During the recent Lush & Plush Trends series we did with our friends at Fabric.com, we got hooked on working with faux leather. We had a little bit of one of the sample cuts leftover and put it to use to make this adorable little clutch purse. With its chunky metal zipper, chic tassel and vibrant cotton print lining, once you clutch this clutch, it will be hard to let go. But, if you can pry it from your own fingers, it would make a dandy holiday gift.
If you're looking for more inspiration, take a look back at these nine tips, product reviews and projects from our Lush & Plush Trends Series:
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome DC5100)
- Optional Teflon® or Ultra Glide foot for sewing on the faux leather
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Fabric scrap or ¼ yard of 54-58" wide faux leather fabric for the bottom exterior: we used 54" Faux Leather in Bison Fudge from Fabric.com
- Fabric scrap or ¼ yard of 54-58" wide faux suede fabric for the top exterior: we used 54" Vintage Suede in Chocolate from Fabric.com
- Fabric scrap or ¼ yard of 44-45" wide fabric for the lining: we used Joel Dewberry's Heirloom Collection for Free Spirit Fabrics in Rose Bouquet Gold from the Ruby palette
- Scrap or ¼ yard light-weight fusible interfacing
- 7" heavy metal zipper
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- All purpose or embroidery thread in contrasting color for decorative stitching: we used all purpose thread in a rich gold
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil
- Straight pins
- Seam gauge
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
For optional tassel
- ONE large bead cap (16-18mm)
- ONE 6" piece of thin waxed cotton cord or leather lace (Confirm that your cord, when looped, fits through the hole in the bead cap. You can use an awl to make the hole a little bigger if necessary.)
- Fabric glue (not spray)
- Sharp scissors
- Download and print the Pouch Lining Template and the Pouch Exterior (Top and Base) Template.
IMPORTANT: Each of these template patterns consists of ONE 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the three template pieces along the solid lines. Set aside.
NOTE: Remember to use your household paper scissors. It sounds odd, but cutting paper is one of the worst things you can do to your good fabric/sewing scissors.
- From the fabric for the lining (Rose Bouquet Gold in our sample), use the lining template to cut THREE pieces.
- On one of the three pieces, make a small snip within the seam allowance at each end of pocket fold line. You could also mark with a fabric pen instead of snipping.
- From the fabric for the bottom exterior (Bison Fudge faux leather in our sample), use the bottom exterior template to cut FOUR pieces. The easiest way to get an accurate cut on faux leather is to trace around the pattern with a pen on the wrong side of the faux leather. Trace out four pieces with two facing up and two facing down. If you have a rotary cutter, use it to get the straightest cuts. If you are new to working with this kind of specialty fabric, take a look at our faux leather tutorial.
- From the fabric for the top exterior (Vintage Chocolate Suede in our sample), use the top exterior template to cut FOUR pieces. The faux suede is easily cut with scissors, but pay attention to the direction of the nap. If you rub your finger gently across the face of the suede, you will see a slight color change depending on the direction. Mark an arrow on a piece of painter's tape on the back of each piece to keep track of the nap.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the pocket for the lining
- Find the one lining piece with the little snips or marks at the fold line.
- Fold the top raw edge down, wrong sides together, at the fold line and press.
- Unfold so you can see the crease.
- Fold the top raw edge down so it aligns with the crease. Press.
- Refold along the original crease. You've created a wide hem.
- Use this folded piece as a template to cut a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing.
- With the pressed lining piece still wrong side up (so you see the hem), slip the piece of interfacing under the folded edge. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Thread your machine with thread to matching the lining in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch across close to the bottom folded edge.
- Place this hemmed lining pocket piece on top of one of the remaining full lining pieces, aligning the bottom curve and the sides. Both pieces should be right side up. Pin in place.
- Machine baste the pocket piece to the main piece, using a ¼" seam allowance.
Create the exterior panels
- Find the two of the four top exterior pieces and two of the four bottom exterior pieces.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the two top exterior pieces together along one 3" side.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew the two bottom exterior pieces together along one 5" side.
- NOTE: A real leather bag would have the seams glued open, hammered flat and top stitched. If your faux leather is soft enough, like our Fabric.com choice was, you can skip the glue and hammer and go straight to topstitching. Sew slowly, carefully and evenly; this detail is what makes the faux leather look like the genuine article.
