How to make a beaded clutch purse

Bling Bling Clutch Purse

Not shown finished size.  Finished size is approximately 5x5 inches square.
Not shown finished size. Finished size is approximately 5x5 inches square.

I have the right everything, but no purse.

You have gotten that perfect outfit, dress, shoes and jewelry, but wait--- no purse to go with it. What are you going to do? If you're the last minute type, you'll go to the nearest department store, outlet store or boutique to find that perfect purse and you'll spend hours doing it right to the last minute.

If you have the the time and patience, then you too can have a gorgeous evening purse like this one.

Example of Victorian purse

Here is an example of a handmade seed bead purse.
Here is an example of a handmade seed bead purse.

A short history of the Seed Bead and the Beaded Purse

Beads have been treasured for centuries as embellishment for different items like clothing and ceremonial items. Glass beaded items were prized by the Native Americans. What we know now Pennsylvania was purchased from the Lenape tribe with three envelopes of glass seed beads. This Native American tribe coveted these tiny beads like precious diamonds.

These little glass beads also played a role in the Slave Trade. Forty percent of the slaves that were headed to North America from Gambia, Ghana, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, were paid for with glass seed beads.

These little pieces of glass were important in the early beginnings of the United States. The Revolutionary war, was funded partially by raids on British ships. One haul produced over a thousand pounds of glass beads. The fir traders used the beads to barter with the Native American to hunt on their land. The glass seed bead was essential for relocation of the Native American to reservations.

In the Victorian era in the United states, the beaded purse was a fad and was included in the textile art skills of Victorian women and their daughters. At the end of the 1800;s the beaded purse was in decline. It made a resurgence in the 1910s and has been a fashion stable ever since.

Single beads right angle weaved

This is an example of single bead right angle weave.  The red line represents thread going through the beads.  The blue line is to show the 90 degree angle of the beads.
This is an example of single bead right angle weave. The red line represents thread going through the beads. The blue line is to show the 90 degree angle of the beads.

Let' Get Started

To make this bag we're going to use a technique call off loom beading. It is referred to by some as bead weaving. There are many stitches used in bead weaving and the one used to construct this purse is called Right Angle Weave (RAW).

This stitch is called right angle weave because the beads are in a 90o angle when the stitch is completed. The drawing on the right shows the RAW stitch done with the single bead. Using this stitch will make a pliable fabric this makes it easy to embellish with other beads.

This is a list of supplies that you'll need to complete this project. Most of the supplies for this purse can be found at Michael's or Jo Ann fabrics. All the supplies for this project can be found at a bead store near you. If you would like more help with Right Angle Weave, most bead stores have people who can help you or you can go to the Bead and Button and Beading Daily websites. Beading daily has a chat room where you can ask questions of experienced beaders.

Here is a list of supplies:

  1. beading thread Nymo size B or Fireline 6 pound test. ( I prefer the Fireline because you don't have to wax it but it can be a little difficult to thread the needle. You'll need a pair of chain nose pliers to press the Fireline down so that you can thread the needle. For Nymo you will need to get some bees wax which will help you thread the needle easier. Fireline is more expensive than thread but it is stronger and more durable. )
  2. size 12 beading needles. (I suggest the John James brand which is found at most bead stores. I haven't sen them at Michael's or Jo Ann's.)
  3. beading wax ( You'll need this for the nymo thread.)
  4. size 11 seed beads in the color of your choice ( Seed beads come in many colors and finishes. The bead store personnel are very knowledgeable in assisting you in making your selection of color. I'm using opaque black.)
  5. crystals, Czech pressed glass other assorted beads which will fit in the spaces in the RAW fabric(This will give your purse dimension and texture. The spaces made by the RAW stitch will fit approximately a 4mm bead either bi cone or round. You can also use in addition to the other beads some extra seed beads to fill in the gaps between the embellishment bead and the space.)
  6. lining fabric ( To get this fabric you'll have to go to a store that carries fabric, In addition to beads Jo Ann's carries fabric, Michael's doesn't and neither do most bead stores. I find that you can find some nice material in the remnants section that would make good lining material.)
  7. Thread that matches your lining.
  8. Size 15 beads for embellishment between the squares ( I'm using a multi-color metallic bead for embellishment.)

Making RAW fabric

This is the first unit of the three bead square. Note the direction of the arrows.  This is your needle path.
This is the first unit of the three bead square. Note the direction of the arrows. This is your needle path.
After completing the first unit of 12 beads then string 9 beads after exiting bead #4.
After completing the first unit of 12 beads then string 9 beads after exiting bead #4.
This is how your units should look note for clarification the threads are different colors to show the thread path.
This is how your units should look note for clarification the threads are different colors to show the thread path.
You'll string 9 beads just like you had been doing on the first row
You'll string 9 beads just like you had been doing on the first row
After completing the turn unit, string six and go in the bottom three beads of the next to the unit that you came out of.
After completing the turn unit, string six and go in the bottom three beads of the next to the unit that you came out of.
This is half of a half of a side of the clutch purse.  I will use this piece of RAW fabric to make the coin purse.  This is both the front and back of coin purse.  You'll continue for 12 more rows to complete the clutch purse.
This is half of a half of a side of the clutch purse. I will use this piece of RAW fabric to make the coin purse. This is both the front and back of coin purse. You'll continue for 12 more rows to complete the clutch purse.

