Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scraps to Straps

I know I said that I would be posting scrapbook related material, but I came across a contest on Sugar Sweet Paper Treats blog. It's the November challenge, which is to make a purse. Any kind of purse. I decided to just use this contest project and let it double as my first real post.

So, this is a purse that I have made. I made if from an old pair of black corduroy pants that didn't fit anymore. I really liked the material so I hated to throw them away. I have been needing a purse with a long strap because I don't have to worry about it falling off my shoulder. So I got this idea in my head of converting these pants into a purse. I didn't know if it would work or not, but I decided to give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? I mess up and throw them away, which I was going to do already?

The size of this purse is perfect for me because I don't carry a lot of stuff in my purse. You can get any size pair of pants and any material type that you would like. If you like a larger purse, then get a bigger pair of pants. I tried to duplicate this purse for my friend from a pair of old pants of hers that she gave me. Only her pant size was too small. It's not often that you hear that, I know. Who doesn't want smaller sized pants? But in this case, you need at least a size 12 or 14, and that's a more compact size.

So here is how you make it!! (Sorry that I don't have step by step pictures. I didn't know I'd be posting this when I made it. So, also sorry for the really long instructions, but I'm trying to make up for lack of step by step pictures.) 
1. Get a pair of pants of the preferred material. Size is best 12 and up.
2. Get a pair of scissors and cut out the seat of the pants. The width from one seam to the other, and bottom edge as far down as you can and still cut a straight line. Make sure you cut on the back side of the seams, you don't want those, they are too thick to sew through. (Don't discard the rest just yet! You'll need it in a minute!)
3. Fold the seat of the pants that you just cut off in half. Over lap the edges a little for sewing room, but just make sure you like the size. If it's a little big, trim some off the edges until you get the size you want.If it's too small, then you're going to need a larger size of pants.
4. Once you get the right size, fold it inside out. Here you'll need a sewing machine. (See step 7 for optional feature before completing the rest of this step.) You need to sew the side and bottom of the purse together. Once you do that, trim the excess material with scissors, but don't cut too close.
5. Now we need to use the legs of the pants. You'll need both of them most likely, depending on how long you need the strap. (Hint: The taller/shorter you are, the longer/shorter you'll need it.) Cut each pants leg open, and get rid of the seams. The thicker you want your strap to be, the wider piece of material you'll need from each leg. 
       a. Take the opened legs and sew them together while they are still open. Trim the excess material off if you left a lot when you sewed them together. If you leave the excess material, it will bunch up inside the strap and make it lumpy and bumpy. Then trim off the ends until you have the right length for the strap. Remember to leave a little extra on each end to sew it onto the purse. It's always better for it to be loo long and have to trim it up again later than cut it too short now.
       b. Fold the entire length of pants legs, (now sewn together in one long strip), in half and inside out. Sew it closed. Then you'll need to turn it right side out. To do this, you might need a ruler or yard stick if it will fit in your strap, or a long stick of some sort. I used a long handled wooden spoon to help push the material through. It will take a little bit of working with the fabric, but it will finally turn all the way right side out.
6. To find the length of the strap you want, I found it easiest to go ahead and sew one end onto the purse. To do this, sew a line back and forth across the strap 2 or 3 times for extra strength. Sew the strap onto the insides of the sides of the purse. And the seam here is hidden best if you place the inside of the purse down, and the outside of the purse facing up. So the strap is underneath the purse while you are sewing, but is still being sewn to the inside of the purse.
Once you have sewn one side of the strap on, put the purse on, to measure how low you want the purse to hang. Mark the right spot on the strap with a piece of tape or a pin or just hold it with your fingers and then sew it in the right place onto the inside of the purse the same way you did the first end of the strap. Again, cut off any excess material.
7. I added a double pocket on the inside of my purse. You can do this if you want, but you don't have to. I turned my purse inside out to take a picture so that maybe it will help make sense of this, because it might be hard to explain.
You need to cut out one of the front pockets off the pants. Make sure that the material covers the actual pocket, and also be sure that you don't cut the pocket material and leave a whole in it. Then it wouldn't be a very good pocket, now would it? I had to hand sew it on because I didn't think about adding it until the end. But you can probably use a sewing machine to sew this on if you do it before you sew the bottom and edge of the purse shut. 
It's a double pocket because it has the pocket that you would use on the actual pants, and also, the whole piece of fabric creates another pocket if you don't sew the top shut. Here is a picture, I hope that made sense. Oh, and if you'll notice, there is still a belt loop on the piece I cut off the front to sew to the inside. That belt loop is perfect for clipping your keys on so that you don't have to fish around in your purse every time you need them. :)
8. The purse looked a little plain when I finished. So to add a little something to it, I took an old belt and cut it to make it the right length. This particular belt as a metal clasp thing on the end to keep the material from fraying. So after I cut it, I got my dad to take the metal clasp thing and put it on the new end of the belt. This is my favorite type of belt to wear and I like the look of it, so I always leave this belt on there. But you can put any color or style of belt you want. And you can even change it out to match what you're wearing. If you don't have belts, you can use sashes or ribbons. Get creative.

Here are a few more pictures of the purse in it's finished state. I know it's a little rough looking on the inside, but I made this with no pattern or instructions. I just made it up on my own as I went along. And I don't know how to line anything or I probably would have done that. But anyway, here are some more pics.

(this is the back side of the purse)

(I had actually take the button off the front of the pants, cut a small hole in the pocket on the front of my purse, and re attached the button. But the hole was too loose and it kept falling out. It looked really cute though, so you might want to try something similar. It really adds a lot to it.)
I hope everything made sense, and I hope you like my purse idea!!
Have a great week!!


  1. That is so cute!!! And very creative!! Thanks for joining us this month at Sugar Sweet Paper Treats!!

  2. love this, great Idea!!!!!

    Thanks for entering the Challenge at Sugar Sweet Paper Treats too.....