One foldover clutch two ways

February 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Hello! It’s been a crazy week at work and an even crazier one in my sweatshop. Surprisingly enough, I did manage to finish everything on deadline in both “jobs” (just please don’t drop by unannounced because my house looks like a tornado just went through it) and now I can post this week’s finish.

For someone whose bag over the years has been a shapeless oversized carry-all, I am turning out to be quite the bag lady. (Excuse me if you catch me oggling your bag on the train or bus. I am not planning to steal it, I swear. Oh okay, at least just the design :D) I’ve been obsessed with how foldover bags are constructed, so this week’s challenge was to finally make one – actually, two. But because I am me, the best motivations are the challenge of a tight deadline, a schedule waaaaay past my bedtime, and making it special enough to give as a gift.

I like the Lee who crafts. She’s a planner, highly methodical, has a good case of OCD and likes to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I wish she stayed around for the mundane stuff, like house chores. But she’s very choosy about what she does, so I’ll leave her alone to do what she does best: making things.

First, choose your materials. I did a Peter Jackson here and did two bags at one time. Same lining material, different outer fabric and embellishments. One would be black with white lace, the other a spiral blue and purple print. Once you’ve chosen your outer fabric and lining material, cut two pieces each to 12 inches x 18 inches. Your final clutch size will be a bit large and envelope shaped, so you might want to adjust the sizes according to your preferences. Just be sure you have enough length to fold the bag over once finished.

I was very caught up making these bags that I didn’t take as many pics as I usually do for a step-by-step but I think you’ll get the idea. If not, here’s the basic foldover bag tutorial from Noodlehead. Pictured is one of the linings. I used a very flimsy sateen fabric for the lining and lightweight cotton for the outer fabric but I wanted the clutch to hold its shape well, so I used some interfacing. That’s the white stuff you see there over the red lining. I also learned to add a zippered pocket to lining this week from the lovely Lisa Lam, so these bags should be quite functional, with room for coins, keys and mobiles. I finished both linings first and set them aside. Now for the outer bags.

The bags themselves will probably take you about 2 hours to make, tops. What bogged me down was the embellishments. Did I mention that Crafty Lee is astonishingly patient? The lace on the black bag was just the beginning. I wanted to use Modge Podge (which for glue, I found out, is quite expensive at AED 56 a 236 ml bottle) but I experimented on this beforehand and found out I didn’t quite like the finish, so it was back to trusty fabric glue. You can even sew this on, but I didn’t want to risk my machine having another tantrum because of me mixing the wrong materials together.

Now for the other one. I originally planned for the blue bag to have a huge floppy, sparkly bow as its centrepiece.

Yep, there’s me putting on the sparklies one by one using fabric glue and nifty pliers. Yes, there’s an applicator that makes life much easier for noobs like me. But at AED 160 (about $35-$40), it didn’t feel too crafty for a tool I would use very rarely. But that’s not the funny part. I set it out to dry and went to bed, woke up in the morning and decided I didn’t like how it looked. So on to something different.

You could get the tutorial for the fabric flowers at My Sparkle. Shireen, the very supportive guinea pig for the black clutch, told me I needed to figure out my costings now so I could start putting a price to these things. But you now see my dilemma. It’s not a matter of wasting materials and time, it’s about getting it right and being happy with the results for me at this point. We’ll figure out the practical matters once OriginaLee is ready to open its doors 🙂

My newfound sparkle fetish satisfied, now it’s all business.

Sew the outer fabric and lining together. Once you’ve done the whole turning the bag inside out routine, you’ll want to iron the edges so they’re crisp and straight. Take note of the side where the zippered pouch is on. I wanted that side to be against the body when my giftee’s clutching the clutch, so you’ll know which side to foldover and iron.

For the black one I had to put on the lace embellishment before sewing it together. For this one, since the flowers would obviously make ironing the bag difficult, the detailing came later. Whenever you decide to put on your embellishments, at this point you’re about done.

I know a lint remover is invaluable in making sure your projects end up nice and neat. But my inner cheapo just couldn’t stand the idea of spending for something that’s not an actual tool, material, or has more than one use. So I McGyver-ed a lint remover using 3M tape and four oddly shaped fingers. Works perfectly well. Just make sure you don’t use tape with a sticky kind of adhesive, then you’ll be adding extra embellishments to your stuff that you didn’t plan for or want.

Finally . . .

I love it! I think I’m actually jealous and should make one of these for myself 🙂 Happy weekend, mah peeps!


