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May 15, 2013

How To Make a Fringed Purse


I saw this amazing bag on a blog and fell in love with the long, heavy fringe. I wasn't about to pay over $1000 for it and thought it would be fairly simple to make a similar style. "Simple" that is if you have some experience with a sewing machine. Even if you only have beginner experience, you can still create a no frills tote and add some long fringe to it.

My previous handmade business of making handbags came in "handy" for this project ;) I decided to make up my own pattern, following the shape of a handbag I owned (instructions for that pattern may come at a later date). If you're not as familiar with the purse making process, your best bet is to find a bag pattern from the fabric store that suits your skill level and allows for a fringe to be added along the outside seams - meaning one that has front and back pieces that are sewn together, no bottom or side panels.

When you're choosing the fabric for your bag/fringe, make sure you use a non-woven one that won't fray. Of course any type of leather/suede or synthetic leather/suede is ideal. I often look in the upholstery section of the fabric store for these types of material. You can always use a woven fabric for the bag's body and a non-woven one for the fringe.

TOOLS & MATERIALS

  • Purse Pattern
  • Material for purse and lining (consider the extra material you will need to cut the fringe)
  • Zipper or any other type of closure or hardware the pattern calls for
  • Thread
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Cutting Board
  • Ruler
  • Sewing Machine


  1. Follow the pattern's instructions for constructing the bag but stop before you sew the front of the bag to the back.

  2. Measure along the outside of the bag (where you want the fringe to go) to determine the width. On my bag, I wanted it to go from one end of the handle to the other so I had fringe all along the sides and bottom. But you could simply put fringe along the bottom or just the sides. Depends on your preference and bag shape.

  3. Next, decide how long you want the fringe to hang down. Take that number and add 1.5" to it, which will account for the fabric that won't be cut and will be sewn into the bag's seam. For example: if you want your fringe to be 5" long, the total length will be 5.6".

  4. Cut a strip of fabric the width of the bag and the total length of your desired fringe (length of fringe + 1.5").

  5. If your fabric isn't too slippery, fold it in half width wise so that you can cut 2 layers at a time.

  6. Take your ruler and rotary blade and begin cutting narrow strips, leaving about an 1.5" at the top uncut. This will hold all your fringes together. I didn't measure the width of each strip, I just eye-balled it as they don't need to be perfect.

  7. I wanted a thick fringe so I ended up doing these steps x3 so that I had 3 long strips of fringes that would be layered on top of each other. I basted the layers together before the next step.

  8. Take the front piece of your bag and pin the uncut edge of the fringe (the extra 1.5") to the right side of the fabric, along the outer edge of the bag. Line up the outside edges of the fringe and bag together so that the fringe is going in towards the center of the bag. When you put the front and back pieces of the bag together, it should be sandwiching the fringe inside (as opposed to the fringe hanging down). Pin all around the outside edge and baste stitch within the seam allowance.

  9. Pin the front and back of the bag together, with right sides together, making sure all of the fringe is within the center of the bag. Stitch around the outside edge of the bag being careful not to stitch any of the fringes.

  10. Serge or zig-zag stitch around the outside edge of the bag and trim the excess.

  11. Follow the rest of the pattern's instructions to complete the bag.
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