Want a purse that will look good, last for years and cost you hardly anything to make? Upholstery fabric totes are simple to sew, tough and pretty--and best of all, you can use upholstery remnants from fabric stores, which cost pennies on the dollar.
Things You'll Need
Measuring tape or ruler
Straight pins or safety pins
1 yard (approx) upholstery fabric
Heavy-duty thread to match fabric
3/4 yard lightweight fabric for purse lining
Sewing the Body
Cut a piece of upholstery fabric 11 inches wide and 24 inches long, to form the body of your purse.
Fold the upholstery fabric so the right side (the side of the fabric you want to show) is on the inside. Sew along the sides, approximately 3/8 inch from the edge, to create a pouch. The folded edge will form the bottom of your purse.
Cut a piece of lining fabric 10 1/2 inches wide and 23 1/2 inches long, and repeat Step 2 to create the purse lining.
Keep both purse pouches with their right sides together, and tuck the upholstery fabric inside the liner fabric. It will be a tight fit: the liner pouch will be smaller than the outer pouch. Position the two pouches so that the seams are aligned.
You now have an inside-out purse, which you will turn right-side out once the strap is attached. Make sure that the fabric you want for the outside of your purse is now at the inside.
Sewing the Strap
Cut a strip of upholstery fabric 4 inches wide and 24 inches long for the purse strap.
Fold the handle fabric lengthwise, right sides together, so it forms a 2-inch strip.
Sew along the unfinished edge, as close to the edge as possible.
Trim the edge carefully, removing any extra fabric without creating weak areas in the seam.
Turn the strip right-side out. The purse strap is now ready to attach to the body.
Finishing the Purse
Flatten the purse pouch so that all four seams are directly atop one another.
Tuck the end of the strap between the outer and liner fabric pouches, along the vertical seam, so that at least 3/4 inch of strap material is hidden. Pin the strap into place at least 1/2 inch below the top edge of the pouch.
Flip the purse over and repeat Step 2 with the other end of the strap.
Fold the top 3/8 inch of the upholstery and lining fabric inward, all around the top of the pouch, so that no raw edges will be exposed at the top of your purse. Pin edges into place, and sew all around the top edge of the pouch.
This seam will finish the top edge and attach the strap; sew a double seam if desired.
Turn your purse inside out; it's ready to use.
These dimensions can be varied if you prefer a different sized purse. Use heavy-duty thread and fabric, and oversew the seams to ensure that your purse will last a long time.
Avoid upholstery fabric with a rubber- or plastic-coated backing, as this can be extremely difficult to sew and could even break weaker sewing machines.