Handy Handbag

Throughout the years I have bought numerous small handbags that I use on weekends. Handbags that I can use cross-body so that when I go shopping I don´t have to lug a large shoulder bag around, which is what I use during the work week.

However, I was never completely satisfied with them, too small…. too big…. too rigid…., whatever, …. so, I decided to make my own.

I opted to use a Capulana that I had been hoarding for years. What is a Capulana you might ask, well… it´s the name given to Mozambican  cotton fabric. These fabrics are used by the Mozambican ladies as a type of sarong, and for almost everything else, dresses, skirts, head coverings, wrapping babies, carrying babies……. They are beautifully ethnic and colorful, and I love them.

The Capulana I decided to use has a patchwork design, so even though it might be considered a cheat, I love the colors and it certainly took a lot less time to make, not having to sew different fabrics together, to get the final  patchwork look.

I decided to make the bag 33cm in height by 31cm wide.

So, we cut 2 x panels 35cm x 33cm allowing 1 cm on each side for seams. I say we, because I made it with the help of Manuela, a wonderful lady that helps me with my projects, below you can see her hands measuring away 🙂

We decided  that the bottom corners of the bag should have  cork corners, so we cut 2 triangles 12cm x 12cm  from a cork sheet.


We attached the triangles to the fabric corners, and sewed them with 0.5cm seam to the fabric, and cut the excess fabric.

Below is the front and back.



I then pinned a layer of interfacing, and quilted the panels of the bag. In the photo you  also see a panel of plain fabric which is joined to the outside panel and interfacing, just ignore that second fabric, at the time I  thought it would be better to add another layer of fabric, but that is totally unnecessary!

I basically eye-balled straight lines starting on the outside edge and rotating the panel untill I got to the center.

Here you can see the quilting lines.


I cut out 2 panels for the bag flap 22cm in height x 33 cm wide pinned interfacing to one of the panels and did the same quilting technique as above.



After sewing the 2 body panels of the bag together (right sides facing each other), I sewed diagonally across the corners about 3 cm in the center, to create box corners.


Below is the lining, where you can see better what I mean, about sewing the corners together, to get the box corner.

Fold the corner so that it looks like a triangle. Measure 3 cm from the pointy edge and draw a line, then sew along the line.


When sewing the lining together it´s important to leave a gap, because that´s where the whole bag will have to fit through when it´s finished.


Turn the bag inside out so that  the right side is facing out and attach the flap to one side of the bag.


To make the strap. Cut a strip of fabric approximately  11 cm wide and  the length that suits you. Because I didn’t want the strap to be to thick I used fusible fleece instead of interfacing.


Then you just  sew along the edges right sides facing together and then turn it inside out so that the right sides are on the outside.

Sew the strap to the body of the bag.

Below you can see that I also sewed a pocket to the lining, I used the print fabric for the pocket.


The whole bag, right sides facing out, is then slipped into the lining which has the wrong sides facing out


Then you sew the lining top  to the body of the bag, sewing all around the edge.

Then pull the whole bag through the hole in the lining so the lining flips into the inside of the bag.

And Voila, The handy handbag 🙂