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Make A Special-Occasion Purse

After making our daughter’s graduation dress, I decided to sew a co-ordinating drawstring purse. Since I didn’t have a pattern I decided to create one — something practical, simple and very pretty.

The pattern consists of two pieces: one 6-inch-diameter circle for the floor and a rectangle measuring 12-1/2 inches across and 11-1/2 inches high for the walls. (I’ll refer to the 11-1/2-inch edge as the sides and the 12-1/2-inch edges will be referred to as the top or the bottom edge.) Make pattern pieces out of paper you have on hand — newspaper, parchment or waxed, brown paper, etc. I used a 6-inch plant pot saucer for making the circle.


Approx. 1 metre of main material (for the outershell and lining) Approx. 1/2 metre of interfacing (sew-in or fusible)

Scrap of fleece interlining or similar padding (I used blanket cloth) for the floor

1 metre of cording for the drawstring (approx. 3/16 inch)

Organza or tulle overlay for the outside (optional)


All seam allowances 1/2 inch. Cut two circles of the main fabric — one for the lining and one for the outershell. Cut one from the tulle if using.

For the walls, fold the main fabric right sides together and place the rectangle pattern piece onto it. Make sure before you cut that the straight of grain is on the 11-1/2-inch side. Cut four pieces in total — two for the lining and two for the outershell. Cut two pieces from the tulle if using.

Cut one 6-inch circle from the interfacing and one from the blanket cloth. Cut two rectangle pieces from the interfacing.

Using the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the outershell circle and the wrong side of two of the outershell rectangular sides.

You are now ready for sewing.


If using the tulle, layer it on the outside of the main outershell pieces and treat the pieces as one.

Sew the interfaced walls together at the 11-1/2-inch sides, right sides together. Press seams apart. Gather the bottom edge of the interfaced wall. Fold the interfaced bottom in half and mark each end with a pin or tiny notch, indicating the middle. Pin the circle to the gathered wall, right sides together, matching the wall’s seams with the marked ends of the bottom. Pull up the wall to fit the circle, making sure the gathers are even. Baste or pin, then stitch. Press the seam to the circle and topstitch the seam.

For the lining, baste the blanket cloth circle to the wrong side of the lining circle. Stitch the lining walls together, right sides together at the 11-1/2-inch sides, leaving a 4-inch opening on one side in the middle of the seam, for turning later. Press the seams open, including where you left an opening. Gather the bottom edge and pin to the padded circle, right sides together like the outershell. Stitch and press. Don’t topstitch this seam. Pin the top edge of the lining to the outershell’s top edge, right sides together, matching the side seams. Stitch. Pull this seam apart and press to either side.

Turn the purse, reaching in through the opening of the lining. Put the lining inside the purse and match the bottoms. Pin top edges together carefully so that the lining and outershell are even and flat. Topstitch close to the edge.

For the drawstring casing, stitch 1-1/2 inches down from the top edge all around, then stitch 2-1/2 inches down from the top edge all around. This makes a 1-inch casing. With a seam ripper, carefully pick open the seam in the casing at each side, just on the outershell.

Cut the 1-metre piece of cording in half, and tape each end so it doesn’t unravel. Using a bodkin or large safety pin, insert a piece of cording in one side, all the way around and out the same end you went in. Knot the ends. Do the same with the other piece of cording but start at the opposite side of the purse.

To close the purse just pull on each knotted end, and to open just pull apart.

This is a very versatile pattern, suitable all sorts of fabrics and embellishments. Get creative!

Rosette Zingre farms in Cecil Lake, B. C.

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