How to make a fabric purse

One of the joys of attending Family Week at SMBI was agreeing to organize a craft class for all the children ages 6-12. Ryan and I spent considerable time planning and preparing, then he took charge of the boys (18 of them) and I of the girls (28!). For one hour each day, four different days, we coached them through the steps of the craft we’d chosen—checkerboards for the guys, purses for the girls. The children were delightful to work with, and thrilled with how their crafts turned out.

We couldn’t have done it without significant help from a few parent volunteers–Sincerest thanks!

Special thanks also to NiyahBubbly, whose YouTube tips were most helpful. If all DIY videos were as hysterically darling as yours, I would watch them all.


Today I’m going to show you how to make a purse out of fabric, complete with a matching coin purse and flower pin. This project does not require a sewing machine, only hot glue and a minimal amount of hand-stitching.

27. completed purse set

The lovely thing about the craft is that it takes very little fabric, and could be made from scraps you have on hand. It’s more beautiful when you interchange two coordinating fabrics, so make two if you like, or find a crafting partner to work with you–then exchange coin purses and flowers for a mix-and-match look.

For each set, you will need:

  • One rectangle of fabric, 12″ x 30″
  • One safety pin
  • One button
  • One yard of ribbon
  • One or two yards of embroidery floss, and an embroidery needle
  • Two coffee stir sticks
  • About an inch of Velcro
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue or hot glue


1. Start with a rectangle of fabric, 12″ x 30″ or so.

1. coordinating rectangles

2. Cut as shown. Specific measurements are not important; straight lines are.

2. cut rectangles

3. Cut the smallest rectangle into a rough circle. From your scraps, save a small additional piece (not shown), about 1 x 1-1/2 inches.

3. cut rectangles

4. First, let’s make the flower pin. Take your long strip of fabric and fold it in half lengthwise.

4. flower fold

5. Starting at one end, twist it…

5. flower twist

…and coil it, twisting as you go…

6. flower coil

…until you have formed a rosette.

7. flower

6. Apply fabric glue or hot glue to your fabric circle.

8. flower back

7. Gently pick up your rosette and set it atop the glue, pressing firmly to adhere. Use additional glue to attach any loose places. Trim off any part of the circle backing that is exposed.

9. flower top

(Your flower will look prettiest made with striped or variegated fabric!)

10. flower alternate

8. Cut the small scrap of fabric saved from above…

11. flower with scrap

… into an hourglass shape.

12. flower with hourglass scrap

9. Position with a safety pin as shown, and glue both pin and hourglass securely to the back of the flower. (You could omit the pin and simply glue your flower to the purse; but I think it’s nice to have it removable so you can wear it elsewhere, such as pinned on a dress.)

13. flower with pin

10. The two remaining rectangles of fabric will become your purse and coin purse. “Hem” each one with hot glue, turning over 1/4 inch on all four sides. (–Unless you want to allow selvedge to show–I think it’s pretty. If your fabric is non-fray, you can skip the hemming entirely.)

14. hem

11. Your purse will be formed by tri-folding the fabric like this. Position your folds so they look good, with a longer or shorter flap as desired.

16. little purse

17. little purse flap

15. big purse

12. On the large purse, glue a coffee stir stick to the inside of each fold. This gives extra stability to the purse’s shape, and prevents sagging between the handles.

18. stir sticks

19. stir sticks on purse

13. Using all six strands of your embroidery thread, hand-sew a simple whipstitch (tutorial here)…

20. whip stitch

…or blanket stitch (tutorial here)…

21. blanket stitch

…up the sides of your purse. Make sure to completely encompass the glued hem with your stitch; it will be impossible to stitch through it. Repeat on the sides of your coin purse. (You can simply glue the sides shut, but I think the hand-stitching is what makes the craft charming.)

14. Fold in both sides of the top flap if desired, to expose more of the hand-stitching. Secure folds with glue.

22. envelope fold

15. Using a sharp scissors or fabric punch, pierce a tiny hole through the flap, just off the end of the stir stick, where you want your handle to attach.

23. handle pierce

16. Force one end of a yard of ribbon through the hole. (A sharp scissors will do the trick.) Tie a large knot in the fabric end, inside the purse. Secure to the fabric with glue if desired. Repeat with the other end of the ribbon, at the other end of the purse.

24. handle

17. Cut a small bit of Velcro to become the flap closure. Glue in place, on both the large purse and the coin purse. Glue an ornamental button on the coin purse flap if desired. Pin your completed flower to the large purse flap…

25. completed purse

…and you’re done!!

27. completed purse set

26. on Kelly

Here’s a work in progress with different fabric:

28. completed alternate pattern

And here’s my happy class:

29. class

My biggest girls:

30. biggest girls

And my smallest girls:

31. smallest girls


Any questions? Feel free to ask! I think these would make lovely gifts–but perhaps the gift of time (spent in crafting alongside your niece or granddaughter) would be the best gift of all.



PS–I am unspeakably thankful not all my blog posts are this long.

Ladybug craft

Confession: I think housecleaning is a waste of time.

I have several friends and family members who really enjoy it, and I cannot tell you how much I admire them. I wish I could get inside their minds for just a bit and see what they’re thinking about while they do it. There’s a trick there I haven’t learned.

