Shabby Miss Jenn

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Big Purse Alternative

I'm in two local quilting bees, one of which is Cyberbee.  We meet quarterly or so, and "talk" via email otherwise.  At our meeting a few months ago, Barbara showed us some darling purses made from placemats.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  (ETA:  Barbara has been in touch and told me that she got the pattern from Threads magazine, if you're looking to try it out for yourself.)  These little, 2-pocket bags, in which you could put your license, credit card, check book, and cell phone, are a perfect alternative to lugging a big purse.  Great for quick errands, or kids' sports games/practices.

I ran out and picked up a few placemats, along with some pretty trims for shoulder straps and big, chunky buttons.  When selecting placemats, I found that really heavy/thick ones don't work very well (hard to fold, hard to sew through).  Placemats with pretty borders along one of the short sides worked best, as those borders become the flap and add a nice decorative touch.

Here are the 4 I made over the weekend (straps were tucked inside for the picture):

I made a minor change from Barbara's models - I sewed down a triangle of fabric on the outside of the front pocket so that it could be accessed more easily.  Here's a picture of an open purse, showing the pocket and the strap:

Lessons learned (the hard way, of course :) )
Figure out placement and sew the buttons on FIRST.
Add the button loop and the shoulder straps BEFORE you sew the sides together.
Keep the seam ripper handy. (Not a lesson from this project, but one I learned a long time ago and of which I was rather strongly reminded over the weekend.)

These will be given to Mom, Margaret, Kitty, and Cat.  Surprise!


  1. These are beautiful! Placemats. Who would have thought? I like your idea to make the pocket easy to get into also.

  2. Your hard work was worth it! What pattern did you use?

  3. What a neat project! You know you can get Vera Bradley placemats for not a lot of money, then you could make your own VB purse for a fraction of the price of the 'real' thing. Very nice though with the colors you used!

  4. Such a cool idea! I'll have to try that. I've pinned it! :)