You don’t need any previous experience to make this clutch bag – just heaps of enthusiasm. Even a sewing machine is not essential, although it does speed things up enormously. My instructions are based on the assumption that you have a sewing machine, but you could hand sew the seams if you choose. All three of the clutch bags shown are made in the same way.
Fabric requirements for the clutch bags
For each of the the clutch bags you will need a rectangle of fabric about 18″ by 10″ in the main fabric, lining fabric and wadding. For the lining fabric I have used black fabric. As well as the rectangle, you will need a strip of black fabric 2.1/2″ wide by about 55″ long for the binding. For the main fabric I have used silk for the green and pink clutch bags and cotton for the blue patterned bag. It can be any fabric you like, to match an outfir or a pair of shoes or just because you like the fabric.
You will need a decent, sharp pair of scissors for cutting the fabric. Dressmaking scissors have long blades which obviously make cutting quicker and neater. Keep your fabric scissors separate from any household scissors so that they are not blunted by being used on paper and such like.
It is also useful to have a smaller pair like embroidery scissors or even nail scissors to cut off all the trailing bits of cotton at the beginning and end of each seam. There is less risk of cutting the fabric itself with a small pair and you can get closer in to the fabric to cut the thread.
I have used black thread for all three of the bags as both the lining and the binding are black. It’s always worth having a spare spool of whatever colour thread you are using. There is nothing more irritating than running out of thread just before you ave finished a project – or just after the shops have shut!
The most important point of all: prepare to enjoy yourself. I love sewing and find great satisfaction in the things that I make. I hope you will too.
Making the clutch bag
Lay the black rectangle of fabric on the table, right side down. Lay the wadding on top of the black fabric and the main fabric on top of that with right side up. Line the edges up so that you have a neat sandwich of the three layers. Smooth gently and pin. Quilting pins are ideal as they have a curve to hold the fabric without bunching it. If you don’t have these, ordinary pins will do. You just have to be more careful not to stab yourself.
Rather than using templates, I like to try and improvise with whatever is available. For the three bags that I have shown, one has a curved front flap, one has a triangular front flap and one has a rectangular front flap.
To make the curved front flap, I used a dinner plate to mark the curve. It doesn’t matter what you use for marking because that line is going to be cut anyway. Mark the top curve of the plate. In effect you are marking to cut off the top corners of the rectangle.
Fold the rectangle in half lengthways. Although you have marked both corners to be cut off, I still feel it is safer to cut both corners at once. That way you know that the curve is definitely the same on each side. Cut the curve along the line you have marked.
For the pink bag with the triangular flap the idea is very similar. Mark a straight line from a point about 4″ down the side of the rectangle to the centre of the top edge. Fold the rectangle in half lengthways and cut the two top corners off as above. For the blue bag just leave the rectangle complete.
Baste the three layers together with long running stitches all round the edge. Trim any edges where the three layers are not quite flush with each other. The next step is to bind the edges of the bag. This is where the long strip of black fabric comes in. Fold the strip in half along its length and press.
Binding the first edge of the clutch bag
Lay the binding along the bottom of the rectangle – the opposite short side from the one with the corners trimmed. Place the binding on the top fabric with the fold facing to the middle and all the raw edges together. Stitch 1/4″ from the edge and trim to the edges of the fabric at the sides.
Flip the binding over and slipstitch to the lining (the black fabric). This tidies it up and hides the raw edges.
Shape the clutch bag
Lay the fabric green side down. At a line about 5″ from the bottom fold the fabric up. This bottom section will be the bag and the top section will be the front flap. Fold the front flap down just to check that it comes down as far as you want it to. Adjust if necessary by moving where you have folded to make the front flap bigger or smaller.
Baste the sides of the bag to hold them in place. You now have two lines of basting along the sides of the bag but that’s okay because you can unpick any stitches that show when you have finished binding.
Complete the clutch bag binding
The next step is to bind the rest of the clutch bag. Turn the bag over from the photo above. Starting at either of the bottom corners, lay the black binding strip around the top edges of the bag, fold towards the middle, raw edges together. Leave about 1/2″ extra at each end so that you can finish the ends neatly. Begin to sew from the left corner, as that way you will have the bulk of the clutch bag to your left on the machine. The first part of the seam is quilt bulky as you have two layers of bag and I find it better to use a 1/2″ seam so that you can be sure that all layers are caught in the stitching.
The angles at each top corner need a little extra care. When you reach a corner, stop sewing about 1/2″ from the corner. Fold the binding up so that it is away from the clutch bag but in line with the next edge of the bag.
Then fold it down along the side of the clutch bag, pin in place and start sewing again from the corner. This gives the extra length of binding needed for a neat corner.
Flip the binding over and slipstitch to the lining. At the beginning and end of the binding – the two bottom corners – tuck the raw edge inside the binding before sewing it in place.
Finishing the clutch bags
Originally I bought some magnetic buttons to fasten the clutch bag but they felt too heavy for such a small bag. I am using mine without any fastening, but I would suggest either two small velcro circles or a stud fastener if you want a fastener on your clutch bag.
Well done. You have just completed a lovely designer clutch bag that would complement any outfit. I tend to like my bags plain, but you could use beads or buttons to embellish if you prefer.