Ready for Part Two? Preparation is over. It’s time to get your hands dirty (that is, poked and abused by pins).
[Are you confused? Click here.]
Putting it Together
The purse, when all is said and done, is entirely too floppy to function. I lined everything with thin cardboard off boxes of envelopes from the Office Depot–they have roughly the same thickness of two pieces of poster board together. I cut out two circles of ten inches in diameter, two strips of 2″x16″, two trips of 2″x4″, and one strip of 4″x16″. I stick them in the purse between the lining and the duck cloth. I put in the circular cardboard bits after most of the things were stitched up. Since you have to sew up everything from the outside, turning it right side out is very very difficult with the bits of cardboard in them. I leave about three inches open, roll up the cardboard, shove it into the thing, unroll it and flatten it up. The cardboard around the middle can be put in ahead of time as you’re sewing it up.
We’re going to move on by doing the middle section to the front. This is a bit complicated, so get your focus pants on. I’ll wait.
Ready? Put your layers in this order:
- Lining for the middle
- The middle (duck canvas)
- The piping
- The Front (duck canvas)
- Lining for the front.
Before you pin, I would cut the middle portion in half, as where the top and bottom come together, we’re going to insert the tiny bits for the strap.
Now, pin all this nonsense together; everything should be this weird cylindrical shape with the pins showing on the lining side. You’ll have to trim the piping. I did not do this very neatly, but essentially, you cut the piping to almost where you need it, and then fold one part on top of the other, removing some of the cotton part in the middle, and then just go ahead and sew all those pieces together so you have a complete circle to work with.
I found it easiest to pin the lining to the front circle, so as to ensure they wouldn’t come unmatched.
For the part where the two edges meet, just make sure your circle measures to about where you want it, and then pin the edges together–all that extra space we left at the end is for this purpose.
You can begin to sew at this point. Get as close to the piping as you can–definitely check at all points that you are sewing all five layers together. The piping is teeny tiny, so it’s hard to tell whether or not you’re getting it. I’m sure this is all going to be pretty simple to run through the sewing machine. So I did it all by hand. Yep. I know. I’m a nutter. There isn’t a bit of this that I did by hand.
This is definitely not a couple-hour task, sports fans, so be wary. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up and just try to get that purse on Etsy. But with perseverance and good company, I survived getting my fingers pricked at least four dozen times and sewed the whole damn thing together. I felt like I actually accomplished something… that is, until I realized that I had just spent about four hours hand sewing the purse and I wasn’t even half way done. Fun stuff!
When you’ve got it all sewn up together, it kind of looks like a lemon. You should have two flaps on either side where the two portions come together. Don’t have stitched this together yet. You’ll need to insert the portion for the strap in there, halfway in the fabric. I took a bit of the fabric I had set aside for the strap and used this. I folded it in half, folding in the sides as well to create smooth edges on both sides. The whole strip ended up being 1.5″x5″, which I then folded over, inserted the strap metal thing, and pinned into the fabric. Sew all of this together with a little portion of the strap fabric sticking out. I sewed all of this about three times round because I didn’t want any part of it falling apart.
When it comes to putting the zipper on the top, I saw one of two ways of doing it, and I’m not sure which one is more effective. What I did was attach it after the two pieces were connected. I figured it would be easier to judge the middle of the half-circle if I already had it pieced together. Before you set about sewing the zipper in, slide in the pieces of cardboard you’ve got cut out. I measured the zipper portions to just about 2×16″, but you’ll have to eyeball it. Those cover the long way, and then I have the 2×4″ pieces to fit perpendicularly up by the strap area. These will help tremendously keeping the purse from sagging. I cut out a line down the middle of the fabric and lining, about 12 inches in length. At the edges, I cut perpendicular lines, less than half an inch across, so when I folded the two sections over, it left a small opening to attach the zipper to. Stitch that up from the bottom, so’s all the thread bottoms are in the inside of the purse. I go around the whole thing twice, just for extra reinforcement.
Then I attached the back of the purse to the middle. We put a zipper and pocket in the back. I attached the fabric to the zipper first before sewing the pocket together. For the pocket, we just folded the fabric lining in two and sewed the edges together. The lining will go over the pocket, which will be attached when the whole thing gets sewn to the middle bit of the purse. I used blue thread because I thought the contrast would look cool on the nugrey. I considered doing it for the whole thing, but I forgot after a while, so that’s the only bit I did blue.
When attaching the remaining outer pieces together, follow the exact procedures as the front side. I used the embroidery circle to ensure that everything was keeping a circular shape. That is the hardest thing to keep up, this whole time. Be careful how you’re putting them together, because one time I accidentally pinned the back wrong, where the zipper was upside down. Not good.
Now you can turn your purse right side out, pulling the fabric through the zipper on the middle portion. Be careful not to bend any of the cardboard you’ve put in round the middle. Then I got to work on the strap.
The strap measures about 1.5″ in width, and the length varies based on what you had left from preparation. Mine was long enough to warrant a strap adjuster, but you can cut yours short enough to keep it just one length. One of the ends you loop around the strap holder and sew it together. The other end, you’re going to either do the same, or loop one end in the strap adjuster, from the top, moving down, looping into the strap holder, then back up to the strap adjuster, where you sew it around the middle ring.
So. Now that you’ve got everything turned right side out, fold back the purse and shove down that cardboard into the front and back circular panels and close up those holes.
AND THEN YOU ARE DONE!
Do you feel validated? ‘Cause I sure did!
Here’s some general things I’ve noticed:
- Duck cloth attracts fuzzy stuff. You might look into different types of fabric, that is just as thick.
- If you don’t fold over the fabric to cover the edges, the edges fray.
- Sewing things by hand sucks, but five layers of fabric is probably difficult to go through with a sewing machine.
- Lots of layers bend pins. Make sure you have plenty.
- Find good things to watch on Netflix while you’re working! I recommend Doctor Who, Sports Night, and Parks and Rec. Those got me through some tough times.
Check this action shot!
Questions, comments, clarifications, concerns, wisecracks for the Guide? Hit the comments below.