Monday, May 17, 2010

Clutch Bag How-To

Here is my latest clutch bag. And my first tutorial. This clutch is made with green Mohair and some small cotton and lace flowers. I used a purse frame that measure 8 1/2" long with 2 1/2" legs. You may be able to find a frame at a craft store or on the internet. The formula for the pattern is to make it 1/2 again as long, so that would be 14" long. This frame required a piece of fabric measuring 14" (this includes the 1/2" seam). If the legs are longer, then you must add the difference. Measure the inside leg, across the top, and down the other leg to get the total width necessary for the fabric..

Before I cut the fabric, I made a pattern. I chose to round off the corners for this purse because I thought it looked more graceful.

I chose this fabric because I enjoy the color and the complimentary satin lining.

I laid the pattern out and when I cut the lining, I cut the lining 1/4" smaller. I always use an interfacing to give the purse a little more body. I used white felt here.

I pinned both fabric and interfacing together and carefully sewed, leaving about 1 1/2" from the top. Then I basted the top.
All of the above was the simple part. Now here comes the part that no one would talk to me about unless I bought a purse kit. So after trial and error, I came up with the following procedure;
The purse frame alone will not hold your fabric securely enough. You will need two pieces of wire (approx. 20 gauge) the total inside length of your frame. In my case that totaled 14" each. (That includes the length, 8 1/2" and the two 2 1/2" legs.)

To bend the wire, I cut a piece of board the inside length of the frame to use as a bending guide. I carefully bent the wire over the piece of wood and hammered the corners gently. This can all be done without the wood, but care must be taken with the bending. Do a very precise rounded bend so the wire (with the fabric attached, see step #) goes up into the corners and it fits acurately.

Note: If you are hand bending, check each corner so that the fit snugly. If they aren't the right bend or length, the fabric of your purse may pull out or be seen in your final product.
What I found useful is to put the wire inside of the channel to see if it fit well. Then
sew the purse fabric and the lining to the piece of wire. The type of wire I used has the strength of very light wire hanger. You will sew the whole top piece to the wire. Sew around the corners. It will all become apparent why you have the bend. Look at the photo at the top and you can see that there is a graceful poof at the corner.
Now, you have about 1 1/4" of unsewn fabric. Turn it inside and carefully sew. These are the corners of the bag.

I purchased these bottles for the Contact glue that is now used on the wire and the inside of the purse frame. This has to be done very carefully. The reason you put it on both sides is that when the two pieces are put together it becomes joined. With the fabric on a piece of wire, it becomes manageable.
When you put the pieces together you must push the sewed wire in to the frame with a small blade screwdriver and then carefully crimp the corners, at the end of the frame and right next to the latch.
There are crimping tools that can be purchased on the internet but what I found worked better than the crimping tool was a Vise-Grip. Do not purchase a straight mouth but one that looks open in the middle. Then put a piece of cork on each side of the jaw to protect the finish on the frame..
Adjust the Vise-Grip so that it will hardly depress the frame.


At this point you can finish the purse by decorating the bag. You can put buttons, a small brooch that you like to look at, or small flowers. I chose the flowers.



Note: Hot glue can replace the contact cement. If I didn't cover your questions, put a question on the comments.( feel free to leave one under comments and I will answer it.)

6 comments:

Run Lori Run said...

What a GREAT tutorial. I have wanted to try this kind of bag and you offer some good tips. Thanks!

patrice said...

It's amazing to see what goes into a clutch purse. You are so creative with your use of tools!
Bravo!

Phyllis said...

Oh how great!! I cannot believe you took the time to do such a great tutorial!! I would love, love to try this when I can clear away a block of time.

I love the color of this clutch. It is such a favorite of mine and perfect for summer. Thank you. Thank you.

(I think you should publish a book on making handbags!)

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Great step by step how-to on a clutch bag. I'm a hands-on learner but with the materials in front of me...I might just be able to pull it together...fair amount of cursing included! You are a natural creator and it's pure pleasure seeing your work!

Nicki Lee said...

Love this bag! Thank you for sharing your tutorial as I have always wanted to learn how to put on one of these handles. Hopefully I can tackle this project soon.

Also, thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog about the beaded purse I was just gifted. I still can't believe my friend gave it to me and only wish I knew the story behind it.

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