Two colors, two fabrics, one awesome bag. This clutch knocks-off a popular style we spotted on the shelves of several high-end boutiques. We love being able to give you the inspiration and instructions to make your own beautiful bags and totes for a fraction of the hundreds of dollars listed on designer price tags.
For this trendy clutch, we combined faux leather with faux suede to get our striking two-tone design. Stitching with these rather “tricky” fabrics was a snap thanks to the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex Fabric Feeding System on many of the Janome machines we use in the Sew4Home studios. Like a Walking foot, this feature controls the movement of the fabric from both the top and the bottom so both layers – even thick, slick, slippery or otherwise tricky layers – move under the needle with ease and precision and without shifting or pulling.
Use our perfect pairing of a classic black faux leather with a bright faux suede or create your own dynamic duo. The selection of colors available from online and in-store retailers in both faux leather and faux suede is lovely. We do recommend staying with traditional dark faux leather tones to best showcase a saturated color in the faux suede.
The clutch lining is a standard quilting cotton, although we chose one with metallic accents, adding a bit of bling to brighten up the interior.
If you are new to working with faux leather, we have a good tutorial with tips and techniques: Sewing with Faux Leather.
A striking brass zipper opens the full length of the bag, allowing you to tuck in everything you need. Fold it over, and you’re ready to go.
The buttery-soft combination of faux leather and faux suede makes it easy to clutch under your arm or in one hand.
We added both a faux leather zipper pull and a cute circular brass charm with our Sew4Home initials. This was done with a standard metal stamping tool. You can find these tools, as well as the charm blanks, online as well as at most craft stores. You could also use a pre-made charm. There might even be something in your junk jewelry drawer that could add just the right touch.
Our clutch finishes at approximately 12″ wide x 12″ high when flat and approximately 12″ wide x 7″ high when folded over.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper foot
- Teflon® type foot, such as Janome’s Ultra Glide foot; optional but helpful if you have trouble stitching across the faux leather
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but good for thicker or tricky substrates – or use your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide light to medium-weight faux leather for the clutch front; we originally used soft faux leather in black
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide light to medium-weight faux suede for the clutch back; we originally used an equally soft faux suede in Kiwi
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we originally used a Metallic Quarter Dot in Bling from the Glitz Garden collection by Michael Miller Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide low loft fusible fleece for the lining; we used Thermolam Fusible in White by Pellon
NOTE: As you’ll see below, out cuts are all 13″, so you could get away with just ⅜ of a yard for all the above, however, that allows only ½” of leeway, and we prefer having a bit more cushion.
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 44″+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
- ONE 11″ metal zipper; we used a YKK brass zipper
- Zipper charm; optional, but super cute – we made our own with a metal stamping kit, you can also find pre-made charm options of all types at bead and craft stores
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Clips for working with the faux leather and suede; such as Wonder Clips
- From the fabric for the clutch front, zipper tabs, and zipper pull (black faux leather in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 13″ x 13″ square for the exterior
TWO 1¼” x 2½” rectangles for the zipper tabs
ONE ¾” x 5½” strip for the zipper pull
NOTE: We recommend a rotary cutter for the best cuts when working with faux leather and faux suede
- From the fabric for the clutch back (kiwi faux suede in our sample), cut ONE 13″ x 13″ square.
- From the fabric for the lining (Glitz dot in our sample), cut the following:
TWO 13″ x 13″ squares
ONE 7″ wide x 9″ high rectangle for the pocket.
- From the fusible fleece, cut ONE 12½” x 13″ rectangle.
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut ONE 7″ x 9″ rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the front faux leather panel. The fleece should align with the sides and the bottom of the exterior panel, but should sit ½” down from the top edge of the panel.
NOTE: Traditional wisdom advises you to not use fusible products on faux leather. However, we tested the idea and researched others online who had done the same, and decided we could buck tradition with a bit of caution. Lower the heat setting on your iron and reduce the pressure. You could also use a pressing cloth for additional protection.
- Our faux suede had enough weight and body on its own and did not need the fusible fleece. If you choose a lightweight faux suede, you may want to add the fleece layer to both the front and the back panels. Your choice; the clutch is designed to be buttery soft.
- Find the 11″ zipper and the two 1¼” x 2½” tabs. Place the zipper right side up on your work surface.
- Place one strip on each end of the zipper.
- The strip and the zipper are right sides together and the raw ends are flush. Pin in place.
NOTE: We based the width of these strips on our zipper. Cut your tabs as needed to best fit your zipper; you want the strip to fit within the zipper tape.
- Stitch the zipper tabs in place, running your seam just below the top and bottom zipper stops. It helps to stitch with the zipper facing up so you can clearly see the stops.
- Finger press the zipper tabs away from the zipper at each end.
- Find the front and back exterior panels.
- Place the front panel of the bag right side up on your work surface (the black faux leather in our sample, which has the fleece already fused in place).
- Lay your zipper upside down along the top edge of the front panel (ie. right sides together with the zipper teeth facing down against the right side of the fabric).
- The upper edge of the zipper tape should be even with the fabric’s raw horizontal edge. Make sure the zipper is centered between the left and right sides of the panel. The zipper tabs may extend beyond the raw edges of the panel a bit. This is okay and any excess will be trimmed away later.
