Clever Use of Embroidery Makes The Most of This Novelty Fabric

Lazies, Novelty fabric might not seem like it would make a refined purse or tote bag. However, this novelty print is elevated to a more sophisticated finish with the addition of a simple embroidery element. This is one of the most delightful uses of a novelty print that I’ve seen on one of my bag designs. Sabra Rounds came up with a clever use of embroidery to make the most of this fun fabric on our popular Gracie Handbag sewing pattern.

Gracie Handbag open top tope made using novelty fabric and embroidery.
Gracie Handbag (LGD118) made with Route 66 fabric.

The Appeal of Novelty Fabric

Novelty fabric is fun – that’s where the ‘novelty’ applies. But it can be hard to find coordinates for specialty fabrics like these. We usually gravitate toward solids or tone on tone fabrics. But they can be too much plain space when used in large pieces, like the center panel on this Gracie Handbag.

Sabra fell in love with the Route 66 fabric by Alexander Henry and knew she needed to use it for something special and fun. The nostalgia of the print, and also having driven to many of the places mentioned on the fabric, really spoke to her.

Route 66 novelty fabric.
Route 66 fabric by Alexander Henry.

Creative Inspiration

The “highway” idea down the middle of the bag is creative inspiration. A plain red or black colored fabric can anchor this novelty print quite nicely. Sabra was originally going to use a coordinating red fabric for the center panel of the bag, but all of a sudden the picture of black with the yellow dashes came to mind and she knew she had to do it!

The center panel is a simple piece of black fabric with yellow dashes stitched to look like the yellow line of a road or highway. It fits perfectly with the theme of the novelty fabric and the black looks wonderful with the print fabric.

Gracie Handbag made of novelty fabric and simple embroidery.
The embroidery extends from the front, across the bottom and up the back of Sabra’s Gracie Handbag.

Embroidered Center Panel

These simple yellow stitches can be done freehand by machine. Another option is to have it digitized for an embroidery machine. Sabra’s husband actually did the digitizing of the dashes and they turned out great.

A plain red fabric makes the perfect bold lining choice and helps let the novelty print shine on the inside pockets.

View inside the Gracie Handbag showing inside pockets and lining fabric.
The view inside showing Sabra’s love for the color red.

For more inspiration, follow our Purses & Bags board at Pinterest.

Working With Directional Prints

Novelty fabrics are often directional, meaning the print only looks right, or reads right, from one direction. Fabric on Gracie wraps from the front, across the bottom and up the back. That means a directional print such as this will be upside down on the back of the bag. To fix this, cut the panel pieces 1/2″ longer, then cut in half at the middle where they would normally cross the bottom of the bag. Rotate one piece, then sew back together using a one quarter inch seam.

Where to Buy The Gracie Handbag Sewing Pattern

Gracie is available in our sewing pattern product section here. She’s a quick and easy open top tote with inside pockets and a flap closure. Make the most of this deesign by using a few fabrics with bold designs and lots of contrast.

Gracie Handbag sewing pattern.

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Close up of fabric bag with yellow embroidery

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