- Spread the seam allowances open and finger press.
- Using matching thread in the top and bobbin, topstitch approximately ¼" from the seam on each side.
NOTE: You will notice we also switched to a Teflon® or Ultra Glide foot. You need this type of foot, a roller foot or you'll need to insert a piece of wax paper between the faux leather and your regular foot. If you are new to sewing with faux leather, learn about this and other techniques in our tutorial on the subject.
- When your topstitching is complete, place the top and bottom right sides together. Be SUPER careful to match the center seams. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to start stitching at the center and work out to one end, then flip it, start back at center and stitch out to the opposite end.
- When the top and bottom are stitched together, spread this seam allowance as you did above, but only topstitch ¼" from the seam on the bottom panel side.
- Rethread your machine with contrasting thread in the top and bobbin.
- Choose a pretty decorative stitch; we used a little snowflake stitch.
- Run this line of decorative stitching ¼" from the seam in the top exterior panel.
NOTE: The faux leather is going to start to get thick at the seams, so here's a little tip we learned from our upholstery friends: take a scrap of the faux leather, fold it in half and place it under the presser foot leading on to or off of your actual project piece. Start and stop your stitching in this scrap so the stitching across your actual project piece stays nice and smooth; you don't have to struggle to begin or end your seam on a big, thick chunk o' fabric. Just clip the threads between the scrap and the actual piece when done. The seam will later be secured within another line of stitching so there are no worries about not having a locked stitch.
- Repeat all these steps with the remaining two top exterior pieces and two bottom exterior pieces, except, there is no decorative stitching on the back, so simply run a regular straight line of topstitching along BOTH sides of the center horizontal seam on the back.
Inserting the zipper
- Place the non-pocket lining piece right side up on your work surface. Lay your zipper right side up along the top of the lining piece. The edge of the zipper tape should be even with the fabric's raw edge.
NOTE: If you are unsure about your pinning, you can machine baste the zipper to the lining at this point.
- Place the exterior front (with the decorative stitching) right side down on top of the lining piece, sandwiching the zipper in between the two pieces of fabric. As above, line up the top raw edge with the edge of the zipper tape. Pin all three layers together, 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.
- Lift up the exterior layer to reveal the zipper, and zip it open about half way.
- Place all the layers back down into position.
- Attach your zipper foot. Your needle should be in the left-most position.
- Stitch a ¼" seam.
- 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 open up the layers so you can access the zipper. Be gentle! Carefully close the zipper. Re-position your fabric and finish sewing to the end.
- When finished and open, your lining piece should be on one side of the zipper and your front piece on the other.
- Fold lining and front piece wrong sides together, so the zipper stands straight up, and press.
- Re-attach your Teflon® or Ultra Glide sewing foot and topstitch ¼" from the folded edge of the suede.
- Repeat to attach back pocket lining piece and the back exterior piece to the opposite side of the zipper.
NOTE: This zipper technique is a bit advanced, but is really just a matter of keeping track of layers and sewing carefully with your zipper foot. We've used similar techniques for other projects and included additional photos. Check out our Wristlet tutorial and Cosmetic Pouch tutorial if you are new to zipper work.
Assemble front to back
- Unzip the zipper again. Fold the two layers right sides together and pin all the away around the outside.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all around the sides and bottom. You can switch back to a regular presser foot or stay with the zipper foot. When you stitch across the zipper on each side, you want to make sure your seam line is crossing just below the zipper stop (right side) and just above the zipper teeth (left side). This will help insure your zipper opening is a perfect fit side to side. Sometimes the ability to get in a bit closer with a zipper foot is a help for this step, so we recommend keeping you zipper foot in place.
- Back-tack well at the start and end, as well as across the pockets. Trim the seam allowances to clean and even them up as needed.
- Clip in the curves and at the ends of the zipper tape if necessary.
- Turn the bag right side out through the zipper opening. Use a blunt edged tool, like a large knitting needle or a chopstick to smooth the seam allowance around the curve.
- For the optional tassel, follow our Faux Leather Tassel tutorial.
- Attach the tassel to the zipper tab by gently twisting the large ring (called a jump ring ) open just far enough to get it onto the zipper tab. Close it by twisting it back into place. Do not pull the ring apart to open. It will distort the shape and you will never get it round again.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5300 and the Bernina aurora 450.