Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toddler Purse Tutorial

My good friend has the two cutest babies that I love making stuff for. The older one is turning 2 next week so I just had to make her a cute toddler sized purse to carry around the play makeup and hair items I got her.  I did not find any commercial patterns or tutorials I liked on making a bag for a toddler so I figured I would make my own. Now, if I was searching for this type of pattern and tutorial I figured there has to be others…why not turn what I make into a tutorial! So bear with me as this is my first tutorial and there were some parts where I forgot to take photos but I really think you can follow along with what I have. If you can't, feel free to ask and I will tell you!

First I laid out all the items I wanted to fit in the bag.

Then I drew a basic size shape on a plain piece of paper that would hold all those items.

This gave me the basic idea for my measurements since I wanted to piece the exterior of the purse together. You can use this size shape as your basic pattern for cutting your pieces into a square out of one whole fabric piece (adding an extra ½ inch for seam allowances),  or use it to decide how large your separate pieces should be to make the exterior the size of your pattern/drawn shape. The supplies listed below are if you want to piece the outside with multiple fabrics such as I did.


- 2 strips 1.75 x 9 for the top strip (pink)

- 2 strips 1.5 x 9 for the middle strip (purple)

- 2 strips 3.5 x 9 for the bottom strip (pink)

- 2 strips 2 x 16 for the straps (purple) -- to determine this measurement, I laid the tape measure out in a rounded shape above my drawn pattern piece to get an approximate measurement, then added an extra inch for seam allowances

- 2 rectangles of lining fabric (mutli colored hearts) cut the same size (or 1/8 inch smaller all around) as the pieced exterior (this means that after sewing the pink and purple strips together, you can put this rectangle on top of the lining fabric and cut around it the same size for the linings as well as the fusible fleece for the lining—I talk about this more after the exterior is pieced and we begin on the lining)

- 2 small squares of pocket fabric (purple) cut to the size of the pocket you want (I placed the item I wanted to be used in the pocket—the phone—on top of the fabric to determine the correct size to make the pocket…see picture below)

- 1 strip of fusible fleece 2 x 16 fused to wrong side of one fabric strap

- 2 rectangles of fusible fleece, same size as lining rectangles, fused to the wrong side of each lining rectangle

- 2 scraps of Velcro (I used small squares—I worried about the potential of zipping up a finger if I used a zipper closure—especially with the younger baby around)

- 1 15 inch length of ribbon to tie into a bow to embellish the outside

Here is a picture of my supplies (after I had pieced the exterior):

First you want to place your three strips for the exterior out in the order you want them. Then place right sides together of the top and middle fabrics and sew a ¼ inch seam. Then place that piece right sides together with the bottom strip and seam. Do the same for the other exterior piece. When you press the seams you have sewn, you want to make sure to press one set of seams towards the top fabric (up) and the seams on the other exterior piece should be pressed down. This will help when matching the seams later when sewing the pieces together.

If you look closely, you can see how each piece has seams that are pressed in opposite directions.

Now that you have both exteriors pieced, you can use these to measure out the size to cut the lining pieces and the fusible fleece for the lining. You can cut those now and also fuse the fleece to the back sides of both pieces.

Next, take your pocket pieces and place them right sides together and sew around the edges with a ¼ inch seam leaving an opening to turn the pocket to the right side.

Turn the pocket right side out and push out the corners and seams and press well.

Now pin the pressed pocket on top of a lining rectangle where you would like the pocket to be. (I placed mine towards the right). Sew all the way around the pocket at the very edge (topstitch) with a thread that matches the pocket fabric. 

Next place the rough piece(s) of Velcro on the lining where you would like it to be and stitch it down to the lining. Place the opposite lining piece on top of the piece with the Velcro and pocket and mark where the Velcro meets the lining piece. Now sew the soft Velcro piece to the spot you marked on the plain lining piece.
These are the steps where I forgot to take pictures! I took a picture of this that I will post here but it was after I sewed the lining pieces together so only look at the picture for placement purposes and know that the steps to sew the lining together are coming up soon!

Now you can also see not to make the same mistake I did and make your pocket as big as the purse is going to be! Keep that in mind when cutting your pocket pieces. I used a piece of Velcro on each side of the purse opening but you can just as easily use a larger piece in the center. It is up to you!

