How to Make Pull Tab Purses

    by Kate Kotler

    About the Author

    Kate Kotler began her writing career in 1997 as a news writer. She is the editor-in-chief of and writes the DIY Diva blog for ChicagoNow (a "Chicago Tribune" affiliate.) She is the founder of Geek Girl on the and is working on a novel.


    Upcycling is the art of recycling trash into something fabulous. The pull tab purse uses the tabs off pop cans and nylon string to make a clutch purse. Although this project might be detail-oriented and challenging for the novice crafter, with patience and perseverance you can create a fashionable evening clutch that the trendiest and most fashion savvy woman would be proud to carry. If you're a really generous gal, you could share your upcycling talent with a friend and present her with a one-of-a-kind, pull-tab purse for her next birthday.

    Things You'll Need

    • 493 pop tabs
    • Nylon string
    • Number 7 darning needle
    • 12-inch ruler
    • Scissors
    • Lighter

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    Make the Pop Tab Strips

    Measure and cut the nylon string into 16 segments, each 12 inches long. Cut an additional 8 segments, each 6 inches in length. The string will be used to tie the pop can tabs into strips that will be sewn together to create the front, back and side panels of the purse. Using the 12-inch-long segments you will make nine strips for the back and flap of the purse, five strips for the front panel, and two strips for the bottom of the purse. Using the 6-inch-long segments you will make four strips that will make up the two-strip wide sides of the purse.

    Take one tab in your hand. The fat side should point to the bottom of your hand and the smooth side of the tab should be facing up. Thread a piece of 12-inch nylon string through the holes in the tab so that there is thread coming out of both the top and bottom hole. The string should look a little like a "C."

    Place another tab on top of the first tab so that the tabs are staggered. Half of this tab should be on top of the first tab, half should be off to the left. The fat side of the tab should point up to the top of your hand and the smooth side should still be facing up.

    Cross the strings, top over bottom, so it makes an "X" (like you're lacing shoes) and thread them through the top and bottom holes of both tabs.

    Place a third tab behind the second one with the rough side facing up and the fat side facing toward the bottom of your hand. You will see that this makes a little seam behind the second tab. Thread the nylon string under this seam and up through the holes of the second and third tabs without crossing the string into an "X."

    Continue adding tabs onto the strip repeating Steps 2 through 5 until you have a strip which has 13 tabs on the top and 14 tabs on the bottom (for a total of 27 tabs used.) When you come to the end of the strip you'll have one tab on the bottom. Make an "X" like there was a tab on top of the end tab and then flip the strip over. Tie the string into a double knot and cut the excess string off. Melt the ends of the string together with a lighter.

    Repeat Steps 2 through 7 until you have 16 strips, each 12 inches in length.

    Make 4 shorter strips for the side panels of the purse using the method described in Steps 2 through 7. These strips should have 8 tabs on the bottom and 7 tabs on the top of each strip (for a total of 15 tabs used in each strip.)

    Sew the Pop Tab Strips Together

    Place 2 of the 12-inch strips face down on a flat surface so that they are facing the same direction and lined up evenly. (The "X" stitches should be facing down.) Thread the needle with nylon string. Insert the needle into the back 2 tabs and pull it all the way through to the end of your string. Tie the string into a double knot. This makes a slanted stitch that looks like "/."

    Thread the needle and string through the second two tabs and pull through to the end. Do not knot. This makes a stitch which slants the opposite way and looks like "\." The 2 stitches together look like an "X."

    Continue stitching the strips together by repeating the stitch in Steps 1 and 2 until you reach the end of the row.

    Tie off the row and flip the strips over so that the string is on the top, to the left. Add another strip onto the 2 you stitched together in Steps 1 through 3 by following the same stitch pattern. (As you run out of string, simply knot more onto the end of the string you're stitching with.) Continue to add strips in this manner until you have a panel that is 9 tab strips long.

    Using the process in Steps 1 through 4, make another panel that is 5 tab strips wide. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 to make the bottom panel, which is 2 tab strips long. Repeat again to stitch together 2 of the 6-inch-long tab strips. This makes one side panel. Repeat to make the second side panel.

    Put the Purse Together

    Place the 9-strip-wide main panel on a flat surface so it is right side down. Line up the bottom piece along the bottom edge of the main panel so it is also right side down. The strip should be horizontally justified to the bottom of the main panel. Sew the pieces together using a whip stitch.

    Place the side panels face down on the right and left side of the main panel. The strips should be vertically justified to the bottom corners of the main panel. Sew them together using a whip stitch.

    Bend the bottom and side panels up so that they are standing upright against the main panel of the purse. Sew the bottom corners closed so the sides become attached to the bottom panel using a whip stitch.

    Place the 5-strip-wide panel on the top of the side and bottom panels with the "X" side facing out. This is the front of the purse. Sew the sides and bottom to the front of the purse using a whip stitch. The extra strips that are part of the back panel of the purse will fold over to create the front flap.

    Attach an extra pop tab to the front of the purse (like a button) for a closure. Thread a small loop of string through the edge of the center of the front flap of the purse. Wind this around the closure to keep the purse shut. The purse is now finished and ready to use.

    • Once the art of making the basic pop can tab purse is mastered, pop tabs can be incorporated into all sorts of other craft mediums. Using pop tabs in crochet and knitting projects gives your scarf or bag a fun, funky flair.
    • Use colored nylon string to add style to your purse.
    • Exercise caution when using the lighter.


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