Virginia Lindsay, owner and designer of Gingercake Patterns, is also the author of Sewing to Sell.

Virginia discussed a little about The Balancing Act of Putting a Price on Handmade here in December, a challenge for most people in the creative industry. (And a topic we think about a lot at Sew Mama Sew; see: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow, Placing a Value on Your Quilts + our Craft Fair Series.)

Virginia’s Sewing to Sell guides you through all sorts of challenges you might encounter as you begin your business, plus the book gets you started with 16 copyright-free patterns you can make and sell. Virginia has a free tutorial for you similar to the patterns included in Sewing to Sell. Learn how to make a simple cross body Day Out Purse and you might just have your start at the next local craft fair or your new online shop!


There are lots of different types of sewers out there– technical sewers, artistic sewers, fabric lovers, hardware lovers, trim lovers, up cyclers, trend setters, classics, those who love all natural fabric, etc. What we all have in common (and perhaps why we started sewing) is the excitement of of taking a project and being able to make it just the way we want it to be. We like to put our stamp on something; for some of us, this stamp is bold and bright, and for others it is subdued and simple. This is one of the many fun things about knowing how to sew– you can make it your way.

In my book, Sewing to Sell, an important theme is finding your own style and staying true to those findings when you open your shop and begin selling to customers. Being authentic matters greatly in a handmade business. After all, people are shopping handmade so they can buy from an actual person and get something unique. I am not talking crazy unique here (although if you’ve got it, go for it!), I just mean sew what you feel passionate about and this will shine through to your customers in a positive and beautiful way.

One way to shine is to take a simple sewing pattern and experiment with making it your own. This is a simple small cross body purse that was an extra project from Sewing to Sell. What’s fun about this project is how you can translate it into so many different looking bags but still follow the same general pattern. I would like to invite you to use this simple pattern and make it YOURS. Find your favorite way to make this bag and make gifts for all your friends. Or perfect this bag in such a way that you feel comfortable selling it at a craft show or in your online shop. YES!: Sew Mama Sew and I would like to invite you to make this project your own… No giving credit for the pattern or buying a copyright. Want to try? Here is where to begin:

Sometime you just want to carry something small and cute and stylish. A little purse like this one is the perfect accessory to brighten any outfit. For makers, it is easy to create, has little fabric waste, and can be enlarged, simplified and trimmed to your heart’s content. A great combination for Sewing to Sell!

Price Point: $15 to $25

I used Lizzy House’s Cat Nap fabrics by Andover to make the bag in the title and Violet Craft’s Madrona Road to make the bag in the tutorial photos.

Note: Quilting weight fabric is used in my version with fusible interfacing, but you could use a heavier weight fabric like duck cloth or denim for part of the bag and eliminate the use of interfacing.

Supplies:

  • Cotton fabric 6″ x 42″ for exterior fabric
  • Cotton fabric 6″ x 21″ for lining
  • 1 yard of fusible interfacing that is 20″ wide (I use Pellon 931TD)
  • 3″ piece of elastic cording
  • 3/4″ to 1″ button
  • Two 2″ x 3″ leather/suede scraps for tassel
  • 1″ x 36″ leather/suede for strap
  • DAY OUT Pattern piece can be downloaded here; print at 100%.

Seam allowances are 1/4’’ unless otherwise noted.

1. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of all cotton fabric according to the product instructions.

2. Use pattern piece to cut the following: 2 pieces for lining, 2 for flap (1 from lining fabric and 1 from exterior fabric), 2 for exterior, 1 shortened (use green line on pattern piece) piece for large interior pocket and 1 piece that measures 5″ x 14″ for card pockets.

Make Optional Interior Pockets:
1. For the card pockets, make a tube by sewing right sides together along the long 14″ edge.

2. Turn the tube right sides out and press flat.

3. Top stitch the edge without the seam.

4. Cut in half and attach bottom of first half to one side of lining 2.25″ up from curved base.

5. Attach second half of tube 1.5″ from curved base. Next mark the center of the two pockets and sew a vertical line to make pocket dividers. Cards are meant to fit in pockets vertically. See photo below.

6. Fold large pocket piece’s straight top edge over toward wrong side 1/4″ and then again 1/2″. Top stitch folds down to create top edge of pocket. Baste edges to other lining piece if desired.

Assemble Lining:
1. Pin and sew two lining pieces right sides together (sandwiching pockets inside). Leave a 3″ gap at the base for turning right side out.

