Dawn's Costume Guide

Gypsy Purse

I designed this easy purse to wear when I'm dancing or playing in costume at an event where I don't want to lug a "real" purse with me, or don't have a safe place to put one while I'm there. It's small enough to not get in the way, but still hold car keys, some money and ID securely on my person. It's also a nice way to make use of those luxurious new silk sari fabrics and other expensive materials that you might only be able to afford a very tiny piece of.

What you need:

remnant of fancy fabric

remnant of lining

1.5 - 2 yards of cord or ribbon

matching thread, scissors, pins, etc.

This project takes an hour or two and requires some hand sewing to complete.

For this purse I used a remnant of velvet I got on discount because it was only 5 inches wide. You can use any fabric that is not too flimsy or too stiff. If it is a light silk like sari fabric, consider an iron-on interfacing to give it a little more sturdiness. If you're looking for exotic fabrics consider the remnant bin, pillow covers, discontinued home dec samples, and your local used clothing stores. You could also attach strips of fancy embroidered ribbon (you'd only need a few inches of them) to solid fabrics and make your own exotic material to work with. And, hey, even if the fabric is $20 a yard, a six inch cut only costs you about $3.50 and you can get two of these from 45" material.

Quite simply you need two pieces of fabric cut about 5x18 inches. It doesn't have to be exact, if your velvet remnant is 4.5 inches or 5.25 wide don't worry about it. Just make sure both your outer fabric and your lining are the same size and shape.

Place them right sides together and sew all the way around the edges, nice and straight, make neat turns at the corners, and leave yourself about 2 inches to turn the whole thing inside out. If you're working with velvet you WILL NEED TO PIN the hell out of your fabrics to get them to stay in place. Velvet creeps and shifts around and you'll regret it if you don't pin. I suggest a pin every inch or so.

Carefully iron it flat. Tuck under the edges where you left it open and iron those down too as if it was sewn. Stitch that hole up by hand, trying to keep your visible stiches on the inside lining where they won't show later.

Fold the fabric, lining up, into thirds as shown. In my example the finished size was 17" long, and I made folds at 3" for the closing flap, and at 7" for the pocket part. You can adjust these lines if you know, for example, that your eyeglass case has to fit in here. When you are satisfied with the dimensions of your purse, pin the sides as shown.

Using thread that matches your fabric carefully whipstitch the sides closed. Make sure you're only stiching up the sides, not the top flap! Make your stitches as small and even as you can. They won't show much, but you do want a good secure side seam. Put a couple extra stitches in at the top for reinforcement. Take out the pins.

Pin at red dashes
Whipstitch bottom sides of purse closed
Reinforce stitching at black dots
Whipstitch cord to bottom sides of purse along red line

Pin one end of your ribbon or cord to the bag, as shown. I used a braided cord and tied the end into a tight knot, creating a little bit of fringe with the raw ends.

Put your purse on your hip, or whever you think you will be comfortable carrying it, and arrange the cord over your shoulder. Bring the loose end back to the purse and pin it in place along the other side so you know where to sew it.

Hold one side of the bag open a little so the side seam flattens out and your cord is laying on top of the seam. Put your hand inside the bag and hold your cord flat on the seam as you sew it down. Take care with your stitches so they are even and secure. Be sure you are sewing through the core of your cording, you'll feel that it's harder to sew through than the satin wrapping. It's important you sew through the core so your purse doesn't rip out. Put a couple extra stitches in at the top of the bag for reinforcement.

Sew the cord on the other side of your bag.

You're now almost done. You can now add bells on the corners of your purse, if you like, or dangling beads or coins. You can also add a weight like a coin or a heavy bead to the flap to help hold it closed, or put in a snap or Velcro fastener.

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2001 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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