How To: Create a Can Tab Purse
Soda Can Tab Purse
The following article comes from http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-make-a-pop-tab-purse.
This whole thing started with a contest win. I won a book that showed different "green" items. You name it and this book had a picture of it made from something that had been something else originally. One of the pictures that really jumped out at me was a purse constructed from pop tabs. I couldn't help but thinking it looked really neat. I went online to try and figure out how to make one. Site after site all I found was others just like me trying to figure it out. Only a few sites had information on it and not on putting together the whole thing. It took some trial and error but I figured out a way to construct a purse from pop tabs. Here is how I did it:
1. First thing you need to know is that you will need A LOT of pop tabs. My finished purse contained 727 pop tabs. You can buy them from e-bay or better yet ask friends and family members to save them for you.
2. You will need some way to hold the pop tabs together. I chose craft wire. But, you could use ribbon, jump rings, or anything else you could think of. I liked the craft wire because I could wrap it around and it would hold its shape. But, when I was done, the purse ended up being very stiff. Ribbon would allow it more give. Jump rings would add more give for sure. But, it is your personal choice. It's all about the look you want in the end.
3. Think about what colors you want your purse. I wanted a silver and black one. So I used the tabs as they were and black craft wire. Another beautiful idea I saw was pink and silver. You can spray paint your tabs whatever color you would like. The pink and silver one had the tabs painted pink and used silver jump rings to hold them together. Again, this is your personal choice. You can personalize this purse just for you.
4. Once you have collected the pop tabs the first step is to wash and dry them. Trust me -- they may look clean but they aren't.
5. I cut my craft wire at 3.5 inches. This was a good length for me. You can clearly see a black line running in between all the tabs, which is what I wanted. The longer you cut your wire the more times you will go around the tabs. The shorter the wire, the less you will go around the tabs. Yet again, this is all about what you personally want this to look like in the end.
6. We will now start the layout for the purse. Start with 4 pop tabs. Lay two of the tabs side by side, same side up as you would find then on your pop cans, with the ends that you would grab to open a pop facing down. Then lay the next two over top the first two that same way. Just so you know, getting this started seems tricky, but after a while you will be a pro. Take your wire and put it through the hole in the middle. Your wire should be entering two tabs on each side. Using needle nose pliers to hold the one end of your wire, push the other end through the holes. Continue to do this till you are just about out of wire, pulling tight each time. Make sure you end up with both ends on the backside of the tabs. Using the pliers, grab both ends and twist tightly a couple times. Then bend down the end of the wire against the back of the tabs. You have just formed your first set of links.
7. Take the next two tabs and lay them the same way on your now connected four tabs. Once again, wrap the wire around and around then twist off. Continue adding tabs in this fashion until you have the height you would like for your purse. My purse ended up being 7.5 inches tall, which was 16 tabs in height.
8. Now that we have decided the height of our purse we need to determine the length. My purse ended up being 12.25" long and is 20 tabs long. Taking two tabs at a time, layer them on each other. Put this against your top two tabs and wire through. Make sure the layering always goes the same way. Work your way down the whole height of the purse. You should now have a purse that is three tabs wide. Continue adding columns until you are happy with the width of your purse. You have now finished one side of your purse.
9. Make a second side with the exact same dimensions. You now have the front and back panels of your purse done.
10. Take both of your pieced and wire together the top 2 tabs and the bottom 2 tabs. These didn't get any wire before because they weren't being used to add more links on. Adding wire to them now will make your purse look more finished and add more stability to the ends.
11. Now we have to do the sides. These are a little tricky but you can do it. Take one of your finished pieces. At the end of it add two tabs just as you would if you were adding another column. The only difference this time is that you will hold the pieces at a 90 degree angle to the finished side. This will give your purse depth. I only went 1 tab deep, but I think you could go up to 3 tabs deep without it looking funny. 1 tab deep is 0.75 of an inch. Continue to work down the column till you get to the bottom. Repeat of the other side of the purse.
12. Take the other finished big side and lay it over the one which now has sides. Make sure the pop tabs are all going the same direction. Wire the front / back piece to the sides of your purse. You should now have something with a front, a back, and two sides all joined together.
