Saturday, January 1, 2011

reverse applique purse

Ok - knuckle pop - I have been wanting to show this for a long time now! I made this back in, um, August I think? Sometime a while ago anyway. As I have said before, I love Alabama Chanin. This project came about after seeing the Alabama Chanin tote bag over at the purl bee. I had been scheming a way to make my own while at the same time scheming a new purse. The two ideas collided in a burst of inspiration and so this purse was born. I love it. I use it every day.

This is made from freebie T-shirts from Craig's law conferences and scraps leftover from other projects. I posted some progress shots to show the start of the technique. Basically I decided how big I wanted the bag to be, then drafted out the dimensions on graph paper. It's really a bunch of rectangles, so it's quite simple.

I used gray fabric paint over my homemade stencil with Alabama Chanin's flower design. Then I put the same size rectangle of white fabric underneath and embroidered around the edges of each design motif. Once all the embroidery was in place, I cut the shapes out of the flowers (the reverse applique). Then I followed the instructions from the purl bee to put the bag together using scraps from my dress as the piping. Oh how I love the piping. It really makes the whole thing pop.

I fiddled with the strap some before finally making it gradually narrow at the shoulder and widen near the zipper. I used a herringbone stitch to finish the strap so it would have plenty of stretch.

I harvested a zipper from an old make-up bag, which fortunately had two zipper pulls so I can open it from either side :)

My favorite part of this project was hand sewing everything. You really gain a great deal of control when you sew by hand - no machine running away with you tears flowing and ripping out seams. All was peaceful and quiet with this project. With this technique, you also get the wonderful raw edges of the knit fabric.

As you can see, I used the instructions from the purl bee to make some pockets - I made a really big one and sewed a couple of seams to split it into three pockets.

This was a very satisfying process from start to finish. It has already gone through the wash, and only got better for the wear. The edges are fluffier and the whole thing got a more settled look. I was a bit concerned about using white for a purse. I am not the world's most careful person, especially with purses, but I decided to risk it. So far I have only gotten one big spot on it which came out in the wash. Otherwise it is doing brilliantly :)

Here are a couple of progress shots when I was putting together the zipper:
That is back before the strap was sewn together. For that I just gauged the distance I wanted it from my shoulder, factoring in the stretch. I am so pleased with how it came out. The neutral colors go with everything, and it is pleasant to reach into a soft bag instead of stiff leather. Perhaps one day I can try something like this with some soft leather? I wonder if the same technique would work....hey why not?!?

By the way, Happy New Year!


  1. This is awesome! I still can't believe you did the pattern! I love pattern, and this is just so juicy!

  2. Adorable!!! You are a talented lady! Who needs Anthro when you can create some even cuter pieces!! Great job!