Making Vintage Bags Purse Project

PicMonkey Collage
For my 2nd post in my quest to sew at least one project from every sewing book I own, I’ve sewn another purse. I didn’t have a choice as to what to sew this time – the book I used is “Making Vintage Bags” by Emma Brennan. “Making Vintage Bags” was published in 2007 and contains instructions and patterns to create 20 original purses. This handbag sewing book is unique because the purses are vintage-inspired. The styles are reminiscent of bags from the 1920s through the 1950s, with 5 patterns representing each decade.

I chose to make the “Grace”, a 1940’s inspired wool bag with a leaf shaped applique. One of the reasons I chose to sew this particular bag was that it’s made from wool. I have a tan wool sweater I accidentally machine washed and shrank. I thought a wool purse would be a great way to put this unusable sweater to good use. Yes, I’m ridiculously thrifty, I know.

In order to use my stash fabrics as much as possible on this bag I changed the felt leaf applique to a cotton print from Alexander Henry. I purchased the fabric, “Japanese Geishas”, so long ago it’s now OOP (out of print). But since the frog closure gave the purse an Asian feel I thought the geisha fabric would be appropriate. I also used the same fabric for the bag strap and lining. But I ended up adding narrow black bias tape to the outside of the strap in order to tie the handle fabric in with the black frog and trim.

I changed the bag trim from black gimp (didn’t have this in the stash) to black cotton which I used almost like giant bias tape around the top of the bag. The only thing I purchased (besides the book in 2007) to complete the purse was the extra-large frog for the closure. So this bag was a success in terms of stashbusting, but my problem with sewing bags? I’ve used the same handbag (a gift from my husband) for years and I’m too lazy to switch from purse to purse like more fashionable women do. But then again, once my current purse dies of old age and overuse, I’ll have plenty of spares to choose from!


Hi! I’m Kitty and I adore fabric. I’m not a great seamstress (I would describe myself as an advanced beginner) but I’m passionate about sewing. As much as I love this creative hobby, I have to admit I have lots of sewing fears: buttonholes and zippers come to mind immediately! I’ve taken a few sewing classes but I learn by repetition so it’s practice makes perfect for me, although really I’d settle for just wearable. I’m trying to learn enough about sewing so I’ll be able to make and wear clothing without being asked “did you make that?”


  1. I like to make bags mostly because there’s no fiddling with fit. Somehow very few of my projects turn out to be quick and easy, though. I always end up either doing something wrong, not understanding the directions, or adding something different and complicated to them.


  2. Great bag! I own the book and am being inspired to pull it out (and my accidentally felted sweater)and make a bag featured in it. Thanks for the inspiration.


    • I don’t have this book, but it sounds wonderful. Another item to add to my long list. I love making bags because usually, they’re quick and easy.


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