These are almost too cute to handle.

These are almost too cute to handle.

Novelty purses have been all the rage recently, and it’s easy to see why. They come in just about every shape imaginable (like ice cream cones and rainbows!) and are just all-around super fun to look at and wear. Today I’m going to show you how to get in on this trend the DIY way, and with just a few basic supplies from the craft store. The only thing better than sporting one of these super cute bags is having the satisfaction of knowing that it’s a creation entirely of your own!

What you’ll need:

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  • Faux leather (vinyl). It’s usually $4 to $9 per yard at the fabric store. I suggest getting one solid (light) color to use as a base, that way any additional colors you may need for detailing can just be painted on later. The yardage needed will depend on how small or large your design is, but you’ll probably be all right with just a half a yard for most designs.
  • Lining fabric (I chose a printed cotton.)
  • Fabric paints (I’m using Tulip Soft Matte Paints.)
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Double-fold bias binding, at least a half-inch wide
  • Skinny satin ribbon (You can get this by the spool at the fabric/craft store.)
  • A pen and paper, for making your pattern pieces
  • A permanent craft glue like E6000
  • Binder clips (We will be using these in place of sewing pins.)
  • A sewing machine

Step One (⚡Brainstorming a Design⚡)

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First things first: We need a design for our purse! A lot of the designs I came up with were either circles or half-circles, but just about any basic shape would make a nice base for one of these bags. If you’re in need of some inspiration, this post by my pal Mermaidens would be an excellent starting point. Once you have a general idea of what you want your purse to look like, go ahead and sketch it out so you’ll have a point of reference when you make the pattern.

Step Two (Making the Pattern)

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To make the purse pattern, I started with some sheets of paper and a circular lid that was roughly the size I wanted my purse to be. Using the lid as a template, I traced around it on four separate sheets of paper, adding a half-inch seam allowance to the outer edges of each circle. Each of these circles will make up a different part of the purse: One for the front, two for the back (you’ll see why two are needed later on in the tutorial), and the fourth circle I used as a template to sketch out the detailing for my smiley face. Keep in mind that this entire pattern-making process can be applied to just about any shape you’d want to use—it’s not just limited to circles! Go ahead and cut all of these shapes out in preparation for the next step.

Step Three

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As I mentioned before, the back side of our purse will consist of two pieces. I’ll refer to these as pattern piece #1 and #2. In our finished purse, we’ll want these pieces to overlap slightly at the top to create an opening (so there’ll be no need to sew in a zipper or add buttons!). To create this overlap, we’ll need to deconstruct the two circles we cut out for our back pattern pieces like so:

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1. Using a ruler, measure two and a half inches in from the outer edge of pattern piece #1 and mark with a pen.

2. Line the ruler up horizontally on that two-and-a-half-inch mark, making sure that it’s straight, and trace a line along the top and bottom of the ruler. Repeat this measure/marking process on pattern piece #2.

3. Cut out the pattern along the horizontal lines as shown. For piece #1 cut along the line toward the bottom; for piece #2, cut along the line at the top.

Step Four

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You can discard the pieces marked X. Keep the other two as your new back pattern pieces.

Step Five

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When you put these two pieces together, they’ll make a perfect circle to mirror the front of your purse, with a slight overlap at the top.

Step Six (Fabric Cutting and Prep)

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Lay all of your pattern pieces out on the “wrong” side of the vinyl fabric. Instead of pinning the pattern to the fabric, as you’d normally do when cutting out fabric for sewing, just trace around each pattern piece with a pen and then cut them out following the tracings.

Step Seven

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For cutting out the lining, simply place the vinyl fabric pieces on top of your lining fabric with wrong sides of both fabrics facing, and cut around them.

Step Eight

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Keep your outer purse pieces with their matching lining pieces—wrong sides together—until it’s time to sew.

Step Nine

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If you have any detail pieces that need to be painted go ahead and do that now. You can set these aside to dry while you get started on the sewing process.

Step 10

A quick note on sewing with vinyl fabric…

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There are a few small adjustments that will need to be made to your sewing machine before it’s ready to sew all the layers of fabric in your purse. The first thing you’ll need to do is change your regular machine needle to one that’s especially for sewing with heavy-weight fabrics (for this tutorial I used a size 100/16 needle). You’ll also need to adjust the straight-stitch length setting on your machine to one longer than you would normally use. I set mine at 4.5 or 5.0 when sewing with vinyl fabric. Anything shorter than that and you may run into issues with the vinyl jamming the machine or thread getting tangled.

Step 11 (Assembling & Sewing the Purse)

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The first step in assembling the purse will be binding the straight edges of the back pieces with bias tape—this will finish off the raw edges of the purse opening and create an overall more polished look. Start by cutting two strips of bias tape the same length as the straight edges of the purse back pieces. If you’d like to add some loops for a strap (which can be added later on if desired), tack two small loops of skinny ribbon on the straight edge on the top half of the purse backing (the shorter half-circle).

Step 12

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To bind the edges, open up your strip of bias tape and line up the straight edge of the vinyl fabric directly with the crease that runs along the inside of the tape. (It’s kind of hard to see in the photo, so I added a dotted line to show where the crease would be and arrows to show where it should line up with the backing piece.)

Step 13

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1. (Left) Once you have the raw edge and crease lined up, fold the other half of the bias tape over, encasing the raw edge within.

2. (Right) Secure in place with a few binder clips. Repeat steps 1-3 on the other piece of your purse backing.

With the edges bound, your purse backing pieces will look something like this:

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Step 14

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Sew a straight line of stitching along the innermost edge of the bias tape on each backing piece, removing the binder clips as you sew.

Step 15

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Once you have the edges bound on your purse backing pieces, go ahead and layer them on top of the front piece (lining sides facing each other), making sure the bottom half of the purse backing is layered underneath the top half.

Step 16

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Use binder clips to hold all of the fabric layers in place and sew along the outer perimeter of your bag, about a half inch away from the raw edge. This line of stitching is going to help keep our purse pieces together for the next step.

Step 17

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As a finishing touch, we’re going to bind the outer edge of the purse with bias tape just as we did earlier with the backing pieces. Measure out a strip of bias tape that will go all the way around the outer edge of your bag with a little extra to overlap where the beginning of the strip meets the end. Clip the tape in place and sew it on.

Step 18

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Once sewn, you’ll end up with a cute little pouch like this!

Step 19

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Now all that’s left to do is to add on the details! Brush the back of each detail piece with a thin layer of glue and affix them to the front of the purse.

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And with that your bag is finished! You can wear it as a clutch or clip a purse chain/strap to the ribbon loops in the back and slip it over your shoulder as a purse. Either way, it will add instant fun to your look. ♦