Friday, June 18, 2010

Lined oilcloth purse tutorial

Haven't done a tutorial in a while, so here is one I have been working on for a zippered oilcloth purse with a shiny lamé lining. Obviously, you don't have to use either lamé or oilcloth, but I like how robust the oilcloth is and the lamé... well, I just like shiny things, okay?

You will need:

Two rectangles 4.5" x 9" from your outer fabric;
Two of the same from your lining;
Two little rectangles 1.5" x 2.5" from your outer fabric;
One 8" zipper.

(As an aside, I have recently acquired a set square, and I can tell you exactly how much easier it makes life: a lot easier, that's how much.)

Start with your small rectangles. Fold them in half so the short sides are aligned.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT press anything in this project with an iron. You will regret it. Big, smelly, molten regret. You just need to use some firm pressure with a flat rigid edge. I used the end of the lever bit of my nail clippers (obviously) but you could use anything really. Back of a knife? Just assume that's what I'm talking about when I tell you to press folds in this tute.

Turn the short edges under by about 3/8" and press again, then do the same with the other small rectangle. These will be the little tabs on the end of the zip.

Insert one end of your zipper into one of your little folded tabs, making sure that the metal bit of the zip is enclosed inside the tab. You can trim the fabric at the ends of the zip if they are too long. Stitch straight across, being careful not to hit that same metal bit with your needle.

Do the same with the other end of the zipper, and it should look something like this

Now you are going to make a zippy sandwich. Take one of your outer pieces and lay it right side up. With the zip closed and the pull to your right, lay it face down along the bottom edge of your fabric (if your fabric has a print that needs to be a particular way up, you actually want to be looking at it upside down right now - does that make sense?) then lay your lining fabric right side down on top, aligning all the edges. The tabs will stick out slightly from between the layers. Tack it all in place. I wouldn't recommend pinning here - you get a much better result if you tack.

Stitch along about 1/8" from the zip teeth with your zipper foot. I find the easiest way is to start with the zip closed, then stop halfway with your needle down, lift the presser foot and open the zip up, then put the foot back down and carry on to the the end. It stops the zip pull getting in your way and spoiling things.

Turn the layers of your sandwich back on themselves, so that the two layers of fabric are wrong sides together. Press the folds and topstitch.

You then need to repeat this process with your other pieces. Same drill: outer fabric right side up (upside down printwise, if relevant) Lay the piece you just sewed, right side down with the zip closed and the pull to the left, and then your final lining piece right side down on top. Tack and stitch in place. Open it out like you did with the other side, and topstich. It should look like thsi:

Now, this is a little tricky to explain, but not tricky to do, honest. Make sure that your zipper is at half-open. You want to fold your nearly-purse so that the two lining pieces are right sides together, and your two outer pieces are right sides together. Align all the edges, tack in place, and sew all the way round, just missing the tabs on the end of the zip, and leaving a 2" gap in the lining part to turn it. The two things you really want to avoid here are forgetting to open your zip and forgetting to leave a gap for turning. If, like me, you forget either (or indeed both – yeah, you heard, both) of these things – don't panic, just reach for your trusty stitch ripper and start again. It should look like this:

Clip your corners and turn the whole thing carefully through the gap you left (or, like me, curse your stupidity and return to the previous step). Stitch the gap closed. Tuck your lining inside and use a stitch ripper to gently coax the outer corners into shape.

Ta-da! That wasn't so hard, was it? Looking at this now, I wish I had some metallic thread or something for the top-stitching, but on the whole I'm pretty pleased with it.

I also made a makeup bag version for my mum: Slightly bigger, and I boxed the corners at the bottom so it would stand up:

Let me know what you think of the tutorial, and any changes you think I need to make - happy sewing!


  1. That's brilliant, thanks so much, I'm going to try it next week! Oh and ace nail polish. :)

  2. Thanks pixie! Let me know how you get on. The nail polish is from the neon range by models own. I am rather fond of it :)

  3. It' fantastic!
    Very nice, thanks!!

  4. Just made my first purse! Looks fantastic! I am very excited & am going to make a bigger one for my changing bag.
    Super instructions, Thanks!!