Skip to content

New bag

2013 February 26
by elizabeth_admin

Hi, I have not been avoiding you, I swear.  And no, the SSS is still not finished.  A catastrophic event happened to it (user error of course) from which I am not certain it is recoverable.  I can’t even bear to look at it right now.  So let’s not talk about it for now, shall we?

Good, now that confession time is over, I have a new project to share with you.

I am going to attempt to replicate a bag or as we Midwesterners like to call them, a purse.  I bought this bag from a little boutique in Chicago about 10 years ago.  It is much-loved and much used.  It’s the perfect size.  I can wear it over my shoulder and I loved the fabric and piping.  It is perfect in every way to me.



There is a lot of wear and tear on this bag.  So obviously I need to replace it, but I love it.  So I really want to replicate it in toto.  If I could find the original fabric used, I would.  But I haven’t found anything similar in my cursory searches.

Here are some other views of the bag to give you a feel for its construction.

close up of piping and straps

close up of piping and straps



Lining taken out of bag


zipper view

zipper view


I have studied it a bit, but have not taken it apart.  I am loath to do so.  I did take some measurements though and toiled it to see if my measurements worked.  And they did!



But here is my conundrum — I can’t figure out the order of construction.  I know I have to make the pleats, piping, and straps first and that the first seam to sew is the one that connects the top part of the purse to the bottom of the purse and incorporating the straps and piping, but I have no idea what the rest of the order of construction is.  I have only made lined tote bags with no closures before.  Do I need to interface it?  Or interline it? When do I attach the zipper?  Do I do that before sewing the side seams?  And how do I attach the lining? to the zipper?  I can see the lining is only joined at the top.  See below…



I know this is a fairly simple bag, but thinking in 3D is not one of my strengths at all.  I also know that Myrna has made many, many bags before.  Perhaps she might have some insight as to how this bag construction order should go.  Myrna, please heed my cry of help!  😉

I have already bought my fabrics, but need to make my own piping (my first time doing that!).  Here are the fabrics I plan to use…

outer fabric on left; lining/piping fabric on right

outer fabric on left; lining/piping fabric on right


I am excited to start this project.  I need a palate cleanser/break from the SSS.  My funk has lasted way too long.

If any of you have made bags before and have some order of construction tips to share, I would mightily appreciate it.  I don’t really want to purchase a book on bag making for a one-off project.

Thanks!  And happy funk-less sewing to you all!

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Jodie permalink
    February 26, 2013

    Hi not Myrna – so her ideas might work out better….but have made a few bags and just finished teaching my Fashion Studies class how to make a lined bag (like a make-up/pencil case). I used the pattern by Noodlehead – here’s the link

    Hopefully it points you in a direction.

  2. KayoticSewing permalink
    February 26, 2013

    Sorry to hear about your problem with SSS!

    As for the bag, check out this blog of alady who is a fantastic bag maker

    Shealso has many tips n tutorials on her blog. I think she has also written a book.

    • M-C permalink
      February 27, 2013

      I second that u-handbag recommendation heartily! Everything you could ever need to know..

  3. Laura permalink
    February 26, 2013

    As a librarian, I feel compelled to tell you that you can probably pick up a book or two about bag making at your local library and not have to she’ll out cash for a one time use. 🙂 The u-handbag books are good and there is also an Amy Butler bag book, which I have heard good things about. Your original bag is cute!

    • VictoriaR permalink
      February 27, 2013

      I was going to make the same suggestion. I often get books out of the library for a new project or to get inspiration. If it is a book I can use a lot I can go ahead and buy it after using it from the library.

  4. February 26, 2013

    I’m all for copy-if-you-love-it, and there’s nothing like a successful accessory for inspiration! Good luck!

  5. Jan permalink
    February 26, 2013

    Tell Rachel Clark at that I suggested that you contact her. She’s invented the wheel on this and has made many bags/purses. And she’s a great teacher. And very generous with her time.

  6. Janice permalink
    February 27, 2013

    This is a nice tutorial… I used it once and was very happy with the result. 🙂

  7. February 27, 2013

    Lorraine has just finished a very comprehensive series on bags, their structure and form. She doesn’t go into complex details about construction as she leaves that to us but goes into to the absolute basic of what a bag is and how it is formed. It might help

  8. February 27, 2013

    Any lined zippered pouch tutorial will do I think. Make your 4 pannels, put the zipper in, open it and then stitch around leaving an opening in the lining, taking care of putting the zipper tape towards the lining, press, trim, turn and close your lining. If you need pictures, here are some.
    I would interface the outside fabric with a pretty stiff woven.

  9. February 27, 2013

    Happy to help but I’m leaving in the morning and not back until Saturday night so if you have time today, email me and I’ll answer the questions – myrna (at) myrnagiesbrecht (dot) com. It’s really quite simple. Just a few tricks.

  10. carol permalink
    February 28, 2013

    miss e, really want to make that nice new purse with a black lining? You can’t see anything inside!
    Best of luck on the project, it will be beautiful. Lots of advice coming your way.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

  • Follow SEWN...
  • My Weapons of Mass Construction

    Singer Featherweight 221 (1938)
    Baby Lock Imagine
    Brother 2340CV
    Husqvarna Viking Emerald 183
    RIP: Brother 1034D
  • Translation

  • I’m a proud member of

  • I support

    Project 95
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • The Trench Sew Along