When embroidery comes to your mind, perhaps your first thought is a decorative embellishment.  Embroidery can be more; it can be smart, both decorative and functional! Designer Handbags fits the category of smart embroideries. It’s an embroidery collection that create the tabs, strap connections, and corner trims. They add a designer touch, plus shape and function. Eileen Roche and I designed the concept. I’d like to share with you my latest handbag and a tutorial on how the smart embroideries give it style.

First – fabric and pattern

  • Select any rectangular shaped bag/tote pattern to use with the Designer Handbag embroideries. I chose the Trace ‘n Create Bag Template—Florida Tote Collection as my sewing pattern. Here are my other choices: The handbag fabric is a suede cloth, accent fabric is a brown silk, and lining is a cotton print. Thread colors were chosen from the lining colorations.
  • Cut out the side tote panel without the lower left corner shape. The corner trim embroidery will create its own corner.

Note from Nancy: We stitched a test sample before narrowing down the thread color choices. Ten minutes of testing is well worth the time. My first thread choice wasn’t what we selected. 

Second—Embroider the Corner Trim

The corner trim truly fits the title of smart embroidery—it looks smart plus shapes the corner of your handbags.

  • The next step is to embroider the outlines of the corner trim appliques. In the instructions Eileen and I give you the guideline to stitch four of the corner trim outline onto the applique fabric and then trim. I took a detour this time, stitching only one outline on Pellon’s Peltex and cutting out the shape to use as a pattern. You’ll learn why in the next step.

  • Trace four pattern shapes onto Steam a Seam 2, roughly cut out, and press to the wrong side of the accent fabric, and cut along the traced line. Since the silk fabric was so lightweight, I wanted to fuse the appliques in place.
  • Stitch the first thread color directly on the hooped stabilizer. Align the fabric along the outline stitch and tape to the stabilizer.

  • Stitch the second color, the outline of the corner trim. Oops, we took a photo of the opposite corner; oh well!

  • Remove paper backing from the applique and lightly fuse to the fabric. I use the mini-iron when pressing in the hoop.

  • Stitch the decorative thread embroideries. You can trim away the excess fabric in the corner.

Note From Nancy: I didn’t list all the details of making the bag in this sewing blog. The instructions are given with the Florida Tote template. Plus, I’d like to recommend that you read the Top Creative Designer Bag Tips—It’s What’s Inside That Counts for insights on interfacing and shaping. 

Second — Embroider the Strap Connectors

The strap connectors are embroidered comparably to the corner trim accents. There’s one addition, the straps are attached right with the embroidery. See, it’s a smart embroidery!

  • Stitch the first thread color directly on the stabilizer; this outline indicates the top and center of the bag.

  • Align the center top and center of the bag to the stitched outline.

Designer Handbags Nancy Zieman 3

  • Stitch the second thread color; the placement lines for the strap connector appliques.

  • Place the strap connectors in the stitched box; stitch the next thread color which securely stitches the straps to the handbag.

  • Align the applique shapes along the stitched outline. Press. Stitch the decorative thread colors. Isn’t this fun!

Close-up of the embroidery

Third—Embroider the In-the-Hoop Tab

There are two embroideries to create the tab; outer and inner tabs. Here’s an abbreviated tutorial on how to put these two pieces together.

  • Embroider the inner tab. Notice that the snap placement is part of the embroidery! Also, there are a few hash-mark stitches, hmm, interesting!

  • Remove the fabric from the hoop; add a magnetic snap. Cut around the shape, allowing for a 1/2″ seam allowance.

  • Embroider the outer tab. I layered cotton batting and the silk fabric in the hoop and stitched the outer tab. It’s an attractive design, but it also has hash-marks stitches at the sides and along the top and bottom. Again, notice the hash-mark stitches!

  • Align the inner tab to the outer tab (which is still in the hoop), right sides together. Align the hash-mark stitches. Tape along the outer tab edges. Now you see why the hash-mark stitches are included!

  • Stitch the final thread color, it’s the seam! Then, remove from the hoop, trim away the excess seam allowances, and turn right side out. Ta Da!

Snap Shaping Idea

The original Florida Tote Template does not have the same silhouette as this bag. In the instructions for the Designer Handbags, I pass along tips to give your bags additional shaping such as the Corner Snaps idea that I included in this handbag.


There’s more!

As you might guess, there are more embroidery designs (28 in all), more designer shaping tips, and more sewing tips in the Designer Handbags CD with instructions. This is just one of the options!

To watch Sewing With Nancy on your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone, download the app.

Would you like the opportunity to win a Designer Handbags collection? Leave a comment on what handbag or tote color combo you’d like to make. You can be the winner of the random drawing! Eileen and I thank you for your interest!

Bye for now,

Nancy Zieman The Blog

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