Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Coin Purse Tutorial

So, some of you who read my tweets might have seen that I've been sewing like mad for an up-coming craft fair.  It's the first one where I'm selling mainly handmade items and I'm panicking slightly about what to sew amongst (many) other things.  As it's at a school there should be plenty of children so I wanted to make some small, affordable items that children might like.  I had a feeling coin purses could be popular but much as I wanted to make them they have been something of a problem for me over the years.  I know they should be simple but it seems every time I try I get ugly, bulky corners that drive me mad.  See!

I've tried all kinds of different methods but still have the same problem and it only seems to occur on purses.  Purses, I had decided, don't like me!  But with a craft fair looming and things for children urgently needed I decided that I was going to spend all week if I had to trying to solve the problem.

I listed my main criteria...

Tidy corners,
a lining in a different fabric from the outer,
a zip,
no raw edges showing inside.

then I set about making up my own patterns until finally (and yes it did take a whole week) I managed to tweak my method until all my boxes were ticked.  This was no easy task.  As someone with limited visual-spatial ability it was quite a challenge for me with many failed attempts and mistakes that prompted more than a few loud and gutteral 'GARGH!'s (apologies to the window cleaner).  I have had a sewing journey and to make sure I never have to go through that again I wanted to record my method as a tutorial.  I also hope that if there's anyone else out there with a dislike of bulky coin purse corners it might prove useful to them too!

The finished purses!
You will need...

1 x outer fabric 8" x 6"
1 x lining fabric 8" x 6"
2 x lightweight, iron-on interlining (I used Vilene H180)
1 x zip 8" minimum
1 x length of coordinating ribbon 21cm (optional)

You will also need...

A zipper foot
A size 16 needle (for heavy weight fabrics)


1.  Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the outer and the lining fabric.

2.  Pin the outer fabric and the lining fabric with their right sides together and sew ONLY down the longest sides.  Trim any excess fabric to reduce bulk and make sure the shorter edges of the layers are lined up nicely together (if not trim slightly).  It should look like this...

3.  Turn your fabric right sides out and then press the side seams.

4.  Zigzag stitch the short sides ~ I used the settings width: 3.5 and length: 1.  The needle should just miss the fabric when it falls to the right then catch and bind the fabric when it comes down on the left.  When you're done your short edges should look like this...  

NOTE: The reason for this is because it reduces bulk.  If the fabric were turned in and hemmed like the long sides the extra layers of fabric would cause problems when sewing on the zip.

5.  Pin your zipper face down to the top of the right side of your fabric sandwich as shown in the photo below.

6.  Reset your machine to its regular stitch and change the foot to the zipper foot.  Sew the zipper onto the fabric in a neat line above the teeth ~ roughly where the pins are.

7.  Fold the fabric down from the zip so that both the fabric and the zip are right sides up as shown in the next photo and press the fold.

8.  Now topstitch the fabric in place.  NOTE: You will probably find, even with a size 16 needle, that the bulk makes it difficult for your machine to sew and your needle might just go up and down.  To solve this problem you need to manually walk the first few stitches by turning the wheel of the machine and, when the needle is up, raising the presser foot and inching the fabric along.  Do this a few times until you can feel the feed dogs catching and moving your fabric for you, then you can stitch as normal.

Topstiching the zip.
9.  Now you need to attach the fabric to the other side of the zip.  Lay your fabric with the outer side down and the zip at the top then fold the bottom upwards so that the wrong sides are together.  Then fold the unattached side of the zip down once and then again and pin in place so that the right side of the zip is touching the right side of the fabric and the zip's teeth are at the bottom.  See photo below.

NOTE: At this point it's worth checking a few things to save you uttering a loud 'GARGH!' further down the line.  It's important to be sure that the the folded fabric is lined up with the fabric underneath and that your zipper is positioned evenly to match the sewn side otherwise you'll get a wonky purse.  The best way to check is to carefully slide the zipper along.  It should all be lined up like this...

 10.  If you're happy then open it back up and stitch the zipper in place as before.

 11.  When it's done fold the fabric down away from the zipper, press and topstitch.  This is where the extra length of zip on the side is needed as you can fully open the zip and keep the zipper pull out of the way.  Without this you would not be able to topstitch your purse.  When you're done it should look like this...