Part I: Making the RAW fabric

I'm going to dive into making the RAW fabric. If you would like a more detailed instruction on RAW, I will give some reference books that might be helpful. In this project I will have the RAW units with three beads on each side so they will accommodate the embellishments we will use after the fabric is completed.

  1. Cut a comfortable length of thread and wax or press down if you're using Fire-line then thread your needle.
  2. String 12 beads. Go through the first bead strung and then all of the beads again. The beads at this point look like a circle and not a square. As the weaving continues, the pattern of squares will emerge.
  3. Exit out of one three bead side, then string 9 beads. Go back through the three beads that you just exited in the opposite direction. These nine beads will make up the other three sides of the square. Position the needle so that it is coming out of the side of the side of the square going to the right Continue doing this until you have 24 3-beads/ side units.
  4. When this row is finished position needle to where it is on the bottom of the end unit. String 9 beads and go through the three beads that you just came out of.
  5. Position needle so that it is coming out of one of the sides and then string six beads.
  6. When you have done that then go through the bottom three beads in the unit that is next to the unit that you have just come out of.
  7. Go down the next three beads of the turn unit and the six beads that you strung then exit out of the top three beads.
  8. Continue adding six beads until you reach the end of the row then do the nine bead turn unit.
  9. Make 24 rows. Then make side two. (Note for demonstration purposes, I will be making a coin purse which will be half the size (2.5 x 2.5). The finished size of the clutch purse will be 5x5 inches.)

You'll need to add thread while doing this project. When you get to the point where you have about 5 - 6 inches of thread left go around the last square and tie a half hitch knot. This is done by catching the thread and making a loop. Once you've made the loop put your needle through it and make a knot. Don't cut the thread you'll do this at when you complete a side then you'll cut all of your loose ends. Thread your needle with a comfortable length of thread and go back through the same square you came out of around to the point where you ended your thread then tie another half hitch knot and continue until you have completed a side.

Once your sides are completed we will be ready to fill those holes.

 

Embelishing the purse

This is how you put the embellishment bead in the hole.  This is the way the bead is placed diagonally in the hole.
This is how you put the embellishment bead in the hole. This is the way the bead is placed diagonally in the hole.
This is the way to position the bead so that it is going up and down.  You can also use this method to have beads going from side to side.
This is the way to position the bead so that it is going up and down. You can also use this method to have beads going from side to side.
Back view of purse easier to see how the embellishment is placed
Back view of purse easier to see how the embellishment is placed
Front view.  Raised portion of purse is the closure which is made using cube RAW.
Front view. Raised portion of purse is the closure which is made using cube RAW.

Part II: Let's make it pretty.

Now that you have your framework of RAW material, it is time to embellish it and make it POP! So how are we going to give our little purse some POP by adding beads to the holes. The 3x3 bead holes can be filled with any combination of beads. I am not going to sew up the sides until the embellishment of the sides are done, it makes it easier.

What kind of beads to use to embellish the purse with, well that's up to you. I used black beads for my framework because black goes with anything making it easier to find beads to fill the holes. There are different ways that the holes can be filled.

The most common way to fill the bead hole is diagonally. Following the illustration 1, at the right, go into the hole from one side of the hole then go into the opposite side of the hole. Even though the illustration doesn't show it but the bead will lie diagonally. Which way the bead will lay depends on the direction it was threaded into the hole. When using bi-cone beads the diagonal pattern is seen easily.

These holes can be filled in other ways such as up and down and side to side. Following illustration 2, you can go in-between the beads to have them go in the direction you chose.

I have done the embellishment for the purse. I showed the back side first. Click on the picture for a larger view and you'll see that the beads are on the diagonal. I used 4mm Swarovski crystals and size 11 seed beads. As you see this make the material more solid. Now it is time to line your purse.

I know that the RAW material now looks solid but the beadwork still needs protecting and that is why it needs a lining.

Lining example

Finished purse lining.  This is wrong side out this is the way that it will go into the purse.
Finished purse lining. This is wrong side out this is the way that it will go into the purse.
With about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch fold hem this before or while attaching the lining to the bag.
With about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch fold hem this before or while attaching the lining to the bag.

Part III: Making the Lining

You can use any type of material that you want for lining. I am going to use a velvet tor my lining. First, measure the purse and then cut a piece of material with a fold at the bottom for easier sewing. This can be done by hand or by machine. Since my piece is small I will do the sewing by hand.

