Sunday, 31 March 2013

Made: The Wedding Clutch

As I've mentioned several times, I'm making my outfit for a wedding in the summer. The easiest part of doing this was supposed to be making the bag I was going to take. I decided to use the Everything Wristlet pattern by Amy Butler from her Style Stitches book, although in the end really the only part of it I used was the general idea and the flap pattern piece. I'm really torn about this bag. I kind of like it, I think, but it did not live up to the image I'd developed in my mind of how this bag would look and feel. I wonder if maybe I'll come to like it more as I get a little distance from the actual making of it. Fortunately, the wedding is not for another couple of months so I have time to reconcile myself to it.

My new bag with (one of) the pair of shoes I bought to go with it -- these are not actually the wedding shoes
The actual Amy Butler pattern has three features that mine is missing: she sews an edge into the base of the bag, which I omitted not because of anything sensible but because I was so worried about sewing the leather I decided against it; inside the original bag pattern were three inner pockets -- one built into the lining that I left off because I quilted the lining, and two "card holder" pockets that you're supposed to insert into the bag as hanging central dividers (sewing them into the side seams) that I left off because (a) having them in massively reduced the functionality of the bag, and (b) my fabric choices made them impractical. Finally, the original pattern was supposed to have a wristlet strap, but I didn't like how it looked and left it off.

Front view of bag
I made my clutch from the most expensive fabrics I have ever bought. The turquoise body is made of a piece of dyed pigskin leather. It has a lovely furry, suede-y feel to it but it was insanely expensive. I paid £15 inc. p&p on eBay for a small piece and used about half of it.

The flap and the interior is 100% silk dupion. It was £15/m on eBay and I used a little more than half of it. That price also doesn't cover the fact it took two tries to get a decent colour match to the other pair of shoes I bought, and so I also have a second, fortunately less expensive, pieces of blue silk left over from making this bag.

I like silk dupion because it has a pleasingly slubbed, imperfect look about it. However, there's no denying that it's far too thin for bag making purposes. In order to make the bag stand up to any kind of wear I ended up quilting the flap and lining with a layer of black quilt batting. The flap has so many layers -- silk, batting, muslin backing so I could draw on my quilting pattern, then two layers of interfacing: sew-in heavy weight, fused to fusible ultra heavy weight (a cheap alternative to Peltex) and then another layer of muslin and finally the lining, which was the same silk.

Inside the bag
The lining of the main body of the bag is also quilted, and there's a layer of the heavy-weight-fused-to-ultra-heavy-weight interfacing used like sew-in interlining with the suede body of the bag. It gives it some shape, but even though there's a pleasing amount of bulk to the bag between the quilted lining and the interfacing, it's still not quite as rigid as I might have liked. I think the only way to have achieved that was to use a heavier leather product to begin with, but then I doubt my machine would have sewed through it. At any rate, when it's filled with the necessary items of wedding attendance it will probably not be so annoying that it's more squashy than I wanted.

Pattern illustration
All of the illustrations of the original pattern show these bags with some kind of brooch attached to the bag in the rounded section of the flap. I bought the brooch I've used from an eBay seller in China for £3.50. It took almost 5 weeks to be delivered, but it's hard to beat that kind of price for exactly the brooch I wanted. I also used a regular gold magnetic snap, which isn't really worth talking about.

Overall, when you figure in the costs of all the extra bits (interfacing, the magnetic snap, the batting, thread, etc) this bag probably cost £25, which is kind of a lot for a home-made bag. My original inspiration for making a two tone bag was a bag I found on Polyvore that originally retailed for around £26. However, that bag was made of plastic, not leather and silk, and it didn't have the brooch attached. Once you start looking online for actual leather and/or silk clutches it's hard to find anything for under £80-100. This is back to that discussion I posted the other week: what's the fair comparison for things I make? I would never in a million years buy an £80+ bag for a wedding but I might have bought the plastic one for £25. By making the bag, I paid the same as I would have for a plastic bag but with the quality materials that would have gone into a bag three times the price.

It didn't take me long at all to make because this is one of the most basic styles imaginable, really. The most time consuming thing was drawing out the quilting pattern and then quilting the flap and lining pieces. If I had done the card holder inserts as the pattern suggested that would have added more time, but I really can't see the point of them in this bag given what I am planning to use it for. To be honest, a few hours of mostly enjoyable work to make this bag is no real concern to me when I contemplate how long it would have taken me to find a bag to buy that I liked in the right colours -- if I had ever found one!

I am kind of talking myself into liking this bag more and more, and it's hard to remember why I was so unhappy with it last night when I finished it!


  1. I hope you do end up loving your hand made bag. It looks so stylish!

  2. That's beauuuuuuuuuuutiful! Love it so much! - Liz