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Fabric Fishy Purse (pattern pieces included)


I have been busy with Christmas gifts.  I always have a huge list of things that I want to make…..and can never get them all done.  December 25th zooms in way too fast.  But I’m at least going to get all the kid toy items completed.  Okay, I probably won’t.  Maybe half?  The funny thing with me is that my mind is set on making something and then if I think of something else or see something else that I’d much rather make… whole brain shifts.  I don’t even think back to what the other idea was.  I know, I have fickle brain syndrome.


For example, I already had something I was going to work on for my oldest girl………but then I was walking through this little local toy store the other day, just for fun, and then saw the sweetest little fish purse.  I gasped.  And immediately decided that the other present idea didn’t matter and she must have this cute little fish purse.  Done.  Ack, my brain is so shifty.  I think I need a personal assistant to walk around with me to keep my on track and focused.  Anyone want to submit an application?  (Keeping me focused on house cleaning rather than fabric shopping is included in the job description.)  Haha.


Anyway, this little fishy purse takes a bit more time than a standard purse…….but who really cares?  Those little scales make the purse.

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Each scale is sewn individually and really helped me use up my lonely scrap stash.  Hallelujah.  That pile is getting hefty.



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You can pull open the fish’s mouth to see inside…..and then pull the side strings to cinch the mouth closed again.

fishy face



And since this purse is for my almost 5 year old, I’m sure she’ll shove it full of her most favorite things.  All of them necessities in her world.

IMG 2006



Such a fun purse to make…..because the results turned out so darling. (And you could really make this in so many different colors and styles.)  I may be found holed up in my craft space, making 5 or 6 more for this friend or that one.  I’m sure we could find homes for them all.  Oh wait focus, focus……I have more Christmas gifts to make.  See?  I’m a lost cause. ;)

fabric fishy purse



This little fishy is stuffed full and ready to be hung from a little shoulder.  But this fish will have to wait until Christmas morning.

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**The finished purse is about 8 1/4 inches wide and about 12 inches tall from top to bottom, excluding the shoulder strap.  The shoulder strap adds another 11 inches to the height.



Would you like to make your own Fishy Purse?


Supplies needed: 

(Before heading to the store, check your fabric stash.  I had everything I needed for this entire purse found by using a scrap here and a scrap there.  Perfect.)

  • 1/2 yard of fabric in your base color: fish body, shoulder strap, and pull strings (mine is yellow)
  • 1/3 yard of lining fabric (mine is teal/white polka dot)
  • a variety of different scrap pieces for the 24 scales (at least a 3 inch square)
  • 1/4 yard of fabric for scale lining fabric
  • 1/2 yard of fusible interfacing (choose interfacing that is near the same weight [or less] as the fabric you’re using)
  • 2 Half Ball Cover Buttons
  • matching thread, scissors, sewing machine, etc.



First of all, you can find the pattern pieces for the fishy purse here.



Scroll down until you see the 3 images under the “Fabric Fish Purse” title in red.  (Copy and paste each image into a document, adjust your margins to zero, expand the images to the full document size [8.5 x 11 inches], and print.)


You must cut:

  • Fish Body #1:  Cut 2 of main fabric and 2 of interfacing (be sure to place the pattern piece on the fold where noted, and then cut)
  • Fish Body #2:  Cut 2 of main fabric and 2 of interfacing (be sure to place the pattern piece on the fold where noted, and then cut)
  • Fish Body #3:  Cut 2 of main fabric and 2 of interfacing (be sure to place the pattern piece on the fold where noted, and then cut)
  • Fish Body #4:  Cut 2 of main fabric and 2 of interfacing (be sure to place the pattern piece on the fold where noted, and then cut)
  • Scales: Cut 24 out of your different colored fabric pieces and cut 24 in your lining color
  • Purse Lining: Cut 2 of your lining fabric
  • Shoulder Strap: Cut 2 pieces of your main color fabric that are 1.75 x 24 inches and 2 pieces of interfacing the same size (you may want these shorter or longer, depending on the size of the person carrying the purse)
  • Pull Ties:  Cut 2 pieces of your main color fabric that are 2 x 24 inches


*Seam allowance for this project is 3/8 inch, unless otherwise noted.



