Wave tucks are a fun and unique way to add a textural focal point to any size bag. Before you start to panic, this technique does not require a bathing suit or a surfboard; all you need is your sewing machine… and a desire for style!
You’ll create alternating strip panels to form the base panel. You want to choose two dramatically different colors for the best result with this wave tuck technique.
First, check out our amazing step-by-step Wave Tuck Tutorial. Then, come back and try out your cool new skills on this very cute, very unique handbag with its gorgeous contrasting wave tucks on both the front and back.
Our original bold solid colors come from Michael Miller Fabric’s Cotton Couture collection. We started with the perfect preppy combo of bright orange and hot pink… or in Cotton Couture language: Tangerine and Fuchsia. Then, we paired these solids with one of the popular Michael Miller Ta-Dot prints for the whimsical lining. And, added an optional chartreuse bow as the final touch.
The double carry handles are a classic corded style, which makes them both sturdy and comfortable. We have full step-by-step instructions below showing how to achieve this pro finish.
There’s a magnetic snap at the top behind the accent band.
The bag finishes at approximately 10″ wide x 8″ tall (excluding the handles) with a 3″ wide boxed corner base and sides.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the great AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on our Janome models.
Fabric and Other Supplies
- TWO coordinating solid colors of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton from the; we originally used Tangerine and Fuchsia from the Cotton Couture collection by Michael Miller Fabrics
½ yard of the color for the main body of the bag and the handles; Tangerine in our sample
⅓ yard of the color for the main body of the bag and the top accent band; Fuchsia in our sample
- ½ yard of ONE coordinating print for the bag lining; we originally used Bubblegum Ta-Dot by Michael Miller Fabrics – Tangerine dots on a Fuchsia background
- 1 yard of 20″+ wide SEW IN heavyweight interfacing/stabilizer; we used Pellon Heavy Weight 50 stabilizer
- 1 yard of ⅜” piping cord
- One magnetic purse clasp
- For the optional accent bow: One yard of 1½” wide ribbon, One ½” – ¾” decorative button (we used a rhinestone button for extra bling), seam sealant
- All purpose thread to coordinate with fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
The cuts below are listed by the fabrics within our sample. You can certainly substitute your favorite solid colors and a coordinating print.
- From the Tangerine, cut the following:
TWO 3¼” x 10″ rectangles
TWO 3¾” x 10″ rectangles
TWO 4½” x 21″ rectangles
SIXTEEN 2″ x 10″ strips
- From the Fuchsia, cut the following:
FOUR 2½” x 14″ strips
EIGHTEEN 1″ x 10″ strips
- From the Bubblegum Ta Dot, cut the following:
ONE 8″ x 10″ rectangle
TWO 10″ x 14″ rectangles
- From the heavyweight sew-in interfacing, cut the following:
FOUR 10″ x 14″ rectangles
TWO 1½” x 20″ strips
- Cut the piping cord into TWO 16″ lengths. Wrap a piece of tape around all four raw ends to prevent raveling.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the contrasting strip panels
- Find all the 10″ pieces. Lay them out on your work surface in the following order, working left to right. Each panel (front and back) will use EIGHT 2″ Tangerine strips, NINE 1″ Fuchsia strips, ONE 3¼” Tangerine block and ONE 3¾” Tangerine block.
- The order is as follows (left to right): 3¼” Tangerine block, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 2″ Tangerine strip, 1″ Fuchsia strip, 3¾ Tangerine block.
- Place the first two pieces right sides together. Pin and stitch along one 10″ side.
- Stitch together, using a ¼” seam allowance.
- Repeat to add the remaining 17 pieces together in proper order.
- Press all seams towards the Tangerine.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces to create an identical 19-piece seamed panel for the opposite side.
- Pinch and fold along each Tangerine/Fuchsia seam to create a pleat.
- Pin all pleats to the left, securing them at the top and bottom. Press the pleats in place.
- Find one of the 10″ x 14″ interfacing panels.
- Lay the pleated and pinned panel on top of the interfacing. Lightly pin the two panels together.
- Measure 4½” from the top raw edge and mark a horizontal line. (Yes, that is top edge at the bottom of the photo below.)
NOTE: We used pins to mark our measurements; you could also use a fabric pen, pencil or chalk. However, you are marking on what will be the exterior of the handbag, so make sure your marks can be easily removed.
- Stitch along the drawn line.
- Remove the pins along the top and bottom and fold the pleats to the right (at the top and the bottom).
- Edgestitch across the entire panel at both the top and bottom to secure the pleats.
- Repeat to create matching wave tucks on the remaining exterior panel.
- If you are new to making wave tucks, we have a full tutorial here.
Create the bag exterior
- Place the wave-tucked front and back exterior pieces right sides together and pin together along both sides and across the bottom.
- Be very careful to precisely match up your wave tuck seam lines, and align the tucks themselves across the bottom as best you can. They won’t necessarily align perfect as shown in our beauty photographs above. It’s okay. No stress. It’s the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together along both sides and across the bottom. Remember to pivot at the corners.
- With the exterior bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners.
- Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner.
- As you keep pulling, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top and the side seam lines running down the middle. Repeat for the opposite corner.
- Our bag is sized to have 3″ sides and base. To create this width, you need to figure your boxed corner seam at half that finished width. Therefore, in our sample, we measured 1½” from the tip of each corner peak.
NOTE: The corner size is adjustable up or down should you prefer a slightly narrower or fuller handbag. Simply remember the rule about the measurement from the peak being one half the finished width of the corner.
