Wednesday 20 August 2014

Designing and making a simple clutch bag

First of all, welcome to Lisa Saxton via Bloglovin. Gosh that was a cold night, I am so glad I took heed of the weather forecast and protected the tomatoes. I shall keep them wrapped for now, should also help with the ripening.

Having looked at loads of tutorials on-line (most of which needed paying for), I decided to try designing a simple envelope version using an old piece of non-iron on vilene (pelmet/heavy duty liner, similar to what gets ironed on when making collars).

I am not a hand bag person and didn't want to buy a bag just for a single use, hence making one. I didn't have any material in the correct colours so went to buy the minimum I could from a local material shop, plus cotton, plus new iron on vilene. It came to £8.80 but I only used around 1/3rd of it plus another £2.00 to get some different backing material. I think in total, the actual bag cost around £5 so not too bad.

It was a bit of a learning curve but I think I got there in the end, you'll be able to judge it for yourselves in the final photographs!

Firstly the template. Using a large sheet of wallpaper/card, draw an oblong 33cm long x 23 cm wide.
Measure up from the bottom 11cm and fold it over to make a crease. Measure down from the top, 10 cm, fold and crease, then open it out as best you can. Using a dinner plate, place the top curve of it at the top of your template and draw an almost semi-circle shape, the left and right edges of which, need to come down to the top crease. Cut away the excess from the outside of this shape. When you are happy, draw around this template on the non-glued side of the vilene. You now have your main vilene template and a secondary wallpaper/cardboard version. Phew!

Pin it carefully to your material. Here it is attached to the top net part. Cut 2 pieces out, 1cm away from the template. This particular piece of vilene was my secondary template:
Now you need to iron on the vilene to one sheet of the base fabric. Cut out an approximate piece of base fabric, leaving enough excess. Turn it glue side down, cover with a piece of silicone or greaseproof paper and carefully iron. I ironed it at the mid setting but you might be able to use cotton depending on your fabric. The paper protects your iron from any possible smears of glue and it protects your fabric especially if using delicate fabrics. Once attached, cut around the shape 1cm away, then pin your secondary template to another piece of the same fabric and cut out your second shape:
You should have 2 base pieces and 2 top pieces. Now you need to sew around the two base pieces (pale pink in this case). Pin them together, right sides in, sew as close to the vilene as you can without actually sewing into it. Remove pins and turn inside out. This bit is very difficult but doable. Once turned, iron it again (protecting with the paper), to iron out creases you will have made all over it!

Repeat with the net part if using, this time pinning your secondary template onto it (as in the top picture). Sew around the template, this time not quite up to it as the net needs to fit snugly over the base material. Remove template and turn inside out and iron using protective paper:
Feed the base shape (on the left) into the net shape (just like a pillowcase):
You are now halfway through, yeah!

Keeping it the correct way as in the above picture, sew all around the shape, 1cm in to hold all the layers together:
You might need to click on the picture above if you can't see my stitching.

The rough base now needs to be enclosed. I found it best to fold the excess material over, iron it then tuck it inside so it doesn't get in the way. I used net for enclosing my base, but you could use ribbon. Cut a piece about 2 cm longer than the base and about 2.5cm wide. Place it good side in and stitch 1cm from the edge:
Turn it over and hand sew the other side into the stitches you have just made. Make sure you turn it over tight enough so any material is hidden inside and the base of the vilene ends up snug at the bottom rather than excess material sitting there moving around! You will have to fathom out how to fold in the ends as you are doing so, plus roll a little hem under before sewing into place.

Now using your secondary template as a guide, find the 11cm mark and fold up the bottom pressing into place with your hand. Then iron it (protected with paper) until it sits there by itself, then you know you have ironed it well! Now do the same with the top. Find your 10cm mark, fold, protect and iron. 

Now it is beginning to look the part. I forgot to take pictures of the next bit but you need to work out how you are going to get it to keep closed once complete. I had bought handbag magnet enclosures but found them too cumbersome. I rummaged through my button box and found a nice clear button that would attach underneath therefore not showing the cotton. Then I found a matching colour elastic hair band. I put a pair of knickers in the bag to work out where the fasteners needed to go and attached them both by hand. The elastic band had a metal bit on it that I removed and stitched to stop it fraying.

Once the button and band (or what ever you are using is in place), lift up the top flap, fold the bottom flap up and stitch the front sides to the back, using the same line of stitches already there from before as in picture 5.

There you have it (or not depending on how clear this tutorial is). One hand made clutch bag that absolutely no-one else will have. This one has been made for my nephew's wedding and is a trial for the one I hope to make for my son's wedding.  

Here is the end product, now with a spare pair of tights inside that will be in there, just in case:

Hopefully it all makes sense in case you want to have a go!


  1. A good tutorial, easy to follow and in plain English. I can see a few of these in my future, as I am Iiable to put it down and forget it I will have to add a long handle, ribbon or maybe one from the outer fabric.

  2. It's lovely, and will go beautifully with your outfit for your nephew's wedding!
    Great tutorial too.

    1. Thank you, glad the tutorial was okay.

  3. Oh wow thats beautiful! Can i ask where you got the lace fabric from? Im desinging an evening dress and have been looking for the right lace - think i may have found it!! K xx

    1. You can buy it from here here. I got mine from the Fent Shop in King's Lynn when we went over there for a trip!


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