Cut out all of your purse pieces, in whatever fabric and color choices you want.  I used 100% cotton for my entire purse.

(You don’t want to use a stretchy fabric, or the purse won’t hold its shape very well.)

If you want to make your purse all one color or in all different colors like I did, it’s up to you.


Here are all my main pieces below (minus the shoulder strap, pull  strings, and interfacing pieces).

IMG 17402


Start by ironing the interfacing to the back of all 8 Fish Body pieces. 



Now, sew several lines along the tail fin in a contrasting thread color, giving the fin some detail.  Do the same thing to both #4 Fish Body pieces.  Now, set all fish body pieces aside.

IMG 18171


Now sew one of your scale “outer fabric” pieces to one of your scale “lining” pieces with right sides together.  Sew along the curved side of the scale, leaving the bottom edge completely open.  Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance while sewing each scale together.  Repeat with all 24 scales.  Then trim a little of the fabric off the curve of each scale, then turn right side out (use a pencil if needed to poke out the curve), and iron flat.



Next, grab one of your #2, #3, and #4 fish body pieces.  Arrange the scale colors just how you want them and pin 5 scales along the upper edge of the #2 piece.  (The upper edge is slightly longer than the bottom edge.)  Be sure to leave 3/4 of an inch of open space at each end of the #2 piece.  You will have to overlap each scale piece by just a bit to get all 5 pieces to fit along the upper edge and still have 3/4 of an inch at each end.  Now, pin four scale pieces along the upper edge of the #3 piece, centering them so that there is the same amount of space left on each side.   (The upper edge is slightly longer than the bottom edge.)  Don’t overlap the scales in this row.  Now, pin three scale pieces along the upper edge of the #4 piece, centering them so that there is the same amount of space left on each side.  Don’t overlap the scales in this row either.  Then sew right along the upper edge of each fish body piece, sewing the scales in place.  (Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance.)

3attaching scales1


Now, sew each of your fish body pieces together by first placing the lower edge of the #1 piece together with the top of the #2 piece, with right sides together.  Now, you will need to use a 3/8 inch seam allowance from here on out.  Then place the bottom of the #2 piece together with the top of the #3 place and then sew together with right sides together.  Then place the bottom of the #3 piece together with the top of the #4 piece and then sew together with right sides together.  Now, you can zig-zag or serge each seam that you just sewed.    Now, open up and iron the fish flat, with all the scales pointing downward towards the fin.  (Trim off any side edges that may just be slightly off.  But if it’s too off, you’ll have to unpick it, re-align it, then sew again.)

IMG 18391


Here’s a view from the back.  There’s my serged seams too.

IMG 18501


Now, repeat with your other fish pieces and scales so that you have 2 identical fish pieces.

IMG 18541


Now, place your two fish pieces together with the right sides together and sew together along the sides and bottom, using a 3/8 seam allowance.  Then place your two purse lining pieces together with the right sides together and sew together along the sides and bottom, using a 3/8 seam allowance.  Then trim off the corners of both tail fin corners and then cut a little slit where the fin meets the body, on both sides.  Cut into the fabric right up to the seam, but don’t cut through the seam.  This slit will help the fin turn right side out properly.  (More info on clipping corners and curves here.)




Next, turn the fish right side out, poke the out the fish fin, and iron the whole fish flat.


Now, turn the fish to one of the side seams and place a pin on that side seam that is 3/4 of an inch from the top and then another pin that is 3/4 of an inch below that.  Make a narrow zig-zag stitch (also with a short stitch length) right where those pins were, making each about 3/8 of an inch long.  Then un-pick the side seam stitches between the two zig-zag sections, making an enclosed opening.  Do the same thing to the other side seam of the fish.