Make the Flap:
1. Take the lining fabric piece that will be the inside of the flap. Mark the center of the curved base.

2. Fold elastic cording in half and place at marked center spot with loop facing in toward center. Sew back and forth a few times to attach it securely.

3. Take exterior flap side and sew right sides together with the lining flap, sandwiching the elastic piece.

4. Turn right side out and press flat. Top stitch down sides and curved base.

Make Strap:
1. Make strap by attaching 1″ wide strips of suede to make a 36″ long strap. I used four 9.5″ straps*.

*A strap can be made in many different ways. I chose suede for a texture contrast but fabric or ribbon would also work fine. For fabric you will need to increase the width to 4″ and enclose the raw edges by folding them in toward the center. See an example for constructing a fabric strap here.

Make Exterior:
1. Sew right sides together of exterior pieces down along the side edge, around curved base and up the other side edge. Leave top edge open. Turn right side out.

2. Baste or pin the flap to the backside (if you have a designated “back” side) by lining up the raw edges of the exterior top opening with the raw edges of the lining top. The exterior fabric side should be facing toward the exterior fabric pieces.

3. Baste or pin the ends of the strap to the right side of the exterior piece at the top edge where the seams join together the two sides together. The strap should be un-twisted and facing down. The strap should loop down around the exterior piece and come back to be basted on the other seam at the top edge.

Sew Lining + Exterior Together:
1. Insert exterior (with strap and flap attached) inside the lining piece so they are right sides facing. Line up the side seams and pin if needed.

2. Sew all the way around the top edge to attach lining and exterior.

3. Turn piece right side out through 3″ opening at base of lining. Push lining inside exterior. Press thoroughly.

Make the Tassel + Attach Button:
1. Since suede does not fray, I simply cut two 2″ by 3″ scraps of suede into a tassel shape. I made the top 1″ angle in toward the center and then cut strips into the bottom 2″.

2. Next center your button on the top angled 1″ section and poke holes into the suede.

3. Sew on the button using your favorite method and use the holes made into the suede to guide you.

4. Close the purse by securing the loop over the button. Finished!

DAY OUT Pattern piece can be downloaded here; print at 100%.

When I write a sewing pattern for my Gingercake shop, I always end the pattern with some extra ideas about changing and customizing the project to put your own spin on it. I liked the idea of doing the same with this very simple bag but actually making these other ideas to share in hopes that it will inspire you to take a few sewing risks.

First up is just simply changing the fabric and the strap. This looks fresh and fun but still very similar to the original bag. Inside I eliminated the pockets to make this one super fast.

Is that the same bag? Yes! This one is enlarged to 9″ x 8″ (instead of original 7″ x 6″). Instead of doing a flap and button closure, I used a stylish metal zipper. I also used an upcycled grey wool fabric and some vintage black lace for the tie. The lining is a fun cotton print. The final touch was a quick running stitch with embroidery floss along the vintage lace. I used the same curved bottom and all the same concepts of the original bag but these changes make a big difference!

This sweet little version is the same size as the original but I added 1.5″ in length to the flap pieces (lining and exterior fabric) and then I added a 2″ x 19″ strip of fabric around the sides to create more width to the purse. This new version looks like a small messenger bag and is perfect for carrying some homemade valentines!

I love this clutch version! Here are easy changes: The flap is the original size and shape but the body of the bag is changed to 8″ x 9″ and left with square corners instead of rounded. I then boxed my corners about 1.5″. Then, instead of making a long strap, I made a wrist strap and attached it to only one side. I also installed a magnetic snap instead of the button/elastic closure. The final addition was the cute suede tassels. For the lining, I omitted the interior pockets and used a navy duck cloth for extra durability.

This one is my favorite version and is actually changed very little from the original. The body size is increased all the way to 10″ wide by 8.5″ tall. The body has rounded corners like in the original version but the flap is squared off and shortened to only 7.5″ tall. This shortening is to accommodate the suede fringe. The body exterior is made in suede and so is one side of the strap. The lining is the same fun Koi fabric by Rashida Coleman. I can’t wait to use this bag myself in the spring time!

It was so fun to make this same bag in so many versions and really explore some of the possibilities. I can’t wait to see what YOU will come up with!

Find more patterns to make and sell, plus lots of excellent advice for your craft business in Sewing to Sell.