After searching everywhere to find a Pleated Purse Tutorial, I finally settled on coming up with a pattern of my own. I’ve gotten wonderful feedback on this tutorial and I hope that you find it helpful! The final product comes off nicely and has been a best seller in my shop. If you have any question please feel free to comment or e-mail me. I would be happy to help!
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Here is what you need: 3 different fabrics (outer, coordinating fabric, and lining), iron-on interfacing, coordinating thread, magnetic snaps, cutting board, rotary blade, pins, iron, ironing board, and of course, a sewing machine. I always buy fabric remnants or use fabric left over from other projects, so it is a little hard to tell how much fabric you will need. I would think you would be safe if you purchase 1/3 of a yard for the main outer fabric, 1/3 for the lining, and 1/4 for the coordinating outer fabric and handles.
First, cut out the outer fabric. As I mentioned, I made this pattern up so I didn’t really focus too much on the measurements and it changes almost every time I make it. If you want to follow this particular pattern, cut out 2 rectangles in the dimensions of 12″ x 17.5″. Round the bottom two corners with a freehand, making sure that both sides match. I dislike cutting out, so I always look for ways to make it go more quickly. In this case, that means folding the fabric over so I can just cut both layers at the same time. This also ensures that everything is the same size which is particularly convenient when not using a pattern.
Now, sew along the top edge of the pleats, about 1/4″ from the top. This will ensure that the stitching will not show up when you finish the bag. Now that the pleats are sewn, make sure to iron everything so that the bag stays as flat as possible. This is a little difficult because of the pleats, but you want to have a straight line on top to put on the top border on the bag.
Iron everything again and trim any excess fabric from the top piece you have just added. Pin the front and the back of the bag, right sides together, and stitch along the edge, again using 1/4″ seam allowance.
Trim up any excess fabric you might have so that the top piece is nice and even with the rest of the bag.
Pin the two sides and the bottom of the bag and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
OK, you are now ready to move onto the lining. Due to the variations of size in the pleats, I just use the outline of my finished outer bag to make a pattern for the lining. Make sure you trace the pattern inside out to account for the seam allowance. I like to cut out my interfacing first, because it is safer than just cutting into my fabric.
This is also the time to add magnetic clasps if you are using them. I did, so you can use my method below to make sure they match up appropriately. I centered one side of the magnetic snap on the lining, about 1.5″ from the top of the purse. I press the side with prongs into the fabric so it leaves a slight indentation.
Then, I use very sharp scissors to make a small cut in the interfacing/fabric. Push the prongs through the holes, add the back of the snap, and bend the prongs down so they lay flat against your fabric. Do the same thing on the other side, making sure they will match up perfectly before you put holes in your fabric.
Now, sew the lining. Pin the fabric right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving about 4″ open in the bottom of the bag so you can turn the bag inside out at the last step (don’t worry you are almost there!).
Now, make the handles. I find that the perfect size handle for this bag is 3.5″ wide x 18″ long. If you prefer a longer handle, feel free to add some length to that number. 18″ seems to fit nice and snug, right under the armpit. So, use your best judgment. Cut out interfacing that is about the same size, but a little bit less wide. This will make it easier to sew through if you don’t have quite as much interfacing. Iron on the interfacing to each piece. Fold each long side in so they meet in the middle and iron.
Now, sandwich your handles in between the two layers and pin. The ends of the handles end up being about 4-5 inches apart. Make sure your handles don’t get twisted while you are busy stuffing them into the layers and pinning.
Pin arond the rest of the top as much as necessary to avoid any unwanted puckering. Now, stitch around the top of the bag, about 1/4″ from the edge. Backstitch over each of the handles — these babies will get a lot of pressure put on them so you want to make sure they will hold.