12.  Turn your purse inside out and press it flat with the zip positioned about 1/4 of the way down from the top, keeping in mind that if you have fabric that needs to be a certain way up for the pattern to work then when you turn it back again you want the fabric the right way up on the front (zipper side) and upside down on the back.

13.  If you want a ribbon strap now is the time to add it.  Fold the ribbon in half and pin inside the fabric sandwich in line with the zipper and with the raw edges poking out by roughly 1.5cm.  You can choose which side you want it on.  If you want it on the right (in the above photo) it will be on the same side as the zipper pull when closed which makes it easier for a child to open and less likely to drop their change if they hold the purse by the ribbon when the zip's open.  On the other side it's away from the zip and looks a bit neater.  I still can't decide which I prefer!

14.  Making sure the zip pull is halfway open (so you can turn it through when sewn and so you don't snip the zip pull off when trimming the overhanging zip later (yes I really did do that!!) you now need to sew the short sides closed.  Remember the trick for getting your machine going by walking the stitches manually if it struggles with the bulk.  I sew down the side and when at the bottom, with the needle down, lift the presser foot, turn the whole purse 180 degrees then sew back again so there are two rows of stitches to hold the zip more firmly.

15.  After you've sewn both short sides closed you can trim the excess zip.

16.  Turn the right way round and push out the corners using something blunt like closed scissors or a chopstick then press.

17.  You're done!  Add a couple of shiny coins and give to your little loved ones as a gift, or take your own money and a credit card out on the town :)

All the fabric is available in the shop (Robert Kaufman's Metro Market and Michael Miller's Dumb Dots) and we now have 8" zips in a variety of colours for just 75p!


  1. Fab! I've struggled with this design and only ended up in a mess so I shall be giving this a go next week - thanks!

  2. I too think that zippers just dont like me... so I look forward to giving this one a try! They look great!

  3. How generous of you to share - thank you! I will certainly be trying this.

  4. What a great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

  5. Lovely clear tutorial. Good luck with the craft fair

  6. nice tutorial. thanks for sharing :)

  7. What a great tutorial - I always struggle to get zips just right

  8. This was a great tutorial! I used a bit too heavy it didn't turn out as well as it could have...but it will still hold coins! :) and it is adorable! My Mom will love it!

  9. I want to thank you for this tutorial - I have already made several for Christmas presents and they turned out so cute! You can see the ones I made at

  10. this is a great tutorial- thank you. i have the same problem with wristlets so I appreciate this!

  11. This is great, thanks so much! I just made one up and added a little strap like big people wristlets, so cute, thanks again!

  12. This was fantastic thank you! I love the look of mine!

  13. Thank you for this - it was really clear and I was able to make it as my first ever sewing machine project :-) I have a photo of it on here:
    It is far from perfect but it taught me a lot and I am going to buy more zips today to try some more :D

  14. Thanks for posting this detailed tutorial. It's the easiest zippered pouch I've ever made. I used your pattern to make a travel purse. I added two short loops near the top and used a clip-on leather strap from an old purse. Took me less than an hour! Thanks again for providing the pattern.

  15. Thank you. This was such a easy project!! Appreciate you sharing it!

  16. mudah untuk faham ....terima kasih.....saya berminat nak jahit bag besar dengan zip....anda boleh tunjuk kan.....

  17. If ever you intend on selling your collection to make profit, you'll discover that storing them in a coin holder will give you the security that
    you are keeping your items in great condition and that you will also be able to sell them for more money if ever you decide to dispose of them.
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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This is brilliant. I made one last night and this is going to be my go to pattern from now on. Thank you for all your work.

  19. Hi - thanks for the cute little coin purse. I've needed one for a while. I had made myself a Harvey Bag to use as a wallet and had enough fabric left over that I made the coin purse out of it and now I have a matching set. =D Thanks!

  20. Do you have social media? I'd like to connect on FB.

  21. Great tutorial, thank you for providing it to us all

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  23. Great tutorial and a super little gift idea. I'm making a dozen of them and will be adding a handmade lotion bar to each one. My friends are going to love them! Thanks!

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