When it comes to owning unique accessories, nothing beats handmade purses. Whether you recycle, upcycle or just make your bags from new materials, the best way to get a custom-designed bag is to make it yourself. Making purses isn’t the complicated process you may think. If you can follow a basic pattern to make a skirt or dress, you can create a lined purse with appliques, handles and decorative features to match every outfit in your wardrobe. Here is a sample of the most popular handmade purses around today.
Classic Blue Jean Bag
Popularized in the 1960s, this bag is a classic that survives today. Cut off the bottom from an old pair of blue jeans, leaving only the body from the hips up. Sew the bottom opening shut straight across. This creates the bag part of the purse. Make long straps from the legs you removed, or create colorful alternatives with embroidered ribbons, canvas straps or long scarves. Thread the strap through the belt loops, add a snap closure at the waistband and your purse is ready to use.
Recycled Tank Shopping Bag
If you’re living a greener lifestyle, you probably use reusable bags on grocery shopping trips. Instead of buying more bags, take your green habits just a bit further and recycle old tank tops into custom shopping bags. Turn a tank top inside out. Lay the shirt flat with the front of the shirt to the left, the back of the shirt to the right and the two side hems laying on top of one another. Pin the bottom hem together and sew, leaving a 2-inch seam allowance at the bottom. Stitch another seam right below the first one to give the bottom of the bag some more stability. Your bag is now ready to fill with groceries, with the arm straps serving as the bag handles and the stretchy fabric expanding to hold as many goods as many larger shopping bags.
Quilted Satin Clutch
A quilted satin clutch is one of the simplest handmade purses you can make. Give your next dress outfit a classic retro look by bringing back the old Chanel quilted bag design. You can recreate the flavor of this look by purchasing already-quilted satin fabric and matching satin seam binding. Make a rectangular envelope purse and stitch the seam binding all around the opening and flap. Sew a velcro dot on the flap and a matching dot on the bag for a closure, and attach a large jeweled button on top of the flap to cover the stitching that holds the dots on.
Every accessory designer is offering some sort of small wrist purse or wristlet. Make your own version to get exactly the fabric you want at a fraction of the cost. Create a simple rectangle bag about the size of your hand and give it a satin lining. Add a zipper for the top opening and finish the look with a wrist strap that matches the fabric of the purse. Your bag will just be big enough for the necessities, but not so heavy that it bothers your wrist.
For the busy person on the go, a messenger bag is truly a lifesaver. Make your own in a colorful denim or other tough fabric and add your own personalized touches. Add custom pockets inside for pens and pencils, cell phone, e-book reader and tablet. Include an interior space for personal items such as your wallet, medication and snacks. Embroider along the edge of the flap, add patches over the entire body or turn it feminine with lace and ribbons. Turn your messenger bag from a utilitarian object to a personalized piece of body decor.
The envelope clutch purse is a classic design, and you can dress this purse up or down, depending on the fabric and decorations you choose. Make it in a cream linen and trim it in brown for a daytime purse that’s perfect for a business meeting. Use navy blue satin and add a silver button closure to create the ideal accessory for a night on the town. You can make envelope clutches in leather, suede, quilted cotton and even fleece, depending on the outfit you want to accessorize.
Far from a hiker’s backpack with multiple straps and buckles, a purse backpack is a streamlined bag that holds your daily necessities without tying up your hands. Create a simple square bag with a zipper top and add straps to one flat surface. Measure the straps carefully or make them adjustable with buckles. Add a pocket or two on the back side of the pouch and finish the zipper top with a colorful pull tab for easy access.