- Draw a horizontal line at each side at the 1½” measurement.
- Pin your folded peaks and stitch along the drawn lines.
- Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce. Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼” from the seam line.
- Turn right side out and push out to form the boxed corners.
NOTE: Check out our full Box Corners tutorial is you are new to the technique.
- Set the bag exterior aside.
Create the bag lining and inside pocket
- Find the two 10″ high x 14″ wide lining rectangles (Bubblegum Ta Dot in our sample) and the two remaining 10″ x 14″ interfacing rectangles.
- Place a lining piece right side up on each interfacing piece. Machine or hand baste the two layers together. Set aside.
- Find the 8″ high x 10″ wide pocket piece.
- Fold in half, right sides together, making it 4″ x 10″.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Leave an approximate 2″-3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
- Clip corners. Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick, long knitting needle or point turner works well for this.
- Fold in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
- Pin the pocket in place on one 10″ x 14″ lining piece. The pocket should be centered side to side (3½” from each edge), 2½” from the top and 3″ from the bottom.
- 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.
- Place the lining piece with the sewn pocket and the second lining piece right sides together, aligning all raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Following the same steps as described above the bag exterior, box the bottom corners of the bag lining. Again, link to our full Box Corners tutorial if you are new to the technique.
- With the bag exterior right side out and the bag lining wrong side out, insert the lining into the bag exterior. The two are now wrong sides together. Match up all the seams and bottom corners. Set aside.
Create the straps
- Find the two 4½” x 21″ strap strips (Cotton Couture Tangerine in our sample), the two 1½” x 20″ interfacing strips and the two 16″ lengths of piping cord.
- Press a Tangerine strip in half lengthwise to set a center crease.
- Press in each long raw edge ½”.
- Unfold flat so all three crease lines are visible.
- Fold the strip right sides together. Measure 3″ in from each end and place a pin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch from each pin mark to the end of the strip. So you now have a strip with a 3″ seam on each end and a 15″ center opening.
- Press the seam open, then continue pressing the length of the strip, following along your original ½” crease lines.
- Slip a strip of interfacing inside the strap sleeve. Center the interfacing so the ends of it sit just inside the raw ends of the sleeve.
- Slip one end of the cording into the sleeve.
- The end of the cording should be inserted so it sits approximately ½” beyond the seam stop. Hand stitch the cording in place. You just need a few tacking stitches.
- Repeat to secure the opposite end of the cord in the same manner. Make sure the cord lays flat prior to hand-tacking the second end. You have a 15″ opening and a 16″ length of cord, so by slipping each end of the corded into the sewn ends of the seam by ½”, the remaining cord should lay nice and flat across the opening.
- Fold the entire sleeve in half so the folded edges meet. The cording will slide to one side, allowing you to pin the edges together.
- Edgestitch the along the length of the sleeve, starting and stopping at the ends of the cording or approximately 2½” from each end. Stitch as close to the folded edges as possible.
- Follow all these steps to create the second strap.
Create and attach the top accent band
- Find the four 2½” x 14″ accent band pieces (Cotton Couture Fuchsia in our sample).
- Separate the strips into two pairs. Pin each pair together along both 2½” ends to create a loop. Stitch both ends, using a ½” seam allowance.
- Fold up one long raw edge of each loop ½” and press.
- Place the loops on your work table with the folded edge down and the raw edge up.
- From each seam (of each loop) measure 1½” to the left of the seam and 1½” to the right of seam. Place a pin at each of these points.
- From each pin, measure 1¾” and place another pin.
- You should now have four sets of pins along the top raw edge of each loop. These pins are marking the openings that will be left to allow the handles to slip into place.
- Place the two loops right sides together, one loop inside the other. Carefully line up the side seams and the sets of pins. Place additional pins to hold the two loops together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the two loops together. Start and stop your seam at either side of each marked handle opening. Remember to lock your stitch.
- Flip the sewn accent loop right side out.
- Find the assembled bag. Slip the accent band over the top raw edge so the accent band’s top seam sits along the top edge of the bag. One folded side of the accent band should be to the inside and one to the outside. Lightly pin the outside of the band in place.
- Find the center front and center back of the bag. Insert one side of the magnetic purse clasp at each of these points, centering the clasp top to bottom within the inside accent band.
- The insertion instructions that come with the magnetic clasps are very easy to follow. In addition, you can look at our step-by-step tutorial for more information.
- Find both finished handles. Spread the bottom flange flat and slip one end into each opening.
- The end of the flange should be inserted approximately ½” – ¾” below the top of the accent band. Pin the handle ends in place.
- Pay attention to the seams of your handles. They should be facing in, and the bottom flange seam should be centered within the band opening.
- Hand baste the accent band in place all around. We used a contrasting thread to hand baste the bottom of the band first to the lining and then along the outside. By using the contrasting color and making sure our basting lines matched, it was easier to insure our topstitching would catch both sides.
- Using a contrasting thread (we used Tangerine), topstitch along both the top and the bottom of the band.
NOTE: We used our Janome Even Feed/Walking foot for this step to keep all the layers from shifting. If you have trouble stitching past the magnetic clasp, you can stop the seam on either side of the clasps, then change to a Zipper foot, which will allow you to get closer to the clasps to complete the seam.
- For an ultra preppy look, we made a pretty chartreuse bow with a rhinestone button. We attached a safety pin to the back so the bow could be removable.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild