pockety purse organizer

One of my Christmas gifts for my mama was a chicken purse.  While the outside of the bag was cute, the super tough outdoor home-dec fabric I used was too thick (and, let’s be honest, my sewing skills were too rudimentary) to do much intense pocket sewing on the inside of the purse.  So, I designed a removable, sturdy, and easy to clean purse organizer.  The project probably took me about two hours max, and I consider myself a fairly slow sewer.  Definitely a simple and fun way to get your life in order!

You’ll need just a few things: a plastic file folder (somewhat like this) and about half a yard of fabric with matching thread.  The amount of fabric you’ll need depends entirely on the size of your intended purse/organizer.  From your general crafting stash, you’ll also need marking pens, a Sharpie, a ruler, X-acto knife, and pins.  And a sewing machine, unless you are a masochist. But no judgments if hand sewing is your shtick.

Getting started
First things first – measure the inside dimensions of your purse.  You don’t want the organizer to be very snug in there, because once you fill it up with stuff it will be even more difficult to navigate in your purse than before.  I would advise maybe giving yourself about an inch of wiggle room on either side of the purse, and maybe two inches on the top. Once you have your desired dimensions, measure and mark them out onto your plastic file folder.  This will become the removable skeleton of your organizer, giving it a backbone so that the thing doesn’t entirely collapse when you put your phone in a pocket.  Using an X-acto knife or carpet cutter, cut out the piece of plastic along your markings.

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Based on your measurements of the desired purse organizer, you’ll measure and cut the fabric as depicted below.  Don’t forget to factor in .5 inches for seam allowances!  If you want to do expanding pleated pockets, don’t forget to make the pocket segments longer than the actual length of your organizer.  If you’re unsure of the size of the pleats you want to do, then I recommend just being cautious and cutting out a little more than you think you’ll need – you can always trim the excess when you’re pinning the pockets.

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Sewing, or a more appealing way of saying “lots of ironing with some minor construction”
After cutting the fabric, the three S’s begin – situating, sewing, and swearing (the third S is particularly useful for me to get anything done in a sewing project). Just thinking about the big-picture layout of this – the organizer will have two sides and be shaped like an tube with only one opening (so the plastic piece can easily slide in and out).  Since you’ve cut the fabric on the fold so that both sides of the organizer are on one piece, you’ll attach the pockets to each end first and then assemble the sleeve-tube thing.  Hopefully this is clear.

First things first – take the fabric designated for the pockets and fold it down .5 inches (or whatever you have allowed for with your seam allowance).  Press, pin, and then hem about .25 inches away from the folded edge.

With the right sides of the fabric facing upward, place the base fabric on the bottom of your work surface and the pocket fabric on top of that.  Line up the pocket fabric bottom (raw edge) with the base fabric bottom and fold your pleats.  A simple method for folding pleats is picking a center line of your fabric and folding in equal amounts of fabric toward that center line.  You can eyeball this or use a ruler – your choice.

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Once you have fidgeted the pleat into place, pin that baby into place.  Sew the bottom and side edges of both fabrics together, for both sides of the organizer (but don’t sew the two different sides of the organizer together yet) with a .25 inch seam allowance.  Once the bottoms are attached, sew divisions between your pockets (if each side of the organizer has multiple pockets) by drawing a straight (or straight-ish) line on the wrong side of your fabric and then sewing along that.

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Then, fold the organizer halves together with right sides together and sew the bottom and ONE SIDE ONLY together with a .5 inch seam allowance.  Press the seams, turn right side out and slip in your piece of plastic!  (Alternate ending to the story: attempt to slip in your piece of plastic, find yourself foiled because you measured wrong, re-adjust and then try again).

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Cleaning is super easy (pull out the plastic, wipe it down, and then wash the cloth part of the organizer) so when your coffee spills or makeup explodes, all is not lost!  And who doesn’t love lots of pockets?

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