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Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag

This handbag is inspired by traditional Chinese and Japanese bags. It's very sturdy and practical, while at the same time appearing elegant and stylish. The bag features the design Oriental Inspirations: Chrysanthemums for a commercial hoop (8" x 12").
The finished size of the bag is about 18" x 18".

You will need

  • about 1 yard of brown-colored cotton fabric (we'll call it the main fabric in the following instructions),
  • a lot of scraps of cotton fabrics in earth-brown to natural-brown hues
  • a pair of wood purse handles with a 12" wide slit (we found ours at a Jo-Ann store)
  • batting
For the embroidery you will need a piece of light-colored cotton fabric and heavy-weight iron-on stabilizer or polyester craft felt. We prefer to use felt instead of stabilizer.


Stabilize a piece of light-colored fabric with heavy-weight iron-on stabilizer or polyester craft felt. Make the embroidery.

Cut away the excess stabilizer/felt as close to the stitches as possible. Then cut away the fabric around the embroidery leaving 1/4" margins for seam allowance.

Cutting and Sewing the Panels:

The Front Panel:

Measure the embroidery. Our stitch-out measures 6 1/2 x 11 1/2", but if you used a different pattern, it will be a different size. Out of one of the darker scraps, cut 2 strips measuring 1 1/2" x 11 1/2" and 2 strips measuring 1 1/2" x 8 1/2".

Sew the longer strips to the left and right edges of the stitch-out.
Sew the shorter strips to the upper and lower edges of the stitch-out.

Out of the brown scraps cut 22 strips measuring 2" x 6", and 2 strips measuring 2" x 8 1/2".

Sew the 2" x 8 1/2" strips to the upper and lower edges of the embroidered part.

Sew the 2" x 6" strips into 2 strips - 11 strips in each large strips.

Sew each of the new strips to the left and right edges of the central part. These strips are a bit longer than the embroidered part. Align the strips with the upper edge of the embroidered part, machine stitch in place. Press. Then cut away the excess fabric along the bottom edge.

The Back Panel:

For the back panel, out of brown scraps cut 22 strips measuring 2" x 6", and 5 strips measuring 2" x 17". Sew the 5 longer strips together into a central part.
Sew the shorter strips into 2 large strips, 11 strips in each.

Sew the the larger strips to the right and left edges of the central part.

Out of the main fabric, cut a strip measuring 3 1/2" x 19 1/2" and 2 strips measuring 2 1/2" x 19 1/2".

Sew the 2 1/2" x 19 1/2" strips to the upper edges of the front and back panels.

Sew the 3 1/2" x 19 1/2" strip to the lower edges of the panels, connecting them.


Now place the main fabric on a flat surface (table) face down. Cover with batting. Spread your working piece over it.

Pin all three layers together with 1" pins. Cut away the excess main fabric.
Quilt the working piece. We quilted around the embroidery and all over the bag in a free-motion style. Remove the pins as you quilt.

Press the work with heavy steam and square the work -- all corners should be 90 degrees and opposite sides should be of the same length.

Assembly and Finishing:

Fold the work in half and align the edges of the front the back panels.

With pins mark the center of the upper edges.

The opening of the bag needs to taper to 11 1/2" for our handles (the handles are 12" wide).

Starting from the central mark, measure 5 3/4" to the left (mark this spot) and to the right (mark this spot).

Measure 4 1/2" from the upper corners down. Mark the points.

With a ruler and chalk draw a line connecting the marked points. Cut away the corners along the line.

Out of the main fabric, cut strips for binding and finish the cut corners.

Align the front and back panels again and stitch the sides together. Finish the raw edges with the binding of of the main fabric.

The Pocket:

Out of the main fabric, cut a strip measuring 9" x 24". Fold it in half widthwise face inside. Stitch the side seams closed. Turn the pocket right side out. Press.
Fold the lower (finished side) 5" up, align the side edges, pin. Topstitch the sides.

Position the pocket on the back panel, align the raw edge of the pocket with the raw edge of the panel. Pin. Topstitch in place with a seam allowance of 1/4".

Assembly and Finishing (continued):

Make box corners at the bottom of the bag. For this, separate the front and back sides at the corners. Center the side seam with the center of the bottom. Measure 1 1/2" along the seam from the corner and draw a line perpendicular to the seam across the corner.
Topstitch along the line.

Do not trim the seam. Fold it onto the side and attach with several manual stitches. Repeat for the second corner.

Out of the main fabric, cut 2 strips measuring 5 1/2" x 16". Place the strips face down, right side to you. Fold each of the short ends of the strips a little bit more than 2" back and press. You should get 2 strips measuring 5 1/2" x 11 3/4" long.

Now fold the strips in half lengthwise and press.

Turn the bag right side out. Position the strips along the upper edges of the panels. Align the raw edges. Pin. Topstitch 1/4" from the edge. Trim the ends of the binding.

Unfold the strips and press.

Insert the strips through the handle slit.

Fold the strips back and hemstitch in place.

Your oriental style bag is ready.


Happy Stitching!

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