by Cynthia Anderson
I hope it goes without saying that I am wishing you are all well and safe. At this point we are all still waiting and wondering what our future lives will look like. Despite the unknown, a new version of normal has started to occupy our daily lives. I feel extremely fortunate that working for Folkwear pretty much continues as making and doing has always occupied my days. I find great solace in this normalcy of my cozy space with all my sewing things about me, plenty of projects to engage me, and my garden literally springing into life outside my window. It is my hope that you have all found the head space to loose yourselves in making something that brings you joy and helps you anticipate the other side of this pandemic.
Finished embroidered roundels nearly ready to applique on to purse!
While working on this tutorial and in the process of making the final project, I tried to envisage a day in the near future in which a new purse would be perfectly normal. As you can imagine, no matter how pleasurable, embroidery simply takes time. For this reason I wanted to enjoy my labors on an everyday item. I used the embroidery motifs from the 114 Chinese Jacket pattern, which are perfect for adding to a garment or an item like a purse. That's what I love about Folkwear patterns - they provide so much inspiration, and sewing information that they can go well beyond the actual pattern. You can see how I developed the embroidery rondels from the 114 Chinese Jacket in our first two posts, here and here.
Whether you are inspired to delve into an embroidery project or not, I hope you will find this simple "Full Circle Purse" as much a pleasure to make as I have. We are providing this purse as a free downloadable pdf pattern here.
Note: This pattern can be scaled up or down in size, depending on how much fabric you have or in simply allowing you to make your purse any size you desire. Print at 100% scale, or "Actual Size", or scale it up or down when printing to make it larger or smaller.
This pattern requires a scant amount of fabric, especially if you chose to make the outside of the bag out of a different fabric from the inside lining. In my quest to refrain from making unnecessary purchases, my stash and box of remnants provided all the fabric required! I bet you have what you need in your stash too!!
I laid out all of my fabric possibilities and let the colors of my embroidery work dictate the fabrics I would use. My stash yielded the perfect shade of blue handkerchief linen for the lining, a scrap of barely-there-blush-colored medium weight linen for the outer bag.
The only necessary purchase I made was for the handles. Luckily, I darted into Jo Ann's before all the craft shops shuttered due to the virus. Thankfully, ordering online is an option.
Getting the Embroidery Ready
In order to get my embroidered roundels ready for appliquéing to embellish the outer fabric of my purse, I set to ironing my work, covering it with a protective piece of silk organza to smooth out all the creases and wrinkles.
With a long stitch, sew a circle to border the roundel and to provide a guide to help turn under the edge to create a neat finish.
Cut a circle out using the stitched edge as a guide. Cut about 1/2" from the stitching .
Up close of stitch guide to help turning under the edge.
Let's Make the Purse!
Now that the roundels are properly prepared, set them aside and now it is time to cut out the purse. Pin your pattern to the fold of your purse fabric on the straight grain, unless your design dictates you do otherwise. Do the same for the facing if using the same fabric as the outside of the purse.
Cut two outer purse fabric pieces each on the fold. Do the same for the facing.
Outer purse cut out of medium weight linen.
The facing cut out of medium weight linen.
These four pieces represent two sides of the purse and the facing that will eventually hold the bamboo handles in place.
Prepare the facing for future use by sewing a stitch to create a stable guide on the outer 5/8" seam allowance and to stabilize the inner semi-circle. I have chosen to use the outer purse fabric to create the facing, because this fabric is heavier than the lining fabric. You could just as easily use the lining fabric to make the facings. If using a lighter weight fabric for facings you might want to use a fusible interfacing to add stability and strength. Simply cut your interfacing using the facing pattern.
Snip the outer edge but do not cut into the stitch line.
Turn the snipped edges under to the wrong side and press to create a smooth curve edge. Pin in place and topstitch to secure the turned edge. Be sure that this process is done neatly, because it will show on the inside of the purse. Prepare both facing pieces the same way.
Applique the Roundel to the Purse Fabric
Using the stitch line already created as a guide, turn the raw edge of the each roundel under to create a neat edge to each circle. Press to set the edge. Then determine where you want to position the appliquéd roundels and sew in place, either by hand or using a sewing machine. Be sure to use a small stitch close to the edge so it will not be too visible.
Both roundels sewn to either side of the purse fabric.
With right sides together, pin and sew 5/8" seam allowance all the way around the purse. Do not sew the straight top edges of the bag or the semi-circle. The top of the purse should be left open.
