the purse. We figured the overall finished height and width of the purse, added in the depth of the bottom and sides and seam allowances, and came up with the dimensions for this piece. Then Jane lined it with fusible fleece and top stitched across the pieced seam on both ends.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseJane wanted outside pockets, so she made two and lined them with fusible fleece. She added the diamond quilting detail to give them a little more stability.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThe pockets were stitched onto the outside shell so that the bottom of each pocket would be just above the bottom edge of the finished purse.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThen we moved on to the inside lining. Jane wanted a hidden zippered pocket on the inside as well as six open pockets around the inside edge of her purse so we set to work choosing fabrics, figuring and stitching to come up with the lining pictured above.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseTo save a 2 hour round trip to Joann's to purchase a zipper that would match, we just used one that I had on hand which happened to be a 12 inch aqua colored zipper. Not the perfect size or the perfect color, but we made it work by installing it in the seam between the top trim and the main lining fabric. Using a similar method as I used for my expandable zippered tote bag, we also stitched the hidden pocket onto the zipper. To finish off the ends neatly, Jane stitched the little covers over the ends of the zipper, effectively making the usable part of the zipper just the right size for the inside of the purse.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseDoesn't that look nice and neat? Jane's first zipper installation too! Nice job!

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThen a divided pocket panel was added to both sides and the whole thing was lined with fusible fleece.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseA super cool magnetic snap was added to the lining towards the top of the trim to hold the purse closed...or just to play with because it makes a cool sound!

I showed Jane how to box the corners so that the depth of the bottom and sides would be 5 inches, using a method similar to the one I used HERE, only marking the corners with a 2 1/2 inch square which makes it a little easier. Then handles were added, and a swivel hook too...all the little details that make the perfect purse! The lining and shell were combined, turned and top stitched.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseAnd here's the finished product...Jane's 6 1/2 hour purse! We figured that's how long it took from the time she arrived until the time she left, less the time we took for tea and planning and also a break for dinner.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThe pocket on the other side of the purse is a little smaller than the first one and a useful feature for this purse.

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseI think the inside came out just as nice as the outside, and look at all those pockets!

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThere's a little peek into the hidden zipper pocket...so practical and pretty too!

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseThat little swivel hook hanging down over the edge will help keep keys from getting lost in the great abyss our purses sometimes become!

Jane's 6 1/2 Hour PurseAnd there you go - Jane's 6 1/2 hour purse! A fun project and a fun day!

In case you didn't catch the moral of this story, it really is simple. If you have an idea for something useful that you want for yourself but cannot find a pattern that fills all your needs, go ahead and design it yourself. Whether it's a purse or a tote bag or any other item, think about what features you want, check out how other people have incorporated those features into things they have made or try to figure it out for yourself, practice it with some scraps and work it into your next project. And if you have a friend who is willing to help, spend a day together and see what you can create. You'll be happy you did!

Happy Stitching!

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