CQ Gift Card Purse and CQ Sewing Case

Carolyn Phillips © 2008

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As a painter and an addicted crazy quilter, I enjoy making pieces that use both art forms. These little CQ gift card purses are about 3” x 4.5” when folded, and were created when I wanted to give my niece a gift card, but didn’t want to just stick it into an envelope and hand it to her. So, I painted a pretty rose on a piece of Dupioni silk, and then built a purse around it! She loved the purse, and seemed to think the gift card was okay, too; I could have saved $25. She now uses the purse as a jewelry case when she travels. Please see photos #41, #42 and #43 at the end of this article.

The gift card purse below is made from vintage linens, and will be a gift for a special friend’s birthday. I’m pretty excited by this purse because I have finally figured out how to construct it completely by machine. Well, almost completely by machine; there is only one small place that needs to be hand stitched, and it is hidden down inside the pocket. The problem I’ve created for myself with the purses is that I wanted to use a bias cording trim, and still have a minimum amount of hand stitching, which seemed for a while to be mutually exclusive. Being able to use my trim of choice, and still be able to sew it by machine has been very satisfying, to say the least. However, if you are less interested in achieving perfection, I have given you a couple of alternate methods, which will be explained at the end of this lesson. Whichever construction method you use, I hope you enjoy making gift card purses and sewing cases for all the ladies on your gift list. Don’t forget to make one for yourself!

Vintage Linens Gift Card Purse

Front, inside view

Back View (with purse flap open)

Purse Pattern
I used one of my jumbo-sized café latte cups to draw the curve, but I imagine a compass would be a little more professional.

Pocket Pattern


  • Assorted CQ fabric pieces
  • 8” x 11” muslin foundation (CQ foundation fabric)
  • 5” x 9.5” lining fabric
  • 5” x 3.5” for pocket
  • Matching sewing thread
  • Embellishments
  • Approximately one yard of 1/8” bias cording (looks like rope)


Using the pattern provided cut one lining piece, and one pocket piece. (I used a piece of vintage linen for a pocket.) Cut muslin foundation fabric approximately 8”x11.” Use a pencil to mark the outline of the pattern onto the muslin foundation fabric, and then carefully mark the dotted “fold” lines, the directional arrows, the large and small dots and notches, where noted on the pattern. Accurate markings will aid in making a beautiful, professional-looking purse. DO NOT cut the muslin fabric to size until you’ve finished piecing and embellishing the surface (see photo below).

Muslin foundation with pencil markings

In order to avoid patches that are upside down on the finished purse, pay very close attention to the directional arrows on the three sections marked on the muslin foundation (see photo above). The crazy patches will be sewn to the unmarked side of the muslin foundation, as you will need the penciled lines visible so you can refer to them as you construct the patchwork top.

Section #1 is the purse’s front flap, the part of the purse that will be seen first. If you have a piece of fabric that you would like to use for this special “focus” area, you will want to take extra care in the fabric’s orientation. The rounded edge of the purse flap will point downward when folded, so the “top edge” of this section will be at the upper fold line, or a little beyond the fold line.

My focus fabric in the vintage-linen purse was a round embroidered doily (see photo below). I held the doily up against the muslin foundation, and then adjusted the two fabrics until I had a fit that I liked. I pinned the fabric in place on the muslin foundation, approximately .75” beyond the upper fold line, to avoid having a seam line directly on the fold. The embroidered doily on this purse looks best cut straight across, parallel to the fold line; however, when practical to do so, I like to cut the focus fabric so it will make a diagonal seam that wraps over the fold and onto the next section. You will see this done on one or more of the sample purses shown at the end of this article.

Section #2 is the backside of the purse, which will also be fairly visible. Please note on the pattern that the arrow points up on this section. Fabrics and embellishments should be placed with this in mind. It’s really easy to get busy and lose track, so keep looking at the pencil lines on the muslin foundation.

Section #3 will be folded up to make the front pocket of the purse, so when the purse flap is lifted, this section will be visible. Please note the direction of the arrow on this section, and decorate accordingly. I like making this surface especially pretty, since it will be the section that is most visible to the user.

