Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ever wanted to make your own clutch purse?

I have so much cloth in my stash at home that there are times I feel I could open my own fabric store. In an effort not to become a hoarder I have put myself on restriction to not acquire anything new until I have used up a significant amount of what I already have. Now if only life would stop interrupting so I can get a few things finished!

Like every other crafty person I always have a long project list of fabulous items I want to make, and purses are high on the list. It doesn't help that the Sewing Meetup has been making clutches and bags seemingly almost every other meeting. Unfortunately, between the last post-K move for home renovations and all the upheaval of the following year, most of my stuff is still in storage and I just haven't had any time to pursue any new sewing projects.

In 2009 I did a Helium article on How to Make Your Own Clutch Purse. It went over so well, I did a few more articles on hand bag and purse making, including How to Make a Wristlet Purse. The former can be found below; the latter and the related titles are soon to follow as I migrate my craft articles from the soon to be non-existent Helium site.

One great thing about clutch and wristlet purses is they don't require much fabric so you can make them from just about anything, including upcycled material.

Here's the original article:

Clutch purses are stylish fashion accessories that are simple and quick to make. One can easily craft a basic clutch purse in less than an hour from just a rectangle of fabric, needle and thread and the closure of choice.
When deciding on a style for your clutch you will want to choose a seasonal fabric that will provide you with the desired form and functionality. Velvet isn't the best choice for summer and recycling a woven straw placemat doesn't quite work with your winter fashions.
Once you have chosen the appropriate material for your clutch purse you will want to choose some embellishments to make it stand out. Chinese silk brocade is beautiful in its own right so a border of silk ribbon or simple piping will make a statement without shouting from across the room. A frog closure will further set the clutch apart from its everyday counterparts.

For summer, a nice lightweight linen, canvas or even seersucker fabric could do the trick trimmed in rickrack or accented by a coconut shell button or your own polymer clay bead. In fall consider corduroy or felted wool with optional shoulder straps. The possibilities are endless, limited only by your own imagination.
Once you have made one clutch purse you will want to continue making them so it's a good idea to gather some essential supplies to have everything you will need on hand such as fabric, zippers, buttons, seam tape, ribbon and so forth.
Choosing Fabric
Because your clutch purse is an accessory almost anything goes in the way of fabric. Solids, stripes, prints, brocades, the choice is completely up to you. Remnants, fat quarters, swatches, scrap bags, bandanas, recycled table linens, even old clothing are all sources for cloth to create your clutches. Fabric stores almost always have a bin or two of remnants that are too small to wrap back onto a bolt. Likewise they will often have a table or two of bolts they are trying to clear out as well and you may luck out and find nice fabric as little as one dollar per yard.
Quilting stores carry packets of assorted "fat quarters," one-quarter yard lengths of fabric that are color coordinated for use in patchwork designs. Fabric on the bolt will either have a width of 36 or 44/45 inches. Normally, when you ask the store clerk to cut a quarter of a yard you will end up with a narrow strip of fabric that is 9 inches long by the width of the fabric. Fat quarters give you a larger square to work with that is the same amount of fabric, just with the inches distributed differently. Quilt stores will often have a selection of scrap bags as well that are ideal for smaller sewing projects. These bags contain an assortment of squares and rectangles of fabric in various sizes left over from quilting projects.
Canvas, Denim and upholstery fabric are very sturdy and therefore ideal for making a clutch purse. Even some of the sample swatches of upholstery fabric are large enough to use to make a cute little handbag. Some fabric stores carry these textiles and some cities have businesses that specialize in only upholstery fabric. A little walking of your fingers through the telephone directory will tell you what is available in your area.
Making Your Clutch Purse
You will need a rectangular piece of fabric (the size of a sheet of copy/printer paper will do), straight pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), Ribbon, seam tape or similar trim that is one inch in width and an iron.
Place your fabric rectangle right side up on a flat surface with the longest sides parallel to the edge of the table (going across). Fold up the left edge of the rectangle of the way to the right so that the edge rests a couple or so inches from the right edge (approximately 2 inches or so if using a copy paper sized piece of fabric). Pin in place. The leftover bit at the top will become the flap to close your finished clutch purse.
Stitch along either side leaving a quarter of an inch seam allowance. If you are the type to cram a lot into your hand bag you may want to reinforce your clutch with a second seam. You could actually continue the seam all the way to the edge of the top flap to help prevent the edges from fraying. Open the edges and press the seams flat. At this point, your clutch will resemble an envelope with a straight edged flap.
Measure the top edge of the flap and cut a piece of ribbon that is inch longer. This will be used to trim the edge so a hem will not be necessary, though you might stitch a seam across to prevent fraying. Measure from the top edge of the upper flap down its side and cut a length of ribbon trim for each side of the purse clutch's flap. It is not necessary to make this piece any longer than the flap edge.
Fold the ribbon in half down its length and press. Place one half to the front and one half to the back of the flap so that the edge of the flap rests against the inner fold and pin in place and stitch. Repeat on the other side edge. Position the last piece of ribbon the same way at the top edge taking care to center it so that you have equal amounts of ribbon trim overlap. Pin in place and miter fold the edges (diagonally) tucking the corners and stitch. Turn the whole thing inside out and press and your purse clutch is complete. For a simple closure add a small rectangle of Velcro and you're all set.

Making clutch purses present so many possibilities! They also take up very little space in a drawer or on a closet shelf, which makes it easier to justify making several of them.

Have you made your own clutch purse before? I'd love to hear about it!

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