Back to the exterior pieces. Place the exterior pieces right sides together making sure to line up the seams. Remember how we pressed in opposite directions? This should enable you to butt the seams up to each other and pin them in preparation for sewing. We will be sewing down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side leaving the top open. Do not forget to backstitch at the beginning and end to lock those stitches!

It is hard to see in the picture above but I tried to take a picture of how I butted the seams together and pinned them before sewing. Now that the pieces are sewn together, we are going to square the bottom of the bag to give it some shape.

To do this, I match the side seam to the bottom seam where the sides end up folding out into a triangle at the bottom. It's hard to explain but do not worry I have tons of pictures of this part!

I have placed a pin there because I used my fingers to feel and make sure that the two seams matched up together and placed a pin so they would not move. Next I marked in 1 inch from the point with a line.

I drew a line and repeated this process for the other side. Then I took it to the sewing machine and stitched both sides on the marked line that I drew.  Then I trimmed the excess to make the seam about 1/4 inch.

After you have the exterior done, you want to do the same process for the lining of sewing the pieces together and squaring the bottom--with one major difference!  We need to leave an opening in the bottom of the lining. So when you first place your lining pieces right sides together to sew down the sides, across the bottom, and up the other side, you need to not sew the entire bottom together--leave an opening for turning like we did with the pocket. This picture will show you the opening I left.

You want to make yours more in the center. I made mine off center and then by the time I squared off the bottoms, it was too far over to make things easy. Make sure your opening is in the center to make things easy on yourself. 
Now place both the lining and the exterior aside because it is time to sew the straps. One strap should have fusible fleece fused to it. Place the straps right sides together and sew on each side with a 1/4 inch seam leaving the short ends open, essentially making a tube. Turn the tube right side out and press. Now your straps are done.

Almost done! Now we are going to put all the pieces together.   Make sure the lining is turned wrong side out so that the fleece sides are facing you, then place the long strap with one end on the inside of the lining (the fabric side) and pin making sure approximately 1/2 inch is above the lining and pin the other side of the strap to the other side leaving the same 1/2 inch above the lining. This means that the strap will be lying down inside on the bottom of the lining! I know it seems backwards but trust me. Next you want to take the exterior of the bag and make sure it is wrong side out as well so that you are placing the patterned fabric side down into the lining. This means that both pretty sides of the fabrics are facing each other. (right sides together!)  You can see this layering in the picture below. Note the straps poking out from the sides--the strap is lying down inside between the two layers! It is not pinned and hanging out the top. Make sure to match the side seams of the lining and the exterior together and pin around the outside as shown.

Sew around the top with a 1/4 inch seam.  Now turn the entire bag right side out through the hole we left in the bottom of the lining, like so.

When it is completely turned right side out it will look like this.
Now take this time to either stitch the opening in the lining by hand or by machine. I sewed mine by machine and here is a close up that also shows I sewed it a little crooked....oops. But I bet the birthday girl doesn't say one word about it!
Now tuck that lining into the purse and squish and pull the edges and straps right until it fits perfectly. Tada!
Wow the purse is basically finished. You can now add the bow on the outside or embellish however you want. Although, if you wanted to add embroidery, you should have done it way back after you pieced the exterior. Last step I did---I added the goodies!

She is ready to go!  All that play makeup looks like so much fun. Did I mention I met her mother when we both worked at makeup counters at a department store?  It's impossible to get started on makeup too early! So I hope you enjoyed my tutorial..I know it is pretty detailed but I was trying to write it for the extreme novice sewer. Please send me pics or post comments about the bags you make. I love seeing them!! Enjoy!!!


  1. Your post inspired me to make a purse for my cousin's daughter for her first birthday! Photos here:

  2. Thank you so much for this AWESOME lil' purse tutorial!!! Plan to make one for our Grandgirlie!! KNOW she will LOVE it!

    Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us! You are amazing! Love your Blog!!!

    Lori :)

  3. Itty Bitty: Your naptime tote is so adorable! I'm glad I could inspire that creation...your cousin's daughter is going to love it!

  4. Lori: I'm so glad you love the tutorial!! I can't wait to see pictures of what you make!!


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