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When we’re tracking the latest fashion flavors, we like to browse high-end sites to see which styles are selling for hundreds of dollars. Then we figure out what we could do to make that look easier, better, and all our own. For our Must-Have Clutch we took a peek at what was flying off the shelves at Coach and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. At the top of the trends right now: the oversize clutch. It’s a day-into-evening look that works beautifully: a slim silhouette in a haute hue.

Our elegant bag combines three different fabric substrates, each in a rich purple tone. The top is a patterned canvas, the bottom is super soft faux leather, and the lining is a China silk polyester.

If you are new to working with faux leather, we have a good tutorial with tips and techniques: Sewing with Faux Leather.

The brass zipper closure opens the full 15″ length of the bag, allowing you to tuck in everything you need. Fold it over, and you’re ready for the front row at Fashion Week.

Our bag finishes at approximately 15″ wide x 11″ high when flat and and approximately 15″ wide x 7″ high when folded over.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 44″+ wide medium-weight cotton canvas or similar for the bag exterior top; we originally used 44″, 5.5 oz 100% organic cotton canvas A Smile and A Wave in Plum from the Koi collection by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cloud 9 Fabrics
    NOTE: Yardage shown allows for fussy cutting as well as for either a horizontal or vertical cut.
  • ⅓ yard of 54″+ wide light to medium-weight faux leather or similar for the bag exterior base; we originally used a 54″ medium-weight Raw Hide Faux Leather in Purple
  • ½ yard of 44″+ wide lightweight polyester for the lining; we originally used a 45″ China Silk 100% Polyester Lining in Purple
  • ½ yard of 44″+ wide low loft fusible fleece for the lining
  • ONE 14″ metal zipper
  • 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

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the exterior top (Plum A Smile and A Wave in our sample), fussy cut TWO 16½” wide x 6½” high rectangles.
  2. From the fabric for the exterior bottom, zipper tabs and zipper pull (Purple Faux Leather in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 16½” wide x 6½” high rectangles
    TWO 1¼” x 2½” rectangles for the zipper tabs
    TWO ⅛” x 13″ strips for the zipper pull
  3. From the fabric for the lining (Purple poly lining in our sample), cut TWO 16½” wide x 12″ high rectangles.
  4. From the fusible fleece, cut TWO 16½” wide x 11½” high rectangles.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Prepare the exterior panels

  1. Find the four exterior panels (two tops and two bottoms).
  2. Match up each top with a bottom.
    NOTE: If your top and/or bottom print is directional, make sure you align the bottom of the top panel and top of the bottom panel.
  3. Place the panels right sides together, aligning one 16½” side for each pair. Pin in place.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the panels.
  5. Press the seam allowance down towards the faux leather panel.
    NOTE: Remember, when pressing faux leather, reduce your heat and press from the wrong side only or use a pressing cloth.
  6. Flip over both sewn exterior panels to the right side.
  7. Thread your machine with thread to match the faux leather in the top and bobbin.
  8. Topstitch within the faux leather panel along the horizontal seam, staying very close to the original seam. Topstitch both panels in the same manner.

    NOTE: We did not have any trouble moving across the faux leather with our standard presser foot. If you have any trouble with sticking, try 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.
  9. Find the two 16½” x 11½” pieces of fusible fleece.
  10. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece to the wrong side of each sewn exterior 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 when you move from the canvas to the faux leather.
  11. Set the exterior panels aside.


  1. Find the 14″ zipper and the two 1¼” x 2½” tabs.
  2. 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 zipper as needed to best fit your zipper; you want the strip to fit within the zipper tape.
  3. Stitch the zipper tabs in place, running your seam just below the top and bottom zipper stops.
  4. Finger press the zipper tabs away from the zipper on each end.
  5. Find the front and back exterior panels.
  6. Place the finished front panel of the bag right side up on your work surface.
    NOTE: The front and back panels are essentially the same. However, if you fussy cut one set differently or feel one pair is better looking than the other… that should be the front.
  7. 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 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Open the zipper about half way.
  10. Attach your Zipper foot. Your needle should be in the left-most position.
  11. Stitch as close to the zipper as the foot will allow, removing the pins as you sew.
  12. 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.
  13. Press the panel away from the zipper. The zipper should be standing up from the panel with the remaining raw edge exposed.
  14. Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the zipper to the other exterior panel.
  15. Take care to keep your seam allowance the same on both sides so the zipper teeth are nicely centered.
  16. 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.
  17. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to match the canvas in the top and bobbin. Our two panels were a great match so we didn’t need to change.
  18. Switch back to your regular presser foot or a Quarter Inch Seam foot (that’s what we used). Topstitch along each side of the zipper, running your stitching as close to the edge of the fabric as possible. As above with the zipper insertion, 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

  1. Make sure the zipper is open at least half way.
  2. Fold the two panels right sides together, aligning the raw edges along both sides and across the bottom. Pin in place.
  3. 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.
  4. Clip the corners at a diagonal and trim away any excess zipper tab fabric.
  5. Leave the finished exterior bag wrong side out.

Create and insert the lining

  1. Find the two 16½” wide x 12″ lining pieces. Place the two pieces right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  2. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  3. 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.
  4. Fold down the top raw edge of the lining ½” all around. Press well.
  5. Find the exterior bag. It should still be wrong side out.
  6. With lining still right side out, slip the exterior bag inside the lining so the two bags are now wrong sides together.
  7. Align 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.
  8. Pin the layers together.
  9. Thread the hand sewing needle with thread to match the lining.
  10. Slip stitch the lining to the bag, using very small stitches. 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.
  11. Gently turn the bag right side out through the zipper opening. Push the corners out so they are as smooth as possible and press the bag flat. Make sure you cover the faux leather with a pressing cloth and use a low heat setting.
  12. Find the two thin faux leather strips.
  13. Place them one on top of the other and fold in half. The ends should be flush.
  14. Push the middle “fold” through the hole in the zipper pull, creating a loop. Slip the ends through the loop and pull down gently to secure. This is just like how you’d attach a gift or price tag.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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