Monday, January 25, 2010

Small Decorator Handbag Tutorial

I have written these instructions and had them tested by a friend. After checking the instructions, I added the pictures to create this tutorial. I am sure it would have been easier for her with the pictures, but she did fine without them. If you make this handbag, please let me know or send me a picture, I would love to see them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

I also sell these decorator handbags at craft shows and on my etsy site.

Small Decorator Bag (finished size approximately 10”h x 10”w x 5”d)

Assorted decorator fabric, totaling ½ yard, for exterior of bag
      Or 14 7” squares from scraps
½ yard fabric for lining, inside pocket, and handle tabs
1 yd fusible interfacing
10” x 5” hard plastic/firm stabilizer for bottom of bag
Purchased handles

*** Read all instructions first. ****** All seams are ½” unless otherwise noted. ***
*** Always backstitch when sewing two fabrics together. ***
*** Add interfacing to those decorator fabrics that are flimsy. ***

Exterior of Bag:
1. Cut 14 6” squares from decorator fabrics.

2. Zigzag around all raw four edges of 6” squares to prevent the blocks from unraveling.

3. Sew 2 blocks, right sides together, for bag bottom.  Set aside.

4. Sew 6 blocks, right sides together, to form one row of 6 blocks across. Finger press all seams open.

5. Repeat previous step with the remaining 6 blocks. You should now have 2 rows of 6 blocks.

6. Pin and sew the 2 rows, right sides together, making sure seams are aligned. You should now have one piece, 2 rows of 6 blocks which is the bag top.

7. Sew a decorative/zig-zag stitch over every sewn seam on the right side of fabric of both the bag top and bag bottom.

8. Take the bag top and fold in half widthwise, right sides together (you should be looking at 2 rows of 3 blocks across).

9. Pin and sew down the two blocks (side seam). If done correctly, you will now have a circle of fabric.

10. Finger press seams open and sew a decorative/zig-zag stitch over this seam on the right side of fabric. This can be a bit tricky.
11. Turn bag, wrong side out.
12. Center and pin bag bottom from step 3 to bag top, right sides together.

13. Sew in place, starting and stopping ½” from edge.

14. Turn bag, wrong side out.
15. Finger press seams open and sew a decorative/zig-zag stitch on right side of fabric.
16. Turn bag wrong side out.
17. Sew the other side of bag bottom, starting and stopping ½” from edges.

18. Finger press seams open and sew a decorative/zig-zag stitch. Again this will be tricky, but can be done.
19. Create a 5” box bottom by sewing the short sides of bag bottom to the sides of bag top, right sides together. You may need to clip the corners, no more than ½”, of the bag top so that it lays flat against bag bottom.  Do not clip the corners of the bag bottom.

20. Zigzag stitch bag top and bottom seam allowances together.

21. Insert the hard plastic and glue/tack in place.

22. Turn the bag right side out and set aside.

Inside Pockets:
1. Cut 2 6” x 7” (h x w) pieces of lining fabric.

2. Pin both pieces, right sides together.
3. Sew around all four sides, leaving a 2” opening for turning, using a ¼” seam allowance.
4. Clip corners.

5. Turn right-side out and press (finger or iron).
6. Slipstitch the 2” opening closed.

7. Sew a straight or decorative stitch along one of the 7” sides; this will be the top of the pocket.
8. Set aside.

1. Cut 2 16" x 11" (lining top) and 6” x 11” (lining bottom) from lining fabric and interfacing.

2. Iron interfacing pieces to wrong side of all three lining pieces.

3. Set aside one of the lining tops and the lining bottom.
4. Place pocket on the right side of the other lining top, 3 ½” down from top and 5” from side.
5. Sew the left, bottom, and right sides of pocket to lining top (leave the top of pocket open).

6. Pin the lining pieces, right sides together.
7. Sew down the 11” sides.

8. Iron seams open.
9. Center lining bottom to lining top, with right sides together. This can be achieved by folding the lining bottom widthwise and lengthwise and marking the midpoints. The lining top midpoints are 8” from raw edges and seams.
10. Pin in place. Make sure that the pocket is facing up.

11. Sew the long side (11” side) of the lining bottom to lining top, starting and stopping ½” from edge. Repeat on other side.

12. Pin and sew the short side (6” side) of lining bottom to lining top. You may need to clip the corners, no more than ½”, of lining top so that it lays flat against lining bottom. Repeat on other side.  Do not clip the lining bottom.

13. Set aside.

Tabs for Handles (with ½” hinge opening):1. Cut 4 3” x 2” (alter these measurement depending on handle hinge opening) out of lining material.

2. Fold this piece in half lengthwise and iron to form a crease.
3. Unfold and refold raw edges of fabric toward the center crease.
4. Fold again towards center so that raw edges are hidden.
5. Pin and sew as close to the folded edge as possible.

6. Center purchased handles to top of bag, marking hinge placements.

7. Fold two of the handle tab and place over markings, so that all raw edges are together. Pin in place.

8. Baste in place ¼” from top raw edges. If the handle cannot be attached later, attach them now through the tabs.
9. Repeat with the other handle on the other side of bag.

1. Place outside of bag into lining, making sure that right sides are together. The handles/handle tabs should be sandwiched between the exterior of bag and lining.

2. Sew around top leaving a 5” or larger (depending on the size of the handle) for turning.
3. Turn right side out.

4. Push lining into exterior of bag.
5.Topstitch the top of bag 1/8” down from top, making sure to close the 5” opening used for turning.
6. Sew a decorative stitch along top edge (optional, but highly recommended) ¼” from top.
7. Attach handles if you have not done so already.

8. Congratulations, you are done.


  1. Beautiful and well done tutorial. I love the fabric choices that you used.

  2. What a terrific bag and your tutorial is great too, lots of easy to follow instructions and piccies!! Thank you so much :o).
    Joy :o)

  3. I love it! Do you think i could make this with scraps of upholstry fabric?

  4. Seriously, I have dozens of fabric book samples from a design house, and this is the best tutorial for using them! Thanks!

  5. beautiful bag and a very good tutorial.
    thank you!

  6. I like all 3 of your tutorials. I have some fabric for the wallet but will have to save up for the handbags. Thanks.