Monday, March 18, 2013

A Leather Clutch

Last year, I was given a $100 gift card to Mood Fabrics. It's been laying in my email inbox since I received it. A few weeks ago, however, my cousin, aunt and mother came to visit me, and I decided to treat them to some new fabric. With the remaining amount, I found a scrap of leather and decided to buy it and make a new clutch for myself. 

Along with the piece of leather, I purchased Gutermann upholstery thread. I also used an awl, a ruler, a cutting mat, fabric scissors, a fabric pen (optional), an X-acto knife and a large-eye needle for this project.

I discovered later that I also needed two binder clips, one large bead and piece of hemp twine, as well. 

My leather scrap was uneven, so I first trimmed the uneven side edges. I discovered that a binder clip kept the leather from moving while I cut. 

I also removed the uneven edges from the top and bottom of the scrap piece. I tried to use my fabric pen, but the ink doesn't show prominently on leather. I only needed a soft mark, and the pen point created a line indent, which was all I really needed anyway.

I also tried using an X-acto knife when trimming slim edges, but it is only effective on very thin leather, and on only one layer. I ended up using my fabric scissors for most of my cutting, but an X-acto knife is also good for creating a line of demarcation, if a fabric pen isn't available.

When measuring the bag, I also accounted for about 5 3/4 inches extra leather, which was the closure flap for my clutch. 

Next, using my awl. I made holes for the embroidery needle and upholstery thread to go through. I left about a 1/4 seam allowance from the edge.

The spacing between each hole was about 1/2 inches. I actually started from the 1/4 mark (where it says "1/32 inches"), so the image below may be a little misleading.

In order to ensure that the awl went through both layers, I had to lift my leather up often.

Once all of the holes were made, I repositioned my binder clips on either side of my clutch, in order to make it easier for me to sew through the holes. 

I hand-sewed my clutch together using the back stitch embroidery technique. A great tutorial can be found here. The only variation I made, as you can see in the picture below, is that in the first stitch I brought the thread around the leather horizontally, then proceeded to do back stitches vertically. This is an optional variation. It just made me feel like the stitches were more secure. 

This how the clutch looks with both sides hand-stitched together.

Next, I needed to add a closure. This is always the most challenging part whenever I make a bag. After a few attempts, I finally sewed a bead on the bottom of the bag, then made a small hoop with hemp twine at the bottom edge of the closure flap. 

To make the hoop, you can make two small holes at the bottom edge of the closure flap, insert one end of the hemp twine piece in each hole, then tie a secure knot on the underside of the bag. Mine looks a bit wonky because it took me a while to actually reach this simple conclusion. This isn't the most functional closure, though. Maybe with the next bag I make, I'll have a better solution. 

All in all, though, I really like my new clutch. It fits well with my colorful, offbeat, slightly disheveled vibe :)


  1. I love your clutch! Great tutorial :-)

  2. Your blog is amazing, congratulation!!!