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Making quilted fabric purses

SewingPat | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

I have some left-over home dec fabric and plan to make a quilted fabric purse with a shoulder strap.  I will have to quilt ithe fabric myself and need some ideas on how to stiffen the finished piece in order to make it ‘substantial’ for my purse.  I’ll start with the fabric, with batting sandwiched in between the solid cotton…does anyone have any suggestions on how to give it more body?  I did a sample with a piece of tear away stabilizer and it helped but……please I need some advice!


Sewing Pat


  1. rodezzy | | #1

    There is a very stiff interfacing that is used to stiffen the shapes in hats that I purchased years ago for just that purpose.  Also, in purse making you can add plastic template material between the quilted pieces then add a lining to cover the grid.  With the additional lining you can add your inside compartments as needed.  I found this site with lots of purse supplies for whatever you need.


    Edited 8/28/2008 9:54 am ET by rodezzy

    1. SewingPat | | #2

      Thank you so much for your message and the information about Tall Poppy!  I just signed up for their e-newsletter.

      I'll look around for similar products locally but, it not, will send them an order!


      I appreciate your help!  Sewing Pat


      1. rodezzy | | #3

        Actually, if you have a craft store nearby, or fabric store, you should be able to get your supplies there.  Save the shipping costs.  I purchased my stiffing interfacing at Joanne Fabrics.  They also carry the canvas.  There is stiff canvas and plastic canvas in the needlepoint and needle crafts department.  Michaels, Hobby Lobby.  Even Wal-Mart (if your store still has their sewing department) has these supplies.  I don't know where you are located, but a craft store should have all you need.  Even the canvas used for needle punch is stiff.

        Edited 8/28/2008 10:12 am ET by rodezzy

        1. SewingPat | | #6

          I was almost sure I could find something at Joann's...in fact, I'm heading there after work.  I live in the Kansas City, MO, area so we have Joann's and Hancock's...but nothing else.  :(

          Your tips are invaluable and thank you so much!  I love the quilted bags by Vera Bradley but just can't bring myself to pay those prices when I KNOW I can make one.  I've been a sewer for 37 years and make most of my clothes (with the exception of slacks) so I'm not a newbie, except when it comes to purses.

          Thanks again and I'll keep you posted on my success :)

          Sewing Pat



    2. MaryinColorado | | #11

      Thanks for the website!  They have some cool stuff!  Mary

  2. Josefly | | #4

    I recently made a quilted purse, and used some ordinary medium-weight interfacing I had on hand in between the lining and the quilt-sandwich (2 layers of fabric with thin batting in between) I had put together. That was adequate for the bag I made, but it was relatively small, only 8 inches finished height, 10 inches width, and 3.5 inches deep. I had bought some very stiff, thick interfacing, I think it was Pellon brand, at Hancock Fabrics, which I planned to use, but with the quilted fabric, that was too stiff for the bag I made. For a bigger bag, or a small one with a more solid shape, that heavier interfacing would work well, I think.

    I used plastic needle-point canvas, cut to fit the bottom, and held in place with a pocket of fabric at each end of the bottom, between the interfaced quilt and the lining.

    If I'd been using those magnetic snaps as closures for the bag, I think I would have wanted a more substantial interfacing behind the lining. But I just sewed in regular drapery magnets, small round magnets about 5/8 " in diameter, onto my interfacing, again inside the lining, and they worked fine to hold the bag closed.

    Last year, in the Photo Gallery, there were some wonderful bags made by a poster here, "solosmocker." You might do an advanced search on her name; she may've described the kind of interfacing she used.

  3. Pattiann42 | | #5

    I think you will find the quilted fabric (2 layers of fabric plus low loft batting) will be sufficient without adding interfacing.

    I made the Fons & Porter quilted bag a few years ago.  Issue - May/June '04, pg 40.

    The finished size is 17" x 14".  It has 2 outer pockets and 2, 3 sectioned inner pockets.

    Their instructions list: 1.5 yds double-faced pre quilted fabric for the bag, 1/2 yd coordinating fabric for the trim and plastic canvas or cardboard to stabilize the bottom of the bag.  Similar fabric is also available in fabric stores/departments.

    The bag, pockets and straps were all constructed from the quilted fabric without adding any other products.

    Using French seams in construction of the bag created strong, finished seams and no lining was needed.

    Good luck and best wishes for a successful, fun project.

    1. SewingPat | | #7

      Thank you for your help!  In fact, I was watching the Fons & Porter show on Saturday and they made the large, quilt supply bag that really spurred my interest and thought, wow, how easy is that!  But while thinking things out and making test scraps for the final quilted fabric, I began to wonder about how well it would 'stand up' and didn't want the sides to collapse as I wore it around my shoulder.

      I'll see if I can't find the bag that you referred to on their web site.

      Thanks again!!




  4. User avater
    VKStitcher | | #8

    Hi Pat,

    I've made several bags, both quilted and not.  For the quilted ones, I didn't use any additional interfacing--just the home dec fabric, batting, and cotton fabric for the lining.  Quilting it all together gives gives it sufficient body, even for the larger tote bags.  I did use Warm & Natural batting--it's denser than most polyester battings.

    For the non-quilted bags, I used Decor Bond--a stiff fusible interfacing.  You can get this most anywhere, including JoAnn's.

