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Saturday, November 15, 2014


The first thing I want you to know is that no cigar boxes were harmed in making these purses.  They might look like cigar boxes but they are not.  For those residing outside of the US who tell me it is so hard for you to find cigar boxes for projects, there are no worries with this one.  
Outside of creating art pieces, I think the next best thing is projects to create ways to store and display them and this is what these purses are all about.  
In the tutorial below, I’ll show you how to make a cigar box purse out of chipboard.  I’ll also give you some ideas on how to create a book inside the purse such as using envelopes accordion folded so that you can actually store art or memorabilia in the envelopes.
Another option is to use accordion folded cardstock to display art, memorabilia or for journaling.  For those of you who participate in art journal swaps wouldn’t it be cool to create your own purse to house your swapped journal pages.  You can make the purse any size you like so it can be customized to your needs.
You’ll note that I used cigar box themed papers and images to make the purses look as much like a cigar box as possible.  Velcro is used to keep the purse closed.
Of course, you could just close up the sides and make it a real purse as no one will ever know that it is not a cigar box.  If cigar boxes aren’t your thing, you can make the purse in any style or theme you choose.


For this purse, I decided on a 5” x 7” front and back and a 2” x 7” base.  You can make your purse any size you like.  You should consider what you are going to use it for and how much stuff you are going to put in it to determine the size.  The only requirements are that you make the width the same on all the pieces you cut and that you cut the top piece ¼” taller than the bottom piece.  As you walk through the tutorial, the measurement requirements will make more sense.
Start by cutting out 5 pieces of medium to heavyweight chipboard.  Below is a picture of the pieces I cut for the teal purse laid out in the order of assembly.  You can see that each piece is 7” long.  The first and third piece from the bottom is the front and back of the purse and they are the same size at 5” tall.  The second piece from the bottom is 2” tall and it will become the base of the purse.
The fourth piece from the bottom (which will be the top of the purse) is 2 1/”4 tall.  The extra ¼” on the top piece (as opposed to the base piece) is to accommodate closing the flap of the purse.  
I decided to make the flap (the top piece in the picture) 2” tall.  I also wanted to make the flap envelope like, so I cut away the sides at an angle. 

NOTE:  You can make the flap any size or shape you want.  Things to consider when deciding the size and shape of the flap are having enough height to attach the closure.  In the case of this sample, I used Velcro.  Another thing to consider is if you are adding artwork to the front of the purse you don’t want the flap hanging over the art.  If you like, you can keep the rectangular shape of the flap.

To cut the angles on the flap I first found the center of the flap.  I then measured 1 ½” from the center in both directions and marked the spot.  I then drew lines from the marks to the corners of the other end of the flap creating the cut lines.
Next, cover the chipboard pieces front and back with decorative paper.  I used a line of paper called Cigar Box Secrets.  In the picture below you are seeing what will become the inside of the purse.
As you are working with the chipboard pieces, I suggest keeping them in order so that you won’t mix up; remember how the base and top piece are a ¼” different in size.  In the picture below you are seeing what will be the outside of the purse.
The next step involves joining all of the chipboard pieces together.  I started by cutting six 12” x 1” strips of paper.
I chose the Cigar Box Secrets Figurados Scrapbook Paper as it looks like a cigar box edging.  If you are making a purse the same size as this sample or larger, and you want to apply the edging the way I have, you will need 2 sheets of this paper.

Next, use the strips of paper to attach the chipboard pieces together.  You can go in wherever order you like.  Use the image below as a guide for where to glue the strips.
IMPORTANT:  Make sure to coat one side of the strip of paper completely with an even coat of glue.  Do not use a Xyron machine for this as the adhesive won’t hold.  You will be folding the chipboard pieces into the shape of a purse (which causes a lot of stress on the paper) and you don’t want the paper strips lifting from the chipboard because the glue is not strong enough or there are areas that are missing glue.

Glue the strips to what will be the outside of the purse placing the chipboard pieces equally spaced on the strip and leaving a 1/8” gap between the chipboard pieces.  This gap will give you the room to fold the pieces of the purse in place.
Fold and glue the strips to the inside of the purse.  Note that with a purse this size and using 12” x 12” paper for strips, there is a gap.  Use a piece of one of the strips to fill the gap.  Now you can see why you cut 6 strips instead of just 4 as you need to fill all of the gaps.
Continue in the same manner connecting all of the chipboard pieces.
The purse flap piece is a little trickier to attach because of the angle of the piece.  I laid the flap piece on the strip and marked lines where the piece lined up with the strip.  I folded the strip over the flap and pressed the paper against the flap which left a mark that I filled in with a pencil.  
The two marks gave me my cut lines.
Next, I glued the strip in place in the same manner as the other strips.
In the pictures below you can see the pieces assembled.
Once you are sure the glue is dry, carefully fold the chipboard pieces into the shape of the purse (box shape).
In order to complete the cigar box edging look, I added pieces of the same paper I used for the strips to the edges of each of the chipboard pieces.  When adding paper to the edges, don’t glue the paper strips into the folds between the chipboard pieces, as it will cause extra bulk and make it hard to fold the chipboard.

