How to Make a Rag Quilt Purse

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Rag-quilt purses are stylish, adorable and versatile. You can make them in any size you desire for almost any application: purses, diaper bags, book totes, even reusable grocery bags to list a few possibilities for the rag quilt. Rag-quilt purses are an excellent way to test out your crafty quilting skills as well as to teach others, including children, how to quilt.


Rag quilts were originally made of rags--old blankets, sweaters, shirts, or jeans-however, now it is common to make rag-quilt purses out of new material. Ultimately, the choice is yours whether you want to make a rag quilt out of true "rags" around your home or new fabrics from the local or online craft store.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric
  • Flannel
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Thin elastic
  • Button
  • Cut your fabric or rags into 6-inch squares to make a small square rag-quilt purse. You will need a total of six squares for this small purse. Two full squares are needed for each side of the rag-quilt purse with another square cut in half for the bottom, and one square cut in half for the thin sides of the purse (the width).

  • To create the rag seams, you will sew the rag quilt squares together on the right side-so the seam is showing on the outside of your purse. The key feature of rag quilts are the exposed, frayed seams. To add emphasis on this detail, Cut little strips of flannel 6-inches long by 1/2-inch wide to sandwich in the seams for extra rag effect.

  • Sew two squares together for side one. Then sew two more squares together for the second side. These are the front and back of your small rag-quilt purse.

  • Cut one rag-quilt square in half, this will be for the bottom of your purse. Sew the short, 3-inch, sides together to create one long 11-1/2 inch strip (1/2 inch will be for the seam). Now sew the sides of the rag-quilt purse to the bottom-seam side out on the right side and add a little flannel strip for extra rag effect.

  • Sew a piece of lining fabric of your choice to the inside of your rag quilt purse. This can include batting, cardboard, or another material to add extra thickness or stiffness. If you want interior pockets--sew the pockets to the lining before attaching the lining to the main body of the rag-quilt purse.

  • Cut the last rag-quilt square in half. Add lining to these two pieces to match the others, if desired. Now sew one of the cut pieces to one side. Sew on the right side of the purse leaving a 1/2-inch seam with a thin strip of flannel in the seam. Sew the final piece to the other side of your small rag quilt purse the same way to complete the exterior of the purse.

  • Sew one or two buttons to the lining on one side of the inside of the purse about 1 inch down from the top edge. Cut a small piece of thin elastic for each button, make a loop with the elastic, and sew the looped elastic in place directly across from the button or buttons to catch the buttons for an easy way to close the rag-quilt purse.

  • Sew a length of material together to create a purse strap or purse straps. Attach the purse strap by sewing a few stitches across the strap into the lining only of the rag-quilt purse.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can substitute the rag quilt fabric, lining fabric or another material for the extra flannel pieces used for lining to add to the seams. Fleece works too.
  • Add more squares for a larger purse.
  • Experience with different size squares or rectangles to create other rag-quilt purses.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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