Embellish the surface of the CQ as desired.

Note that the diagonal patch in the lower right corner is placed on top of the other fabrics so the embroidered edge on the vintage linen will be visible. This can be done with a lace edged piece of linen, as well.

When decorating the seam lines with embroidery, as shown on photo above, I like using Robbie Field’s Embroidery Success Strips, as these small templates make it so easy to make perfectly spaced, uniform stitches. She includes a disappearing ink pen for marking the dots and lines on the fabric; when practical, I like using a sharp pencil. Note the pencil dots at the right of the template. There are five templates in the set, each showing a different group of stitches. The templates are very inexpensive, and are available at the following website: http://www.embroiderysuccess-strips.com/examples.html

After the embellishments are finished, turn the pieced fabric over so you’re looking at the pencil markings, and then hand or machine-baste on the dotted stitching line. Trim the pieced top just slightly outside the cutting line, which will give you a little more adjustment room. Cut a shallow “v” or snip each of the notch markings. By keeping the notches shallow you will have some leeway in case you need to clean up and re-cut the notches after sewing the cording in place.

Corded Bias Trim: If you have never made your own corded bias trim, read the following step-by-step instructions before you begin. One of the benefits of making your own trim is the ability to choose any fabric desired.

Using the diagonal markings on your cutting mat will help you cut your fabric strips on the true bias of your fabric, which is what allows the trim go smoothly around curved areas.

Cut and join together enough 1.5” wide bias fabric strips for about 25” to 30” of trim (see photos above). Press seams open, but take special care to not stretch the bias fabric strips.

With the wrong side of bias strip facing up, lay the 1/8” cording down the center of the length of fabric. Fold the fabric over the cording and line up the raw edges with wrong sides together. Pin in place. Using a zipper or cording foot on your sewing machine, stitch down the length of the fabric right up against the cording. Trim the .5”seam allowance to a generous .25”.

With the CQ pieced top facing up, begin laying and pinning the corded trim in place, starting at about 1” above the large notch and dot, leaving about 1.5” of extra corded trim loose before beginning the stitching (see the close-up photos below).

Continue stitching trim around the curved edge and end at about 1” above the large dot on the opposite side, again leaving about 1.5” of extra trim loose.

Open the stitching on the trim for about 1” from the end, exposing the cording inside. Cut off about .75” of the cord end, and then close and pin the fabric back in place around the cord.

Removing a small piece of the cord will give you a flat section of trim that can be gradually curved and eased off the fabric at the large dot. This will keep you from having to stitch over a big lump when the trim is stitched back in place. Repeat at other end of corded trim.

Snip the seam allowance around the curved area so it will lie flat. Stitch a 6” length of corded trim across the bottom edge of the purse, leaving about .5” unstitched at each end. Open the stitched seam at each side just as you did before, and clip about .5” of the inside cording. Stitch ends of cording trim in place at the .25” seam allowance.

Pin purse and lining with right sides together using a generous .25” seam, matching the large dots, and stitching the pocket in place on the lower fold line. Be sure that when the pocket is flipped up into place the top of the pocket, including lace, will be below the upper fold line.

Turn a .25” hem under at the bottom edge of the lining, and then press well. Flip the pocket up into place, press well, and then stitch along the seams at the outer edges of the pocket.

Fold Section 3 up into place, matching the small dots and notches at the lower edge of the lining to the small dots and notches at the sides of the upper fold line on the lining. This will create a second pocket that will lie in front of the lace-edged pocket. Note the folded-back .25” hem, visible at the top of the second pocket. You might feel that this is a mistake, but it will make sense a little later. Press well and stitch both sides of the pocket in place at the .25” seam allowance. Set the finished lining aside.

With right sides together, fold up Section 3, matching the small dots and notches at the sides of the upper fold line. Pin and stitch the side seams in place. Press well.

With right sides together, and with the pieced CQ unit on top, match and pin the dots and notches at the sides of the upper fold line, indicated by the flat-head yellow pins. Be extra sure that the small dots on the lining piece match the small dots on the CQ pieced top. This is the part that makes everything work out at the end.

