Radial Purse Template and Instructions

radial purse

Plastic canvas is a pretty fun material to have on hand. It’s excellent for craft projects but also makes a great backbone for sewn projects needing structure – including the radial purse I put together as a part of the Plastic Canvas Blog Hop hosted by Diane of CraftyPod. When you think of plastic canvas purses (if you ever think of plastic canvas purses) you probably think of cheap acrylic yarn in olive green and mustard yellow needlepointed onto a purse by your grandmother in the 1970’s. While there’s nothing wrong with those purses (I proudly carry one myself!), plastic canvas purses can be so much more! My Radial Purse uses a quilting technique to get the fun radials and requires beginner sewing skills.

radial purse being held

Download Radial Purse Template (Print without scaling.)
Fabric (Works for many fabric types. Amount varies based on your design decisions.)
Snap or velco (optional)
Interfacing or piece of heavy fabric
Plastic canvas
Sewing machine, thread

Construction notes: Radials are sewn onto muslin with 1/4″ seam. All other seams are 1/2″

cut fabric radial purse

Cut out your pattern pieces and use them to cut your fabric and plastic canvas. For the pieces marked “on fold” (Fabric and Handle), you can either place them on the fold of the fabric when cutting, or you can cut the paper pattern piece out twice, tape the pieces together, and cut on open fabric. For cutting the plastic canvas, you will have to cut and paste your pattern because the plastic doesn’t fold.

red brocade and blue sparkle fabric triangles

Cutting itemized:
Body – cut 1 for the back, 2 for the lining, and 1 out of muslin. The muslin will be the backbone for you to sew on radials. If you’re using an easy-to-work-with-fabric (like quilting cotton), it’s fine to cut the “muslin” piece out of your fabric. If you are using something difficult (like I did with slippery brocade), use muslin. Cut your muslin piece generously (i.e. a bit larger than the pattern piece) as you will trim it after sewing on the radials.
Handle – cut 2 of fabric and 1 of interfacing or a heavy fabric that you can sew between the fabrics to give it some heft.
Tab – optional. Cut 2 fabric.
Bottom – Cut a piece of fabric 24″ x 4″ out of both lining and main fabric.
Plastic – Cut 2 from plastic canvas.
Radials – Cut out about a dozen triangles of fabric. They should be about 1/2 inch at top and 2-3 inches at bottom. Being precise isn’t necessary. A few of them should be about 9″ long, but the others can be shorter. You can use two contrasting fabrics or have fun using a variety of fabrics.

It’s up to you to decide what fabric you want to use for lining, purse back, and handle. They can all be the same (like my purse), but you could make your lining different, your handle different, or heck, make a patchwork purse with every piece a different fabric (it would be a great way to use up scraps!).

sew center triangle on radial purse

Sewing the radial front: Sew your first radial (one of the longer ones) down the center of your muslin with right side facing up using scant-1/4″ seams along the long edges of the radial. It’s okay if the radial fabric hangs off the top and bottom. (This seam is just less than 1/4″ so that it will be hidden by the following 1/4″ seam).sew radials onto muslin

Sew on your next radial on by laying it face down, right sides together, matching one side of the already-sewn on radial. Sew 1/4″ seam down one side of the radial (this will just hide the seam that you sewed the first radial in place). Press open.
sewing radials onto muslin

You will continue to repeat the previous step, alternating sewing radials on the left and right, until you have radials covering the full muslin. Don’t worry about the points meeting at the top. They will get trimmed off.radials sewn on muslin

Trim your purse front down to size using the Body pattern piece.
radial purse handle

Sewing handle: Place the fabric pieces right sides together with the interfacing/heavy fabric on top and stitch along the long edges (remember, from here on out all seams are 1/2″). Turn the handle right-side out and press. Sew a 1/4″ topstitched seam along both of the long edges.tap and snap on purse

Sewing Tab (optional): sew your snap or velcro to one tab  and to the front at the marked points. Sew your two tab pieces, right sides together along three sides, leaving bottom free. Turn inside out and press.

sewing diagram

Body and lining assembly: sew your 24″x4″ lining strip to the curved edges of the lining front and back. Do the same for your purse front and back.

iron top of purse

Fold over the top of the purse and lining 1/2″ and iron in place.pin plastic canvas into purse

Insert the plastic canvas into your purse! It should exactly fit against the purse front and back. Pin it in place along the top edge.tack plastic canvas to seam

I recommend tacking the plastic canvas in place at the bottom. To do this, sew a few stitches connecting the plastic canvas to the bottom seam (this way the stitches won’t be visible on the outside of the purse). (In the picture above I’ve placed my finger right where you will want to sew the stitches).pin radial purse together

Tuck your lining into the inside of the purse and place the purse handles in place, going into the body of the purse at least 1/2″. Pin the heck out of the top to keep everything aligned and in place. If you are using a tab, make sure  you pin it in also, tucked in 1/2″ at the center back.
sew purse together
Now sew along the top of the purse  1/4″ from the top, removing pins as you get to them. Seriously. You can sew through the plastic canvas. I’ve tried it on both my sewing machines. It really works! Use a new needle (and throw it away when you’re done) and sew slowly. You can either use a contrasting thread (as I did) or one that will blend in. I sewed around the top a second time at less than 1/4″. That’s it! You’re done!

For other fun and inspiring plastic canvas craft projects, be sure to check out the rest of the blog hop!

Comments 4

  1. Erin, I love this! PC provides such a nice framework for holding a bag’s shape, and I really love how the piecing follows that shape. Such a cute bag!

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  2. That’s a cute little purse! Thanks for giving the details of the construction process. You did a great job explaining everything.

  3. I’ve always thought of plastic canvas performing it’s structural duties as an exposed stitched canvas – never ever considered it’s potential for “hidden” structure and support. Brilliant! You have opened up whole new worlds of possibilities!

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