Project: Handbag

Sew Tunes:  Sea Wolf (Pandora Station)

Pattern: Amy Butler’s In Stitches

Fabric Used: 100% Cotton (Canvas) for the Exterior and Broadcloth for the Interior

New to Me: During this experiment, I have already tackled a handbag, but not a clutch. I’m a newbie at using Peltex, and creating embellishments too!

Trips to Store: 2. Once to buy the fabric, then to buy the Peltex.

Loved One: Tania, the craziest Canadian I know. She is so full of life (can you tell from the picture?), it’s contagious. And I am thankful she is in my life.

Day by Day…

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Amy Butler quite yet. Since I had so much fun with her fabric last week, I thought I would pull out a gift from my friend Jared from a few years back – Amy Butler’s In Stitches, which includes “more than 25 simple and stylish sewing projects.”

As I was flipping through the book, I came across a handbag. It was so clutch…and it reminded me of Tania. Tania hearts lip gloss, so this clutch will be perfect for carrying her gloss on nights out.

Fabric. I knew I wanted to work with a floral design. When I went to the fabric store for the THIRD time for last week’s project, I saw this fabric in the home decor aisle. Score.

On the selvage it reads “Mill Creek Fabrics” and has “SCREEN PRINT” with an arrow. This is the first that I have seen an arrow on the selvage. I am assuming that the arrow indicates the direction of the design.

I looked online for “Mill Creek Fabrics” to learn a bit more about the fabric and found a site for Swavelle/Mill Creek. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate this fabric on the site. Bummer. I would have liked to learn more.

Tuesday, September 27:

Step 1: Cut out the pattern. The pattern pieces are included at the front of Amy Butler’s book and look like this:

Note: The above image has three pattern pieces from another project in Amy Butler’s book.

There are three pattern pieces total (me likey!).  As I cut each pattern piece out, I studied them, as in I determined which pieces needed to be cut from the floral fabric, the liner fabric, the batting, and the Timtex. For those who have never heard of Timtex, like me, it is a:

“100% polyester for consistent thickness and texture. Firm yet flexible interfacing, it is perfect for shaping into purses, bowls and other three-dimensional craft projects.”

I need to make another run to the store to pick up some. I don’t want to substitute for a heavy weight interfacing from Pellon, a brand I have been using. I want to stay as true to the pattern and its directions as possible.


I am back from the store, and guess what? I came back with Pellon. I could not find Timtex, so I instead grabbed Pellon’s Peltex Double-sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer. Since there is “tex” in the name, maybe they are similar products?

Onto cutting all pieces from the fabric:

  • Cut from the exterior fabric: main exterior panel (cut two on the fold) and the tab closure (cut once since the fabric is folded with selvages together; yields two pieces). Note: although there is not a pattern piece, I needed to cut 4″ x 38″ strip for the flower embellishment as well.
  • Cut from the fabric for the lining: lining panel (cut two on the fold) and the divider panel (cut two on the fold). With the divider panel, I cut along the fold line that is on the top of the pattern piece.

  • Cut from the batting: main exterior panel (cut four on the fold) and the tab closure (cut once since the batting is folded; yields two pieces)
  • Cut from the Peltex: divider panel (cut once on the fold). Grrrr. The rounded edge of the pattern was tucked in when cutting so the Peltex divider panel will not match the lining. Going to work around it. 

Done for the day. There are 8 steps total for this project. I am going to tackle two a day to avoid a sitch like last week.

Wednesday, September 28:

Step 2 is to apply the batting to the wrong sides of the main exterior panels and the tab closures, but I want to apply the Velcro (step 3) first to avoid stitching through layers of batting. I am thinking this will result in a cleaner stitch line…and it did. By the way, I didn’t know there were male and female parts of Velcro. Per the FAQ on Velcro’s site:

“The rough side is called hook – it’s also referred to as the male or hard or prickly side.  Its mate is called loop – also known as pile or the soft or plush or fuzzy or female side.”

