If you’re brand new to sewing, you might think a purse is too advanced a project to tackle. Nope! With some clever cutting and careful stitching, today’s ribbon-accented holiday bag is super cute and super easy. There are no complicated corners or closures. And, the main body of the purse is a heavy felt, one of the most forgiving fabrics for new sewers. Finishing at 11″ x 11″, this pretty purse is the Goldilocks “just right” size: not too big, but not too small. It’s great for holiday shopping trips when you want a lightweight shoulder bag. It would also make a wonderful gift… showing off your new sewing skills to friends and family who may still think a cool purse is “sooooo hard to do” (we’ll never tell!).

Our thanks to our friends at Renaissance Ribbons for providing the beautiful Jacquard ribbons by Sue Spargo. The weight of the pretty ribbons and lining on the extra-long flap keeps the bag closed. However, if you are more advanced, you could certainly add a zipper to the top and/or a magnetic snap at the bottom of the flap should you want more security for your bag’s contents.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. Keep the one yard of 1½” ribbon as-is for the strap accent.
  2. Cut all the other ribbons into 8″ lengths, centering each so the middle 7″ best feature the ribbon’s motif.
  3. From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
    ONE 11″ x 23″ rectangle for the main lining
    ONE 11″ x 8″ rectangle for the flap lining
  4. From the fusible seam tape, cut one 36″ length for the strap and enough 8″ lengths for each flap accent ribbon; we cut thirteen 8″ lengths.
  5. From the felt, cut the following:
    ONE 11″ x 32″ rectangle for the purse body
    ONE 1¾” x 36″ strip for the strap
  6. Lay the 11″ x 32″ felt rectangle flat on your work surface.
  7. Measure 2″ in from each upper corner and 10″ down from each upper corner. Connect your marks to form a 2″ x 10″ rectangle in each upper corner.
  8. Cut away the 2″ x 10″ rectangles along the drawn lines. This creates the purse flap.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Lining preparation

  1. Find the 11″ x 23″ lining rectangle. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it is now 11″ x 11½”. Pin along both sides.
  2. Using a ⅜” seam allowance, stitch along both sides. Press the seam open.
  3. Fold under and press the top raw edge ½” all around.
  4. Set the main lining bag aside.
  5. Find the 11″ x 8″ flap lining rectangle. Fold under and press the top and side raw edges ½”. Leave the bottom edge flat. Lightly pin the folded edges in place and set the flap lining aside.

Attach the ribbons to the flap and the strap

  1. Find all the 8″ ribbon lengths for the flap accent. Line up the ribbons in order so you can easily keep track of them as you work from the bottom of the flap to the top.
  2. Following manufacturer’s instruction, adhere a strip of fusible web to the first ribbon.
  3. Adhere the ribbon in place. We started approximately ⅛” up from the end of the flap. Center the ribbon so ½” extends beyond the flap on each end. Fuse in place.
  4. Repeat these steps until all the ribbons are fused in place. For the best look, the ribbons should be butted against one another, in order words, no felt should be showing between the ribbons. 
  5. When all the ribbons are in place, wrap the raw ribbon ends around to the back. There should be enough fusible web to hold them in place on the back, but you can also put a pin at each end to help hold the raw ends to the back.
  6. Thread your machine with thread to best match each ribbon. Even though it may be a bit more time consuming, make the effort to change the thread for each ribbon if necessary. It will look much better when finished.
  7. Topstitch each ribbon in place along each long side of each ribbon. Again, we started at the bottom…
  8. … and worked our way up to the top. 
  9. Find the 1¾” x 36″ felt strip and the one yard of 1½” ribbon.
  10. Following the same steps as above, attach a strip of fusible web to the ribbon.
  11. Adhere the ribbon to the felt strip, and topstitch the ribbon in place.

Add the linings and insert the strap

  1. Place the felt body wrong side up on your work surface, with the ribbon-stitched flap flat.
  2. Find the pressed flap lining.
  3. Place the flap lining wrong sides together with the flap, aligning all the finished edges (the top and both sides). The bottom raw edge of the lining should  drop below the flap towards the main body of the bag. Pin in place along both sides and across the top.
  4. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the flap to the lining along both sides and across the top. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to help keep an accurate line. 
  5. Fold the felt exterior body in half, bringing up the bottom edge so it is perfectly aligned across the bottom of the flap. Pin in place along both sides.
  6. Re-thread your machine with a contrasting thread to match the accent ribbons. We used bright red.
  7. Stitch both sides of the felt body in place, using a ¼” seam allowance. Remember to secure your seam at both the beginning and end.
  8. Place the sewn bag on your work surface with the flap open and flat – so the lining is showing. 
  9. Find the strap. Place the left end of the strap against the top left corner of the bag front. The right side of the strap should be facing the wrong side of the bag and the end of the strap should be approximately ½” to ¾” below the top edge of the bag. Pin the strap in place. 
  10. Carefully loop the strap and place the right end of the strap against the top right corner of the bag back. Similar to above, the right side of the strap should be facing the wrong side of the bag and the end of the strap should be approximately ½” to ¾” below the top edge of the bag. Pin the strap in place.
    NOTE: Take the time to make sure your strap position is correct. One end is attached to the front of the bag, the opposite end is attached to the back of the bag.  When you place the strap over your shoulder, it should come up and over so you can see the ribbon side of the strap from both front and back. 
  11. Find the main lining. It should be wrong side out. Slip the lining into the felt bag so the two parts are wrong sides together. Align the top folded edge of the lining with the top edge of the felt bag. The bag lining should now cover the raw bottom edge of the flap lining. Pin in place all around.
  12. Re-thread your machine if necessary with thread to best match the felt and lining
  13. Edgestitch all around the top of the bag to secure the lining in place. We continued to use our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep a nice straight seam
  14. Press well. 


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

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