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Fold-Over Zipper Top Purse

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Big bags and totes are great for big jobs, but when I'm out and about, I like a compact purse. I want to be able to sling it over my shoulder with enough room to hold the necessities, plus just a little extra. If things are too big and bulky, I spend the entire outing looking for somewhere to stash my bag. Or... I invariably knock over something breakable in the store! Today's cute little fold-over bag is a perfect size and shape. Standing up straight, it's a generous 9" x 9"; folded down, it becomes just 6" x 9". The bottom of the bag is layered with batting and lightly quilted to give the lightweight cotton more substance and stability. 

Unzip the top and drop in whatever you need – from a wallet and keys to your phone and a journal or even some snacks for the day. Zip closed and fold it down to size. Because the top fold position is flexible, you can fill 'er up full or go light duty. We used a great Coats metal jeans zipper, which added a nice look against the softness of the cotton fabric. It's a great example of how delightful it can be to mix different textures. The zipper also looked good with the antique brass D-rings that hold the shoulder strap.

We originally used two prints from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics. Nature's Palette is a 2013 collection that is no longer readily available. As an alternative, we found a similar soft floral combination with lovely shimmery bits in the Brambleberry Ridge collection by Violet Craft for Michael Miller Fabrics, available at Fat Quarter Shop. For a chic summery combo, take a look at the Bee My Honey collection by Mary Jane Butters for Moda Fabrics, also available at Fat Quarter Shop.


As mentioned above, when folded up, the purse is approximately 9" x 9"; folded down, it becomes just 6" x 9". The shoulder strap is ¾" by about 38" long. You can carry the bag over your shoulder or knot it halfway and use it as a handbag. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Supplies shown are for ONE bag, which finishes at approximately 9" x 9"  when open and flat.

  • ⅜ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the bag's bottom exterior and straps; we used Chevron in Jade (007 Jade) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
  • ⅜ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the bag's top exterior and lining; we used Floral Chain in Canary (006 Canary) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
  • ⅛ yard of 45" medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond®
  • ¼ yard or scrap of low loft batting
  • ONE 9" metal zipper; we used Coats Brass Jeans Zipper in Dogwood
  • TWO ¾" D-rings; we used antique brass to match the zipper
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil 
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Fray Check

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bottom exterior and straps, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 7" high x 10" wide rectangles for the bottom exterior
    ONE 2½" x 44" strip for the handle and D-ring tabs
    NOTE: We are fussy cutt both fabrics because of their strong vertical/horizontal motifs. We wanted to be sure our patterns wer straight and looked parallel with one another.
  2. From the fabric for the top exterior and lining, fussy cut the following:
    TWO 4" high x 10" wide rectangles for the top exterior
    ONE 9" high x 6" wide rectangle for the pocket 
    TWO 10" x 10" squares for the lining
    ONE 1" x 7" strip for the zipper pull
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following
    TWO 4" x 10" rectangles
    ONE ¾" x 44" strip
  4. From the batting, cut TWO 7" x 10" rectangles.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Quilting the bottom panels

  1. Pin batting to the wrong side of each 7" x 10" bottom exterior piece.
  2. We used the motif itself to determine where to position our FOUR vertical quilting lines. You can do the same or simply measure and mark four lines, each approximately 2" apart. 
  3. If possible, use a Walking foot to stitch the lines of quilting.
  4. Set aside.

Interfacing the top panels

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions fuse interfacing to the wrong side of each 4" x 10" top exterior panel.
  2. Set aside.


