We came across Crafty Bags for Stylish Girls by Elizabeth Ingrid Hauser at the library. While most of the purses there were not my style at all (possibly because I am not a "stylish girl"), the 8 yo liked it enough to borrow it and pore over it at home. Finally, she picked out the first purse she wanted to make from the book.
Felt fabric was recommended, but, the girl chose fleece, which is fine as this is just a fancy purse, not the hold-all that I pass off as my purse.
She was fascinated by the gussets on the sides for the purse described in the instructions. It frustrated her to read the instructions all the way through, having to go back and read the previous steps in various iterations. Finally she figured it out and was ready to sew.
Skipping the tedious details of making the purse (as it is available in the copyrighted book), we get to the fun part of embellishing to personalize it.
Raiding my stash of laces, rick racks, buttons and appliques, she chose the lace for the shoulder strap and beaded dragonfly applique for the embellishment.
Of course, the finish is a bit rough: while raw-edges on fleece are fine to leave unfinished, the ones on the cotton gussets aren't. But the girl did not want to pay attention to such details, especially when they are not easy to do. So what if the insides were a bit of a mess? She loves it and wears it around the house all the time - even when doing her cleaning jobs!
All in all a fun project, so much so that she has designed a couple more similar ones to make, with minor variations in size and colors and decorations.