Big bags and totes are great for big jobs, but sometimes when you’re out and about, a compact purse is what you need. Something to sling it over your shoulder with enough room to hold the necessities, plus just a little extra. If things are too big and bulky, you can spend the entire outing looking for somewhere to stash your bag. Or… worse, 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 little bit of heft 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, which is no long readily available. But, as an all-quilting-cotton project, your fabric choices are endless and updated each season.

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

  • ⅜ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the bag’s bottom exterior and straps
  • ⅜ yard of 44-45″ wide cotton fabric for the bag’s top exterior and lining
  • ⅛ yard of 45″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 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 ¾” rings in 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
  • Seam Sealant, such as 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
  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
    NOTE: We are fussy cut both fabrics because of their strong vertical/horizontal motifs. We wanted to be sure all the designs were straight and looked parallel with one another.
  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. Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin and slightly lengthen the stitch.
  4. If possible, use a Walking or Even Feed foot to stitch the lines of quilting.
  5. Set aside.

Interface the top panels

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse interfacing to the wrong side of each 4″ x 10″ top exterior panel. All four sides of both layers should be flush.
  2. Set aside.


  1. Find the 9″ x 6″ pocket piece.
  2. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 4½” x 6″.
  3. Pin in place, leaving an approximate 3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
  4. Re-thread, if necessary, with thread to best match the lining. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners and remembering to lock the seam at either side of the 3 opening.
  6. Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
  7. 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.
  8. Fold in the raw edges along the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam. Press well.
  9. Find the two 10″ x 10″ lining pieces.
  10. 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).
  11. 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. These corners are stress points for the pocket and it’s smart to secure the seam well. The edgestitching closes the opening used for turning.
  12. Along the top raw edge of both lining pieces, fold down ½” and press firmly to set a crease. Unfold so the crease line is visible, and so you can fully seam the lining top to bottom.
  13. 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).
  14. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  15. 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.
  16. Re-fold the top raw edge of the lining along the ½” crease line. Press again to re-set.
  17. 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 the side with 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”. Both ends of the strap are raw.
  7. Re-thread the machine, if necessary, with thread to best match the fabric. Slighten lengthen the stitch.
  8. 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.
  9. Cut off TWO 2″ lengths.
  10. Find the two D-rings and one of the quilted bottom exterior panels.
  11. Slip a 2″ length of strap through each D-ring and pin the raw ends together. The seamed sides are facing out.
  12. Place the D-ring tabs along the top edge of one of the quilted bottom exterior panels. The raw ends of the D-ring tab 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. Keep the slightly lengthened stitch. 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.

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, place the zipper panel right sides together with the bottom exterior panel, sandwiching the D-rings in between the layers. Pin in place.
  4. Re-set the seam length to normal. 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. Take the time to re-thread to match the fabric if necessary and re-set for the slightly lengthened stitch.
  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. With both sides sewn, 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. Re-set the stitch length to normal. 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 folded edge along the zipper.
  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. As shown in the photo below, make sure the seamed sides match from tab to 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

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Senora Sews
Senora Sews
2 hours ago

Love this bag! I’m going to make it! The instructions were so clear – thank you! I also love the folding technique on the tabs and strap — classy!!

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
40 seconds ago
Reply to  Senora Sews

Hi! Thank you! This is an older project, but has always been one of my favorites. Let us know how yours turns out! If you follow us, we’d love for you to share a photo on social media.

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