Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Tale of Four Purses: How I Finally Made A Clutch

I've been uber busy traveling for work and pleasure and haven't had a lot of time to sew lately. A couple weeks back I had a hankerin' for a sew-fix and decided to try a small purse - what I perceived to be a quick, satisfying project. I made a couple bags as a teenager, and always just made things up as I went along. I didn't think it would be that hard.

Little did I know, I was about the embark on a journey through purse construction... trying to get it right...mostly getting it wrong. And now I share my story.

PURSE #1: Too Soft

I made this little beauty out of some scrap teal linen and a fat quarter of quilting fabric. It started out so well. A front gather here. A snap there. The end result, however, is completely functionless.
Some mistakes I made:
  • Only used lightweight interfacing to stabilize the pouch. It's quite flimsy.
  • Didn't reinforce the snap. It's hard to open.
  • Gathered the lining as well as the outer fabric. Why? I have no idea. I should have just cut it to size.
BEST USE: Stuff with potpourri. Put in sock drawer.

PURSE #2: Too Stiff
For my next go-round, I dug through my scrap heap and found the remnants of one of my favorite projects to date. My Macaroon. I was stoked to have another item out of this print. The results were less exciting.

This clutch is a stabilizing nightmare! I so wanted a sturdy purse after my first attempt that I stabilized this bad boy with EVERYTHING. If it was stiff, I bought it and attached it to the interior of this clutch. That's why the lining wouldn't fold under. You thought that was piping around the top edge? NOT SO.

As you can see, I didn't even sew up the turning hole in the lining. Another UFO for the pile.

BEST USE: Fold in half. Use as door stop.

PURSE #3: Too Small and Neon
At this point, I realized that I have no idea how to make bags and should consult a pattern. I found this great website, Keyka Lou, which has a number of downloadable patterns for reasonable prices.

I decided to try the Pocket Clutch, primarily because it could be done with two fat quarters.

This one came out better. Unfortunately, this blackbird on yellow fabric looked positively NEON when I got it home, making this pouch look like a child's toy wallet. Again, I haven't made the last few adjustments and closed up the turning hole yet. I may finish it up at some point. I guess can keep my allowance in it. Boo.

BEST USE: Hold money you're saving to buy a troll doll OR sleeping bag for a mouse family.

PURSE #4: (houndstooth is always) Just Right!
FINALLY: I returned to designing my own clutch, hoping it would work this time, promising myself I wouldn't rush. (I rush. A lot. Especially when sewing.) This time I did a variation of the first clutch, which a front flap to make it more useful.

Relief! A clutch I can actually use! The interior is the same teal linen from Purse #1 and the exterior is houndstooth calico. I used medium weight fusible interfacing on both the lining and the outer fabric. Next time I'll add a layer of batting too.

Now, granted, the snap is off center, but all in all - it looks good! It holds my keys, iphone, small digital camera and small wallet.

BEST USE: Carry while wearing the Lacey Shoulders Dress!

Who knew that trying to squeeze in a quick project would turn into a battle for decent bag construction! I hope this will save at least a few people from making the same mistakes. Have you ever had a project you just can't seem to get right?


  1. Haha, what a great way to get to the perfect purse! just try it untill you get it right!

  2. Don’t worry about the rushing... you’re certainly patient and your patience surely paid off! I like the hounds tooth clutch, and I also think the birdie clutch is quite cute so don’t give up on it. What a great learning experience this must have been, and now you have a perfect clutch pattern to make for all your fancy outfits - well done!