Thursday, 10 July 2014

A clutch of Liberty patchwork purses...

Unusually for me, I've been making more than one of something recently. In the past, I've usually made something and then intended to make another but never got around to it (that still happens sometimes...). So I've been enjoying the process of making more of the same and I've been getting a little bit better at the various processes with each one. Not a massive revelation by any means but its new to me! :)

So, here is my trio of Liberty patchwork purses...

  Green patchwork Liberty purse Purple patchwork Liberty purse
Purse open 1

They are all made with a patchwork of Liberty tana lawn cotton fabric on the outside, layers of compressed fleece or various types of interfacing and a silk lining. The pink and green ones were quilted with lines of stitching for extra interest and texture.

The pink one was my first, which I gave to my friend as a gift. I used this fantastic tutorial to make the tiny patchwork panels for each side of the purse exterior. Ironing the squares to a piece of interfacing beforehand (described in the tutorial), makes things more accurate and allows for the tiny seam allowances. I think my machine would have eaten the pieces of fabric if I'd tried to assemble the patchwork in the 'normal' way! I used squares of fabric 3cm x 3cm in size and seams of 0.5cm to result in finished squares measuring 2cm x 2cm. It was fiddly to say the least! I like the finished effect though :)

Here you can see the fabric squares ironed onto a piece of thin interfacing (at the top of the photo) and the finished patchwork panel after sewing at the bottom of the photo...

Patchwork before and after sewing 2

I put a piece of compressed fleece behind each finished panel and stitched lines of diagonal quilting, before cutting each panel to the shape of the bag pattern piece and assembling the purse. This purse was the squishiest of the three, but still held its shape well.

I was so pleased with the way the purse looked when it was finished, I kept it on the sideboard in my living room so I could pick it up and pet it every now and then! It was definitely the most professional-looking thing I'd made to date :)

Pink Liberty clasp purse 3


The green purse was made in the same way as the pink one, but with a much stiffer sewn-in interfacing inside, which gave it a very firm feel. I've got more photos of the process of making the green purse. Here's the front side of the patchwork panel after sewing all the seams...

Front view of green purse patchwork

And the other side...

Back view of green purse patchwork

A close-up of all those tiny seams - I almost burnt my fingertips at least a dozen times ironing all these open...

Tiny seams of green purse patchwork

This purse was kindly bought from me by my boyfriend's mum as a gift for her daughter. Hopefully its getting lots of use!

Green patchwork Liberty purse

The third purse used a different technique for the patchwork panel. I hand stitched the fabric hexagons together using the English paper piecing technique, which involves tacking pieces of fabric to paper templates, then hand sewing the hexagons together along each edge. Once its all sewn together, you remove the papers. If that sounds incredibly hard to imagine, here's a good tutorial with lots of pictures! The shapes in the tutorial are slightly different, but you'll get the idea :)

Here are some of my fabric-covered hexagons, ready to sew together...

Planning layout of purple hexagons

It may look at first glance that each of these purses is made from a random selection of thrown-together fabrics, but it involved lots of planning and playing about to find patterns that worked well together and then figure out the most pleasing way to arrange them. The pink and green purses are made from blocks of nine different fabrics and the hexagon purse has seven fabrics, all placed so that they form a regular, repeating arrangement.

Here's the fiendishly complicated-looking chart I made myself to work out how many hexagons of each colour I needed and where they were going to be sewn together...

Hexagon patchwork sudoku

The finished patchwork panel of hand-sewn hexagons...

Purple patchwork panel

I made this last purse as a single panel with no seam at the bottom by making a few adjustments to the purse pattern pieces.

You can see the charcoal-y coloured silk lining in this picture...

Inside of purple patchwork purse

I used a special 'leather-like' interfacing for this bag, which made it nice and firm, although I think in the future I'd use a combination of compressed fleece and lighter interfacings because the seams on the firmer bags were a bit under strain with the thickness.

I was really pleased with the look of this bag and it was hard to give it away! It was a gift for a lovely friend though, so I'm hoping its getting lots of love with her :)

Purple patchwork Liberty purse

If you're interested in having a go at making a purse like these ones, U-Handbag has a great kit called the 'easy peasy purse making kit', which is what I bought to make my first one (although I used my own fabric and made life harder for myself by doing a patchwork version...). You can also get more purse frames and all the glues and interfacing you need at U-Handbag.

If you didn't want to buy the whole kit to make a purse using this pattern, its also available as a PDF download. Another great place to get purse frames and other bag making supplies is Bag Clasps, which is also UK based and has a great range of reasonably-priced materials.

Hope you enjoy making a purse if you give it a go, I'm going to get around to making one for me at some point! :)

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