Clip the curves and trim the seam allowance. Iron the remaining seam allowance open.
Make the Lining
Now, using the same pattern piece create the lining, the exact same way as the outer purse. If using the lining fabric to make the facings cut those out and any interfacing too.
These two pieces of handkerchief linen will become the lining.
With right sides together, pin and sew 5/8" seam allowance all the way around the purse lining, stopping at the bottom edge dots and backstitch. Start again at the next bottom edge dot, backstitch and continue around the remaining side. The idea is to leave a space open at the bottom of the lining to allow for turning
Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing. .
Do not sew the straight top edges of the bag or the semi-circle. The top of the lining should be left open.
Clip the curves and trim the seam allowance. Iron the remaining seam allowance open. Be sure to not trim the seam allowance at the bottom edge opening.
Below shows the edges clipped and trimmed with the seam allowance not trimmed away at the turning opening. Leaving the seam allowance intact will make it easier to sew the opening up to finish.
Below is the opening at the bottom of the lining. This opening will be used for turning.
The Purse and Lining Finally Meet.
Insert the outer purse right side out, into the lining with wrong side out. The right side of the purse to the right side of the lining.
Slip the outer purse all the way into the lining, smoothing out so the two pieces fit neatly. You do not need to iron the lining seam allowance open, unless you are using a heavy fabric.
Slip the facing between the purse and the lining. Make sure the facing and purse fabric are right sides together. Line up the top edge and the semi-circle.
Now it is time to sew up the top edges of the purse, the idea is to not catch the straight edge of the facing in the seam allowance. In order to do this fold the straight edge of the facing down, far enough to avoid sewing into the seam allowance of the top of the purse fabric and lining. Pin to hold folded facing piece down.
Match the top edge of the purse fabric and the lining, pin to hold in place.
Sew a 5/8" seam allowance across the top edge, sewing the purse fabric and the lining together, minus the facing which should be turned down and out of the way.
Then sew up the semi-circle using a 5/8" seam allowance. This time the facing is sandwiched between the lining and purse fabric. Right sides of facing to right side of purse fabric. However, you want to leave an un-sewn gap at the at each end of the semi-circle, before reaching the stitching of the top straight edge. Backstitch to secure. This gap needs to be approximately 1/2". Do this on both sides.
Snip the curve of the semi-circle and trim seam allowance. Do this to both sides. Be sure not to trim the seam allowance too much at the edge of the semi-circle gap... you will need a bit of remaining fabric to turn into the seam.
Now the lining and purse are ready to be turned. Starting to pull the purse through the lining hole.
Pull the purse completely through the lining. Notice the facing is visible with right sides together to purse fabric. Through the lining hole, adjust and shape the corners where the lining and purse corners meet with your fingers or a turning tool. There should be small gap at the semi-circle edges.
Fold the unattached short straight facing edge under and press to set. Sew a top stitch to secure and finish off. Notice where the gap is.
Push the lining into the purse and smooth to make lining fit and lay flat on the inside of the purse.
Then turn the purse wrong side out so the lining is facing you.
Now you can begin doing the facing finishing work on the inside of the purse. The photo below shows the lining inside the bag and the facing laying right side to the right side of the purse.
Here is the small gap we created. Sew to close by hand, using a simple whip stitch.
Turn the facing from the purse fabric side to the lining side. The wrong side of the facing to the right side of the lining.
Press the top straight edge of the purse, so that the outer purse fabric rolls slightly to the inside of the bag. This will prevent the lining from being visible on the right side of the purse.
Slip the handles into place under the facing and pin the facing in place. Stitch creating a tunnel on each side to secure the handles. Do this either on the sewing machine or by hand.
I have chosen to sew by hand because I did not want to see the tunnel or facing-securing stitching on the right side of the purse.
Turn the lining hole opening seam allowance into the inside of the lining, press and pin to hold securely. Sew up the bottom of the lining by hand using a small whip stitch. Press the seam to finish. Only sew up the hole once you are satisfied that the purse and lining are fitting and laying together nicely.
Now, that we have come "Full Circle" and all the finishing work is done, turn the purse right side out. Carry on as normal!
Voila!... and a tassel added for good measure.
Voila on the other side! Another tassel, but of course.
Thank You for following my tutorial.
I hope you find inspiration in making and doing.
Sew, Stay Calm, and Be Well.
February 14, 2024