Wednesday, July 10, 2013

clutch me quick!

Last weekend I was at a friend's Hen Do. There was a floral theme and while I managed to find a lovely hydrangea print dress and had some appropriate shoes, I didn't have a small evening bag to finish off the ensemble. So I had a rummage around my leather stash to whip up a quick fold-over clutch.

I had this lovely soft magenta leather in my stash although there was not very much of it. I knew my fold over clutch would only be two pieces, so I measured out the largest size I would be able to squeeze out of the leather and used those dimensions as the starting point for the pattern. I played around with a paper mockup until I had arrived at a size and shape I liked (I even stood in front of the mirror with the paper pattern to see if the proportions were right) and drew a scalloped edge at an angle. I thought the scalloping would add a bit of interest and echo the petals of the hydrangea print.

I wanted this bag to be super quick to put together so I decided to leave it unlined - a front and back piece in leather and a zip, that's it! Although I did want to have a finished look to it so rather than cutting a rectangular slot for the zip leaving raw edges, I decided to fold the edges back. In the photo above you can see I have cut along the centre of the zip slot with V-shaped cuts at the ends.

To ensure a smooth line I hand skived the edges of the leather. Skiving is the process of cutting away some of the bulk of the underside of the edge, tapering it down to nothing making it easier to fold back and giving the folded edge a smooth finish. I glued it with neoprene, folded the edges back using my pattern as a template and hammered down the folded edge. I then centered the zip in the slot, held it there with some double sided tape and stitched it in.

With the zip in place, I dusted a little bit of talcum powder onto the visible bits of glue so that they wouldn't stick to the sewing machine (although really I should have been a bit more careful with the glue in the first place - more haste, less speed!), and placed my leather pieces right sides together, making sure the zip was open. You can't pin leather the way you would with fabric as the holes will be remain visible. I like to use these mini pegs I found in a craft supplies shop - they hold the leather in place without being too bulky.

I stitched around the edge with a 2-3mm seam allowance, clipped the corners, snipped the curves of the scallops and turned it right side out through the zip. I then spent a while poking the corners out and shaping the scallops. I find that rolling the seam between my fingers helps to loosen it up. Once I was happy with shape of the bag, I gave it a quick press with the iron using a thick press cloth. I then made any final adjustments to how the seams were sitting while it was still warm. If you're going to iron leather, always use a thick press cloth and test it out on some scrap leather first. Some leathers reeeeaaaally don't like heat or steam and you don't want to get to the end of a project before ruining it!

I then added a little zip pull tassel and we're ready for Hen Do cocktails!

A last minute fold-over clutch in magenta leather.