Saturday, November 5, 2011

in my clutches

I love a good, tiny project. A small pouch is a fun and quick way to make a big impact!

I got inspired to do a few of these by reading this tutorial from Noodlehead on making a gathered clutch (see the striped beauty in the middle). It's been awhile since I made a zippered and lined pouch, but it got me inspired to design a few of my own--and share the tricks with you!

First, I bought a bunch of 8 inch YKK zippers from KungFuCowgirl on etsy. This is the way to go for sure--it cost only $6.50 with shipping for 10 of them (you couldn't buy half as many for that price at a fabric store!), and the seller was lovely. I'll definitely be a repeat customer! Then I cut two 6x9 inch rectangles each of body and lining fabric (you can make it as tall as you want, but the 9 inch width is to accommodate the 8 inch zipper).  If you use heavy fabric like duck, it should be pretty sturdy on its own, but if your fabric choices are thinner you should also cut two rectangles of fusible interfacing the same size. Also cut two rectangles 1.5x2.5 inches for zipper end tabs (a cool trick I learned from the Noodlehead tutorial). You can make and sew little rectangular pockets to add to the inside, but I left these plain.

If you're using it, iron the interfacing to the back of the body pieces. The blue clutch is made of regular quilting cotton, so it needed the stiffness, but the green decor fabric did not.

First, make it pretty! I did two different designs here, a ruffle and a band.

For the green pouch I made a band by sewing a tube, pressing it flat, and top-stitching along both sides to the center of the front.

For the ruffle, I folded the long ends under twice (to hide all the raw edges), pressed, and topstitched very close to the edge.


Then I ran a gathering stitch down the center. Set your stitch length to the maximum and run from one end to the other. Leave the threads long at the ends, and do not backstitch.

Pull the top threads to gather the piece into a ruffle...

 Pin in place...

...and stitch it in place right down the center again. To make it look more finished, topstitch a ribbon in place over all that stitching (or go the cheap route like me and make a skinny tube). 

Now prep your zipper. Again, see the Noodlehead tutorial for specifics, but this is a new trick that totally changed the way I will make zippered pouches forever! You basically just make small end pieces in which to sandwich your zipper ends so you don't have to worry about enclosing them.

Now, here's what I came to show you. No matter what kind of pretty face you want to put on a zippered bag, here's the way to line it. It's not as hard as you think!

Start by taking one piece of your body fabric. Place your zipper face-down on top.

Now lay a piece of your lining fabric face-down on top of it. You want to line up all the top edges in a little sandwich--body fabric, zipper edge, lining fabric. The pic below shows it slightly staggered so you can see what I mean.

Pin it in place and use your zipper foot to stitch as closely to the teeth as you can without catching any zipper parts.

When you're done, look at it from both sides. Is your fabric sitting neatly and uniformly close to the zipper teeth? Open and close your zipper--is anything sticking? Do not be afraid to pick stitches out and re-work if it's not. If you don't, you'll be sorry every time you open or close it.

Now take the other piece of the body and lining fabric and do the same thing again. Your zipper pull will be facing the other direction this time, but you're doing the same zipper sandwich--body fabric face up, zipper face down, lining face down on top. Again, stitch close to the teeth (I usually use my ring finger as I feed the fabric to sort of feel ahead and keep things in line).

Here's the view of the zipper from above...

...and below (imagine being inside the bag and looking up!).

Now you're going to sew the lining and body. Flip it so the two body pieces are wrong sides together, and the two lining pieces are as well. 

See where I pinned along the bottom? Stitch from about where that left pin is, clockwise all the way around until you get back to the pin on the right. Leave the center open far enough to put your hand inside--this is how you'll turn it.

Trim seams and clip corners to reduce bulk.

Now reach in through the hole in the lining and pull everything right side out!

Use a pencil or your finger to poke the corners into shape. The last step is to sew the lining shut. To do this I like to turn it inside out again so the lining is on the outside:

Hand-stitch this shut, tucking the raw edges to the inside. 

Now turn everything right side out again, finish poking corners, and give it a little steam press to crisp it up--it's probably pretty limp and crinkly after all that handling! If your lining is bunching up on the inside, it can be helpful to hand-stitch it down in the corners. Again, turning your bag inside out will make that job easier.


A little lined pouch is fun, handy, and very gift-able. It takes literally scraps of fabric (you'll use less than a quarter yard!), and you can mix and match to your heart's content. You can also make a make-up bag with a wider base with one simple change to this setup (I'll show you one of those sometime soon!). Just knowing the simple trick to add a lining will give you endless options, limited only by your creativity!

If you're not the DIY type (or even if you are and just like free stuff), stay tuned. I'm giving away a custom bag to one reader, and it might as well be you!

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