How to Sew a Magic Linked-Chain Rope Purse

Who doesn’t like a unique purse? It’s amazing what can be made with rope. How did you do that’ is often the first question as it seems like an impossible way to connect the circles… Here’s the my tutorial of how to sew a magic linked-chain rope purse.

The Great Things About Sewing Rope:

Why sew with rope or cording? If you think all sewing is aggravating since you need to cut out fabric or even patterns here is a way of making things that do not need fabric (unless you like to line it) It is great since there usually are no edges to finish either. I also like that I can get the main supplies like the different ropes in a lot of stores or suppliers, often quite inexpensively. Have you seen that you can sew all kinds of rope bowls, trivets & place matts?! Starting simple is a good idea if you are a beginner and unsure about your skill level.

Basic stitches like zigzag or other wide versions will attach the lines of rope and cord together to build the shapes. Pretty well any way you can sew it together will make a design option.

What Rope or Cord do you need?

The cord that I discovered at my local sewing supply store is actually called macrame cord (polypropylene or polyester) and is somewhat flat, it is about 6mm or 1/4″ wide. There are varieties available online as well. The beauty of this cording is that it is very easy to sew and also will probably be managed by any sewing machine. Some of the bulkier cotton ropes are more round and therefore require a higher presser foot height. The size/length of rolls is also very big, often 90-100 yards!

Supplies Needed:

  • Cording or cotton rope ( my design 13 ring/links, bottom height 3.5″) about 90′
  • Sewing machine
  • Denim Needle
  • Measuring tape
  • Lighter
  • Scissors
  • Lining fabric & zipper (optional)
  • Pre-made strap or extra cord/rope

How to Start making the Circle Loops:

There are no size rules as it depends on how large you’d like to make your bag. The rings are sewn as they are connected to the next ring etc… Ideally the width of the ring should be about the radius of the inner circle (space) so that when the next ring is attached it will fill the hole; preventing too much space.

The circumference of a circle formula is; = 2πr (2 x 3.14 x radius). So for example if you want a 1.8″ diameter hole/opening (.9″ radius since it is half of diameter) the length of the cord would be 6.25″.

Line up the rope end at the measurement mark. To seal the end of the rope it can be heated a bit with a lighter to melt and quickly squeeze… (be careful) Start to sew around (see video)…

That allows 4 rounds of sewing the cording to itself with a zigzag stitch. Pull as needed to keep a nice curve.

How to finish one Ring, then repeat…

To make it easy to hide the start/stop, make sure it is opposite to the start point. Here is the third ring coming to and end. The process is the same as the beginning but it is looped through the last ring/circle. Slide the finished ring to allow sewing of the new one. Secure with some back stitching and cut/seal the end.

Decide the Purse width Desired:

The number of rings will depend on how wide you would like the size of the purse or bag to be. Since there are no side seams the full length dictates the size. The rings fill the openings well with the above calculations & measurements. Clips work well to hold the rings in place prior to securing to each other. The edges of the rings are zigzagged together and the start/stop ends are hidden under the the other ring. Plan to have them all on the bottom to make them not visible at the top inside.

Secure as much as possible before attaching the ends as it is easier when it is flat. I also like to secure the rings where they overlap with a matching thread to hide the stitching. It keeps the entire strip quite stable. It will depend on how sturdy of a rope you have chosen as well. The only issue with thicker ropes is that a double layer is often too much for a regular sewing machine (like mine).

Closing the last Loop:

Once you have secured the strip in all the places you’d like you can then attach the ends by sewing another link but this time threading through both end links. Test to make sure the direction of the ring is proper to follow the pattern of over-under. If you would like to make a taller bag you could repeat this process with another row and attach it before closing.

Secure the last spot in the large ring. Aren’t you so happy with the result?! It’s such a brain-teaser!

Planning the Bag Bottom:

To keep it simple and showcase the top rings I like to keep the bottom section plain. Set the ring in the desired shape to see length and width. Essentially you could even make a round bottom for a round purse; bucket style bag…

For the finished length of 8.75″ I needed to subtract the radius (same as width) to calulate that the starting strip length would need to be 5.75″

8.75″ – 3″ = 5.75″ (width to be 3″)

Sew the Bottom Section:

Starting with the bottom measurement start to sew along and then wrap around to create the long oblong shape of the bottom, curving at the outside end rounds.

Once close to the size of the flat bottom start to curve up the sides by lifting the bottom. Do not pull too tight at you can still allow some ‘growth’ (gets a bit wider as it gets taller; stop and measure total distance to check progress)

Check for size match to the length of the bag ring.

Once you have the desired height you can end by sewing it under the last round, preferably on the end. Cut and fuse it to keep from unravelling.

The bag interior is as pretty as the outside. The only issue may be if you are carrying things that may slip out of the small spaces of the rings. If it was to be a larger general utility tote bag then it could be left unlined.

Mark the centre for each end to plan the attaching of the bottom. If you can sew the ring bottom edges to the oblong shape with the sewing machine it makes quick work. It is also easy to sew by hand, each of the bottom edges of the rings.

Making the Lining for the bag:

The lining is a simple measurement of the bag and double layer. The top and bottom are oblong pieces; one with the zipper inset. Measure around the purse for length of lining piece (add seam allowance)

For simplicity I sewed the zipper section and the attached to inner and outer lining pieces leaving an opening in the inside lining to turn inside (right side) out. Tip; when sewing a curve shape to a straight edge it helps a lot to clip the straight edge so it can be easily bent to follow curve.

For a simple version of the bag, you could just use a toggle or magnetic clasp as a top closure instead of making a lining. If a flap (oblong oval) is needed to fold over from front to back it can be easily be sewn with rope.

My favourite is a crossbody strap but a shoulder bag would be pretty as well. To use the same cording you can sew a long one to match the circles, 3 lines of cord. I like versatility so I used a strap from another bag and clipped it to one of the rings on each side.

I hope this instruction of how to sew a magic linked-chain rope purse has inspired you! Perhaps you’d like to impress your friends with a one of a kind accessory that is made by you! Such a cool small handbag, a trendy rope bag. It’s hard to believe when you see the finished bag that it was a roll of polyester cord!

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