13. Now we need to add a bottom to the purse. I used lengths of fishing line to hold the tabs in on the bottom. I did this because I wanted the way the purse looked to remain the same. I didn't want the black wire looking different on the bottom then on the whole purse. My purse used 26 tabs for the bottom. Take 2 tabs and layer them. Using the fishing line, wrap the one edge together. I went around a few times. Add your next tab and repeat. Once you have the length you need, continue to go down the other side of the tabs, wrapping the edges together.
14. Take the length of tabs you have and put them in the end of your purse. You can decide which end you want to be the end. Once again, it's about the look you want it to have. I wanted the tabs facing so I put the piece at the other end. Position you length of tabs within the end. Using the fishing line, wrap the end in place. Work down the purse, wrapping the end to the purse all the way around. Go right around the bottom doing this. You now have a purse with 4 sides and a bottom.
15. If you are just making a clutch, you won't want a strap. But, because I was making a purse, I made a strap. I took a length of fabric. I folded the ends in twice and then ironed it flat. I then ran a single seam down the length of the fabric. My finished strap was 0.375 of an inch wide. I took one end of my fabric and fed it through the top tab on one of the sides. I then used the fishing line and a needle to sew it in place. Taking the other end of the fabric, I threaded pop tabs onto it. I went up through one hole and down through the other. I did this because I liked how it looked, but you could do it the other way. (Down through the first hole and up through the second one.) Move your pop tab down to the end you have sewn in place. Continue threading pop tabs on until you have reached a length of strap that you like. My strap is 30.5 inches long. Once you get to the length you want, push the tabs up. Slip the end around the top of the tab on the side and sew into place. Space out your tabs along your strap.
16. You will want to put a fabric liner in your purse. I used velvet for a couple reasons. I liked the idea of a hard purse on the outside with a really soft inside. Velvet is thick enough that the wire won't poke through. And I had some in the house. I personalized the inside of my purse with three pockets sewn into it. One for my cards, one for my pens, and one for my cell phone. I hate it when your cell phone rings and you have to dig to the bottom of your purse to find it! I no longer have this problem. I cut a rectangular shape out of the velvet and pinned down the four edges. I then ran a seam around the edges of the rectangle. Cut out two matching pieces of fabric to fit into your purse. I cut mine 13.5 inches by 8.5 inches. This gave me a half of an inch seam allowance on all sides. Taking one of the matching sides, pin in the rectangle that you have already put a seam on. I positioned mine in the middle of the side piece. Have the side of the fabric you want facing you when you do this. I wanted the soft side in, so I had the soft side facing me. Run the sewing machine around 3 of the four edges. (You won't run it on the fourth edge because this will be the opening to your little pockets.) Run seams down the inside of the smaller rectangle to divide into individual smaller pockets. I ran two seams giving me three pockets.
17. You now need to decide what you would like your purse to close with. I used a zipper so I will explain how I installed it. There are also magnetic clasp, etc that you could use. Take the piece of fabric that you have sewn your pockets onto. Fold the top edge over by half an inch. Run this through the sewing machine giving you a clean seam to work with. Position one side of your zipper on the edge of your new seam. Make sure the tab of the zipper is facing down and your fabric is facing up. (Facing up being the side that will be the inside of your purse.) Run the sewing machine down the fabric of the zipper. Take your second side of fabric and once again run a half inch seam along the top. Align the newly sewn seam with the other edge of the zipper and sew this together. Yet again, make sure the zipper tab is facing down and the fabric facing up when you do this. Open the zipper slightly. About 4 inches. Pin together the two pieces of fabric so that what will be the inside of your purse is facing you on both sides. Run a half inch seam down each of the three sides. (Your fourth side is already attached with the zipper.) Now, turn the purse right side out. (This is why I suggested opening the zipper about four inches.) Open the zipper up all the way.
18. Take your pop tab purse and insert the liner with the zipper up. Using fishing line, sew the fabric to the tabs by hand all the way around the top.
You have just completed your first pop tab purse!! Don't be surprised if people stop you and ask you about it. It is really different and always seems to turn heads. In the end mine only costed me $8.20 and that was for the wire. The pop tabs I collected. The fabric was left over that was just lying around. The zipper was taken out of my husbands old welding coveralls and reused. I love how mine looks and I love how everything is set up just for me on the inside. I hope you have fun trying this and building something just for yourself.