Fold-over Clutch…or, how I learned that I know nothing about working with leather


Story time: I want soo badly to make purses. I know that I’ve got to start somewhere – so I went to Pinterest for inspiration. There are so many great purse patterns there. The only problem is that I can’t afford the materials to make most of them, so it took me some time to find my starter purse. On my Pinterest adventure I ran into this tutorial from yellow brick home – where Kim discusses making an oversized clutch on her second date with a sewing machine (for the sake of citation, Kim got the the pattern from Liz at Say Yes). Anyhow, I liked the pattern, and it felt similar to the makeup bags I had been making, so I decided to go for it. This is a story of how I tried, failed, and tried again. The picture above is the version of the bag that I’m happy with – but it’s more interesting to tell you about my failure first:

I was ambitious as hell. I saw that the original pattern used faux leather and I was all like “Why not? I used it on that laptop sleeve. What could go wrong?” I went out and got the materials: 1/2 yard of faux leather, interfacing, two fat quarters of fabric for a lining, and a zipper. I even decided to be bold and make a little strap for it, so I got some lobster claw clasps. I cut out two 16×17″ pieces of fabric and interfacing. I attached the interfacing and sat down to sew the zipper on. This is where I began learning lessons about working with faux leather.

  1. You need to use a heavy-duty needle. My original needle just wasn’t doing the trick. Luckily, I had some heavy-duty ones on deck.
  2. Leather doesn’t feed through the sewing machine the way other fabrics do. The first time I went through to attach the zipper, the zipper was really wonky (it was wavy). Apparently there are machine feet that can fix this problem – but I’m a broke bitch and that wasn’t an option. So I went about using my seam ripper to try it again. This led to my third lesson.
  3. You only get one chance with sewing leather. The needle leaves holes in it. Things can get ugly really quick.
  4. I’m not about this life.

So yes. The whole project was a fail. After I took it apart and tried it again (holes and all), it was better – but the zipper was still wonky. Here’s a picture of the atrocity:

It’s ugly, right?

Luckily, I’m not a quitter. After my first attempt, I was determined to do better. I noticed that Kim used vinyl instead of leather, so I went to Joann and picked up 1/2 yard of some really pretty green marine vinyl. I decided to NOT use interfacing (the vinyl seemed like it could hold its own). I also didn’t use a lining fabric for this one (no particular reason why). Lastly, I grabbed an 18″ metal zipper.

I cut out two 16×17″ pieces of the vinyl. Using the zipper foot of my sewing machine, I attached the two pieces to the zipper, then I pulled the zipper open a bit (to make flipping it inside-out possible. I then put the right sides of the vinyl together and sewed around the edges, making sure to clip the bottom corners. Lastly, I flipped that sucker inside out (right-side-out?), and it was done! The over-sized fold-over clutch was born!

Things went so well on this attempt. Making the whole thing took me maybe an hour and a half. I’m really happy with how it turned out.



1 thought on “Fold-over Clutch…or, how I learned that I know nothing about working with leather”

  1. I just “found” your page. And this post. I wanted to encourage you to keep trying. A lot of things I sew are SO much better the 2nd time around. There are often little things that bug me about a first piece, but once I figure out the directions, and make my own way, it is so much easier the 2nd time. Think about doing a “mock up” piece out of say – muslin – before you slice into your expensive fabrics. Let the muslin piece be your mock up, and learn along the way so your nice fabric is “perfect” when your 2nd project is done. GOOD TIP on the DENIM / Leather needle.

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