But in the meantime, obviously it must be done. I have three strategies for dealing with it:

  1. Work fast.
  2. Get the kids involved. At seven and five, they can do a surprising amount.
  3. Wear something cute.

Last week I sewed an apron so I’d have something I liked to wear for cleaning. The best part is the ladybug on the front.

ladybug 1

I think you could use him for many different crafts—school projects, name tags, magnets, and more. I made him of scraps I pulled out of my sewing cupboards.

ladybug 2

To make a ladybug, you will need:

  • Red felt
  • White rickrack
  • Black non-fray fabric
  • Black thread and white thread
  • Black buttons
  • Antennae—I embroidered mine onto the apron, but you could use black pipe cleaners, braid, ribbon, or whatever you’d like. Knots at the end would replace the curlicues.

Sew accessories onto an oval of red felt, assembling as shown. You are smart enough to figure this out without me giving you ten steps, but if you have questions, feel free to ask.

I attached mine to my apron with Velcro, so I can remove him before washing.

ladybug apron 1

Now I have an ethical dilemma: do I have to save the apron just for cleaning?? Blech. Looks like I finally caught the cleaning bug.

...very focused on standing in the right place at the right time for the self-timer...

…very focused on standing in the right place at the right time for the self-timer…


Do you like cleaning? Tell me why. Or how you distract yourself while doing it…

Easter treat

jelly bean bag 2

Confession: I never saw much point in jellybeans.

The only ones I ever truly liked were the Buttered Popcorn variety from Jelly Belly. But their chief virtue lay in how much they tasted like something else. Sigh.

Still, when I found a poem* justifying their existence, I decided to share it with my Sunday school children — treat and theology, all in one. I know it’s a little too early for Easter proper yet, but our recent lessons have focused on the death and resurrection of Christ, so this is perfect.

Jelly Beans Tell a Story
Written by Barbara Hooks

Black is for the evil planned that night.
Yellow is for God’s Son who is the Light.

Red is for the precious blood that Jesus gave.
Green is for the grass that grew beside the grave.

Orange is for the setting sun as soldiers slept.
Pink is for the rising sun as Mary wept.

Purple is for rulers who could not win.
White is for the cloth He left within.

Blue is for the water in the sea.
On the shore “The risen Lord! Oh, could it be?”

Many people witnessed this great event.
Disciples watched as heavenward He went.

The angel said He would return–
Exactly when, we do not learn.

A bag full of jellybeans helps us tell
A story of love we know so well.

Share the candy; share the joy;
Jesus died for girls and boys!


I am slightly color-starved at the moment, so I decided to really play the color theme and cut rainbow-colored ribbons from my stash of fabric scraps.

rainbow cloth strips
jellybean bag 1

I printed a copy of the poem for each child and folded it up like an envelope, sealed with a sticker.

1 2 3 4 5 6

They loved it.

alena josh katy

* Inspiration and poem found at!

Denim redemption

Confession: My boys go through blue jeans like most people go through Kleenex.

Before I was a mom, I thought denim was one of the more durable fabrics. I am rethinking this.

I’m considering starting a new trend: patches on knees. I’m not sure it would go over well, but it would be worth a try.

We buy our sons’ jeans secondhand, which makes them affordable, but I always groan when it’s time to hit the Salvation Army again already, time to start praying my standard prayer: “Lord, you know what my family needs. Please prepare it for us…” Decent jeans in the right sizes are a precious commodity. When I ask Jesus to get them ready for us, three things happen:

a) I stop worrying, realizing He knows our sizes

b) I stop grasping, realizing He may intend that ‘perfect’ pair for another of His children, and

c) He really does it.

That’s one redeeming factor for worn-out jeans. The other is this: a something-from-nothing purse.

blue jean purse

I learned the trick from a local sewing wizard, Joanna Schlabach.

  • Cut off a pair of old jeans below the seat.
  • Invert, and sew a straight seam across the bottom. Turn right side out.
  • Add a strap as desired. Mine is simply strips of denim, braided. You could use wide ribbon instead, making the tote as boyish or girlish as you wish.
  • If desired, add a velcro or hook fastening to keep it closed.
  • Front and back pockets are already in place!

The only problem I see is that around our house, supply exceeds demand. I could outfit my entire church with blue jean purses, but… … … you know… you can only make so many.

Any other ideas for worn out jeans?

Cross purposes

Confession: I don’t believe in praying that God would arrange the world around my private needs, but at times my philosophies and prayers fly mingled out the car window. (You wouldn’t think that the car window would be open in February, but I assure you that at times it is. It’s better than the resident odors.)

I kept praying on the way to Valu Home Center at 5:15 on a Saturday night. Please Lord, help them to be open.

They were open. I couldn’t believe it.

And I bought the supplies I needed for a craft in Sunday school next morning. I tire of paper crafts. I wanted a strong, realistic way to put Jesus’ death into my children’s hands. I found this one last minute at, along with a second Easter idea I’ll show you next Sunday.

cross and tulips

You need only two supplies:

3″ masonry nails
lightweight wire

The rest is pretty self-explanatory. I’ll just note that offsetting the two upright nails will compensate for the equal width of the crossbeam.

finished cross
What else would you suggest for this cross? Uses? Improvements?