  1. Find the 9" x 6" pocket piece.
  2. Fold in half, right sides together, so it is now 4½" x 6".
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners. Leave an approximate 3" opening along the bottom for turning. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance. 
  4. Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this.
  5. Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
  6. Find the two 10" x 10" lining pieces.
  7. Pin the pocket in place on the right side of one 10" x 10" lining piece. The pocket should be centered side to side (2½" from each side) and top to bottom (3" from top and bottom).
  8. Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners and with a generous backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, ie. at the pocket top. This is a stress point for the pocket and it's smart to secure the seam well. This edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.
  9. Along the top raw edge of both lining pieces, fold down ½" and press to set a crease. Then unfold so the crease line is visible, but so you can still fully seam the lining top to bottom. 
  10. Place the two lining pieces right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom (remembering to unfold that top fold so you can pin all the way to the top).
  11. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  12. Clip the corners at a diagonal and turn the lining right side out. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. Press flat.
  13. Re-fold the top raw edge of the lining along the ½" crease line. Press again to re-set.
  14. Turn the lining right side out. Set aside.


  1. Find the 44" fabric strip and the 44" interfacing strip.
  2. Along one 44" edge of the fabric strip, measure and draw a line ½" in from the raw edge on the wrong side of the fabric. 
  3. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing strip to the wrong side of the fabric strip, placing one edge of the interfacing along the drawn line. 
  4. On one side there is ½" of fabric extending beyond the interfacing. Fold this edge over by that exact ½". It will lay over the top of the interfacing. Press in place.
  5. On the opposite long side, fold in the raw edge to meet the edge of the interfacing. Press in place.
  6. Fold this same side again, creating a small hem and overlapping the first fold. Press and pin in place. The finished width of the strap should now be ¾".
  7. Edgestitch in place along the inside fold. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a nice straight seam along the full 44" length. 
  8. Cut off TWO 2" lengths. 
  9. Find the two D-rings and one of the quilted bottom exterior panels.
  10. Slip a 2" length of strap through each D-ring and pin the raw ends together.
  11. Place the straps along the top edge of one of the quilted bottom exterior panels. The raw ends of the D-ring strap should be flush with the top raw edge of the exterior panel. Place one 1⅛" from the left edge and the other 1⅛" from the right edge. Pin in place. 

Insert the zipper

  1. Find the zipper and the two top exterior panels, to which you should have already adhered the interfacing. 
  2. Along the top 10" edge of both pieces, press back the raw edge ½".
  3. Place the zipper right side up on your work surface.
  4. Place one top exterior panel on each side of the zipper with the folded edge of each panel alongside the zipper's teeth.
  5. Pin both panels in place. The top folded edge of the panel should be approximately ¼" away from the zipper teeth. Make sure the zipper is centered between the left and right sides of the panel.
  6. Attach your Zipper foot. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the top exterior fabric. Edgestitch both panels in place. 
  7. Go slowly. When you can start to feel you're approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end. Be very careful and go slowly; you want your seam line to be super-duper straight.
  8. Repeat to stitch the opposite panel in place. You now have panels stitched in place on either side of the zipper. Press flat.
    NOTE: If you are new to working with zippers, check out tutorial on regular zippers. For additional zipper insertion options, check out our our Zippered Pencil Case, our Ty Pennington Tasseled Pouches, our Amy Butler Pleated Evening Clutch with Bow, and our Bridesmaid Clutch with Tattered Rose.

Assembling the panels 

  1. Place the zippered top panel right side up on your work surface with the zipper closed so the pull is to the right. 
  2. Place the quilted bottom panel with the D-rings right side up on your work surface below the zippered panel. The raw edges that now butt together are the raw edges you will sew together. 
  3. Now that everything is properly aligned, fold the zipper panel down over the top of the bottom exterior panel so the raw edges as described above align, sandwiching the D-rings in between the layers. Pin in place. 
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together. Press the seam allowance down towards the bottom panel. 
  5. Flip over the sewn unit and topstitch along the seam. Stay ¼" from the seam within the bottom panel. We again used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep the seam perfectly straight. 
  6. Repeat to attach the remaining bottom quilted panel to the remaining raw edge of the top panel. The only difference is there are no D-rings on this side. 
  7. Unzip the zipper about half way. 
  8. Fold the front and back panels right sides together, aligning the raw edges along both sides and across the bottom so the zipper runs along the top edge. Pin in place.
  9. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the bottom corners. Use a substantial backstitch at both the beginning and end of your seam to reinforce these stress points at either end of the zipper. Your seam should run right along the head and tail of the inserted zipper. 
  10. Clip the corners at a diagonal and press all the seam allowances open. 

