I love having little wristlets to carry a few essentials. It's so much easier than dragging around a huge purse, for me anyway. I have very slope-y shoulders, so I'm constantly losing my purse strap.
This project is a little fiddly, but there's absolutely nothing difficult about it. If you can sew a straight line, you can make this bag. And there are endless ways to customize the design. Use the patchwork technique to make a bigger purse, a pillow cover, a whole quilt! Plus the fabric amount you'll need leaves enough leftover to make several wristlets, and the whole thing can cost less than $10.
1/8 yard each of about six different fabrics. (I used four cottons and two metallic vinyls.)
1/4 yard non-fusable interfacing (aim for thick and stiff)
Step One: Make outside bag pieces:
Cut each length of fabric in half. You'll only use one of these halves, so set the rest aside. Cut these strips in half again. You should end up with twelve 11.5" x 4.5"(ish) strips, two in each color. For a 5" x 7" wristlet, you'll only need half of these, one in each color.
Begin to cut each piece into thin strips, varying the widths from 1/2" to 1". I want my metallics to really stand out, so I'm going to reserve the wider sizes for the metallic strips. I didn't really measure at this point, I just folded the pieces in half and eyeballed the strip cuts. If you have a rotary cutter, that would come in really handy here. The number of strips you end up with for each color don't need to be the same- for example, I ended up with five turquoise strips and four mint strips. This is meant to look random, so mix it up.
When all your strips are cut, select two and sew them together lengthwise with a 1/8" seam allowance. Unfold strips and press open, pressing seam to whichever side is darker so that the seam will not be visible through the right side of the lighter color. Add another strip to either side. Continue adding strips and pressing until you have used all the strips for the front side set.
So now you have this beautiful rainbow striped square of fabric, and you probably think it's too pretty to cut up. You don't have to, you could skip to the bag assembly step and just have stripes. But I want itty bitty little squares, so I'm going to cut this piece lengthwise into four equal(ish) strips. Again, I didn't measure but just eyeballed half and then half again.
Mix up the four strips so that they are going in opposite directions. In other words, you don't want the same pieces up against the same pieces. Now sew the strips together, but slightly skewed so that the ends don't match up exactly. That way, the tiny strips will be even more off-center and look more random. Press strips open with seams to one side.
Now cut the strips in half lengthwise again. Set aside the two thinnest (unseamed) strips from the top and bottom, you'll use those for the wrist strap later. Mix up the seamed strips again, trying to make the squares appear as random as possible, offsetting at the edges if necessary. Stitch strips back together. Press strips open with seams to one side. Trim the edges that are hanging off. Now I have a rectangular piece about 5" wide. Cut this in half width-wise so that you have two pieces about 5" x 7.5". These are the front and back outside pieces.
Step Two: Make wrist strap
Trim all the edges from the two leftover strips so that they are nice and even. Fold in the long edges halfway, meeting in the middle of the wrong side. Press. Repeat with second strip.
Hold both strips together, wrong sides facing, and stitch along edge with smallest seam allowance as possible.
Step Three: Assemble the bag
Use a long stitch and a 1/8" seam allowance to baste the interfacing to the wrong side of the outside bag pieces. Don't skip this step! I know it's tempting, but you will be sorry.
Using one of the outside pieces as a template, cut two lining pieces. Trim zipper to fit longest length of outside bag piece, if necessary, and stitch back and forth across end to secure.
Lay the zipper along the top edge of one lining piece. Lay one outside piece over the zipper, right side down, and match top edges.
Stitch along the top edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. To get around the zipper pull, I like to unzip it a few inches and sew along that first, then stop and zip it back up and continue sewing.
For the other side, lay the other half of the zipper over the top edge of the second lining piece, and then place down the right side of the other outside piece. Stitch, using the same unzip/sew/stop/zip/sew technique to get around the zipper pull.
Unzip the zipper. Open out the bag pieces so that the two lining pieces are facing one way and the two outer pieces facing the other, with the zipper in the middle. Fold the wrist strap in half and lay it in between the two outer pieces with the loop inside.
With a 1/2" seam allowance, stitch around the outer edges of all pieces. Begin at the bottom of the lining, but a couple inches from the center. Stop at the other side of the bottom of the lining, again a few inches from the center. This way you have a little opening a few inches wide. Also be careful not to catch the loop of the wrist strap in the side seam as you go.
Trim the corners and seams, turn the bag inside out, and stitch the opening closed.* Ta-da!
If you need more photos of the zipper/assembly process, check out this super awesome clutch tutorial!