I’m so happy to share this tutorial with you!
I have made many of these little clutch bags and they are the perfect accessory for handmade garments as you can use your leftover fabrics and get the perfect match. This bag is one I made to match my recent evening gown.
These are some of the other bags I’ve made. The ivory one with the rosette has a different type of frame than the one I’m using in this tutorial. The other two both have overlays and use the same type of sew in frame.
I honestly have no idea if how I make these bags is the right way.
I just kind of figured it out myself and after about 15 or so of these, I pretty much have it down.
- Sew-in purse frame
- Purse fabric
- Lining fabric
- Trim (optional)
- Thread/hand sewing needles
- Scissors (paper and fabric shears)
- Cardstock (or lighter weight paper)
- Beading needle
- Beading thread
Purse Frames: For this tutorial I’m using a sew-in purse frame that has holes on the exterior which is where the beads go. There are many different kinds and sizes of frames. This one I’m using came from Joann’s, but I’ve also bought several very nice ones off of Etsy and eBay. The ornate one that I used in the ivory silk dupioni purse above is an antique reproduction frame I found on Etsy and used to make that purse, which was my wedding purse.
Fabrics: You basically just need scrap fabrics, but if you’re buying fabrics specifically to make a bag, I’d probably suggest about 1/8-1/4 yd of fabric depending on the size of your frame. My fabrics in this tutorial are a silk voile and a diamond jacquard lining.
Trim: This is optional, but as I used trim on my gown and had some left over, I decided to also use it on this purse.
Beads/Beading Supplies: I’m using size 11 Czechoslovakian seed beads, John James size 11 beading needles, beading thread, and wax (yes, I’m using up the end of my bits and pieces!). I buy my beads and beading supplies at Prairie Edge in Rapid City, South Dakota, picking them up in person and stocking up when I am there. I learned Northern Plains style beading when I lived in SD, so my beading techniques comes from that. You can buy beads at many places, including chain stores, but I prefer higher quality supplies and I like to see my beads in person. If you have a Native American bead supply store near you, I’d recommend buying your materials there. The beads are often less expensive than a jewelry type beading store and nicer. Plus, I like buying my beads on hanks and not in little vials. Sometimes I do buy beads and supplies on Etsy from various suppliers. You can use bigger or smaller beads depending on your preference. You could use a hand sewing needle, but beading needles have a smaller eye, are thin and long, and are a little bit flexible, which makes them much better at this task.
Lay out your paper (I prefer cardstock) and draw a rough size for your purse. I also trace over the frame. (Yes, my pencil looks like crap…)
Cut out your pattern, adding the seam allowance (however much you want).
Next, I fold the pattern in half and make each side even by cutting off the excess while keeping the roundness. I do this all freehand, but of course you could use tools to get it all perfect.
Cut out your pattern pieces from your purse fabrics (two from each fabric). As my silk voile is rather sheer, I’m using that as an overlay, so I cut out four pieces of my lining material rather than just two. I sewed my purse pieces (2 voile and 2 diamond lining) together so they became one.
Right sides together, sew your purse and lining pieces together. I used pinking shears on the seams. Turn the purse shell right side out and leave the lining with the right sides together. If you’re using trim like I did, sew that on before you sew the two purse shell pieces together. I cut mine to fit and sewed it on each end and then went across the top and bottom of the trim before sewing the two purse shell pieces together.
Put the lining inside the purse shell and baste the top edges together. I pinked the edges afterwards.
Find the center of your purse (I used rulers to do this) and mark it.
I start at the center and start sewing the center of the purse to the center of the frame. I’m just using regular poly thread and a hand sewing needle to do this. I sew down to the bottom of the frame and then go back up and around the frame and then knot it off under the inside of the frame.
I then cut a long piece of beading thread and wax it. The wax is a very important component as it makes it easier for the beads to glide down and for the thread to go through the purse fabrics. I also like to put my beads in little containers (this is the lid) as it makes it easier to pick up the beads with the needle.
With a beading needle, it’s quite easy picking up the beads. You don’t even have to use your fingers. I’m doing basically a lazy stitch on this, so I pick up enough beads to cover the spaces between each hole on the purse frame.
I started beading on the last hole of the frame (this frame has a partial last hole).
Go back through your last row so that you have a continuous stream of beads. This technique also reinforces the beads and the purse so that it’s more sturdy.
You can also add a second row of beads above or underneath the row you just made. If you’re using larger beads, they’ll obviously cover up the frame more.
All done!!! After I’ve beaded the frame, I take my poly thread and hand sewing needle and do a few stitches on each side to make sure the raw edges are all enclosed.
I have used some liquid stitch and a matching ribbon to cover up the raw edges on the inside before. I didn’t do it with this one as seeing the pinked edges doesn’t bother me.
It matches perfectly!
Yes, it does look a little off here. I put my phone in it when I took this photo.