After pinning the dots together, lift the lining unit up and check to see that the folded edge of the lining pocket butts up against the corded edge of the CQ pieced pocket. Be sure that they don’t overlap. You can do a little adjusting of the pins, if need be, to assure these edges meet and just kiss up against each other. Once you have them aligned just right, drop the pocket back down in place.

Begin stitching by lowering the needle into the small dots, or where you did the final pinning, and then stitch from this point around the curved flap, shown by the red stitching thread.  End at the small dots on the opposite side. Be sure to snug the stitching right up against the cording as you stitch around the curve. Use the previous line of stitching on the pieced top as a guide; please see photo number twenty-two to see previous stitching line. Check again to be sure the edges of both the lining and pieced top still kiss up against each other. Adjust as needed by either taking out a couple of stitches, or perhaps adding a few.

Turn purse flap (Section #1) right side out, referring to the photo above.

Turn the pieced CQ pocket right side out, however, do NOT turn the lining pocket right side out.

Turn the purse over so the lining unit is on top. Lift the lining pocket up and insert it into the pieced CQ pocket. Please see photo immediately above and the three below.

Begin tucking lining pocket down into pieced CQ pocket. Notice the .25” “turned back hem that appeared to be a mistake earlier.

Both pockets in place

Blind Stitch opening closed

Referring to the photos above, push the lace-edged pocket toward the back; you should now see the .25” hem and the pieced CQ corded trim (shown in the photo on the left), held between my finger and thumb. To complete the purse blind-stitch the edge of the .25” hem to the corded trim (shown in photo on the right). You may need to do a little tucking and adjusting at the “hinge” at each side. Finished!

Alternate Construction Methods:

Pink Silk Gift Card Purse:

Completed pink silk gift card purse

Rose painted on Dupioni silk, with Jo Sonja Acrylic Gouache (rhymes with squash) Paints.

Front inside view

Section 3 is simply folded up into place, being sure to line up the bottom corded edge slightly above the top edge of the existing embroidered pocket. Stab stitch the sides of the pockets together at the corded seam lines at the outer edges. Two pockets are created when the bottom is folded up. Constructing the purse in this way makes two rows of cording, instead of one, and is really quick and easy!

Lining and pocket

To create an opening, the lining for this purse is made in two pieces. Add 1” to the upper piece before cutting, and then fold under a .50” hem and press well. Overlap the upper piece over the lower piece and pin in place at the outer edges. Lay and pin pocket in place and then stitch along the outer edges.

Lining and patched CQ top

Notice in photo above, that I rounded off the corners at the bottom of the pieced top before stitching the cording in place. To finish of the corded trim, leave about 1.5” or so of corded trim unstitched, and then open the seam and remove a small amount of cording from each end. When the corded trim is finished, the two ends of cording should just touch in the middle. Overlap the resulting flat seam, and pin in place, and then finish stitching the trim in place. Clip the curves, and then turn purse right side out through the envelope-type opening.

Blue Sewing Case:

The purse pattern can do double duty as a very simply made sewing case.

Completed blue sewing case

Forget-Me-Not flowers painted on dupioni silk with Jo Sonja Acrylic Gouache. The button loop was inserted between the top and the lining before being stitched together. The button was attached after constructing the piece.

Inside sewing case

The lower edges of the pockets are stitched in place slightly above the upper and lower fold lines of the lining. Each pocket has its opening at the top, since the sewing case will be used in this orientation.

Front inside view

The upper pocket has a band of white fleece (for needles and pins) stitched in place before the pocket is attached to the lining. The Blanket stitching was done afterward.

Stitch opening closed

Back view

The complete sewing case has a beautiful piece of 19th century handmade lace.

Original Gift Card Purse:

Completed niece’s gift card purse

Outside back view; with purse flap unfolded

 Inside front view


The beautiful hand-dyed laces used on this purse are courtesy of Nickilee at: http://cqnickilee.blogspot.com/.

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