The male was placed on the main panel, the female on the closure. The directions gave very specific instructions in terms of placement of the Velcro on both pieces.

Now it’s time to attach the batting. I basted two cuts of the batting to the wrong sides of both main exterior panels. The seam allowance is 3/8″. After basting, I cut the batting close to the basting stitch “to reduce bulk at the seam.” That Amy Butler. She’s so smart.

Today’s work:

Thursday, September 29:

Tonight, I am going to make and attach the tab closure and stitch the front and back panels together.

Tab closure: With right sides together, I stitched the two closure pieces on the side and bottom (1/2″), leaving the top raw edge un-stitched. I then basted the top edge. After, I topstitched 1″ down from the top raw edge, and then again 1.5″ in. I had to adjust the needle placement. My machine’s markings only go to 3/4″ on the “feed system.” I then topstitched the sides and the bottom. Patting myself on the back:

And I am excited about the large flower on the closure. That’s intentional.

With right sides together, I stitched the front and back main panels together. I’ve become one with the machine over the last 13 weeks, and it was not happy stitching through six layers – four layers of batting and two of the floral material. Plus, the batting kept getting caught on the presser foot. But I was able to do it. Phew.

It’s time for some zzzz’s.

Saturday, October 1:

Today, I am going to work on the divider panel, and then the interior lining. Hopefully I will get to the point where I am attaching the interior lining to the exterior.

Coming back to the Peltex. Amy Butler instructs you to machine baste the interfacing to the divider panel by stitching. The Peltex instructions say to baste by ironing. I am going to do as Amy Butler says, and machine baste. The reason why is that I think the top edge of the divider will appear more finished .

Once basted, I flipped the panels so the right sides were showing. This is when I ironed the “sandwiched” Peltex (between the two divider pieces) and then ironed it, using a damp cloth to set the interfacing. I then removed the basting stitch from the top. And then the directions called for topstitching across the top finished edge. But is it really topstitching when you will be able to see both sides of the divider?

I was a little intimidated by the Peltex, all for no reason.

I then sandwiched the divider in between the interior lining, and stitched.

After, I placed the lining (with the divider) and the exterior panels together, with right sides facing.

This was a bit awkward with the machine. There was a lot of maneuvering to be done.

I flipped right side out, but the divider in the lining gave me some issues. It may be because the Peltex didn’t run the entire length of the divider (user error). If it had, it probably would have tucked into the corners better. Flashback to Tuesday:

Monday, October 3:

It’s time for the finishing touch – the embellishment. I folded the 4″ x 38″ strip of fabric lengthwise and ironed. I then formed a triangle at each end, and basted. I gathered the strip to 18″, then rolled. It took shape. And this makes me happy.

I have to hot glue the embellishment to the clutch. I don’t have a hot glue gun, though. WWMD (what would Martha do)? So I pinned it in place for this photo opp:

Tania, it will be in the mail soon. xo.

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • This project calls for a lot of batting, which I have from week one’s baby blanket project.
  • I see more clutches in my future, since I really enjoyed this project. Think remnant pieces from the Moroccan-inspired fabric from week eight’s project or Amy Butler’s “Ritzy Stripe” from last week.
  • The Velcro pieces on both the exterior panel and the tab closure matched perfectly.

Not Sew Happy:

  • I could have had more fun with the thread color. I used cream (a.k.a. plain vanilla).
  • The rounded edge of the pattern was tucked in when cutting the Peltex piece (for the divider) so the interfacing does not exactly match the fabric pieces. Rookie mistake.
  • I may need different batting for future projects. At the project’s end, the clutch had a lot of puff. Next time, I’ll attempt the clutch using one piece of batting, instead of two, per exterior panel.

Helpful Hints (to self)

  • Next time (and there will be a next time), I am going to do a solid color for the tab closure. That will add some pop, or should I say pow. And additional pow: solid color flower embellishment.