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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".

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 1

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 2


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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 3

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 4

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 5

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 6

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 7

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 8

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 9

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 10

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 11


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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 12

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 13

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 14

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 15

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 16

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".

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 17

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 18

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

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 19

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.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 20

Unfold the strips and press.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 21

Insert the strips through the handle slit.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 22

Fold the strips back and hemstitch in place.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 23

Your oriental style bag is ready.

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 24

Chrysanthemum Oriental Handbag image 25


Happy Stitching!

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