For quite some time now I have been on the lookout for a suede bag with fringe. Each time I stop in at a thrift store I head back to the purse section and scan the rack for fringe to no avail. It finally dawned on me that I could end the search and make myself some fringe.
I re-directed my focus to finding suede. There were small pieces of suede at my local fabric store but I decided to go a more economical direction and start scanning thrift stores for suede jackets, a much more manageable task. I found one with large panels of beautiful suede for only $15. Jacket in hand, I was ready to make my purse.
Tip: If you wait for a sale you can get your suede jacket for up to half the price at your local Value Village or Goodwill. Memorial day weekend would be a great opportunity to nab one for a good buy.
What you need:
Suede – Decide what size you want your pouch to be and double that to accout for the front and back. If you want fringe, you will probably want triple the size of the final product. A jacket will most likely be plenty for the project.
Zipper – This should be about an inch or two longer than you want the opening of your purse to be.
Thread – Heavy
Sewing machine – You should have a needle that is larger than what you would use for normal sewing projects to accommodate the toughness of the suede and the weight of your thread. I just used the biggest one I had, if you ask at the fabric store they should be able to tell you what needle will be best.
The first thing to do is to make yourself a pattern. I used a regular sheet of printer paper and extended the length by placing another sheet on top a bit off center. Whatever size and orientation you decide is fine.
Next, lay your pattern out in a manner that allows you to cut out two pieces, leaving enough for fringe if you so choose. Trace around your pattern, I used a white pencil but you could use anything that will draw on the suede. Cut the two traced pieces from your pattern, it is important to have good scissors for this or you will not get a nice straight line.
You will notice on my bag that there is a seam down the middle in the picture below. I did not make this seam, it was a part of the coat. For the sake of making a larger purse, I chose to use the seams in my design.
Once you have your front and back pieces cut, you are ready to attach the zipper. Select one piece of suede and lay it down with the side that will be on the outside of the purse facing up. Lay your zipper down on the suede with the teeth starting about an inch from the end. The other side of your zipper should hang off of the end. Pin in place at the edge of the suede.
Attach your zipper foot to your machine and sew on the zipper starting at the teeth, an inch from the top, and stopping an inch from the end of the suede.
Tip: If you do not have a zipper foot or if you are not feel confident in this step, call your local shoe repair shop, they are usually willing to sew zippers on leather.
Once the Zipper is attached, lay the suede down in front of you right side up. Fold the teeth of the zipper up so that the piece looks like it would on a finished product. Notice however that the nature of the zipper is to flip back down. We want to sew this down so the zipper has a nice finished look in the end.
Keep the teeth of the zipper folded to the right and sew along the folded edge of the suede as shown in the photo above. Note that you will want to switch back to your regular foot for this process. When you are finished it should look like the photo below.
Now you are ready to attach the other side of the zipper to your second piece of suede. Do this using the same steps as the first making sure that each side of the zipper align so that it zips properly in the end.
Now that both sides of your purse are complete, you should cut your fringe piece (if you prefer to make the purse without fringe, just sew the two sides together as-is). the width of your fringe should be one inch less than the total length of your front and back as you want to account for a seam allowance on both sides. The length can be as long as you wish to make it, I made mine a little shorter than the completed purse.
Pin the fringe piece into place at the bottom center of either piece. You should pin this to the side of the suede that will make up the outside of your purse.
Pin both sides of the pouch together so that the outsides are facing each other and the zipper matches. Now sew around the purse on the three sides without the zipper at a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Be careful as you sew the side seams that you do not catch the fringe piece that is pinned inside. You only want it attached at the bottom.
Once you have sewn around the purse, before you turn it right side out, trim the corners as shown above. Make sure it’s not too close to your stitching. This will allow for a nice corner when you turn it right side out by taking out some of the extra bulk.
Now you can turn your purse right side out keeping the ends of the zipper on the inside.
You are almost done! The final step is the fringe. Using your sharp scissors, cut from the bottom of your fringe flap to about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the pouch. Continue until you have completed the width of the purse.
This project was a bit challenging for me as an inexperienced sewer but it was worth it. I finally have my fringe bag and I absolutely love it!
If you want to try a different look, think about putting studs on your purse or adding a wrist strap. Black with studs is next on my list!
Instructions for studding leather found here.