Next, grab your two pull string pieces and sew each one in half lengthwise with right sides together, sew along the long edge using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  Do the same to both pieces.  Now turn each one right side out and press flat, with the seam along one side.  (Need help turning a tube right side out?  Click here.)  Set these aside.

IMG 18901


Now, iron your 2 interfacing pieces to the wrong side of both of your Shoulder Strap pieces.  Next, place your two shoulder strap pieces together (with right sides together) and sew them together along both long sides.  Turn right side out and iron flat, with both seams along both side edges of the shoulder strap.  Now make a top stitch seam along both sides of the shoulder strap, about an 1/8 of an inch from the edge.

6shoulder straps1


Now, grab one end of your shoulder strap and pin it to the upper edge of the fish, about a 1/4 inch from the side seam.  Then place the other end of the shoulder strap to the opposite side of the purse, just a 1/4 inch from the side seam as well.  One end of the shoulder strap is pinned to the front of the purse and the other end is pinned to the back……but both are really close to the side seam.  Be sure that your shoulder strap isn’t twisted.

IMG 19151


Next, make two seams, attaching your shoulder strap to the purse.  Make the lower seam about 3/8 of an inch from the upper edge and the other one about 1/4 inch from the upper edge.  Do the same to both strap ends.

IMG 19271


Now, slide your outer fish into the lining while it’s inside out……so that you can have both pieces with their right sides together.  Make sure the strap is down inside and out of the way as you pin the purse lining and the fish together along the upper raw edges, matching up the side seams of both.  (If your lining is too big or too small to line up exactly, make adjustments and either take the lining in just a bit or take it out so that it matches up just right.  You don’t want bunching or cranky fabric.)  Sew all the way around the top of the purse (using a 3/8 inch seam allowance), leaving a 4-5 inch opening along one side.

7attach bags1


Turn the purse right side out through that opening, and tuck the lining down to the inside of the purse.  Now, iron the top of the purse, folding the opening to the inside of the purse 3/8 of an inch.  Now top stitch along the top edge of the purse, about a 1/16 of an inch (or just really close) from the upper edge.  Then make another seam that is 3/4 of an inch below the first one, sewing all the way around the purse, making a casing for your pull strings.  (Ultimately, you want to make the seams even with those zig-zag stitches so that your casing is as wide as the openings on both sides… adjust if necessary.)

8right side out1


Using a safety pin, attach it to one end of one of your pull strings.  Enter through one side, making your way all the way around your casing and coming out the same opening.

IMG 19591


Then place the safety pin on the other pull string and thread that one through the other side opening.  Make your way all the way around the casing and then back out the same opening.  You should now have both pull string threaded through the casing, but entering and exiting on opposite sides.

IMG 19621


Now, if you grab both sets of ends in both hands, pulling outward, your purse will cinch up at the top.

IMG 19741


Now, select a fabric color for your eyes and cover 2 Half Ball Cover Buttons.  Attach with a needle and thread.  Place one on each side…….making them directly opposite each other so that when cinched up, the eyes meet up.

9attach eye1


Now, pull the opening of the purse all the way open and then place a knot at each ends of the pull strings.  Then cut off the excess ends on both sides.

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And that’s it. 


Your purse is ready to go.

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Now gift it away or keep it for yourself.


And enjoy.




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  1. Sandy says:

    I absolutely love your blog!!! Please move back to Georgia and let me sit at your feet to learn from you!!! You’ve got great ideas and such inspiration!!!

    Please keep up the good work!

  2. heidi s. says:

    Oh how I wish I could sew! I love this and my daughter would love this too! She’s almost 2 and she thinks she’s pretty cool when she carries a purse. If you ever make more and decide to sell them, please let me know and I would gladly buy one. Oh, oh, oh I wish I could sew!

  3. Christine says:

    Two girls in this house would love that purse!

