Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review : Pleated Beauty Handbag


This post is part of Purse Palooza 2013.
For full schedule of guest post pattern reviews and prizes, click here!
Emily of Emmmy Lizzzy is an amazing quilter and baker…I don’t know how she does it all. When I look at her fun sewn projects and then see that she has made an amazing cake on top of that all, I feel a bit envious.

Hello Sew Sweetness purse fanatics!  I’m so excited to be part of Purse Palooza 2013!  I typically spend most of my sewing time making quilts or sewing clothes for my two little girls, but I like to branch out into purses a few times a year when my current bag becomes too encrusted with goldfish crumbs and leaky sippy cups.

I consider myself an advanced purse sewist ever since I conquered Amy Butler’s Weekender last winter (high five!), but today I’m going to review the pattern of the first purse that I ever sewed – the Pleated Beauty Handbag from Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing book.

Amy’s blog, Angry Chicken,  was one of the first blogs that I started reading years and years and years ago.  And at the time, her book was one of the first craft books to come out that showcased modern sewing projects with modern fabric choices and I was smitten.


So.  The Pleated Beauty from this book is the first purse I ever made, so I can definitely say that it’s a great pattern for a beginner.  The instructions are very clear, and along with some cute illustrations a beginner purse sewist can learn to box corners, sew pleats, and add a lining with ease.  It’s also a very quick sew and can easily be done in an evening.

The instructions don’t have actual yardage requirements, rather just the exact dimensions of the fabric pieces that you need.  I’d estimate that I used about 3/4 of a yard each of main and lining fabric, and about a 1/4 yard of the contrasting fabric for the pleats.   No hardware required!

My one qualm about the pattern is that it doesn’t call for any interfacing whatsoever – aside from a small piece for the false bottom.  When I made it the first time I didn’t think anything of it being a novice, but the finished purse was so floppy and flimsy that it didn’t retain it’s shape in the least.  So when I went ahead and made it again this round, I was sure to use some mid-weight fusible interfacing on all of the pieces before i sewed everything together.  The main fabric on my current version is cut from a super lightweight vintage bedsheet, and the interfacing helps it stand up nicely.


The only other modifications I made to the pattern were to add more (and larger) pockets on the interior and to lengthen the straps about 6″.  

The other nice thing about this purse that Amy mentions in the notes of the pattern, are that the dimensions of this bag can be altered very simply.  Aside from the pleated detail, it’s really two rectangles sewed together, and as long as the outer panels and the lining are the same dimensions, you can make this bag as large or small as you’d like. 


I made mine exactly per the pattern in the book and it’s perfect for me.  I like a nice big purse, and in addition to all of my junk I tote around, I can comfortably fit diapers, wipes, 2 sippy cups, and some snacks.

So there you have it.  The Pleated Beauty Handbag by Amy Karol – a great beginner purse pattern, and yet so gorgeous and simple that I keep coming back to it.  Can you just imagine all of the wonderful fabric combinations you could use?!  I even happened to find a photo (5 years deep in the depths of my flickr photostream) of the first Pleated Beauty that I made!

Pleated Beauty

Thanks for stopping by – come visit me on instagram at Emmmylizzzy where I spend way too much time, and thank you dear Sara for hosting this great event!

Share this post

7 replies on “Purse Palooza :: Pattern Review : Pleated Beauty Handbag

  • Jake

    Ooooh, I love this bag! Nice pleat detail. Great way to use a splash of a treasured fabric! I really love your oldest one! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m gonna be bag poor after this purse palooza! I’ve bought a bunch of patterns!

  • Lori

    wow I really love this one. I have not made a bag yet and would like to try. I will have to look and see where I can find this book. Thanks for the review.

  • Julie Hatch

    Thanks for this review Sara/Emily! I actually got this book from my library and have been wanting to try this tote- now I feel inspired! May I feature a picture of this tote on a Christmas inspiration post I’m drafting? (With a link back, of course!)

  • anniecardinaux

    Hi, this is super helpful! I was wondering about purse floppiness, so I am definitely going to pick up some medium weight interfacing before I try this. The other question I had is that it looks like yours has an inch or so of the main (outer) fabric) at the top of the lining. Is that accurate, and if so, did you just sew it to the top of the lining rectangle and trim to make it the correct size? I like how the lining starts lower down on yours than in other photos, but wasn’t sure how to attempt this myself.


Comments make my day and I love to reply!