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Purse Organizer Insert With Adjustable Divider

Purse Organizer Insert With Adjustable Divider

November 30, 2011 /

bag insert pattern

This is a last-minute sewing project just before my departure to Taiwan, a purse organizer insert with an adjustable divider for my camera and belongings during the traveling.

Actually, I can just buy a ready-made camera bag from the store, but I find them a little bulky. Well, because they give better protection with all the padded sponge which is good, the drawback of being excessively padded is that it can only offer limited storage space with its size.

If I am going to put my camera, lenses & accessories, maps, passport, water tumbler, purse, scarf, cardigan, and other necessities for a day-trip out, I will need quite a big camera bag to cater. After thinking thoroughly, I need to design something good for a bag to keep everything in place, organized, yet light-weight, and with some degree of protection during the traveling.

purse organizer insert

Due to the photography equipment I need to carry along during the 6-day trip, a lighter bag is a must so that it won’t add more burden to my shoulder. I found a perfect one on sale at Esprit, this oversize tote/hobo bag is light, soft, and splash-proof (faux leather) which is good for traveling.

It has a large base, larger than my Canon 60D camera. The problem with a soft and light oversize bag is that it will slouch if heavy items are placed inside and everything goes chaos in it. So, a steady bag organizer insert is compulsory to keep the bag firm and everything at a correct place. This is how and why I came out with the idea and design.

This organizer insert is not only good for the camera, but you can also basically use it for any of your needs, just alter the divider position. Be it as a baby diaper bag, craft bag, even laptop bag, the usage is endless.

Adapt this tutorial to your preferred bag. Just take some measurements and do some maths, you will be able to build your own pattern. You may add some slip pockets to it to increase more compartments for teeny-tiny belongings.

purse organizer insert pattern


Purse Organizer Insert With Adjustable Divider

Quantities are in approximate value as they depend on your bag dimension.
Mine is an oversize tote / hobo bag (scroll down for the last photo to view how big is the bag).

1. Internal fabric and divider fabric – approx. 1/2 yard
2. External fabric – approx. fat quarter
3. Batting – approx. 3/4 yard (for 2 layers)
4. Woven Interfacing – 1/4 yard
5. Plastic card (or use double layer woven interfacing)
6. Velcro – approx. 1 yard
7. Binding tape – approx. 2 yards
8. Twill tape or ribbons – approx. 1 1/2 yard

1. Sewing machine (with walking foot)
2. Iron
3. Scissors
4. Sewing kit
5. fabric marker
6. Ruler and measuring tape
7. Quilter’s safety pins or seamstress pins

Seam Allowance:

bag measurementMeasure your bag dimension, Width (A), Depth (C) and your preferred insert height (B).
Choose a lighter bag so that it won’t burden your shoulder too much and thus affect your traveling or photography outings.

bag insert dimensionDraft out the organizer insert pattern with some simple calculations.
Align velcro position at 1/2″ from top and bottom. The length don’t have to go all the way to the side margin but if you prefer it is fine. I made mine 2″ to 3″ lesser.

quilting assembliesCut fabric 2″ larger than the width and height of the organizer insert pattern.
Cut 1 or 2 layers battings slightly bigger than the fabric. The thicker the batting, the better the padded protection.
Cut another piece of muslin or cotton about the same size as the batting.

battings and liningStake layers with fabric on top, battings, then muslin as the bottom piece.
Secure the layers with pins or special quilting safety pins.
Draw a 45 line at the center and another line right-angle of it.

Quilting with walking footStart quilting from the center with a walking foot and a guide. You can use normal foot if you don’t have a walking foot but I would advise investing a walking foot as it “walks” better on thick sewing.
Quilt at 5/8″ spacing.
Roll up any access fabrics during quilting will make the process easier to handle.
Note that 2 layers of batting are quite thick to handle.

quilted pieceQuilted piece is thick and will shrink a little from the original size. that’s why you need to have a bigger piece to begin with.

cut into correct shape and sizeDraw the pattern on the quilted piece, add 1/2″ seam allowance.
Cut out the pattern with seam allowance.

Sew on velcroAlign 4 strips of velcro (loop side) at the correct positions.
Sew near to the edge, around.

sew sidesSew both sides with correct seam allowance (1/2″), then sew the base.
Repeat the same on the other side.
This complete the internal piece of the organizer insert.

external piece with hard interfacingCut 2 pieces (1 piece is in inverted direction) of hard-woven interfacing in a shape of “T” from the pattern.
Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the external fabric, with the adhesive side facing down and overlap at the base.
Iron to adhere the interfacing to the fabric.

purse organizer insertTurn to the right side, decorate with ribbon or twill tape.
You may add some slip pockets to increase storage to keep small belongings.

purse organizer insertSew both sides with correct seam allowance (1/2″), then sew the base.
This complete the external piece of the purse organizer insert.

purse organizer insertSlot the internal piece into the external piece. Align the corners and side seams.
Trim the top edges with zero seam allowance.
Finish the edges with bias tape binding or twill header binding.

divider measurementAgain, do some maths for the divider’s pattern.
Note that the velcro doesn’t have to be the full height of the divider. Hook velcro length is the height from the top of the 1st loop velcro to the bottom of the 2nd velcro, enough to attach to the loop side on the insert.

quilt dividerCut the fabric double the height, full width of the pattern and add at least 1/2″ for the seam allowances.
Batting, about the same size of the pattern but double in height too.
Muslin needs to be slightly larger than the batting.
Place them in order.
Turn to right side and quilt as the previous process.

attach velcro and hard cardFold the quilted divider into halve with right side facing each other. Sew sides and trim to 1/2″ seam allowance.
Turn the divider right side out, adjust the corners so that they look nice and square.
Sew 2 lines at the batting edges, then sew velcro (hook side) on the divider.
Insert a plastic card or double layer of hard-woven interfacing with rounded corners into the pocket.
Trim the top edge to zero seam allowance.

binding top edgeSew binding to the top edge of the divider. I am using twill/header tape as the binder, I sew directly on the right side of the divider and the tape with 1/2 width down the edge.
Leave at least 1/2″ allowance at both ends.

binding sideFold the tape end with slightly tapering then fold in the side.

bindingFold-down the tape and hand stitch along the first stitching line.

purse organizer insert dividerRepeat the same process to make another 1 or 2 (depends how many you want to divide your purse organizer insert).

purse organizer insert with dividersBend and fold the velcro side of the divider and attach it into the purse organizer insert.
This complete the whole purse organizer insert with an adjustable divider.


Put all your necessary belongings into the purse organizer insert for easy access, in and out of the bag. It is stable even if your bag is soft and slouchy, thus, it is good for heavier items such as camera and filled water tumbler.

purse organizer insert

Me holding the bag with the organizer insert in the tote hobo bag during a recent trip to Taiwan, soaking my feet in the hot spring water.
I used it to keep my precious DSLR camera, lens, some photography accessories, water tumbler, umbrella, maps, purse, scarf, etc…. I am happy that I sewed it and brought it there, it makes my traveling so convenient.

Traveling bag with organizer insert.

Thanks to my friend, Yenny, who took this pretty photo of me.


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