  4. Heidi K says:

    This is so cute! I love how the drawstring closes at the mouth. My sister would love this. Maybe I’ll make it for her birthday next year.

  5. Aunt Jeri says:

    Holy Camoly Ashley, You are such an overachiever! Cute!!!

  6. Tamara says:

    Ashley –
    I want to make one of these for my niece, but I know my 4 year old nephew will want one too. Any ideas on how to make it not a “purse,” something a little more for boys?? I’m sure you’ll have better ideas than I will. Thanks! – Tamara

    1. Caitlin says:

      A commenter above mentioned making it a drawstring backpack, that could work for a boy!

  7. Erica T says:

    WOW. this is so cute! what store did you see this at? what stores do you get most of your inspiration from?

  8. Tamara says:

    So cute! I love it – thanks for sharing!

  9. Emily says:

    Oh Ash
    I am totally the same way, I’ll get one idea in my head and then quickly turn to another. Even with hobbies. One day I want to sew, the next I want to forget it and do something else.
    This is totally cute. I will be making some little fishes for sure if I hopefully have the time this year. Time ticks away extra fast Christmas season.

  10. Rebekah Burton says:

    You are my hero!!! Just this summer I bought an owl purse that is made the same way. I’ve been trying to figure out how to recreate the purse for gifts. I think the only difference will be the bottom of the fin. Instead, it would be flat, and have two feet sticking out. If you are interested in pictures of the owl purse (and backpack), I can send them to you. Just let me know via email!

    By the way, I’ve made your high chair cover and the stroller bag and just love them!!

  11. Robyn Marchant says:

    This is so creative! You have a talent for seeing something neat and making it your own and unique. I love the purse and I think my 4 year old would too :)

  12. Katrina Peebles says:

    You have such a wonderful talent! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

  13. Shannon Staker says:

    Oh my heck. This is my ultimate favorite project you have ever done! Are you kidding me! It’s genious. So cute!!! ic an’t wait to make one of these for each of my boys for summer… A perfect Go to the beach bag! Really! Thanks so much I LOVE it!!!

  14. Morgan says:

    So … I am just finishing a mermaid doll for one of my girls. Does she need a fish purse to go with it? Clearly!

  15. Dianna W. says:

    This is so cute! THank you for sharing with us all :)

  16. Kristen says:

    That is SO SO SEW adorable. You are so talented!

  17. Monica says:

    Soooo cute!!! I love your blog. I am always inspired to try new things and am amazed by your sewing talent!! Thanks for posting so many great tutorials…

  18. Tricia says:

    Adorable! Thanks for sharing your awesome tutorials!

  19. Michele says:

    That is so stinkin’ cute!

  20. Chantal says:

    Adorable and original ! Thank you for sharing the tutorial !

  21. Paula Castro says:

    so cute!!! I love it :)

  22. tinajo says:

    This is way cute – love it! :-)

  23. Laura says:

    Wonderful purse! I am sure my little niece will love to get such gift for Christmas. And your tutorial is simply perfect! Incredibly easy to follow! Thank you for sharing it!

  24. Liz says:

    So beautiful – thanks for sharing!

  25. Cammy says:

    This is Darling!!! I was just thinking it would make a really cute drawstring backpack too, not that I need another project either. LOL

  26. euniceq says:

    so cute. I’m imagining a little girl’s hand got ‘stuck’ in the fish mouth and pull out a string of goodies! good for pretend play too!

  27. Elise says:

    That is adorable! Might have to make that for my almost 20-month-old!

  28. C says:

    You are an inspiration!!

  29. CelestialsCreations says:

    I bet she will LOVE that. I want one for me. But bigger because I have too much stuff.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets craft side-tracked.

  30. Katie says:

    Adorable! I love the little puckered fishy lips when it’s all closed up.

  31. Luda says:

    What is interfacing fabric? Is it something special?

