I'm sure you've seen those placemat purses around. VERY cute- however, I am a recovering purse-aholic so I've been trying really hard to avoid adding to my collection. NOW- that does not prohibit me from collecting a bag or two. As long as they have a specific purpose. This bag was actually inspired by one a girl at my church used to carry her primary stuff in. Though hers was all cute and ribbon-ey. I was just trying to work with what I happened to have on hand. Most placemat purses are made with a single placemat. In order to get a larger, more- baglike creation I used TWO placemats sewn together and then a single strip of tan strap to creat the handles. It may not be as cute as one of those bamboo handles but it's cheap and functional.
The reason I finally was able to allow myself another bag to add to my collection was that I needed something to carry our library books now that Zach and I have started making weekly trips. We've really enjoyed it, AND it means I get to enjoy my bag. HORRAY!
If I were to do it again: I'd sew the strap on BEFORE I sew up the sides. That would make it a TON easier to maneuver around my sewing machine.