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

  • Hannah

    Does anyone know what the finished dimensions of the bag are??

  • admin

    Hannah,
    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.

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  • Bianca

    Hello

    I made this bag for my mother, shey’s alway’s have to stay in
    the hospital for pulmonary emphysema. This was (accept for loving her)
    the most loving thing to do for her!
    Thanks for sharing this tut with us…..
    Lots of love from Holland, and a big hug from my moms xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Robyn

    Oh, wow! Thanks for sharing this. I hope your mother improves!

  • RGuido

    I love this bag and I enjoyed making it. The one thing I found frustrating, especially since I’m new to making purses, is that you didn’t give any measurements or marks on the pattern piece for the pleats. The outside of my bag looks great but the lining is too narrow because of where I put my pleats. After I attached the big pocket I noticed all 4 of my pleats where underneath it so the pleats had to go all the way to the bottom. I’ll just have to work on my measurements more before I make another one, and I definitely will because you designed a great purse!

  • Robyn

    Thanks for the feedback. You’re right, I should probably have been more specific. I probably won’t be whipping another of these up anytime soon, but I’ll keep that in mind in the future! Thank you!

  • Angelus

    Totally in love with this bag. Hope to try it soon. TFS

  • Christina A.

    I love the bag in the picture!!! its very pretty and exactly what I’m looking for..but I dont have a sewing machine. so is there a shop I can browse anywhere? :)

  • Robyn

    For finished products, unfortunately, no. I’d be willing to discuss a custom item for you. If you are serious about it, please email me via the contact tab on this blog.
    Robyn

  • http://creannanda.blogspot.com Anna

    I’ve done it! I think it’s my most beloved bag EVER (and I’m an obsessive pursemaker)
    Added some opened and zippered pockets, a different handle, a strap for my keys and so on
    But the pattern is totally wonderful. The bag looks neat when empty and super when full of stuff ^_^ Can hold all my baby’s stuff+mine!
    Many many thanks for this pattern!
    I’m planning to make another one in a different fabric for next summer.
    Hugs from Italy!

  • Robyn

    Thank you so much for the note! If you have a flickr account, please add it to our page! It can be found on the icons at the top of the blog.

  • Allie

    Hi Robyn! I just started sewing bags to sell on Etsy and at craft fairs, and I wanted to check with you about the rules on selling bags made from this pattern? I think it is super cute, and the tutorial is great-I learned a lot! Anyway, I don’t want to do anything without permission, so please let me know if it is ok. Thanks!!

  • Robyn

    Hi, Allie.
    Thanks for asking. We don’t mind if you use our patterns for this purpose as long as you credit the pattern to Robyn Vines Smith/Warehouse Fabrics Inc. blog in any online listings. Thank you!

    For more F.A.Q’s, please visit this link.

    Robyn

  • Allie

    Thank you, Robyn! I will be sure to do that!

  • Cathy

    Hi, Love the bag! Do you think I could make this out of a old leather jacket? I have enough leather for the pieces.

  • Robyn

    I don’t see why not, Cathy! If you have a machine that can handle working with leather, go for it! I’d love to see the bag afterwards.
    Robyn

  • Ianko Selig

    Hi! I was attempting this project yesterday and suddenly today the tutorial won’t appear anymore help!

  • Robyn

    Ianko,
    I’m terribly sorry for the trouble. It seems something has gone wrong with a few of our more popular tutorial. We are looking into whether we got hacked. I can still access the post in my dashboard, so I do have it, but it’s not showing up.
    When we get it up and running, I will let you know. Meanwhile, I will try to come up with a temporary solution.
    Sorry!
    Robyn

  • Robyn

    Please try this PDF version on Scribd for the time being while we figure out what’s wrong with the blog. Thanks!

  • Ianko Selig

    Thank you Robyn!!!! I’m new in this and doubted to attempt this proyect without the tutorial! Sending you a picture when is done!

  • emily

    I can no longer access the tutorial (only can see the comments). I am half way through the bag. Please, whatever you changed to the site, please put it bag so I can finish the bag.

  • Robyn

    Emily,
    I’m terribly sorry. Something has happened to our blog (maybe it’s been hacked). We have someone working on it.
    I have uploaded this tutorial to Scribd for the time being. Then link is here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/88743593/Pleated-Handbag
    Sorry for the trouble.
    Robyn

  • Kerry

    Thank you very much for this super pattern, Robyn. I’m going to use it to make a diaper bag!
    Can you please let me know whether the seam allowances are included in the pattern, or do I have to add extra fabric around the edges of the pattern pieces to allow for seam allowance.
    Thanks so much!

  • Robyn

    Hi Kerry,
    1/2″ seam allowance is included in the pattern pieces. Let me know how it turns out!
    Robyn

  • Sarah R

    I am so excited to try making this, but I’m not very experienced working from patterns. On pattern piece A, what do you mean by cut 2 of each on fold? Thanks for any additional guidance.

  • Robyn

    Hi Sarah!
    I have just given you half of the pattern piece in order to save space and printing costs, so what you do is fold your fabric in half (usually just the fold the way it came off the bolt is fine) and then you place the edge of the pattern where it says “fold” on that fold. That way, after you cut it out, you unfold the fabric and have the “whole” piece. Of course, you want to make sure that however you fold your fabric, you will still have room to lay out all the other pieces, so you might want to lay them all out and pin them in place before cutting anything and rearrange as necessary. Store-bought patterns give you a cutting layout, but I haven’t done that. Hope that helps.
    Robyn

  • Athena Vino

    I love you… just love you! This bag looks amazing and I cannot wait to make it. Thank you for putting this up;)

  • Pam Mann

    Just finished making this bag with upholstery material. Great tutorial and wonderful bag. The size is perfect, and it was a pleasure to sew and read the instructions. I was never once frustrated!

  • Robyn

    Pam,
    Thanks for your feedback! I’m so glad you like the bag. I’ve love to see a picture!
    Robyn

  • nadia

    thanks for sharing.Nice bag:-)

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  • Joleen West

    i just finished this fantasic pattern and wanted to thank you for sharing it! it’s the perfect size, shape, and easy to add a little bit of customization to. Here’s a pic of my take on this wonderful bag! http://instagram.com/p/Zn5vsYLyT3/

  • http://warehousefabricsinc.com/ Warehouse Fabrics In.

    Looks like my other reply didn’t work … Thanks for sharing your bag. I love the fabric combos. People pick the coolest things!

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  • Ashley Miller Hoylman

    Love this pattern! Thank you so much! Just finished my purse tonight! It is super cute in person the picture doesn’t do it justice.

  • http://warehousefabricsinc.com/ Warehouse Fabrics In.

    I love it! Thanks for the note.

  • Georgia Smith

    I absolutely love this pattern! I didn’t have any magnetic snaps in my stash so I added a recessed zipper instead. My exterior was denim which made a very thick sandwich to sew through. In the future if I use denim (or any other heavy fabric) as the exterior then I am going to fuse the fleece on the interior instead.





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