Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Steps in Fashioning "I Love Paris"

I am not an expert in purse making, but I thought it might be fun to share with you my process in creating  “I Love Paris” - my purse (see previous post) that placed second in the Crazy Quilting International Annual Purse Contest.  It became a personal design challenge for me, as I had decided that this was the third and final time I would enter the contest.  

The first time I entered, in 2008, I won first place with Deco Diva.  It featured lots of “glam” in dusty pink and gold, and was crazy quilted on both sides.  It sported a simple cord handle, which always bothered me.  Last year I came in second with my Purple Purse (it never really had a name).  That purse was CQ’ed on one side only; the back was the inspiration fabric from which the color scheme was derived.  Again, the handle was plain cording, and it was lined in silk and featured A LOT of vintage lace. 

This year I knew I wanted pink and green colors, a better shape and a different style of handle.  The pink and green colors came about when I decided to use some yummy vintage French trim I’d purchased some time ago in an antique shop.  The hobo shape made for a simple, workable style, and ANYTHING was better than a plain cord handle. 

In going through my pink and green fabrics, I found a green taffeta with embroidered fleur-de-lis, a pink and green harlequin check, and two vintage pink fabrics – one with pink scrolls on it that reminded me of French wrought ironwork seen on lampposts, bistro sets and balconies.   The French theme hit me like a brick, and gave a real purpose and direction for all the elements that would follow.

With these general ideas in mind, I drew out a basic purse shape in pencil on muslin.  I felt the simple curves of a hobo shape, plus the Paris theme, called for curved (read: feminine) piecing.   Once I was satisfied with the design, I traced over it in marker.   The second side was done in the same manner, but with larger, simpler shapes; I knew that there would be an Eiffel Tower in there somewhere!  A seam allowance was added around the edge, and the pieces were numbered A, B, C, etc.     

To help me in piecing, I knew I’d need a way to reconstruct the pieces once traced and cut, so I wrote out a stitching order.   For example,  (1) A to B,  (2) C to D, (3) AB to CD, etc.   (See the first picture to follow that...)   Then I just matched the pieces to the fabric I wanted, adding a ¼” seam allowance around each piece, and cut the pieces.  With the help of my stitching order, piecing was a cinch. 

There was no backing at this point, so I cut out two pieces of muslin to match and basted them around the edges to the pieced sides.  I knew that once I started stitching seams and adding embellishments, it would end up having the same support properties as piecing directly onto the muslin.  

My next step was to madly being gathering any potential components and specific ideas, which I'll talk about in my next post, along with the beginning motifs and placement issues.  

Until then,

Cathy maroon


  1. Hi Cathy, Thank you for the tutorial. I'm finding it very helpful. I love the bag, and if there was anything better than yours in the competition, well I'm a Dutchman, (which I'm not of course, merely an English Lady, who loves American crafts.)
    lol. Blessings and have a magical day

  2. Great post Cathy... it is great to see how you constructed this wonderful purse... looking forward to the next installment! Hugs.

  3. Cathy,
    Thanks so much for doing this tutorial. I love when folks share their stitching experience and methods...we all can grow from each other. Beautiful purse!!

  4. Thanks for sharing how you made your purse Cathy! Looking forward to seeing all your steps, it is a beautiful purse !


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