Pleated Purse Tutorial

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!

****If this is your first time visiting my blog, Hello and Welcome! This tutorial has received a lot of attention, but I hope you’ll stay and check out some of my more recent posts. I’m always up to something new and crafty here on Deliberately Domestic. Hope you enjoy your stay!****

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.

 OK, now that you have your main purse body cut out, you will want to mark where you will put in the pleats. For this size bag, I think 5 pleats is ideal. If you want more or less you can adjust accordingly, just make sure they are evenly placed. I put 5 small notches in the top edge of bag (again layering to make sure the two sides are even). Each pleat is 2 – 2.5 inches apart.
To make the pleat, make a small fold in the fabric (about 1/4 of an inch) and pin. You will have 5 pins in your bag body when you are done.

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.
Now, cut out your coordinating out fabric. Depending on the size of your pleats, the top of your bag might vary a bit. Measure the length of the top of the bag (the side with the pleats). Now, cut two strips of fabric that are as long as the top of the bag (this is the measurement you just took) and are 3″ wide. Pin these strips to the top of your bag. Stitch right sides together. Your seam allowance should be slightly bigger than 1/4″ so you don’t end up seeing the stitching from the pleats.

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.

Once you have made a pattern out of your interfacing, you can cut out your lining. When you are done cutting out, you will have two sets of interfacing and two sets of lining. These should all be the same size.Iron on the interfacing to each piece of lining. If you want to add pockets, you can do so now.
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 fold the whole thing in half, iron, and pin.
Stitch down the open side, as close as you can to the edge. For decorative purposes, I like to stitch down the other side too to make it look more finished.Now for the very last step! (Hurray — you made it this far!) Turn the outer bag right side out and stuff it down into the lining (still wrong side out). Match the seams up and pin.

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.

Now, turn the whole bag inside out of the hole in the bottom of your lining.

Pin the hole so that it closed and stitch along the edge.
Stuff the lining into the bag and iron everything.
 Congratulations — you are done! You now have a fabulous Pleated Purse!


57 thoughts on “Pleated Purse Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Reason# 383: Why I Love the Internet: Free Purse Tutorials | no•bad•days

  2. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I found it two days ago and finished my new purse last night. Your directions were very easy to follow, and the final product looks great. Thank you very much.

  3. I just made a pleated purse following your instructions and man, oh man, am I in love. Your instructions were very easy to follow and the purse went together very easily. Best part was it took me only a couple of hours to complete from cut to finish!! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Oh, I love his tutorial. Finally a it’s all clear to me 🙂 Will bookmark this tuto!!
    Have a great Sunday, Esther.

  5. Pingback: Pleated Purse Pattern | Free Purse, Bag & Tote Patterns and Tutorials

  6. Wow!! I’m giving it a try tonight! 😀 I don’t own a sewing machine, so I’ll be doing it by hand…I’ve done a few handbags and even a skirt by hand before, I like a good challange! I will email you a photo of the finished product!

  7. I used Robert Kaufman’s monster fabric, paired with lime green on the top. The tutorial was super helpful!! Thanks!

  8. I just made this today. I have never used the iron-on interfacing before, so this was a real learning experience for me!! I added a large interior pocket, which I lined too. This purse turned out very well, I am very proud of myself, as I am a beginner sewer. Thanks for sharing the pattern and steps with me!!!

  9. Hello, SO glad I found your tutorial on Pinterest! I just love that site now, there are so many great ideas, I wish I had the time to try them all! But, I just finished making my VERY FIRST purse, using your tutorial. Everything was new to me, but I figured I may as well jump in head first!!

    My finished purse is here: – you can see I added a bow on the front, and lengthened the straps using my lining fabric (as my stripe fabric was not quite a fat quarter, so I had to improvise), but I love how it turned out! On the inside, I added two double pockets – one on each side of the lining. Enough room for LOTS of storage!!

    Thank you very much for sharing this great tutorial! I will definitely be making another one of these purses again – maybe a bit smaller for my neice who is turning 13 soon!

  10. Oh my gosh!!! This was an amazing tutorial to follow!!!! Thank you sooooo much! I’m a beginner and you made it so simple for me! I’ve been putting off making a purse for so long just because it made me so nervous but it turned out great!!! I used a fat quarter bundle that I just couldn’t help picking up because the fabric was amazing. I did have to make a top panel for the lining as well just because my lining piece wasn’t big enough using a fat quarter but it looks awesome. Thanks again!!

  11. Hi 🙂 I am just confused by these two steps “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.” and “Pin the two sides and the bottom of the bag and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance.” I keep thinking these are saying the same thing… are they? Or am I missing something easy? (probably lol)

    • I probably should have reworded it because I can see your confusion. The first step is sewing the yoke to the main body of the purse, the second step is sewing the front and back together.

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  14. Thank you soooo much for this tutorial! I had never sewn a purse before (until today!) and the instructions couldn’t have been clearer! Awesome!

  15. Brilliant tutorial made a lovely bag for a birthday gift so nice that i want to keep it now! thanks so much.

  16. Thank you for sharing ..I have to try this..looking for an easy pattern for my first
    time bag..this may be it

  17. I find that when I use the Magnetic snaps, Instead of laying the prongs flat against the fabric, I bring them in towards each other, which makes a better grip when the purse is to be pulled open. Laying them flat does not give that much of a grip when the two openings are pulled apart. Make sense?

  18. Just love your tutorial! This is exactly what I was looking for. I bought some red and white polka dot fabrics and will start straight away.