One book option is to use envelopes inside the purse.  The diagram below indicates the order for assembling the envelopes which ensures that all of the openings of the envelopes face up.  You can have as many envelopes as you want, as long as there is an even number.  Choose envelopes that are smaller in dimension than the front and back covers of the purse.
Cut strips of paper to use to connect the envelopes.   For this sample, I cut the strips ¾” x 3 ½”.  The number of strips you cut depends on the number of envelopes you want to connect.  Notice I pre-folded them to facilitate accordion folding the envelopes.
Start gluing the envelopes together using the strips of paper.  Leave a slight gap (1/16”) between the envelopes to make it easy to fold the envelopes together.  Use the diagram below for the order and direction of the envelopes.  You can have more envelopes than in the diagram just make sure you use an even number.  
Note that the strip of paper is glued to the front side of the envelopes.
Once you have finished gluing all of your envelopes together, accordion fold the envelopes; one side should have the paper strips visible and on the other side, they should not be visible.
Glue one end of the accordion-folded envelopes to the inside front of the purse and the other into the inside back of the purse.
For the sample, I kept the envelopes intact.  You could cut away the flap of the envelopes, stuff the flap inside and or decorate the outside of the envelopes.

For the handle I used two pieces of wire ribbon twisted together.  I chose wire ribbon as it holds its shape making the handle stand up.  Also, note all the charms hanging from the handle.
To attach the handle, I punched two holes in the top of the purse and added pieces of filigree which I also punched (so that it would be the same size as the holes in the top).
I poked the ribbon through each of the holes and tied it on the backside of the top.  The knot in the ribbon keeps it from pulling through the top when lifting the purse by the handle.  Make sure you have extra ribbon to make it easy to tie and then snip off the excess.  Note at the top of the picture you see a piece of white Velcro which is what I used to keep the purse closed.  One side of the Velcro goes on the inside of the flap and the other goes on the front of the purse (make sure they line up).
One last detail I added was gold stickers around the inside lines of the cigar box edging.  This was to add the gold embossed look you see on many paper cigar boxes.  
I also used decorative gold stickers on the back to add even more of an embossed look.

The idea with the small red purse was to make something that was sized for ATCs and to use accordion folded cardstock as the book section instead of envelopes.
The assembly of this purse is identical to the assembly of the first larger teal purse with the only difference being the measurements of the chipboard and the accordion folded cardstock attached inside the purse.  Note the measurements below.
For this purse, I also made the purse flap smaller in proportion to the size of the purse.  I did this to accommodate the image I wanted to use on the front.
Cut strips of cardstock 4 1/4” wide and as long as the length of your paper (I used 12x12 paper).
To create the individual pages you are going to score and fold the paper.  Score the paper every 3 1/4".  You may end up with a strip where the last score is less than 3 1/4"; that’s ok, as the short piece will be used to attach the strips to each other.
Once the strips are scored, accordion fold the strips.
You should end up with strips of cardstock that look like the picture below.
Glue all of the strips together.  You can use the short piece or short page of one strip to attach it to a full page of another sheet.  The only exception is if the short page is less than ½” as this amount is too short and your book may fall apart.  If you don’t have at least a ½” piece, glue one full page to another full page.
When you are gluing one strip to another, you may need to change the direction of the folds of the newly glued strip so that all the strips fold in the same direction.
Regardless of how many strips you glue together when you are finished attaching all of the strips, you must end up with a full-page on each end (cut off the excess short page) and an even number of pages.
Glue each end of the accordion folded cardstock to the insides of the purse as was demonstrated with the accordion folded envelopes in the teal purse.
For this purse, I decided to go with a beaded handle.  I strung beads on a heavy wire.  I punched two holes on the top of the purse and added rondelles to pretty up the holes.  I threaded the wire through the holes and looped the wire on the backside to keep it from slipping through the holes. Just like with the teal purse I used Velcro to keep the purse closed.
Another option for creating a beaded handle is the Brass Purse Handle Frame pictured below.  The bases screw off, so you can thread the beads onto the handle.  To attach the handle to the purse, you could punch holes in the top of the purse, use ribbon threaded through the square-shaped “D rings” and then through the holes.  Lastly, tie the ribbon in a knot on the backside of the top.
You could also go with using these yummy Amber Plastic Purse Handles, which I think would work great with the cigar box look.  To attach them, I would again punch holes in the top of the purse and use either ribbon or pieces of leather to anchor them to the top.

If you are not comfortable constructing a purse out of chipboard, Alpha Stamps is carrying some paper mache and wooden purse boxes that are ready to be altered and decorated.  Click here for more details.


Createology said...

These are fabulous. I did think these were cigar boxes at first. How clever to also add envelopes for holding treasures. Your creations are always True Creative Bliss...
Thank you for generously sharing your techniques.

johala said...

Another wonderful creation!It can be done bigger to put papers or other things too! Thanks
Hugs and kisses

Debi said...

Oh Laura! Wow! Magnificent tutorial, thank you for all your work & skill Always! xoDebi

dyeandpigment said...

Great, great tutorial. Thanks for sharing your creative talents with all of us. Going to give this a whirl.

Heather371 said...

love the vintage look, such a beautiful piece.