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How to Make Handbags and Purses Step-by-Step

If you like creating custom handbags and purses, you’ll be happy to know there are numerous ways to tackle this project. Which approach you’ll take depends on your skill level, the design you want to create, and your desired fabric. This guide will take it easy. 

We’ll start with a cotton ring bag that is relatively easy to make, even for a sewing novice. Learn how to make handbags and purses this way and then gradually explore more intricate designs. Before you know it, you’ll create truly unique bags using different materials, techniques, and styles.

How to Make Handbags and Purses Step-by-Step

Step 1 – Gather the Supplies

Before you get down to work, it would be best to collect everything you’ll need to make this DIY process as smooth as possible. When it comes to fabrics, you’ll need the following:

  • Cotton linen for outer fabric (choose a fun design!)
  • Cotton for inner fabric and a pocket
  • A pair of wooden bag rings (5-inch diameter)

As for the equipment, it’s all of your essential sewing tools.

  • A sewing machine
  • A pair of fabric scissors 
  • Pins
  • An iron
  • A marker
  • A smaller ruler 

A patchwork ruler

Colorful handbags in a luxury fashion store

Step 2 – Cut the Fabrics

To create this adorable ring bag, you should cut your cotton linen into a piece roughly 28 inches in length and 16 inches in width. The same goes for the cotton for the lining. However, you’ll also need another piece of cotton for your pocket, sized approximately 13 inches in length and 8 inches in width.

Step 3 – Make the Pocket

With all your pieces cut, let’s tackle the smallest first. Here’s how to make a pocket for your ring bag:

  1. Place the pocket cotton piece on a flat surface with the right side up.
  2. Fold the cotton piece in half along the longer side, facing the opening toward you.
  3. Stitch on the left and the right sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
  4. Cut off the corners on both sides of the opening diagonally.
  5. Flip the pocket inside out and iron over it.
  6. Stitch the side opposite the opening with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Step 4 – Attach the Pocket to the Lining

Now that the pocket is done, it’s ready to join the lining.

  1. Place the inner fabric cotton piece on a flat surface, positioning the wrong side up.
  2. Fold the fabric in half along the longer side.
  3. Unfold the fabric and flip it to position the right side up.
  4. Fold the fabric in half along the shorter side.
  5. Unfold the fabric to form a rectangle in front of you.
  6. Fold the pocket in half along its closed side and unfold it after creating the crease.
  7. Center the pocket on the ride side of the inner fabric, some 5 inches from the top.
  8. Pin the pocket in place with at least six pins.
  9. Stitch the three closed sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
Set of summer clothes

Step 5 – Attach the Lining to the Outer Fabric

You’re officially done with the “inner workings” of your ring bag. This means it’s time to throw the outer fabric into the mix. Here’s what to do: 

  1. Place the inner fabric on a flat surface with the pocket side facing up.
  2. Cover the lining with the outer fabric, positioning the wrong side up.
  3. Pin the two fabrics together.
  4. Stitch the shorter sides of the rectangle with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
  5. Pull the ends of the seams apart and iron over them.

Step 6 – Make the Body of the Bag

Your ring bag is slowly taking shape. It’s now time to tackle the body of the bag:

  1. Position the fabric so that one side is the lining and the other is the outer fabric.
  2. Pin the fabric in the middle and flatten it out neatly.
  3. Mark little squares (1.5 inches x 2 inches) on all four corners of the fabric and cut them out.
  4. Using a ruler, make little marks on both longer sides, about 5.5 inches from the center.
  5. Stitch on the longer sides, leaving the marked 5.5 inches on both sides open.
  6. Repeat Step 5 for the new seams.
  7. Join each of the cut corners and pin them in place.
  8. Stitch along each corner with a 1/2-inch seam allowance, effectively closing all four openings.
Women accessories closeup picture. purse, sunglasses and the kerchief. brown handbag with fashion details.

Step 7 – Shape the Bag

At this point, you should be looking at a nice, nearly rectangular bag. But that’s not what the end result should look like. So, it’s time to give your bag the shape that makes it so unique.

  1. Place the fabric on a flat surface split in the middle, as before.
  2. Grab the top left and right corner and bring them together, scrunching the fabric.
  3. Pin the corners together.
  4. Repeat Steps 2-3 for the remaining two corners.
  5. Stitch both pinned ends with a 1/3-inch seam allowance.
  6. Unfold the scrunched-up bag, flipping it so the right side is out.
  7. Flatten the fabric and iron over it.

Step 8 – Attach the Bag Ring

On each shorter side of your bag, you’ll see a slit. Each side of the slit has an opening. Stitching these openings is how you start the final phase of your bag-making process. 

  1. Stitch the inner openings on both sides.
  2. Position the bag in front of you with the longer side up.
  3. Open the top part, folding it over the slits.
  4. Using the smaller ruler, mark 3 inches from the top on both sides of the lining.
  5. Using the patchwork ruler, connect these marks with a straight line.
  6. Repeat Steps 4-5 for the lining side folded over the slit.
  7. Add the bag ring to the top-right side of your bag, folding the fabric to the marked line.
  8. Pin the ring in place.
  9. Position the other bag ring diagonally across the first one and pin it in place.
  10. Stitch the entire marked line on both sides, scrunching up the fabric around the ring.

And voilà! Your ring bag is done and ready to grab all the attention (and your essentials) wherever you go.

How to Make Handbags the Easier Way

Let’s face it – making a bag on your own can be pretty time-consuming and frustrating, even with a detailed guide on how to make handbags. But this doesn’t mean you must give up on your desire for a custom-made handbag. The solution? Turn to Tote Bags Now and have an adorable custom bag made for you.

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