    1. Robin says:

      It is stiff fabric that helps keep the piece it’s shape. It comes in different stiffnesses and you can get the fusible (iron on to stick to the fabric) or sew-in. Here is an example of interfacing available on a bolt:;jsessionid=D802A116471622BE47003C119FB8B82B.a1p2?CATID=cat3136&PRODID=prd14632

      If you google interfacing you will be able to see there are different kinds of interfacing to choose from.

  32. Ija says:

    Oh GOD!! Soooo cute!!! You know i bought a sewing machine just because of reading your blog!! Hahaha! Now, i just have to enroll to a sewing class here in town.. Oh, btw i’m from Indonesia.. Your blog inspires me A LOT!! Thanks for sharing all those tutorials…!

  33. Eva Scott says:

    SO adorable and SO fun!!

  34. Lindsay Wilkes - The Cottage Mama says:

    Ok, so I am terrible about leaving comments on blogs since I am SO busy with the three kiddos, but I had to click over and say this is “SO DARN CUTE!!!” Awesome!!!

  35. Fiona says:

    This is just lovely… nicest little person bag I have seen….

  36. Ashley @ MommyByDayCrafterByNight says:

    I think that has got to be the CUTEST drawstring bag I have ever seen! I absolutely love it!! Great job!

  37. Natalie O says:

    That is absolutely adorable! I love it! :)

  38. Bonnie says:

    So cute and so clever – thanks for sharing this with us. I’m also adding this to my list of post-holiday projects.

  39. Jennifer J says:

    Adorable! Love it!

  40. Jennifer says:

    This is so adorable. Maybe this can be a project for me to do after Christmas. I’m afraid I won’t have time before. I love projects that can use up those scraps I can’t throw away.

  41. Christie says:

    This is the CUTEST little purse EVER!!! Thanks for sharing! I love it!

  42. Janice McElheny says:

    Very cute… wish I had time to make one!

  43. Brandi says:

    Thank you so much! I have been looking all over for a little purse to make my niece for Christmas, and this is perfect! I was wondering (still a major newbie, so sorry if this doesn’t make sense) — for each of the body sections w/ the scales, after we iron it flat, can you iron each seam upwards, and then top stitch to help them lie flat? I know this stitch would show on the very top one, so not sure if it a) wouldn’t work and/or b) would look terrible. Any thoughts?

  44. CassTheCoolest says:

    My eldest sister loves fish. We do a kris kringle thing in my family seeing as there are 5 kids including me, and I’m buying for her this year. I totally get you on the shifting hopes and dreams for your sewing pile, I have on my sewing table a pair of half sewn swimmers, a breastfeeding dress, a quilt, a breastfeeding top, a table centrepiece, two prayer bears (and a partridge in a pear tree LOL). That’s not including the things I’ve put away including a bunch of cut out booties, the vinyl for making sandals since your sandals for boys tutoria that I just HAD to go buy that day etc etc etc! I promise to make this bag using fabric on hand, you’re right I have plenty! Even though she’s 41 in January I think she will LOVE this purse! I’m going to make it without the shoulder strap so she can put her keys and phone in it. As always, if I get it done in time I promise to share pics!!

  45. alice moon says:

    Wow this is so amazing. You girls that make these patterns are seriously my sewing idles. Thanks so much for sharing and allowing us to make this cute bag free of charge. With the economy being so crapy it is nice to know I don’t have to be super rich to still enjoy sewing fun stuff like this!!! Thank you!

  46. Allison A says:

    I’m totally having this Same problem. My list of “to sew before Christmas” gets bigger every day. Yikes, I don’t know if I can organize my thoughts in time to get them all done.

    Love the fishy purse, so cute!

  47. Anne says:

    Oh, wow! That’s adorable! If I were more comfortable with my sewing machine, I’d have to make this! (my husband is an avid fisherman, and my girls often join him on fishing trips!) What a great tutorial!

  48. janice says:

    Too cute!

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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