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Bernette Chicago Exotic Purse

This colourful bag, sewn together from old silk scarves, is the perfect bohemian accessory to go with your new Exotic tunic dress.

  • Sewing
  • < 1 hour
  • Intermediate


  • 2 scarves, approx. 53cm x 53cm (21" x 21")
  • 2 purse handles with rings, 60cm (24") long
  • Remnant of cotton or lining fabric for inside pocket
  • 36 cm (14 ¼") elastic 1cm (1/2") wide
  • Sewing threads in the colour of the fabric
  • "Extra Strong" sewing thread

Fabric recommendations:

Colourful scarves in satin, silk, cotton, linen, or blends.

Cutting Out:

Inner Lining

1 53cm x 53cm (21" x 21") square (for a scarf of a different size, adjust the purse lining accordingly - the dimensions of the inner pocket correspond to those of the scarf). - 1 rectangle for the large inner pocket: opposite edges 16cm (6 ¼") and 14cm (5 ½"), height 11 cm (5 1/3").

-1 rectangle for the small inner pocket: opposite edges 12cm (4 ¾") and 10cm (4"), height 11cm (5 1/3").


    Closing the seams:

  1. Place both scarves right sides together and close the base. Sew together the side seams, leaving the bottom 20cm (8") open. Press the seam allowances apart.

  2. Now fold the open 20cm (8") in half and close this seam on both sides, beginning in the side seam. Press the seam allowances apart.

  3. Sewing the inside pockets to the lining

  4. On one of the inside linings, draw two adjacent squares of 12cm x 9cm and 8cm x 9cm (4 ¾" x 3 ½" and 3 1/8" x 3 ½"). These are the placement lines for your inside pockets.

  5. Fold over the longer edges of the inside pocket 5mm (1/4") twice and press. Stitch the top edge approx. 3 mm (1/8") in from the edge. Press over the other three edges by 1 cm (1/2").

  6. in the two inside pockets to the squares you've drawn on the inside lining (topstitched edges on top). You now have a bit of excess width at the top, which will make it easy to stow items such as your phone or lipstick in the pockets.

  7. Stitch both inside pockets to the inside lining approx. 2mm (1/16") in from the edge.

  8. Closing the inside-pocket seams stitching purse together and turning

  9. Sew the inside pocket as described in the steps before.

  10. Slip purse inside lining right sides facing and sew the top edges together, leaving a small turning opening. Turn the purse inside out using the opening.

  11. Top edge of the purse

  12. 8 cm (3 1/8") from the side seam towards the centre, mark the 4 spots with a pin. Now form a pleat from the inside outwards such that the marked pins meet at the side seam. Topstitch the pleat thus created with a 3.5cm x 3.5cm (13/8" x 1 3/8") square.

  13. Cut two pieces of elastic 18cm (7”) in length and pin them in place 2cm (3/4”) below the top edge at both ends so that 4cm (1 ½”) still protrudes at either side.

  14. The elastic can now be secured with a zigzag stitch. (While sewing, you'll need to pull the elastic to the same length as the fabric; this gathers the top edge of the purse.) You could also sew a large press-stud into the purse if this closure doesn't seem secure enough to you.

  15. Sewing on the handle

  16. Position the handles and secure by hand with a few stitches using extra strong thread or doubled regular sewing thread.