I have a question for you ladies. Are you at all interested in sewing crafts? I just purchased a sewing machine so I could start making my own dresses, but I am thinking maybe I should start off with a few sewing crafts. Heidi Staples contacted me to do a few sewing posts and I wanted to share the first one with you and see if any of you are interested in this type of DIY. I think her tutorials are creative and useful, and her directions seem easy to understand. But I have done almost zero sewing crafts so I wasn’t sure if you dolls are into this kind of thing. So let me know in the comments if this is something you would like have as a regular feature. Now lets welcome Heidi to The Glamorous Housewife:
My name is Heidi Staples, and normally you’ll find me sharing my latest sewing adventures over on my blog Fabric Mutt. I jumped into the online sewing community back in December of 2011 and haven’t looked back since. To me, this group embraces the best of all worlds, respecting traditional sewing of the past while constantly moving forward with modern patterns and contemporary fabrics. There’s a strong dose of vintage love in this community too, which I absolutely adore.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I were surprised with an impromptu date night sponsored by my parents, who were kind enough to buy our dinner and babysit our three little girls. About an hour before we needed to leave for our reservation, I grabbed some fabric and sewed myself a cute little clutch for the occasion. I decided to name this bag after one of my favorite characters from 1930’s Hollywood: Nora Charles of the classic Thin Man movies. Myrna Loy’s character brilliantly holds her own with her detective husband Nick Charles (played by William Powell), and she always manages to look absolutely gorgeous while doing it. There’s a great collection of photos from the movies here if you’d like to take a peek. The costumes alone are definitely worth a look.
This project is a perfect example of why I love to sew. It’s pretty, it’s useful, and it’s something I can sew together in less than an hour. The samples you see above are made with prints from two recent designer fabric collections (Rosette by Julia Horner which is only available here and Waterfront Park by Violet Craft which you can buy at many online shops including here), but you can just as easily substitute vintage fabric if you like. To make this project you’ll need:
- (1) 12″ zipper (a longer one will work if that’s what you have — you can always just trim it down)
- (2) 11 x 13″ pieces of fabric for the interior
- (2) 9 x 11″ pieces of fabric for the top part of the exterior
- (2) 4.5 x 11″ pieces of fabric for the bottom part of the exterior
- (4) 11 x 13″ pieces of fusible interfacing (You can find this at most craft stores like Joann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby. I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond for my clutch.)
- Coordinating thread
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing machine
- Clips ( I adore my Wonder Clips which you can buy here, but clothespins will do the trick.)
- Chop stick or turning tool
Note: You’ll use a quarter inch seam for all sewing in this project. Be sure to press your seams with your iron as you go along to keep everything neat!
Step 1: Make the exterior. Sew a 9 x 11″ piece to a 4.5 x 11″ piece of fabric along the 11″ side. Be careful if you’re using a directional fabric; keep in mind that the smaller piece is toward the bottom of your bag and that the top will be folded over. It’s pretty discouraging to put the time and materials into a project only to find out at the last minute that you sewed one of the pieces upside down. (Guess how I know this?)
Step 2: Fuse the interfacing to your interior and exterior pieces of fabric (follow the directions included with your interfacing for this step). Use something round — a cup, a bowl, the bottom of a handy pushpin container — to trace and cut out rounded edges on the bottom of all four pieces. Then find the seam that joins the two halves of each of your exterior pieces together and sew one line across it on the top half. This top stitching is just a nice detail for your bag.
Step 3: Install your zipper. Make a stack from bottom to top in this order: interior piece (right side up), zipper (right side up), exterior piece (right side down). Line them up along the top 11″ side of each fabric piece, centering the zipper along that edge as well, and clip them together. Sew the three layers together along that top edge, removing clips as you go and moving the zipper as needed so that you can keep a steady quarter inch seam. Fold the exterior and interior pieces back from the seam so that the wrong sides of the fabric are touching and carefully iron the fold, taking care not to melt your zipper! Stitch one line across the top by the zipper. This will look nice and also keep your lining from getting caught in the zipper when you open and close it. Now that you’re a pro at this, repeat step 3 on the other side of your zipper using the two remaining pieces of fabric.
Step 4: Sew the bag together. This step sounds odd, but looking at the picture above will help. Unzip your zipper at least halfway (you will be so sad later if you skip this step!). Fold the two exterior pieces together with the right sides touching, being careful to match up the seams that join the two halves, and pin them together. Do the same with the two interior pieces. You’re going to start sewing on the 11″ side of your interior pieces and go all the way around the rectangle, past the zipper, around the exterior pieces, past the other end of the zipper, and back until you get to that 11″ side of the interior pieces again. Be sure to leave at least a 6″ opening on the lining and backstitch before you start and after you stop. Trim all the way around the piece (including the zipper ends) leaving about 1/8″ of fabric outside the seam.
Step 5: Finish your clutch. This is the scary part when it seems for one moment like you’re completely destroying your little bag, but don’t worry, it’s all going to work out okay! Carefully reach in between that 6″ gap all the way back through your open zipper to the exterior part of the bag and slowly turn it right side out. Use your fingers and then a chop stick to press the corners and the edges of your zipper out all the way. Grab that iron and start pressing — steam is your friend here! Once you have the bag and interior nice and flat, tuck the edges of the 6″ opening back inside the lining and stitch a line just along the edge to seal it closed, backstitching at both ends. Tuck your lining down inside the bag where it belongs, zip it closed, and press again. Fold the top of the bag down about 3.5″ and carefully press the fold.
Toss in your wallet and phone, and you’re ready for a night on the town!
So many thanks to Bethany for letting me share this tutorial for the Nora Clutch. If you have any questions or would like to see more tutorials and projects, feel free to visit me at Fabric Mutt any time!
Heidi Staples spent nine years as a fifth grade teacher and one as a school administrator before becoming a full time mom in 2009. Two years of changing diapers and chasing little girls around the house convinced her that she needed a hobby, and in the fall of 2011, she sewed her first quilt. It quickly led to a full blown fabric addiction and an ongoing parade of handmade projects. Heidi lives with her husband, three daughters, two parents, and three neurotic dogs in sunny Southern California. You can follow along with her sewing misadventures on her blog Fabric Mutt at http://www.fabricmutt.