Thursday, July 16, 2009

Towel Purse Tutorial

My mom had seen some bags made from towels while she was out shopping and thought they were cute. When we came across these super cute beach towels at TJ Maxx, we knew the pattern would be perfect to make our own towel purses! Because they are made from towels, they are as easy to clean as throwing them in with a load of laundry. They are perfect for running errands, taking to the pool or beach, or really any use you'd have for a large bag.

They were easy to make, so I thought I'd share a simple tutorial.

Supplies you'll need:
a large towel (beach towels work great!)
1-2 paper grocery sacks
scissors to cut your fabric
sewing machine
thread to coordinate with your towel

The beach towel we used was more like a sheet! It was so large that we easily cut two purses out of one towl. First, I cut the towel in half lengthwise. If you were using a smaller towel you could skip that step.

Fold it in half as shown above. Cut the folded edge so that you have 2 pieces.

I created my own pattern using a paper grocery bag. I cut the grocery sack open to be one large flat piece and laid the grocery sack on my fabric to make sure it fit within my piece of towel. I actually taped two grocery sacks together to make a large enough piece of paper. I traced around another purse that I wanted to copy the shape of, modifying it just a little bit. I folded my grocery sack in half lengthwise, tracing half the bag, then cut out my pattern. See the finished pattern below.

(You could also free hand draw a bag shape; fold your grocery bag in half lengthwise, drawing the shape you want on one half of the bag, then cutting your drawn line while the bag is folded in half, then unfolding.)

You can make your bag any shape you want!

Take one of the towel pieces, and lay it flat on the table right side facing up. Set the other piece aside. Pin your pattern to the towel, and cut around the pattern, leaving a 1/2 inch of fabric all the way around.

Next, cut the circle out of the middle for the strap, also cutting a 1/2 inch out from the pattern.

Remove the pins and the pattern from your cut piece of fabric. Lay the second piece of towel flat on the table, placing the cut piece on top, right side down. Be sure that the right sides are facing each other and the side that you want inside your bag (in my case the plain side) on the cut piece is facing up.

You don't need to pin because the texture of the towels will hold the pieces together. Use the first cut piece as your pattern to cut out your bottom piece. Don't forget that you don't need to leave the extra 1/2 inch around the edge this step! Cut the bottom piece to match the top piece.

After both pieces are cut, pin the outside edge together. (See photo below.) Make sure that the plain sides are facing out, with the right/patterned sides facing each other!

(Unfortunately, because my thread was cream colored, you cannot see my stitching in photographs, so there are no photographs for the rest of the sewing steps.)

Sew a seam around the outside edge of the bag, 1/2 inch in from the edge. I used a straight stitch, but you could also use a zigzag if you'd like. After sewing around the entire outside edge once, I sewed back and forth across the bottom 1/3 of the bag another time to reinforce the seam, using a zigzag stitch and following just above the first seam. Since the bottom of the bag holds most of the weight, it's a good idea to reinforce the bottom seam!

Remove the pins and flip the bag right side out. Now you need to sew the hole on each piece separately for the strap. Fold the raw edge in 1/2 inch (plain side to plain side) and pin. If you want to hide the raw edge you can double fold it, tucking the raw edge inside. Sew a seam about 1/4 inch in from the edge, going all the way around one circle. Repeat on the cut out hole on the other side.

I then folded the two strap pieces together and sewed them together to make the strap. Do not sew the bottom of the hole closed as this is the opening of your purse! Start about 3 inches up the strap from the bag opening, sew a seam up and around the top of the strap, stopping 3 inches above the bag opening on the other side.

I left my opening without a closure, but you could easily sew a velcro closure to the inside of your bag in the middle of the opening.

Here is my finished bag! It took less than 2 hours from start to finish. I think I will modify the shape to have a wider opening on my next bag, but I'm happy with how it turned out. Let me know if you make your own towel purse!


Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

That is super-cute! I love how it looks, and the fact that you can throw it in the washing machine is so great. Thanks for the tutorial!

Infarrantly Creative said...

Cute the towel you chose. So fun!

Andrea said...

Super, super cute!! I am so impressed with all your talent, Amber!

Jen R. said...

Very cute!

Shannon said...

So cute! I love the style and the fabric!