wear it this weekend: DIY envelope clutch

by Valerie on September 22, 2011

in fashion,refashion,sewing,tutorials

I have long been a huge fan of the envelope clutch. Not only is my own version one of my flagship designs for Holland Cox, another version is the very first sewing pattern I’ve offered for sale!

Despite what you may think, an envelope clutch can be very versatile. This little tutorial is just one way to prove it!

This is a variation of my evening envelope clutch sewing pattern. My pattern includes a flap with optional piping and a magnetic snap closure, and is about medium-sized.

For this version, I wanted a more trendy look, so I left off the flap, and made it a bit bigger. Over-sized clutches have been all over the runways since last spring, and if the current runways are any indication, they’re not going away anytime soon!

step one: alter the pattern
It’s super easy to adjust the size and shape of this clutch. I wanted mine to be a bit taller and a bit wider, so I just taped 1″ strips to my existing pattern piece.

I also wanted to use a zipper, instead of the magnetic snap that the original pattern calls for, so I had to make sure it was wide enough to accommodate the 12″ zipper I had.

Since I like to sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance, I made sure my new pattern was wide enough to have at least a 1/2″ clearance at either end of the zipper.

step two: cut the fabric
The most “on-trend” clutches this season are in bright, bold colors. (Check out Olivia Palermo at London fashion week a few days ago with a bright blue one.) Naturally I had to choose orange for mine!

This clutch is so simple that you could make it out of nearly anything something really heavyweight like upholstery fabric, denim, or corduroy, or something lighter like silk dupioni.

This clutch works great in leather, suede, or vinyl as well. Remember to use a Teflon or plastic zipper foot on your machine when sewing with leather…or just stick a piece of frosted Scotch tape on the bottom of your regular foot. This prevents the metal foot from sticking to your leather, ultrasuede, vinyl or suede fabric.

step three: add a pocket
For such a large clutch, you’re going to need at least one pocket, so your smaller goodies aren’t floating around in the bottom of your bag all willy-nilly.

I used the pocket that came with the envelope clutch pattern, which is just a rectangular patch pocket. If you feel the need, make two instead of one. Sew one down the center to create two smaller pockets, for your iPhone or some other e-toy. Just one more way to further personalize your envelope clutch!

step four: insert the zipper
Somehow zippers have gotten a bad rap…they are not nearly as scary as you might think! Don’t be scared of zippers just because you’re a new sewer!

My method for inserting a zipper in a handbag is super easy:
1. fold under and press a 1/2″ hem along the top of the self and lining
2. line up the self and lining, wrong sides facing, so that the folded edges match exactly
3. pin the zipper tape in between these two layers
4. topstitch the zipper in place. Done!

step five: sew the bag together
Can you believe we are almost done sewing!?! To sew the bag together, open the zipper all the way, and then pin the self (the orange canvas on my bag) together with right sides facing, and do the same with the lining (the geometric print on my bag).

Remember to leave a hole in the bottom of the lining. Sew all the way around the bag, backstitching at each end of the opening, and over the side seams where the lining meets the self.

Turn right side out, close the hole in the lining, and that’s it. You’re done! Press your bag carefully and you’re good to go!

Your finished clutch will be very, very flat, and ready to fill up with all your gear you need for a night on the town (or a day of errands…whatever).

optional: embellishments
I left mine plain (I rather think the bright “safety” orange speaks for itself…), but this envelope clutch is ripe for all kinds of embellishments…you can really go wild with this if you want!

How about sewing on a wide strip of fabric in a contrasting color? Then you’d be even more on-trend, what with colorblocking being so hot right now.

You could pin your favorite brooch to the bag, or even a wrap a necklace or a belt around your clutch. (Check out the over-sized buckles on clutches at the spring 2012 Burberry Prorsum show last week.)

You could use topstitching thread to sew a design onto the surface of your bag, or use ribbon to add both a shot of color, and a contrasting texture.

Just remember to add any sewn embellishments to the bag before you insert the zipper (after you deal with the pockets in step three).

This bag took me about a half hour to make. With such minimal time investment, you could literally make one to wear this weekend!

Pick up the envelope clutch sewing pattern (it’s an instant download PDF, so no waiting!), and make as-is, or with your own unique adjustments. If you do make changes, it would seriously make my day to see pictures of your version (or even if you don’t)!

Go forth and have a stylish (and trendy!) weekend. Sign up for my Syndicate mailing list to be notified when I have new patterns for sale.

Stay tuned for more refashions and re-styling of the envelope clutch. Any particular technique you’d like me to cover? Leave a note in the comments and I’ll get right on it.

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so, what do you think? leave a comment & let me know.

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