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Saturday, 26 January 2019

Create Your Own FrankenPurse

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
My custom Seth bag...
Can a substantial bag be made out of a couple of fat quarters? Not very likely, right? (Unless it's a tote or something for a child.)

When I first saw my Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements fat quarters (on sale here while quantities last), it occurred to me that several of them would be lovely choices for a purse. However, since I didn't have actual yardage, it would take some creative thought to execute that desire.

That being the case, the whole idea was quickly tossed onto the back burner, because I had zero enthusiasm for making a purse and didn't see that changing in the near future.

So how is it that I have a bag to show you today?

image courtesy of iThinkSew...
Well, when Craftsy — now Bluprint — threw all of us independent designers into a tizzy at the end of December by shuttering shops and culling patterns (apparently over 200,000 patterns were eliminated, leaving approximately 15,000; I feel quite humbled by the fact that eight of them are mine) — I went to Makerist to build up my pattern shop there. The timing coincided with another of their $2 sale events, which led to me snapping up iThinkSew's Seth Bag pattern for two bucks.

I chose it for its simplistic form. (In all likelihood, there are free patterns out there that more or less look like this.) I've always liked this shape — is this considered a hobo? — and figured that the relatively uncluttered exterior design (just pleats) would allow me to customize it to my liking. If you've been around here for a while, you may recall that I've lamented about not finding a dream purse yet. You may even know that it was once my goal to design my own dream purse pattern.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Reverse angle...

That objective is no longer among my priorities, but as soon as I purchased this pattern, it became my immediate plan to create — finally — my personal FrankenPurse.

And no, it was not meant to be cobbled together in an ugly fashion. I believe the end result is pretty striking, if I do say so myself.

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My first challenge was to find coordinating fabric to complete the bag (i.e., gusset, strap, lining). Luckily, I didn't have to look too far, as one of my other stash replenishing purchases from last year fit the bill perfectly. It's from Craftsy's Boundless line, a collection called DECOdent. This particular selection is grey with gold microdots, giving it a snakeskin effect. (It was last seen on the belly of my Purl Bee Penguin.)

For the inside, I continued my recycling of a beige bed sheet that's been previously used for other bag linings.

My fabric selections...

As you can see, for the front and back of the bag itself, my creative solution with the fat quarters (two selections called Timepieces) was to match half of one with the other, producing two identical sides. It's an idea that I originally explored with my fabric wall organizer.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Jazzed up in a functional way...

Apart from my funky allocation of fabric, here is a rundown of the changes that I made to the outside of this bag.

Changed Strap & Added Hardware

While I don't particularly care for bags that are overloaded with bling, what's a bag without some hardware?

The original pattern called for a continuous embedded leather strap. I wanted to use some of my belt hardware to add some shine. These links that are being used as strap rings were two of eight that I recovered from a belt purchased for $1.

You can also see a few of my zippiest zipper pulls attached to the exterior zippers. They were just 11¢ apiece, purchased on eBay a couple of years ago.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Three of my hardware additions...

Because I segmented my strap into three parts (anchor, hardware and then actual strap), that whole area opens up a bunch of opportunities for use. The strap anchor part has an opening into which a split ring — or something like my purse hanger — can be threaded, providing additional bling and functionality.

Given that I also thought the original strap was too short, I figured that this entire alteration would sufficiently increase the strap's overall length to my liking, which it did.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
One of my side gusset slip pockets...

It's not shown here, but one of my lip balm carriers is attached to one of the strap rings.

Zip Pockets & Slip Pockets

I've mentioned before that I like to have pockets on the outside of my purse so that I don't have to go inside on a regular basis. It's especially true for a bag like this one that has a full length curved zipper along the top. (That is, it's not necessarily the most user friendly opening, but on the plus side, it keeps the contents secure and I appreciate that.)

Therefore, the major modification that I made to the exterior of this bag was to add four pockets. (The pattern does not call for any exterior pockets.) Two are vertical zippered pockets — one on either side, vertical by necessity due to the pleats — and two are slip pockets, built into the gusset at each end.

After accounting for strap anchors and zipper tabs, I had enough leftover fabric from the two Eclectic Elements fat quarters to make the two gusset pockets, which are just short of 5" high.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
End gusset pockets are handy for sunglasses...

The zippered pockets are quite roomy, extending well into the other half of the bag. My key case goes into one of these.

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Dimensional Cut-Outs (Reverse Appliqué?)

Those of you with an eagle eye may have noticed a grey diamond shape in the middle of the beige half of the bag.

An accent cut-out that is lost among the pleats...

I was originally going to feature some grey accents on the beige half of the bag by adding some cut-outs. Then I remembered that the front and back panels would be pleated and that the pleats would likely hide my handiwork... which they mostly did.

How to make a cut-out...

But no matter. It was an interesting experiment and now that I've done it on a small scale, I might try something bigger with the technique down the road.

So what about the inside of this bag, you might ask? Surely I made some modifications inside as well? Yes'm, I did. The pattern dictated a single zippered pocket, which I put in.

Customized iThinkSew Seth Bag crafted by eSheep Designs
Interior zip pocket...

But I also installed a special patch pocket and a couple of other add-ons that I'll show you next week in a post covering all of the "how to"s of this customization. It promises to be interesting and I'm betting that some of you will be eager to take up the suggestions for your next bag project.

In the meantime, after carrying my Summit Pack for over a year, I'm back to using a more conventional purse and enjoying the change.

Super thrilled that my FrankenPurse totally meets my needs!


  1. I love your purse Rochelle! The fabric is great and you got creative, which is always a fun challenge to exercise those "little gray cells". I like the side gusset pockets you added. I have seen this bag before, but your changes make it even better. Yes looks like a hobo style bag to me. Too bad your reverse applique didn't show up with the pleats. I like those Tim Holt prints.

  2. I LOVE your bag, Rochelle!!! I didn't even see the difference in the two fabrics till you pointed it out - perfect combination. Very creative add ons, too.


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