To make the lining, measure the purse and cut a piece of material about the size of the bag. When sewn, the lining will be slightly smaller than the purse. When measuring the lining material for cutting double the material and measure the length and with and don't cut the folded end this will make you only have to sew the two sides (click picture for larger view).

After sewing the sides up then pin the top about 1/8 -1/4 inch for a hem. You can place the lining in the purse now and sew and hem at the same time or you can do it before you place the lining in the purse.

Closure

Side view of the closure which is worked into the purse.
Side view of the closure which is worked into the purse.
Top view of the closure with the beginning of the flap. Unembellished RAW fabric.
Top view of the closure with the beginning of the flap. Unembellished RAW fabric.
Loop construction.  Click on image and it gives details
Loop construction. Click on image and it gives details
Detail of loop additional embellishment with size 15 beads between the squares
Detail of loop additional embellishment with size 15 beads between the squares
Finished purse not shown actual size.
Finished purse not shown actual size.

Part IV: The finale

Now that you've sewn the lining into the purse, it's time to close it. There are many ways that you can do this. Buttons, beaded beads and other focal beads can be sewn to the outside of the purse and held by a loop sewn to the back of the purse or to a flap. A toggle hook or any other finding can be used to secure the purse.

I am going to make a flap with a loop closure.

  1. Thread a needle and go to one of the corners of the purse go through three bead at the top of the purse then tie a half hitch knot to secure the thread.
  2. Pick up 9 beads and go through the same three beads you just came out of and make a square consisting of three beads per side (just like the body of the purse.)
  3. Continue across the row picking up 6 beads to complete the sides of the square until the end where you'll turn with 9 beads continue for four more rows.

On the example purse, the middle part where the loop will go over was made during embellishment before the lining was sewn in.. When getting to the middle four squares do not place beads in the spaces instead on each side bead a row at a 90 degree angle on all four sides of each square. When getting to the top of the cube, you should have 4 sides with three beads on each side. When finished with the first cubed row make a second and embellish the sides and the top.

The loop is made by building an extra two rows off of the middle 6 squares of the flap. Make 2 rows going down from the first 2 and the last 2 squares of the middle row. Make 4 rows on each side forming a hole that the middle piece can go in. Join the sides by making a row across by picking up 9 beads like starting a new row, then continue across until you meet with the other column of beads. When the row is finished then go down to where you can start a new row pick up 9 beads and complete the row.

After embellishing the flap and the loop, beads can be placed in the spaces in between the squares as shown in the pictures to the right.I used size 15 beads between the squares.

Some words of encouragement

This project is meant to be fun and not frustrating. To the novice beader this project may be a challenge and the experienced beader may get a new idea or learn a new stitch. You don't have to make your purse look exactly like this one use your imagination see what different ideas you can think of as you read this hub.

Explore using different bead counts and make squares larger or smaller depending on your preferences. Use different colors. If you'd like to use this design for a spring wedding or party use more pastel colors and it can be adapted for other occasions. Use your imagination. Be creative that is the fun of beading! Set your mind free!

The books that are available at Amazon.com may be helpful in explaining right angle weave. Bead stores have a variety of books and classes.  Also on the pictures which accompany this hub if you click on them there's a more detailed explanation of the steps.There are also tutorials on YouTube on RAW. Last but not least feel free to contact me if you have any questions using the link at the right. Above all have fun!

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Comments 10 comments

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Wonderful directions and pictures. Wonderful history of the beaded bag. All around terrific hub. Rated up, awesome, bookmarked (I'll be trying your pattern) and you've got a new follower.


Painter Penfield profile image

Painter Penfield 5 years ago from Tampa Bay area Florida

Wow!! Did I say "Wow" yet?!? This looks fun ;)


Tess 5 years ago

Beautiful work. I am going to try it out.


thirdworldcraft profile image

thirdworldcraft 3 years ago from Nepal

Beaded clutch purse are very elegant...I just love them...Good and informative hub..Voted up


mystixsprings profile image

mystixsprings 3 years ago from Long Beach Author

Thank you for your comment it is much apperecated I was glad that you enjoyed it. I hope that you read more of my hubs.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

i ave to admit, it sounds hard to follow with the steps, but will try


Snakesmum profile image

Snakesmum 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Love the purse, but afraid I wouldn't have the patience to follow through with this one.


mystixsprings profile image

mystixsprings 2 years ago from Long Beach Author

The purse is based on a right angle weave stitch. The hardest part of the stitch is to keep the thread path correct. The goal is to have the beads going at a right angle. I will write a right angle weave tutorial hub to assist with learning the basic stitch or you can send me an email to jmandyhunt@yahoo.com and I can send you the instructions for basic right angle weave.


mystixsprings profile image

mystixsprings 2 years ago from Long Beach Author

Once you learn the basic stitch, it moves along quicker than you think. If you are not familiar with the basic stitch you can email me at jmandyhunt@yahoo.com and I will send you the instructions.


Jacobb9205 profile image

Jacobb9205 22 months ago from Gloucestershire

Looks great!

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