When an Etsy shopper who had been browsing around my shop asked me to make her a small coin purse using a Tilda print I'd used in a sewing case that she'd taken a fancy to, I was quite pleased. I'd actually bought a little bronze coloured frame some time ago with the idea of making a purse, but hadn't got around to it yet – now I had the perfect opportunity!
My first task was to learn how to make a framed coin purse and as usual in these circumstances, I started with Pinterest. I had several tutorials pinned to my makes and tutorials board, but I had a good hunt around for some fresh ones too. Quite aside from the fact that every pattern for a coin purse is specific to the frame you're using (which come in many shapes and sizes), there really are many ways to make one of these little purses, as well as many different opinions on just the right way to go about it.
As you may have noticed if you come here often, I do like to make things as perfectly as I can. Nothing is every really completely perfect I suppose, but I like to feel that I've come as close as I'm able to and haven't stinted on the effort I put into it, or on how I've applied myself to said effort. So I read a lot of tutorials and the main gist of the thing seemed to be that you needed to use your frame to make the top of your pattern, but it was entirely up to you what happened below that. You could make a long, short, round, square, triangular, flat or puffy shaped purse – all were perfectly acceptable approaches. I now felt like I was in an empty car park trying to decide which of the spaces was just the right one for me. Seriously – ask him indoors, I don't do well in empty car parks…
After a cup of coffee and mental regroup, I worked through the various approaches in my head before heading off to my studio and drawing up a pattern. Okay, I drew several patterns. I still wasn't sure exactly which shape of purse was going to work for me, so I got out some calico and made up a sample in the pattern I felt most convinced by. Once my favourite was in front of me in 3D, I could see that it wasn't quite right – the sides of the purse were a bit too straight and I could see that the gap between the side seams and the purse frame hinge would be too big. After more fiddling than I really had patience for, I finally hit on just the right shape for my particular frame, worked out how to get the seam allowances right with my chosen shape, and finally cut my pieces out from the 'real' fabric. Phew! All this effort for one little purse! 😮
The next challenge was to get the frame onto the purse. Mmm, this was also tricky. I can't stomach the idea of gluing anything to fabric – it isn't that I'm being snobby about it, it's just something I can't stand to do – it feels like fabric abuse and I love fabric. So stitching the frame on was the only option for me, and there was no way to pin or baste it into place before stitching (I'm a major pinner and baster) – you just have to hold it in place while you stitch it. I read some excellent advice in one tutorial where they said that you should find the centre of your frame and the purse, position it on and start stitching from there, rather than stitching from one end to the other. This is how I worked, although I first stitched it in place with some colour co-ordinated thread before going back over it with perlé cotton.
It really does take ages to complete this step – keeping the fabric in place inside the frame, working the needle through the holes of the frame from the back, and keeping the stitches on the back looking nice and tidy and even. Regardless of how carefully you work, there's no way to completely hide your stitches inside the purse, so you need to make sure they're pretty to look at. Securing the ends of your stitches is also a rather knotty problem (excuse pun). It's easy enough to hide your starting knot in the purse seam under the frame, but securing the ending is trickier – I've come up with a very long winded process for this that ends with truffling away the knot in the side seam of the lining at a position that you can't see when the purse is open, unless you go looking for it.
Once I was finished though, I was really happy with the result – happy enough to go shopping for some more frames! This time, I opted for a rectangular shape, which is much easier to work with. I managed to find some really pretty engraved frames in bronze and silver colourways and as soon as they arrived, I jumped into making another purse with the same Tilda print, which is a special commission from a very special customer:
Of course I had to draft new patterns, make new templates and test with more calico samples to see what worked with this new frame shape, so it would be silly to stop there… I'd recently bought a couple of prints from Bari J's latest collection for Art Gallery; Petal and Plume and thought these would be perfect for little purses:
I also finally found the perfect use for this gorgeous Liberty lawn print 'Wild Flowers of the British Isles', which I absolutely love:
I used a fleece lining on the outers of all the purses, which gives them a soft and substantial feel in the hand. For the linings, I used a heavy cotton in navy blue for these 3 purses and an Essex linen for the Tilda print – I figure that a coin purse probably needs something a bit more rufty tufty to stand up to the coins jiggling about.
So the metal framed coin purse is now a permanent fixture in my shop and now that the experimentation with designs and templates is done, I can get on with just enjoying making them 🙂