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  20. Pingback: The Pleated Purse - Free Sewing Tutorial

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  22. I made too many pleats and made them a little too big so the opening turned out smaller than i wanted, but it still is super cute. I looked through dozens of tutorials and yours was by far the best and easiest to understand.

  23. Just found you tutorial and it looks so cute. Going down to the sewing room to try making it.
    thank you for posting

  24. Awesome tutorial! Can you please tell me what type(s) of fabric you used? (Sorry if i missed it somewhere in the post!)

    • I used home decor weight fabrics for both the exterior and interior. You can use quilting weight fabric but it’ll be less structured and durable.

      • Thanks a bunch! Can’t wait to try this and to check out the rest of your site!

  25. Hello,
    thank you for the tutorial.
    I used it to add a lining to an unlined pleated bag I bought (it involved a bit of un-sewing…). Now I am very tempted to give your whole tutorial a try; I will perhaps add topstitching to the top and bottom of the “yoke” (the yellow band in your last picture), for a neat look – and to secure the handles even more ! Beatrice.

  26. Pingback: Pleated Purse Pattern - Free Purse Patterns | Free Purse Patterns

    • I usually use a heavy interfacing in my bags. You could even add a double thickness of the interfacing right at the magnet spot. I usually hold the magnet when opening the purse instead of pulling on the fabric. I’ve never had a rip yet. 🙂

  27. Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial …. I love this purse!!!!!
    I added a row of top stitching to the very top edge of the bag and it gave it a little more stability and gave it a bit more of a finished look.
    When putting on the magnetic snaps … I always take the little round disc and lay it where I want the snap to go, and then I take an ink pen and mark where the 2 little slots are in the disc …. then I use a seam ripper and cut through the fabric where I made the marks. It works like a charm!
    Thanks again for this tutorial and I can’t wait to get started on my next purse!

  28. I am an experienced sewist and I found your tutorial to be very easy to follow. You were exact while still being simple in your directions. Thank you!

  29. I have made quite a variety of styles of bags/purses.. And am always looking for new styles to try 🙂 found your tutorial on Pinterest and I just completed my pleated bag using your instructions! Excellent tutorial and I LOVE my bag!! I made it with quilters cotton n if I do that again I’ll line the outside as well to give it more sturdiness and life. I added a ribbon to the seam between the pleated part and the top and also added hand made fabric flowers on the top as well as a top stitch around the top edge and it’s a striking bag!

  30. Thank you so much for the pattern and tutorial! I just made my mom a bag for her birthday, and it turned out very nicely! 🙂

  31. Hi, this may seem like a silly question but when you are creating the pleats – is it done in BOTH outer pieces as you don’t mention repeating the process for the back of the bag.
    I’m so new to sewing – it’s probably obvious but I don’t want to get it wrong!
    Thank you

  32. This is the best tutorial around for this style bag. I have made them purse size but also scaled it down to cosmetic bag size (without the handles) and they come out gorgeous! This tutorial is the one that started my love of sewing purses, tote bags and zippered pouches. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial!

  33. Pingback: Free Purse Tutorial « The Quilt Bear Blog

  34. I did it! Turned out adorable. Thank you so much for the very clear and understandable tutorial.

  35. Thank you for the tutorial. It’s clear and inclusive. The purse looks really cute, and I am looking forward to making it!

  36. Thanks a lot for this nice tutorial! I just followed it today and I’m amazed with the result. I just started learning to sew and this had been my second project but it’s been really easy to make thanks to your clear explanations and pictures!
    Greetings from Spain.

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  38. How funny! I was searching for a pattern like this last night and couldn’t find one, so I made my own, too! Mine is incredibly similar to yours, which I just stumbled upon. I didn’t think about interfacing, so thanks for that tip! 🙂 I’m also adding a little tab to the front with a “faux” button and velcro to add a little bit of detail.

  39. I pinned your tutorial almost a year ago because it’s so cute. I am going on a trip with my nephew Monday and just thought “I should make a purse tonight” however I use my phone for most stuff and print patterns at work when I need them. I was looking at my pins and this was the first one that popped up. I said to the cat – “aw man I hope I don’t need a printed pattern… I need one that says cut a piece this size and do this.” Woo hoo that’s exactly what you said! Thanks! I’m off to find fabric in my stash!

  40. Pingback: Make a Lovely Pleated Purse « Sewing Shop Blog

  41. Thanks for this great and easy to follow tutorial. It’s really fun to be able to make your own purse and this one is very cute!
    I put a post on my blog that links to this tutorial, you can see it here

  42. Love it! I’ve been searching forever for cute pleated bag with clear instructions and no pattern to print ( I dont have a printer) this is perfect. Thank you and would LOVE more (no pattern) projects.

  43. I’m so excited about this tutorial! (Newbie sewer)I’ve been searching for a bag like this and every pattern/tutorial I have found has been confusing or wrong size. When you don’t have a printer you just want simple basic measurements with step by step pictures. cut here pin there and sew. You make this look sew easy! The only way you could top this is by making it a sew-a-long video. Thank you thank you!!

  44. Love this tutorial. Thank you so much for posting. I just finished my purse and I love it. Can you tell me where the material is from on the original picture of the purse… The green & white material that is with the green poke a dot band. I just love that nice bold print. Thank you again!!

  45. I have been wanting a purse pattern like this. I am going to make in the morning. Thanks for the easy to understanding Purse pattern.?

  46. Just finish the pleated purse! I made it using Batman fabric for my daughter’s 26th birthday. She is going to love it! Thank you so much!

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