The Last Pleated Beauty Bag


In yoga, after we do backbends, we do happy baby pose — a pose in which we lie on our backs and grab our toes and bend our knees. (The pose is also called dead bug pose, a name that is as apt, if not as pleasant, as happy baby.) We do this to counter the intensity and the backward curving of the backbends. For each move there is a counter move; for each muscle constriction, a stretch.

I know that I’m trying to juggle a lot, here, with a kid and a dissertation and a marriage and all, but sometimes I need a counter pose. Something quick and satisfying. Something that has a start and a finish and a short, straight line between them. Something someone else will appreciate and, maybe, compliment.

I know you’ll think I’m crazy when I tell you I just completed another sewing swap. The task this time was to make a Pleated Beauty Handbag (from Bend the Rules Sewing, who’da guessed?) but since I’ve made this bag twice (once for my mom, once for me), I wanted to do something a bit different. So this one’s a purse instead of a tote bag, and I like it a lot.

My partner said she liked purples, so I gave myself the challenge of using purple in a way that I would still like. Have the bag be part her, part me. Here’s the end result:

Pleated Beauty

It’s a nice little bag and a fairly easy pattern to follow, but I think this is probably my last one. On to other bags, I say.

Now, lest you think I’ve forsaken my spring quilt for this beauty of a bag, fear not: I’m about 10 feet of hand-sewing away from being 100%, no doubt about it, all the way DONE with the spring quilt.  I’ve been working on it while Brian and I watch the second half of the third season of Entourage.  I predict that pictures will be forthcoming by Thursday.


9 Responses to “The Last Pleated Beauty Bag”

  1. 1 Janet

    I love that bag! Saucy.

  2. 2 Roselee

    I love the dimensions of your smaller bag. Did you write down measurements, and if so, are you sharing? I decided to make pleated beauties for the moms in our family (four!) and my grandma-in-law seems to prefer smaller.
    Thanks for any help you can give!

  3. Oooh, I love the purple. Gorgeous color.

  4. 4 Julie

    Roselee, here are the measurements without seam allowances (so add those in before cutting):

    The bag measures 14 X 9 overall (before you sew across the corners to make a bottom). I kept the strap length the same as in the original pattern (I think they’re 22 inches long). The dimensions for pieces used to construct the outer bag (main fabric, pleat fabric, main fabric, pleat fabric, main fabric) are as follows:

    2.5″ 1.5″ 6″ 1.5″ 2.5″ (the 1.5″ pieces are the pleats) (this all adds up to 14 and each of the strips is 9 tall plus seam allowances)

    The inside pocket (not shown above) was cut to about 5″ wide and 4″ tall.

    The bottom of the bag (which you create by sewing diagonally across the corners — see the pattern) is 2.25″ across (sewn about 1″ from the corner).

    I know this doesn’t make a ton of sense by itself but I hope it does with the pattern and instructions in the book. Let me know if you have questions. : )

  5. 5 Roselee

    THANK YOU! I have been waiting to get started on the smaller bag, but wasn’t feeling clever enough to figure out smaller measurements on my own (chalk it up to being the mom of a 16 month old). My goal is to post photos of all the mother’s day bags I make – I’ll be sure to credit your mathematical genius along with the photo! :)

  6. well aren’t you clever, weaving your practice into life and blogging like that, well done and well said! hey, I am so psyched because last week, for the first time ever , I did a headstand! No wall, no spotter, just me in the middle of a room! Held it for 30 seconds even!

  7. Truly well said about doing something immediate that has instant satisfaction. I just painted the frame of amirror and crackle-painted a small shelving unit. Next I’m going to paint a bookshelf. Nevermind the 1 1/2 manuscripts of Young Adult fiction that need to be completed because I am going to a writer’s conference/workshop for YAL this summer. I wanna paint and have my bf say…That’s cool.

  8. 8 Roselee

    Hello, again!
    Thank you for sharing the measurements – you can see the completed bag (along with a plethora of others) at I have one more to make – check back by the end of the weekend if you so desire! :)

  9. 9 Kris

    Well, I have to say it looks even better in person. I love the idea of a smaller bag!! And thank you Julie for such a great bag. I’m sure it will get plenty of use this summer.

    And I definitely understand what you mean when you say you need a counterpose. I think that’s why I sew in the first place. It’s one thing I have complete control over and lets me be creative in my own way. :>) Plus it’s a good excuse to be alone for a few hours!!

    Thank you for making me such a cute bag.

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