Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

While waiting for the Times Square Ball to drop on TV, I finished making a clutch bag for my wife.

The bag is made of sturdy upholstery fabric and an iPad fits nicely.  The pattern is New Look 6080.  After I finished the bag, I realized I hadn't taken pictures of how to make it.  There is one step in the pattern that defied my imagination, and I spent some time on the step until I got it.  Duh.

Today, I made another bag out of vinyl in two colors.  The twisting and turning almost destroyed the bag, so I'll pass along some tips.  I used magnetic bag snaps for a closure as recommended by the pattern,

They are simple to line up over the dots indicated on the pattern.  I used a Exacto knife to cut two small slits to insert the snaps and then open the feet up to secure the snaps to the fabric.

The pattern calls for placing RS together, and sewing 5/8" from the bottom edge towards the center, leaving enough for your hand.  The mystery begins at this point.

The pattern then calls for folding over so the rights sides meet at the fold line.  Sure.  First, fold up the RS at the stitch line just completed.  Fabric would be pressed here along the stitch line.  I used a wood block for the vinyl to crease it.

THEN you fold the flaps down so the RS meets.  The fold line is 8" from the stitch line.

I've offset the two flaps a little so you can see, but you would line these up and stitch entirely around the edge EXCEPT the bottom, where you can insert your hand.

Remember that first stitch line with enough space to insert your hand?  It's now deep inside.  Slip your hand through the space between the stitch lines and pinch the point of the flap as best you can.  Pull the point through to the outside.  As a kid, I would make paper hats like this.  At first, when the point appears, one wonders what is going on.. but keep pulling patiently.

When it pulls completely inside out (RS out), you will see an almost completed clutch bag. 

I had a lot of trouble sewing the vinyl.

The final bag pictured is really the second vinyl bag.  The pattern calls for slip stitching the opening closed where you hand pulls through the flap point.  I didn't think I had the strength to hand sew the layers of vinyl, so I tried to use my Pfaff because it has a free arm.  While the needle punched through, I just couldn't put enough thread tension for the bobbin side loop to pull tight and it made a mess.  I used my commercial Singer, but it was also dicey,  I tried to edge stitch the flap so it wouldn't bubble, but the feed dog chewed up the vinyl and it made another mess.  I cut out my magnetic snaps and made a whole new bag.

There are some tricks for me to learn with vinyl.  On the first bag, my first stitch lines pulled right through the material when I pulled the flap point through.  On the second bag, I sewed a reinforcing square of cotton.  It helped, but wasn't fool proof.  I also graded the seam edges around the points to help make a crisp point.  It helped, but wasn't fool proof either.

The pattern is very simple to cut.  The sewing isn't difficult with woven fabric.  The result is pleasing for its simple look.  You might add a decorative button to the outside flap just over the magnetic clasp inside.

Happy New Year!


  1. i bought vinyl zippered bags from magellan travel and discovered they had bound their seams with cotton binding. the bags work GREAT for meds, etc., so i have vinyl awaiting construction. your experience will help me but i'm going simple and zippered at the top with no flap. vinyl is a whole new world. another mfg used gussets, bound seams with vinyl and zippered with no flap. these are very utilitarian bags, of course.

    1. I've been meaning to do a zippered vinyl bag. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. Tom, you are a brave one!! I learned long ago to stay away from vinyl, no matter the quality or thickness. The only project I had somewhat success with was a vinyl sleeve to protect my slide rule in college ....... am I dating myself with that bit of trivia? I still have it and the vinyl is still supple like new.

    Of course, now I'm weaving my own cloth to sew and that is presenting a whole new challenge for my sewing skills.

    Best wishes for many successful sewing projects in the New Year!