Thursday, 10 January 2013

Purse organizer with divider

I am supposed to be working on my next bag assignment for the online class I'm taking.  I'm having trouble coming up with a design.  I'm not getting "inspired" by my fabric stash.   I also haven't sewed much in the last month so that may be part of the problem.  So I decided to do a small project to get the sewing juices going again and that resulted in the below purse organizer.

The organizer is really a fabric box but with the addition of a divider and some simple patch pockets.  A few flaws in this one - patch pockets too tall and lining fit a bit big. But it will still work for me.  I took some photos along the way so thought I would post a tutorial.

- outer fabric
- lining fabric
- interfacing
- small piece of cardboard
-  glue (optional)

The box is built using the square bottom method.  My final organizer is about 12" by 3" and about 8.5" tall.  Cut 2 pieces of the outer fabric with the corner cut outs as below

My outer fabric was 15 x 9 with 1.5" square cutouts.

The lining fabric was cut an inch longer so around 16 x 9 with 1.5" cutouts. The extra inch will be explained later.

Put cut fabric aside for now.

Patch pockets

Make the patch pockets whatever size you want by cut two rectangular pieces of fabric.  Sew them right side together along the sides, leaving a gap along one of the long sides for turning.  Clip corners as below

Topstitch along the side with the opening, making sure to close the opening.   
Place the pocket on the right side of the outer fabric, making sure it's within the red boundary in the diagram above.  Stitch along the sides and bottom making one large pocket. 
Sewing bottom of pocket to exterior
To divide the pocket simply stitch down the pocket to make sections.  I did one section for my phone, two pen slips and one large pocket for whatever else.
This could be repeated for both sides of the organizer.  I just did one side.

Assemble exterior

Before sewing the exterior,  I turned down the seam allowance along the top. I did this because with the divider, you can't assemble the bag inside out. (At least I couldn't think how you could)  By turning down the seam allowance for both the exterior and lining you can just drop the lining into exterior and topstitch to attach the two.   I used a glue to keep the fold down, or you could just iron.

Seam allowance along top, pressed or turned down

Place the two outer fabric together, right sides together (RST). Stitch along one side.  Repeat with the other side and then the bottom.  You should have two square holes in the corners unstitched.

To square the bottom, pinch the corner gap so that that bottom seam  is lined up with the side seam and stitch across.


Once both sides are "squared", the exterior is done:


Assemble lining

Now take your two lining fabric pieces that are cut similar to the exterior but is about 1" longer.  We are going to split the lining so we have a seam to sew the divider into.  (The extra 1" is the extra seam allowance for this)

Place the lining pieces right sides together - this is important!  Decide where you want to split the lining and cut the lining pieces into two.  I wanted my wallet to fit into one side so I used that as for sizing

Press down or glue the seam allowance along the top of the four pieces.  Put aside.

Now we are going to create the divider.  Cut a piece of cardboard, that will be your divider.  Make it at least an inch shorter that the organizer as you will need to get your presser foot above it.  Mine was about 3" by 5". 

Cut a strip of lining fabric with height that is double the height of the cardboard + seam allowance  on each end and the width is the same as the cardboard + seam allowance on each side.  So mine was 4" x 11 " using 1/2" seam allowance.  Below is my strip folded in half with the cardboard for comparsion.

Fold the strip RST, and sew only along the bottom, leaving the sides open.

You have a tube.  Turn right side out and slide the cardboard inside.
Now take the two lining pieces that make up one side of your lining.  Place them RST with the cardboard sandwiched between.

Sew down to joing the 3 pieces with 1/2" seam allowance.   You should end up with one side of your lining rejoined with the divider sewn between them.
So we are left with the two pieces that mae up the other side of the lining - this is where it might get confusing.. or more confusing.. :)
Let the divider rest flat on once side of the lining it is attached to.  Place one piece of the remaining lining piece on top right sides facing. The corresponding corner cutouts of the two sides should be lined up. Starting at the end by the corner cutout, sew along the bottom but only to the seam that the divider is attached to on the other side... ie stop at 1/2"
Sew along bottom, stopping where the divider is attached on the other side

Do the same to the other piece of the lining.    Then sew the two sides.
Next sandwich the unattached divider side between the middle opening of the lining.   Fiddle with it so that the 3 pieces lines up and sew down to join them together.

Now, square your bottom like you did the exterior and your lining is done.
Now simply drop the lining into the exterior and clip or pin.
Topsititch along the top to finish.  It might be a little bit harder to manoeuvre with the divider but really not too bad. 
And that's it...

Phew! Tutorials are hard to write!  Not always easy to find the right words.. Hopefully that made some sense..


  1. *wow*

    Still scared. LOL! You make it look so easy!! I love it. I need one in all purse sizes; my purses are a travelling gongshow, which weigh about as much as a gongshow would, come to think of it... :D
    Perfect tutorial - you're a pro!

  2. I've gotten so fed up of toting so much around (says she who's three patterns are all fairly big bags) that I've cut down to a smart phone purse! There's space for my cash, cards, phone and a few tissues! If I have to pop out then I just grab that. If I need to cart my 'junk' around then I'll chuck my purse in lol!

  3. Too cute!!! Love the fabric you choose! Thanks so much for sharing the great tutorial! I'd love for you to visit my blog.
    Have a fabulous weekend!

    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  4. Hey there- I nominated you for the Liebster Award :) Get excited and check out my blog post for details :)

    Have a wonderful Friday!! (also, as always great tutorial- you come up with some great stuff!! I am so amazed!)

  5. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing :-)

  6. This is really cute!! I'm pinning this to keep in mind when making bags!!

  7. I love the fabric you selected for this project. Thank you for sharing. Lynaea @

  8. I love this, found you over at totally tutorials, newest follower :)

  9. Hola, me encanta el tutorial y lo he compartido en mi blog ... invitando a mis amigas a que pasen a conocerte y a ver este magnifico tutorial ... mil gracias y Besotes ;-)

  10. oh my goodness - I need one of these. My purse is a scary place sometimes. It's so unorganized. Thanks for sharing this at The Weekly Creative.

    Shannon @ Sewing Barefoot

  11. Es un tutorial fantástico. Seguro que me haré un organizador para mis bolsos.

  12. Popping by again to say - again - love it! :D

  13. Gracias!!!!
    que buen tutorial, aunque no hablo su idioma, las imagenes valen mas que mil palabras!!!!

  14. I always marvel at people that can write such detailed, clear tutorials for sewing projects! Well done and thank you! Thanks for bringing this to the Oldie's party! Hope to see you back there next week.

  15. Thanks for bringing this to the oldies party--you were featured!


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