    Good luck with your project, and don't forget to show us how it turns out!  :-)

    1. SewingPat | | #9

      Vickie, thanks for the suggestions!  I'll make sure I take a picture of it and post.



      1. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #10

        I've been experimenting with making purses from old neckties. The one I carry all the time is a messenger type bag. I did not quilt it and didn't use a substantial interfacing, so the bag is "floppy" even though I left the ties intact when I put the bag together. One I am making now (not a messenger bag)I want to be structured, so I used Decor Bond and I quilted the lining. I also piped the seams. I don't (usually) use a pattern and just create as I go, and right now I'm sort of stuck on how to get the zipper in and have concealed seams and still use the handles I chose. I'll get it worked out, it's just a sticking point right now.

    2. SewingPat | | #12

      I finally made my purse and think it turned out well; however, there are a few things I will do differently next time.  I started with home dec fabric and sandwiched fairly heavy batting between it and my cotton backing fabric.  My front and back were square pieces of fabric stitched together and then I put binding around the top edges because I didn't include a lining.  Then I stitched handles on the inside edges of the binding and placed a 'flap' that hangs over one side to the other to keep it closed. 

      Next time, I'll put some type of closure on the flap (a button or magnet) to keep it closed and the contents more secure.  In addition, I think a gusset is in order because when putting things in the purse, everything kind of sinks to the middle and the outter edges look a little distorted. 

      No matter, I am encouraged and plan to make a lot more purses...thanks everyone for your help and encouragement!

      1. rodezzy | | #13

        hIP hIP HURRAY.  Good going lady.  You conquered that quilted purse. 

        Yes a gusset does help....depends on how much you want to put in the purse...giggle. 

        I see lots of quilted bags in your future.  Can you send us a picture?

        1. SewingPat | | #15

          I will definitely send a picture....my husband is out of town til Thursday (I have no clue how to do this) ..look for it soon! 

          Thanks so much!!  Pat

      2. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #14

        YaYYYYYY! Cathy

      3. User avater
        VKStitcher | | #16

        Oh good for you!  After you make one purse, you always think of things to change or do differently the next time. 

        On the bags that I make, I square off the bottom corners so the bags have a flat bottom.  I think it's easier to do than adding a gusset.  Fold the bag so the side seam lines up with the bottom seam (or the center bottom fold if there's no seam) and stitch across the corner.  It's hard to describe in words--here is a better explanation with photos: Making a Squared Bottom  You can also put a piece of plastic canvas in the bottom of the purse to keep it from sagging.

        I can't wait to see a picture of your new purse.  I'm sure you'll be making more!


      4. Josefly | | #17

        Great to have a finished project. Pat on the back is due.If you line the next one, you can customize it with the kind of pockets you find useful. I've been wondering about my next one. I think a magnet inserted in the lining near one end of the bag might work as a key-chain holder.

        Edited 9/10/2008 11:40 pm ET by Josefly

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #18

          Just a word of warning on magnets in totes and purses. They can demagnetize your charge cards! I was having problems with my bank card until I realized my wallet had a magnetic closure! I replaced my wallet with one with a snap, no more problems! Even accidentally brushing your wallet up against a weak magnet is enough to mess up your card. Cathy

  5. charm | | #19

    they sale spray stiff adhesive at any crafts store, pehaps you can find it at joann fabrics. it give  a stiff touch to the fabrics somehow it won't go limp. hopefully this will work. I remembered there is a white glue that use on fabrics  to stiffen it but can't remember what it's call.  no it's not school glue. smiling

  6. Teaf5 | | #20

    I use giant metal snaps as closures on evening bags and clutches; I either cover them with silk or use color-coordinated nail polish to "paint" each half of the snap so that it blends in with the fashion fabric but works normally to secure the flap.

    On tiny bags, it's often easiest to line the bag before folding and stitching it; that way, all the edges are pre-finished, and you can use a variety of decorative stitches or lacing to close the sides, bottom, flaps, etc.

    I made a quickie evening bag last week from leftover deco fabric lined in antique silk, decoratively stitched into a simple envelope; I used a recycled child's necklace for the chain handle and a painted snap as closure.  My daughter loved the made-to-order bag AND the chance to see her Mickey Mouse necklace again!

    1. rodezzy | | #21

      Can you post some pictures, I'm drooling to see what they look like.

      1. Teaf5 | | #22

        Sorry, she liked it so much that she took it with her!  It was a last-minute accessory made to her specifications (just big enough to hold her cell phone, ID, and keys) for her aunt's wedding the next day.

        It was just a 6"x11" rectangle of an embossed decorator fabric that looks a lot like snakeskin, lined in silk pongee.  I used a 1/4" seam allowance all around, leaving a 1" gap for turning and then trimming the corners. 

        After turning, I folded the bottom up 4.5", leaving a 2" top flap.  I used a matching silky rayon thread to hand stitch the sides together and to attach the necklace at the inside top of each side, tacking the extra chain length inside.  The large, painted snap went in the center of the inside of the flap.

        It was just a simple envelope, but lining it first before stitching the sides made a huge difference.  Now, I'm tempted to make myself one with a more adventurous fabric choice, some interior pockets on the lining, and possibly leather lacing or cording to secure the sides; I'm sure that I have some old costume jewelry chains and metal belts that will work for a strap.

        1. rodezzy | | #23

          Sounds grand!

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