Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Whim of Trim Handbag Tutorial

Love cute & quirky handbags?  Then this post is for you!  I love whimsical purses, but can't really justify spending a bunch loot on them.   The sort of places I carry a bag tend to be the grocery store or the kids' swim lessons - a homeschooling mom doesn't go a lot of glamourous, high fashion places.  Sure, there are some cheap ones, but they fall apart pretty quick, so I shy away from those too.   As a result, I tend make my own.  But even this crafty gal doesn't have lots of time to fiddle with overly complicated patterns, so I made this li'l number, The Whim of Trim Bag.

This little cutie has a straightforward, simple design, but what makes it fun & flirty is all the trimmings.  Red piping seams, strawberry handles and a berry shaped snap give it style.

I used a solid dark denim fabric so it would be nice and durable and to make the red lining and piping trim really pop in contrast.

I'm sharing how I made it, so you can whip up your own Whim of Trim Bag too!

- 1/2 yd dark denim fabric 
- 1/2 yd cotton fabric lining 
- 1/2 yd medium weight fusible stabilizer
- 1/2 yd ultra firm stabilizer
- Pair of pleather handles
- 1 spring snap & setting tools 
- 1 package of piping
- 1 skein Embroidery thread
- Sewing notions (rotary cutter, yard stick, marking pen/tailor's chalk, tracing paper/quilter's grid, heavy duty sewing needle, zipper foot, pins, iron, embroidery needle, pinking shears)

To make the pattern pieces, do the following on tracing paper/quilter's grid:

Front/Back: Draft a modified rectangle - make it 9 inches wide at the top, 10 1/2 inches wide at the bottom by 8 1/2 inches high and round off the bottom corners and just slightly curve the top corners inward.  

Clasp: Make a 3 inch wide by 8 inch long rectangle and round of the lower corners.  

Combo Side/Bottom: Cut a rectangle that's 26 inches wide by 7 inches high.

Bam! The bag pattern ready to roll! 

Now cut out two main pieces, 2 clasp pieces and one side piece from the denim.  I also cut a 7 inch wide by 10 inch high piece to make an interior pocket.  

Also cut 2 main pieces and 1 side piece from cotton lining.  Pick a good solid quilting cotton (I used Soho Red from Timeless Treasures) - a flimsy lining will be too floppy to pair up with a sturdy denim.  Also cut 2 main, 1 side and 1 clasp from the medium weight stabilizer making each about 1/2 inch smaller than the patterns on all sides.

Fuse the stabilizer to the wrong side of the lining pieces and one of the denim clasp pieces with your iron.

Starting with the clasp, let's stitch on the piping.  Using a zipper foot, baste the piping to the right side of the fabric, around the sides and bottom of the clasp piece.  Work slowly and make sure the edges of the piping and fabric are lined up and the stitching is very close to the piping itself.  

I clip into the seam allowance around the curves so everything will lay flat.

With right sides facing, sew together this and the other clasp piece, directly over the basting stitching.  

Trim seam allowance (I use pinking shears because they reduce fraying and make it easy to trim curves) and turn right side out.  

Now repeat the piping basting step around the front and back pieces.

Find the middle of the long side piece and match the middle of the bottom of the front piece to it and pin together along bottom and up both sides.  Stitch together over the basting.  Trim seam allowance and repeat with back side.  

Measure inches down from the center of the front and attach snap with tools.  The snap I used is a spring style, which is usually see on jeans and outerwear.  This kind requires a small toolkit to set. I used the Dritz Anorak Tool Set, but it's easy to find at places like Jo-Anns.  Use a square of the ultra firm stabilizer to add some strength.  

Center the clasp piece along one the back and baste in place.  Set aside.

Now it's time to do the pocket.  Fold lengthwise, with right sides facing and stitch along raw edges, leaving a 2 inch gap at the bottom.  Trim seams and turn right side out.  Press and top stitch around, 1/4 inch from edge.  

Center & pin pocket to the back panel piece of the lining and stitch along sides and bottom of pocket.

Stitch together the lining front, back and side pieces, with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, just as done with the denim, except leave a 3 inch gap at the bottom of one side for turning later. Trim seams.  

Insert lining into outer bag, with right sides facing and pinning together along the top.  Stitch all the way around 1/2 inch from the raw edge.  Trim seam and carefully pull the bag right side out through the gap in the lining and push the lining inside the bag.

I like my bags to have a nice sturdy shape, but it can be tough to sew through layers of the thick stabilizer, so here's my trick.  This is where I cut pieces from the ultra firm stabilizer, except I make them a 1/2 inch smaller on all sides:

Then I carefully insert them into the lining gap and smooth into place with my hand:

To keep them from shifting, I pin along the top:

Then topstitch all along the top, 1/2 inch from the edge.  This will hold the stabilizer in place and add a nice finish.  Now it's time to "trim it up".  I got these sweet strawberry handles and strawberry shaped spring snap from Wholeport.  

Attach the decorative outer snap to the middle of the clasp, about 1 inch above from the end.

Pin the handles in place.  Since the bag is small and not easy to shift under the presser foot, I opted to hand sew the handles on with embroidery thread.  

These strawberry handles have handy holes so it makes it easier to sew them to the bag and  using embroidery floss means they'll really stay on.

To keep the sides tucked inward, I did a few tack stitches at their middles to make a small center pleat:

Now there's a bag that's cute, functional and super strong.  By trying different handles, shaped snaps and color combinations the same bag design can have loads of other looks too. The whim really is in the trim!

I'm also sharing this with my FAVE LINK PARTIES.
Click HERE to check them out!

I was not financially compensated for this post.  I purchased project materials with my own money and selected & received bag notions from my Sponsor, Wholeport, to use as I desired.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.   For my complete disclosure policy, click here. 


  1. Hi Cheryl,
    Great bag!! Please DO share in our Bag Brag Tuesday linking party! :)

  2. Ack! Ack! Ack!! How cute is that purse!! I've linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip:


  3. Very darling and practical handbag! Thank you for sharing on JAQS Studio: Made by ME #96 Linky Party!!

  4. This is so cute! I love the strawberries!

  5. I love this "berry sweet" bag and helpful tutorial. Thanks, Cheryl!

  6. What a cool, bright, funky bag! Thank you for sharing :)

  7. I am head over hills in LOVE with your new bag. I so love handbags and this one does it for me. What a beautiful. super cute, practical bag that looks so user friendly and super fun. Thank you so much for sharing this sweet bag. Hugs, Beverly

  8. I am head over hills in LOVE with your new bag. I so love handbags and this one does it for me. What a beautiful. super cute, practical bag that looks so user friendly and super fun. Thank you so much for sharing this sweet bag. Hugs, Beverly

  9. Muchas gracias por el tutorial, es un bolso precioso

  10. I made a bag from your awesome tutorial!!! My sewing skills aren't super advanced and I didn't have all the cute trim that you had, but the purse turned out great. Thank you for such a wonderful tutorial!

    1. That's fantastic to hear Niki! Checking it out now:)

  11. a really pretty bag! i love the combination of denim and red.

    I linked to your tutorial on my blog - thanks for sharing!

    ♥, doro von Hand zu Hand

    1. Thanks so much for the feature! I'm now following you:)

  12. I love you bag Cheryl:)
    Looks perfect!!I want to learn how to sew!!!!
    Thanks for the tutorial!!

    1. Thank you! And you should give it a try - I didn't know how to sew at all a few years ago and now I can't imagine living without it.


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