My Purse is a Garbage Can: How to Make Your Own Purse Organizer

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“Here you go, Mom.” [My daughter hands me a candy wrapper.]  There’s no trash can in sight and I have no pockets–so into the purse it goes. I contribute to the mess with coupons and receipts. Until it looks like this.

This is my actual purse (and my actual tennis shoe).

I’ve struggled with the messy purse problem for a while. I’ve tried all kinds of shapes and sizes of purses and the result is always the same. My purse inevitably becomes a garbage can. I don’t typically think about it until something embarrassing happens. Remember the eBay/PayPal issue I had? Well, I had to go to court for it. When my purse went through the metal detector, I stupidly forgot to remove my keys, so the good-looking police officer starts rifling though my bag. I turned three shades of red and lamely muttered something along the lines of “Uh, I have kids.” Like that wasn’t obvious as he dug through the socks, half of a banana in a sandwich bag and an entire box of band-aids to get to my keys.

Then life got busy and forgot I needed to solve this problem. Until this past weekend, when I went to a Women’s Expo and saw a couple of different products that serve as purse organizers. I spoke to one woman who had a plastic one that was pretty neat. She was the inventor. I always like to talk with entrepreneurs — especially women. She has an interesting product. Here is a link if you want to check it out.

I prefer something softer with pockets. Then I thought about how much unused fabric I have from my many sewing projects and decided I would try to make one.


I’m sure I could perfect this process with some effort, but here’s how I did it on the fly.

  • Measure the length of the inside bottom of your purse.
  • Cut the fabric to be double the length so it will fold in half in your purse. (I used liner, but if I had it to do again I think I would just use a fabric that is thicker and more stiff and not line it).
  • Sew up the edges. I only did three of four sides.
  • Trifold the fabric with the unsewn side on the inside.

  • Sew up the right and left sides to make one large pocket.
  • Then put your items in the pocket and space them out how you want them. You can use a pin to mark where to sew each strip to make a customized pocket-size for each item.

I didn’t want a very deep pocket for my phone, so I added a horizontal seam to make that pocket shorter.

TIP: You could make this with a lot less sewing if you start with a fabric place mat! If somebody tries that, please drop me a note and let me know how it turns out.

Is your purse a garbage can? How do you keep it organized?

9 Responses to My Purse is a Garbage Can: How to Make Your Own Purse Organizer

  1. Victoria Jansma March 25, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    Love it!!! I’m going to try! Ha! Key word is try!!!! Great idea, one of your many…

  2. RTL March 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Also helps when you have the time and energy to switch out purses!

  3. Diana Hatcher March 27, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Found a light bulb in my purse that I’ve unknowingly been carrying around for a week, and thought of you.

  4. Jamie November 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    True confession. Yes my purse is a garbage can. So…this is what I do. Sad, but true. Right now I am rotating between two purses. So the purse I am not using becomes the trash can for all the bits of paper, unused coupons, sucker sticks, receipts that need to be entered in Quicken, etc. Then the purse I am using is relatively neat and clean, for a few days any way. Then I start all over. Eventually the purse not in use becomes full of trash and I am forced to clean it out.

    p.s. your idea is awesome!

    • Heather November 3, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

      A tale of two purses…I like it! I’ve also been known to clean out my purse when I am stuck waiting somewhere (like a doctor’s office or at the oil change place) and there is a garbage can. The receipts are a pain because you don’t know what to keep so you keep more than you need to which keeps it all rolling around in your purse longer…viscous cycle.


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