- Pin the zipper to the panel, being careful to pin through just the top of the zipper. You need to be able to open and close the zipper; you can’t do that if you’ve pinned through the whole thing!
- Open the zipper about half way.
- Attach a Zipper foot. Your needle should be in the left-most position.
- Stitch as close to the zipper as the foot will allow, removing the pins as you sew.
- Go slowly. When you get to the middle, where you can start to feel you’re approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end. Be very careful and go slowly; you want your seam line to be super-duper straight.
- Press the panel away from the zipper. The zipper should be standing up from the panel with the remaining raw edge exposed.
- Repeat to attach this remaining raw edge of the zipper to the back exterior panel following the same steps as for the front.
- Take care to keep your seam allowance the same on both sides so the zipper teeth are centered.
- You now have panels stitched in place on either side of the zipper and the excess width is neatly filled in with the pretty faux leather zipper tabs.
- If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the faux leather front panel in the top and bobbin.
- If possible, switch to a Teflon® type foot, such as Janome’s Ultra Glide foot or insert a strip of wax or parchment paper between the foot and the faux leather.
- Slightly lengthen your stitch.
- Topstitch along the faux leather side of the zipper, running your stitching as close to the edge of the fabric as possible.
- Re-thread your machine with thread to match the faux suede back panel in the top and bobbin and topstitch along the opposite side of the zipper, keeping the same tight seam allowance and the same slightly lengthened stitch. We moved the needle position to the far right.
- As above with the zipper insertion, in order to get close enough to the zipper with your topstitching, you will need to open and close the zipper to work around the pull.
Complete the exterior bag
- Make sure the zipper is open at least half way.
- Place the two panels right sides together, aligning the raw edges along both sides and across the bottom. Clip in place.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Re-attach a standard presser foot (we switched to the Skyline S7‘s AcuFeed™ Flex foot). We sewed with the faux suede on top and the faux leather on the bottom, so we re-threaded to make sure we had thread to match the faux suede in the top and thread to match the faux leather in the bobbin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the bottom corners. Use a substantial backstitch at both the beginning and end of your seam to reinforce these stress points at either end of the zipper.
- Grade the seam allowance, trimming back the faux leather and fleece to ¼”. Clip the corners at a diagonal and trim away any excess zipper tab fabric.
- Leave the finished exterior bag wrong side out.
Create and insert the lining
- Find the 7″ x 9″ pocket panel and matching lightweight interfacing panel.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. All raw edges should be flush.
- Fold the fused panel in half, right sides together, so it is now 7″ x 4½”. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom, leaving a 3″ opening along the bottom for turning.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Remember to lock your seam at either side of the 3″ opening.
- Clip the corners at a diagonal and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the 3″ opening, gently pushing out the corners so they are nice and square – a long blunt tool works well for this, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.
- Find one of the two 13″ x 13″ lining panels. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the pocket on the lining panel. It should sit 2½” up from the bottom raw edge of the fabric panel and be centered side to side. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. Remember, the folded edge is the top of the pocket.
- Edgestitch the pocket in place along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. This closes the opening used for turning.
- Place the two lining panels right sides together, sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Align all the raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Clip the corners at a diagonal and turn the lining right side out. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and square. Press flat on low heat, using a pressing cloth to protect the metallic designs if you have them in your fabric selection.
- Fold down the top raw edge of the lining ½” all around. Press well.
- Find the exterior bag. It should still be wrong side out.
- Turn the lining right side out. Slip the exterior bag inside the lining so the two bags are now wrong sides together. We positioned the pocket against the back of the clutch (against the green faux suede in our sample).
- Push the lining down into position, aligning the bottom and side seams. The top folded edge of the lining should fall below the zipper teeth by about ⅛”. If it doesn’t, adjust the fold to fit and gently re-press.
- Pin the layers together.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to match the lining.
- Hand stitch the lining to the bag, using very small stitches; we suggest a slip stitch. Stitch along the front and the back, but leave the lining loose where it wraps over the side seams. This allows some “give” in the lining so it folds smoothly as you zip the bag open and shut.
- Gently turn the bag right side out through the zipper opening. Push out the corners (both the bottom corners as well as the upper corners at either end of the zipper) so they are as smooth as possible. Aa above, a long blunt tool is best for this, like a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner.
- Press flat. Make sure you cover the faux leather and suede with a pressing cloth and use a low heat setting.
- Find the ¾” x 5½” strip for the zipper pull.
- Fold the strip in thirds, as if you’re folding a letter to mail, turning in the raw edges to the middle, so the strip finishes at just ¼”. Clip in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the faux leather in the top and bobbin and stitch down the center of the strip. The faux leather does not ravel, so both ends of the strip can remain raw.
- Slip the strip through the open end of the zipper tab. Align the raw ends of the strip and clip them together.
- Stitch across near the zipper pull to secure the layers, getting as close to the zipper pull as possible.
NOTE: This sizing and insertion method is based on the wide open zipper pull on our zipper. If you use a different zipper, you may need to adjust the sizing – perhaps using just a thin ribbon or cording instead of the thicker faux leather tab.
- Attach the optional zipper charm to the pull using a jump ring. A little jewelry-making note: jump rings are not opened by pulling them apart, but instead by slightly twisting to the side and them back. Use two pairs of small pliers, one holding on to each side, for the best control.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild