This is a relatively quick little purse to make, and it's the perfect size for a little girl or, with a shorter strap, it would be a great clutch bag for essentials. Here's how to make it:
You'll need 2 fabrics for the inside and outside of the bag, cut to an identical size. In this example, the rectangles are 9.5" x 14". You can make the bag bigger or smaller by adjusting the size of this rectangle. You'll also need an identically sized rectangle cut from a stiff, one-sided iron-on interfacing like Pellon DecorBond. You could also use fusible fleece for a stiffer bag.
For the strap, I used fabric cut to 15" x 2 1/4". I cut a strip of interfacing 15" x 1 5/8".
NOTE: If you want the strap to be shorter, cut it (and the interfacing) to 9 1/2" instead of 15".
In this photo I had already fused the interfacing onto the strap fabric, centering the interfacing along the middle of the fabric.
Once the interfacing is fused to the wrong side of the strap fabric, carefully press the raw edges of the fabric toward the middle of the strap on both sides, as shown. The interfacing will be your guide - fold the edges over just to the edge of the interfacing.
Starting with the edge that is open, stitch strap shut carefully along the edge. Try and keep the stitching about 1/16" from the edge.
Then turn the strap around and stitch along the folded edge the same way.
Set aside for later.
Place the fabric for the outside of the bag upside down on your ironing board. Position the interfacing, shiny (fusible) side down on the backside of the fabric so that none of the interfacing is extending beyond your fabric. If it is, trim it to fit or else you'll have sticky fusible crud on your ironing board = not good. The purpose of the interfacing is to make your bag stiffer. If you're using home dec weight fabric, this step is probably not necessary.
Fuse the interfacing to the backside of the fabric, following manufacturer's directions.
Now, fold one of the short ends (measuring 9 1/2") in half to find the middle of it and put a pin there as shown in photo above. Make two pencil marks (on wrong side of fabric) on either side of the pin at equal distances to mark where the pleats will go. In this case, the first mark is 1 1/2" from the center, and then another 1 1/2" away from that. You can see the measurements above on the green cutter board: each square is 1 inch.
Repeat marking process on other side of fabric, making sure they're in the same places.
Now take fabric and join the pencil marks together and pin the fold, as shown in the photo. When viewed from the front, the fold should be facing the outside edge of the bag, as shown below.
Repeat on other side of rectangle. It should now look like the photo above.
Stay-stitch the pinned edges about 1/8" from raw edge, as shown above. This eliminates the hassle of messing with the pins and it firmly holds the pleats in place.
Measure the new width of the fabric. In this example, it should be 6 1/2" wide now. Whatever the width is, your goal is to make the liner fabric the same measurement. So take your measurement of 6 1/2" and divide it in half = 3 1/4".
With your liner fabric folded in half lengthwise, make a mark that is 3 1/4" from the raw edges as shown. This will give you the starting point for the dart you will be making in your liner fabric.
Beginning at the pencil mark, stitch a dart at a fairly sharp angle toward the fold in the fabric, as shown at right. The dart should be about 4 inches long, and it should stop when the stitching meets the fold. It may be helpful for you to draw a pencil line with a ruler to help you to know where to stitch.
Make a dart on both sides of the liner fabric.
Now compare the liner fabric with the outside fabric to make sure they're the same width. If they're not, remove the dart from the liner and do it over again, because they really need to be the same width.
With right sides together, fold the separate fabric together and stitch down the sides. You'll now have 2 bags that are inside-out.
To eliminate the pointy corners, fold as shown and stitch across about an inch in from the corner, backstitching at beginning and end. If this is confusing to you, it might be helpful to look at my tut for the purse pouch - there's a more detailed explanation of it there.
Turn the outside of the bag right side out. Pin the strap in place on either side of bag.
For the clasp, take a piece of ribbon about 7 inches long and fold it in half and then double it back into a V-shape as shown. Carefully stitch across the middle of the V to hold it in place. Decide which side of the bag you want to be the front. Then, on the OPPOSITE side, pin the clasp upside down in the middle of the bag.
With the large "tray" of your sewing machine bed removed, fit the opening of the bag over the arm of your sewing machine and stay-stitch the strap and clasp in place just like you did for the pleats. This is to get the pins out of the way while still holding everything in place.
Okay, now with the exterior bag still right side out, fit the liner bag over the top while it's still inside-out. Now the right sides of both bags are facing eachother. Line up the side seams and pin liner and exterior bag in place along raw edge.
Stitch 1/4" seam all along raw edge, taking care to make sure that the liner and the exterior bag are lined up along the raw edge as you sew them together.
Once it's out, slip-stitch the opening closed by hand, or use a machine and carefully stitch it closed very close to the edge.
Tuck liner inside bag and carefully press the edge of the bag so the liner stays inside. Fit the bag over the arm of the sewing machine and very carefully topstitch around the edge of the purse, pulling the fabric back to create a clean edge along top of purse. This is the trickiest part of the whole purse (due to the small opening), and will make a big difference in how the bag turns out so go slowly and work hard to get the edge pressed right and the stitching even.
You're almost done! With all the turning inside-out and back again, the bag is going to look a little rumpled. If you don't have a pressing ham (like me...with as much sewing as I do I really should acquire some of those) you can use a nearly empty roll of paper towel to put inside bag and press the wrinkles out of one side of the bag at a time.
The only thing left to do is sew a button on the front to hold the clasp ribbon closed, and you're now the proud owner of a darling little clutch purse! Hooray for you!
Here's another version of it, this time with pleats that aren't so big so it doesn't angle in quite as much at the top. You can do as much or as little pleating as you like, just be sure to remember that whatever you do to the outside fabric you need to repeat on the liner so they match up when sewn together. Happy sewing!