Do It Yourself Placemat Purse Organizer

DIY Purse Organizer - made from a Placemat

I thought I was the only one who always lost things at the bottom of my purse.  The other day I was standing a checkout line and the woman in front of me was scrambling through her bag to find her wallet. She said “don’t you just hate how everything goes to the bottom of a hobo bag?” I totally understood what she was saying! I have had the same problem. On occasion, I have missed a phone call because I couldn’t find my phone before it stopped ringing! So, I designed a Purse Organizer to keep my stuff within easy reach. I used a simple fabric placemat. Placemats are perfect because the edges are already finished, thus making this a quick and easy project! Fabric placemats have just enough stiffness and body to stand up inside the purse, but they are not so thick that a sewing machine couldn’t handle sewing through it.

The next best thing about this insert is that you can quickly change purses to match your outfit! Just grab the insert and pop it into your other bag!

Here’s what you need to make your own Placemat Purse Organizer:

Fabric placemat of your choice (make sure it’s not too thick, it needs to be able to bend, but it should have some good stiffness)

straight pins

matching thread

A heavy duty sewing machine needle

If you plan to add a ribbon as shown in the photo, you will need to sew it onto the placemat first. (I like to use a tiny zig-zag stitch to sew the ribbon to the placemat with matching thread.) The ribbon should measure the length of the placemat, plus 20”. This gives you 10” on each end – which is enough to tie a small bow. I placed mine about 3″ from the edge.

Placemat Purse Organizer1

Begin by folding the bottom edge up approximately 2 inches; I find it helpful to use a seam gauge to measure.

Fold up 2 inches

Then, bring the folded edge up and pin it about 1 ¼” from the top edge. (Your measurements may vary – remember to use your phone or your other desired items as guides to determine the depth of your pockets.)

Placemat Purse Organizer

If necessary, cut a small corner off each end of the placemat (before stitching) as shown to eliminate some of the bulk. Also, remember to use a heavy duty needle.

Clip corner to eliminate bulk

Stitch very close to the ends to secure.

Stitch ends

To create the “channels” or pockets, find the middle and pin it. (I like to use blue painters tape to create a stitching guide.)

Painters tape to mark stitching line

This helps to stitch a nice straight line. Just sew right next to the tape. (The tape is easily removed after stitching.) If desired, you can use a very small zig-zag stitch rather than a straight stitch.

This is where you will customize your organizer. Decide what items you want to put in it (your phone, keys, glasses, pens, lip gloss, etc. and customize the sizes of the pockets to fit your “stuff.”

Mark channels

Use a pin to mark the channels at the widths you want. Make the channels roomy enough so that the items are able to slide in and out easily.

Use the blue painter’s tape to mark where you will stitch the channels. Stitch close to the tape, then, remove the tape.

Mark channels with painters tape

When finished, fold your custom purse organizer in half and place it into your purse. Your wallet can go right into the center!

Placemat organizer for purse

CLICK HERE to watch our “how to” segment on KSL Studio 5!

Do It Yourself Placemat Purse Organizer

16 thoughts on “Do It Yourself Placemat Purse Organizer”

    1. I just used a standard placemat. If you find that it is too deep, I would suggest that you sew a line across the bottom to make the customized pockets more shallow. Or you could change the amount that is folded up (rather than 1″ from the top, you could make it 1 1/2″ or so.) Also, it just lays inside the purse folded in half. Depending on the size of your purse, it may not completely fill up the space.

    1. I made this but I knew that one placemat would not be enough for all the things I carry so I just sewed 2 placemats together.
      It turned out perfect!.
      Also, I hand sewed this project since I don’t have a sewing machine. I used a larger size needle and heavy thread. It has held up really well..

      1. jessica Williams

        I plan to do place matt organizer but might try to add bottom to it so it will stand up in my purse think it will be great thank you for the great idea can’t wait

  1. cheryl valentine


  2. What makes this superior to the pockets in your own bag is that you can quickly transfer this from purse to purse. Great idea!

    1. The ends are not actually sewn together. The organizer just folds in half and tucks into your purse. If you wanted to add handles, I suppose you could use ribbon in a coordinating color and add some loops. Let us know if you try adding handles and how it works for you!

      1. When I made mine I followed most of the directions except- I sewed up the sides together .Then I added a bottom piece to it in rectangle shape… turned it inside out and pinned a wide ribbon up the side seam and measured the other end where I put a ribbon to make it look nice- I then sewed a ribbon around the bottom seam so it looked nice then sewed the side ribbon over the seam-and the then sewed up the other fake side seam… so it looked better. And I added two small handles [like you would on a tote bag]. Then sewed a ribbon around the top so the bottom of the handles didn’t show. I had just enough space to do this without it interfering in my pockets. I not only ended up with a nice organizer but also had the whole middle section to use by adding the bottom and sewing up the two sides together.
        I use the middle for my wallet,checkbook,passport and small notebook.
        I needed to alter the organizer because I travel quite a bit and the organizer I made is perfect for traveling. Hope this helps.

  3. I was looking for something just like this to purchase because do a lot of my own leather work and sewing and wanted to just purchase something already made than rather use my time to make something….this is exactly what I need for me and my daughter’s matching Hermes Her bag TPM (which is a smaller unlined bag). I am going to get the perfect place mats for our individual tastes and make them for us. What a simple but functional way to make one custom in a size for a bag that you really can not find a ready made insert for. I just love this idea and economical too!! Plus it is hand made which makes it that much more special. The fact it is a place mat gives me a leak protection that I am wanting as well. I will post back when I finish making them. Thank you for this tutorial!!

  4. This is a great idea, thank you. I am making a tote bag, and had planned to sew individual pockets inside. This is easier.

    A question, though: what is the rationale behind folding one edge 2 inches down and stitching? Is it just to add stability to that edge? Thanks.

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