Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Making a retro style handbag - tutorial

Recently I started selling retro handbag handles, made of plastic. Some of them imitate wood to the point that you may have serious doubts as to what they are actually made of. But let's stick to the plan, this post was to be a help to those who are not sure how to make a DIY purse using the retro handles.

Apart from the handles we will need some fabric. It may be matching or contrast, I am going to use black handles and some black-and-white fabric for my handbag.

We will need two pieces of the main fabric, I used 40 cm x 40 cm (15 1/2" x 15-1/2"), but remember, that this way the bag will come out rectangular. We will also need some lining, to which I will sew a small pocket for the mobile - I just don't like spending ages looking for my phone in my bag. But you can sew any other kind of interior pocket. You may also need some interfacing to make your bag stronger and sturdier, I skipped this step as my lining fabric is already quite thick and sturdy.

Sew the pieces together along the edges, leaving 15 mm / 3/8" seam allowances, on the wrong side. Leave 20 cm / inches opening on each side. Do the same with the lining pieces.

Once finished, open the lower corners and sew them creating little triangles, which we will cut off. This step is necessary to add volume to the bag. Otherwise it will be completely flat ;)

Repeat this step on the lining. Make the lining corners are a bit larger than the main fabric, to make the lining fit nicely inside the bag. I do not cut them off, but rather fold down and secure with a few hand stitches.

Put the lining fabric over the main fabric piece, RIGHT sides together. Sew along the open edges on the sides. The place where the front and back piece are joint should be fully concealed by seams. Just sew it as far as possible. Leave the top of the bag open.

My main fabric seems reversible, so I chose the white flowers on black background.

Press the seams open while still on the wrong side. Then turn everything inside out (this is very difficult too show in a picture, but I guess you will be fine without one ;) and press again. Press the edge 15 mm / 5/8" to the inside. This will make a nice finish.

Slip the open edges trough the opening in the handles. They should crease as you do it. This will also add volume to the bag.

Once ready, Sew the open edges to the main piece. You will have to move the crease as you sew. This is easier than it looks in the pictures.

This is so much easier when the edge is pressed

Now you should move the crease as you sew, to have always a smooth and flat piece to sew. 

Also, if you want to wash your bag in the washing machine, you may be interested in making the handles detachable. This means sewing some snaps instead of just stitching everything together. I once made a bag like that and it works 100% fine:

The full picture is available on my Polish sewing blog
You can also attach a shoulder strap to the handles, using the additional openings.

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