How to Make Indian Embroidered Bags

Written by ramona french
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How to Make Indian Embroidered Bags
Use beautifully-embroidered vintage Indian fabrics to make bags or purses. (Indian fabrics image by Melissa Schalke from

The easiest way to make an Indian embroidered bag is to begin with scraps of embroidered Indian fabric. Look for vintage saris at used-clothing stores. Saris are available at a reasonable cost from online auction sites. They are made of cotton or silk and are often richly embroidered. Since saris are five to six yards in length, you'll be able to make several bags from each one, even if some of the fabric is damaged and unusable. If your sari fabric is sheer or very lightweight, use another fabric to line the purse. Take your vintage sari to a fabric store and look for a lightweight woven fabric that matches it.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Vintage embroidered Indian sari fabric
  • Lining fabric
  • Pattern (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Magnetic snaps
  • Other fittings as required by your pattern: cord, handles, zipper
  • Needle and thread

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  1. 1

    Wash a small piece of your fabric to see how durable it is. If you decide the fabric isn't machine washable, wash a piece by hand to see if the outcome is better. If not, then make a note that the fabric must be dry-cleaned. Put that note in the finished bag so the new owner will know how to clean the bag.

  2. 2

    Lay your pattern pieces on the embroidered fabric to see where the embroidered designs should go. A border, for instance, could be cut to go around the bottom or top of the purse. An all-over pattern can be the body of the purse, or use it for the lining. Cut out the pattern pieces according to the pattern directions. If you are using an interlining fabric as well, cut another set of the pattern pieces out of the interlining fabric.

  3. 3

    Pin the interlining pieces to the matching pieces of the embroidered fabric. Treat the two pieces, interlining and sari fabric, as one. Sew the bag together according to the pattern instructions. Press the seams open and press the entire bag when it is finished.

  1. 1

    Cut two pieces of fabric for the body of the purse, each measuring 15-by-27 inches. Cut two strips of fabric for the handles, each 2-1/2-by-27 inches.

  2. 2

    Fold each piece of the body fabric in half crosswise, right sides together, so you have two folded pieces measuring 15-by-13-1/2 inches. Sew the side seams of each piece, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Now you have two bags, each one with a 14-inch opening (15 inches minus two 1/-2-inch seams.) Trim the seams and turn the bags right side out. Press the seams.

  3. 3

    Fold the two strap pieces in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew each one along the long side, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance, turn the fabric right side out and press the straps.

  4. 4

    Measure 2-1/2 inches in from the corner, along the open top of one of the bags. Pin one end of a strap here to just one layer of the bag, matching the raw edge of the end of the strap with the raw edge of the bag. Measure 2-1/2 inches in from the other corner, and pin the other end of this strap there. Turn the bag over, and pin the other strap to this side the same way. At this point, you'll have one bag with the handles pinned on, and another bag without handles.

  5. 5

    Turn the other bag, the one without the handles, wrong side out. Put the bag with the handles inside this bag so the right sides of the two layers are facing each other. Push the handles down in between the two bags and pin the tops of the two bags together all around the mouth of the bag. Sew around the edge of the top of the purse with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, including across the handles, but leaving a three-inch gap unsewn.

    Trim and press the top seams. Turn the purse out through the three-inch gap. Press the purse. Turn in the edges on the three-inch gap between the layers and press them. Stitch the gap closed by hand.

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