Where broken needles are laid to rest

February 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

In everything you do, you have to be able to rely on the equipment you use to do what you do well. As you go along, some tools become trusted friends, the ones you always take out of the box because you know they will do the job. There’s nothing more devastating than breaking a needle (aside from the crazy-ass sound the sewing machine makes as if it’s about to explode in your face) and I never know whether to throw it away or put it up on a memorial and write “You saw me through very tough canvas”. This past month saw the gruesome (and very unjust) decapitation of my stitch ripper, the death of three no.14 needles, and the fatal injuring of numerous pins. I was very happy, then, to catch some Craft Gossip and learn from Susan Elliot that those crazy-lovely Japanese have a festival coming up in honor of broken needles and other craftsman’s tools. And it’s happening soon! Read more about Hari-Kuyo here.

Excuse me while I pat my back

January 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Every time I put together something from IKEA I feel very empowered and more than a little butch. For those of you who haven’t seen me, I am 5’2″and all of 50kg. Lugging around a 100cm X 60cm board makes me feel like a lumberjack. I know I should be sewing right now, but I can’t help but just sit back for a minute and admire how my crafting corner is now starting to take exactly the shape I want it to. I’ll just got pop open a beer and count my chest hairs while I’m at it.

Crafting resolutions

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night a slightly disinterested tertiary friend asked me how long I thought this new sewing/crafting obsession would last. Which made me realize I’ve never really had a “hobby” before, just interests that take up a lot of my time for a few weeks and then get relegated to the “Will do again sometime” bin.

So let’s breakdown the facts. 1. I have a sewing machine I love and hate being away from for longer than a day. 2. I’ve made quite an effort and investment in gathering up supplies, tools and looking for the best deals on fabric and notions. 3. If a certified lazy couch potato like me would actually make the effort to plan out projects and complete them, not to mention commute to literally the other side of town to get materials for them, I think we can be sure we’ve got a winner here.

So, I’ve made myself a few promises. 1. I will never miss a Made by you Monday on Skip to My Lou or Talent Tuesday from Vintage Wannabe ever again. I know these are just venues for sharing projects and not real challenges, but I’m hoping to get into the habit of doing at least one project a week that I am proud enough of to share with everyone. And then we’ll take on the challenges. And 2. Find balance in everything. I wasn’t able to sew last weekend because I had a non-sewing related project to do. The weekend before that, I didn’t meet up with friends because I was caught up in a sewing project. I have to find the right mix in my week so that I don’t neglect any aspect of my life even while I enjoy the benefits of one.

Crossing fingers here that when I see this post next year it won’t be while cringing in shame 🙂


Thread Catcher

January 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s one of those ideas so simple you just slap your forehead and say D’oh! Every single day I have to check myself before stepping out the door in case I’ve got some stray threads hanging on me (there are a few 95% of the time, and 100% in a contrasting color that makes them glaringly obvious on whatever I’m wearing). So here’s a simple solution that also solves my gallivanting pin cushion problem. Love it! And the lovely, lovely people at Merriment Design have very helpfully left a tute for it here.

The search for the perfect crafting corner continues

January 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

 In my head my crafting/cutting/sewing station already looks like this. But considering that I still haven’t made up my mind where in the house this corner will be, this is a huge case of wishful thinking. Withinaquarterinch will tell you how collecting materials for your crafts could quickly go out of hand and before you know it, it’s taken over your entire house. At the moment, my minimalist plans (hah! when you’ve got a zero budget for interior design, everyone’s a minimalist) have gone out the window, replaced by this chaotic mix of fabric, batting, thread, sewing notions, and-half finished projects that is now my living room. But I have to plan my organization methods carefully since I have limited space and even more limited finances. In the meantime, I’ll keep gawking at how other people have gotten around this.

News to me

January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been sick since the holidays and the bug has not quite left me yet. The one good thing about it has been realizing that I hate being sick and I’d rather do things than lay back and be sick. So here are just a few things I’ve learned in my “idle” time:

Sewing on a zipper and following a pattern

Interfacing and the value of keeping a flat iron within arm’s reach while sewing

How to make a zipped pouch and making my future wallets more awesome

And lastly, how sewing is a little like engineering, you have to know the strength of your materials and which ones go together and which ones just don’t work. I broke my first sewing machine needle trying to sew four pieces of interfaced canvas together 😀 Also, why it’s important to have extras in store in case your experimentation doesn’t quite work out.


It’s tutorial day! Watch this space 🙂

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