Insert the lining

  1. The exterior bag should still be wrong side out. 
  2. Find the lining, which should be right side out.
  3. Slip the exterior bag inside the lining so the two bags are now wrong sides together.
  4. Align the bottom and side seams. The top folded edge of the lining should fall below the zipper teeth by about ⅛". If it doesn't, adjust the lining's fold to fit and gently re-press. Pin the layers together. 
  5. Thread the hand sewing needle.
  6. Slip stitch the lining to the bag, using very small stitches. Stitch along the front and the back, but leave the lining loose where it wraps over the side seams. This allows some "give" in the lining so it folds smoothly as you zip the bag open and shut.
  7. Turn the bag right side out through the zippered opening. 

Attach the strap

  1. Place the bag D-ring-side-up on your work surface. Find the strap. 
  2. Thread one raw end through a D-ring. The end should go under and then over. 
  3. Fold the raw end back ¼" then pull this folded end so it is approximately 1" from the D-ring. Pin the folded end against the strap. 
  4. Repeat to thread and pin the opposite end of the strap through the opposite D-ring. Make sure the strap makes a clean loop and does not twist on itself.
  5. Stitch each end in place with a short horizontal seam. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the strap. Stitch across two to three times for extra strength but make sure your stitching runs right on top of itself as this seam will be visible. 

Zipper pull

  1. Find the 1" x 7" strip.
  2. Press the strip in half lengthwise to set a center crease. Open up the strip and fold in each edge towards the center crease, then fold together to enclose the raw edges.
  3. Edgestitch the length of the tiny tie.
  4. Thread the tie through the zipper pull and knot to secure. We did not finish the ends of the tie since it was so skinny. You could dab some seam sealant, like Fray Check on the ends to prevent raveling. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild



Comments (10)

wekebu said:
wekebu's picture

I'm in the planning stages of making this purse. I'm going to make it slightly larger, thinking 11" wide x 9" tall. My concern is that the center of the purse may want to fold inwards. Could you suggest something to stablize the top of the fold? Maybe some type of spline?

Edit: I might have just found an answer. What about boning? I see it comes in a 1/4" size incased in 5/8" poly fabric. Might work?

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ wekebu - without testing, I can't give you a 100% solution. However, you could try adding a heavy weight fusible interfcing the top section. I think boning might make it curve, which is what boning always wants to do. You might also look at our oversize clutch tutorial; there's not a strap, but it is the wider shape you are looking for. 


wekebu said:
wekebu's picture

Thanks Liz. I love how it came out!  I combined a few of your tutorials on Fold Overs.

Linda Stepp said:
Linda Stepp's picture

I think this little bag is charming and plan to make one for myself and if I like it after I use it, then to make some as gifts.  Thank you so much for the great tutorial and fabric recommendations!  I really like the original fabrics chosen for this project and sure wish I could get that but at least it gives me some ideas of what would work best in a small bag like this one.

ckussart said:
ckussart's picture

What a lovely little purse! It would be just right to stash inside a larger purse on trips and then take it out for running around. I want to make this one! Thanks!

alanamary said:
alanamary's picture

I think it would also be neat to add d-rings to the top (near the zipper) and sew lobster clasps to the strap/handle. That way, if you stuff your little bag all the way to the top, you can move the strap up as well. A little more stable, maybe?

Great tuturial, as usual! Thank you.

Natalie F said:
Natalie F's picture

Thank you for suck detailed and clear instructions. I love that you give us the names of the fabrics used and a materials list. I love this purse and plan tomake this week.

farmwife said:
farmwife's picture

I love this pattern! So many times when I go out and about I know I could use some growing room in my purse but I am either too rushed or too lazy to trade off purses. I need to make this today, and a few for gifts too. I can think of several easy ways to personalize this lovely purse with ruffles, ribbons, or embroidery. Thanks sew4home for another great pattern.