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!


And here begins the madness

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two ladies, two gifts, two days; and this is where it all starts. It might look a bit pro-ey but trust me, that’s now. After learning that I did not like taking out huge bolts of fabric and putting them back in place neatly. I have finally learned the value of swatches. I really shouldn’t be posting works in progress since these are supposed to be surprise gifts but I felt like such a slacker not having posted anything today, so there – not being a lazy cow, actually doing things. Now excuse me while I get back to business. See you on the other side.

Grocery bag . . . well, bag

February 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

I’m on the fence with this one. I like the concept of recycling plastic bags and I admire the patience of crocheting it to make it something else, but . . . I think it’s because it doesn’t really become something else? Just a better-looking bag? In any case, I still love the eco-friendly effort, even though the last thing I crocheted was a friend’s dreadlocks. Have a look over at and maybe we can come up with some other way to recycle grocery bags.

My mama’s flan

February 4, 2012 § 4 Comments

Today was crazy bag making day, slowly ticking off the items on my must-make list. I made this:


Modesty Fashion has the tute for this Anthropologie inspired bag on Cut Out and Keep. Then I also made the final version of the practice bag I made last week, adding oversized rivets this time.

While deciding what handle to make for this one, I’m taking a break to enjoy Number One on my long list of comfort foods: leche flan, the kind my mama used to make. When I was a kid, she’d make leche flan for very special occasions and upon my very persistent request. While I’ve learned to make it myself, it makes me miss home and family so much I avoid making it unless I’m seriously homesick – which for no apparent reason I am right now. So here’s my mama’s surefire recipe for joy:

1 can condensed milk (I used a 395g can)

1 condensed milk can of water

4 egg yolks

That’s it. Mix together till smooth, strain into a steamable container. Steam for about 15 minutes, let cool, refrigerate for an hour or two (or until you can’t control yourself any longer) and enjoy a little sweet taste of home.

Toby’s new pad

February 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

My friend gives names to inanimate objects. Just putting it out there. Toby is Meagan’s iPad. Originally I had just planned an update on the gadget organizer I made earlier but I came upon a beautiful piece of lace and an idea for a bag handle that I just couldn’t pass up. Besides, my last project was very butch, even for me, so it’s time for something pretty. Here’s what I used.

Check out the A Gift for Vida post for specs and how-to for the organizer. I just made a slight revision, after all we learn from our mistakes.

As I found out, felt doesn’t unravel. I didn’t need to hem in the seams (sheesh, noob). Also, pins can only pin so so much material together. Luckily I found these cutesy mini clothespins and they do the job pretty well. On to the carry-all.

Cut two pieces of fabric, 30 inches X 15 inches. I used cotton canvas for the outer fabric and a very lightweight cotton for the inner fabric. Since my main piece for the outer layer of the bag was this beautiful scrap of lace, I decided to leave that as it was and chose a grey, black, and white distressed rose print fabric for the inner one. You’ll have to cut a hole for the handles on top. I made mine 6 inches wide and 6 inches high. Sew in the seams of this “hole”. I kept my seams about a quarter inch wide. When that’s done, put the wrong sides of both fabrics together and sew the edges.

This was almost a disaster for me because I remembered to keep those seams I sewed earlier open at the last minute for the handles to go through.

Now for the pretty part. Let me introduce you to my new best friend.

Oh Satwa, is there nothing that can’t be found in you? I found out about fabric glue just a couple of days earlier and it was right there on the first shop I visited. It’s great for stuff you’d otherwise have a difficult time sewing on to your projects. I used it to cover up the rough edges of the lace with satin ribbon. You should leave it to dry for sometime so I took this as my cue to go to bed. And then I woke up to this:

Yay! Now only the handle/ribbon is left. Meagan has a tendency to hang her bags over her arm so I wanted the handle to be short enough to do that but still be adjustable in case she needed a longer handle for some reason. I cut a strip of medium weight cotton about 45 inches long and 1.5 inches wide and made a strap/ribbon type thing (yes, very technical indeed!). I originally thought of using a light cotton jersey but then I realized this thing had to be strong enough to handle (no pun intended) an iPad, wallet, mobile and various odds and ends that could most probably weight about a kilo or more.

Put this carefully through the holes you’ve made, tie the ends in a ribbon, and ta-dah!

Vewy pwetty and functional to boot! You know you’re on to something good when you can’t help but grin like an idiot as you work and really like what you are able to make. Have a happy weekend peeps! Me and my hem gauge are going to be quite busy churning out OriginaLees.

A (damned difficult) guitar case for Daniel

January 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

There’s something really scary about taking on a project no one has done a tutorial for before. You feel rudderless and completely clueless. But I had opened my big mouth and promised Daniel I’d make him a soft carry case for a guitar he received as a birthday gift so I had no choice but to do this one on my own . . . minus the guitar. Yes, my friend actually thought I could pull up dimensions from the net and make a case just like that. Well, apparently I can but not “just like that.” So let us begin with Pattern-making for dummies.

I got really cool fabric for this project and didn’t want to mess it up with my wonky measurement-taking so I resorted to making an actual pattern. You wouldn’t know it from my drawing now but I spent my high school summers in art classes. And while I never progressed much beyond a bowl of fruit (it was the summer I discovered boys), some skills stick to you. Like the importance of following grids. Here’s the fabric I was reluctant to cut willy-nilly:

Now, this project was intimidating, not only because I was doing it without a guide but also because of the amount of hardware involved.

Aside from calluses and random pin pricks on my arms and legs (this project was 17 inches wide and 42 inches long, it definitely landed on my lap quite a few times), this project also saw the demise of my favorite stitch ripper.

This happened while I was appropriating a pocket from an old bag I never used. On to the materials.

I used the skull-camo fabric for the outer layer, lightweight cotton canvas for the inner layer, lightweight batting and more lightweight interfacing. This case had to be soft and light enough for carrying and protecting the guitar while having a sort of frame/shape that would fit the guitar snugly. The dimensions of most guitars (according to the Internet) is 42 inches long, 16 inches wide and 5 inches deep. The length of the neck is about 18 inches, and at its narrowest point it’s about 6.5 inches. That’s all I had to work with as I put everything together. So I started with two sets of a  fabric-interfacing-batting-canvas combination. Make sure the right sides of the outer fabric and inner fabric are facing out (wrong sides facing  each other) before you sew it together.

Then I put the hardware on the front and back. This included a hand-carry handle, shoulder strap, and a pocket/pick/pen/music sheet holder.

I do this before putting everything together so I can hide my stitches, which can be straight or wonky, depending on my sewing machine and my mood 😀 And then came the fun part of pinning everything into shape.

Then I sewed the sides together with a 5-inch (well, actually 6 inches, adding the seam allowances) strip on the side, leaving about 20 inches for the zipper and another 10 inches for a velcro opening. This entire process, from pattern making to sewing all sides took me about 4 hours. I was feeling pretty good about myself and thought I would finish other projects in the same day. BUT NO. I had to deal with the pesky zipper and making sure my computations were correct for the placement of the velcro.

Yep, there’s me with second-best stitch ripper trying to stitch on the zipper straight. So naturally, all my lower stitches looked a bit weird and I decided to cheat with iron-on bias tape to hide the mess.

But finally, OH THANK GOD, finally, I was done. This was a really difficult (for me, the noob) project for me, but it was also the most fun. The only way to learn things is to actually do it. On this project I learned to make a rudimentary pattern (somewhat), make real measurements (such as the proper placement of the handles and shoulder straps), use bias tape, and best of all, how it is good to (sometimes) bite off more than you can chew, because only then can you actually stretch yourself and see what you can do.

Oh, I made something after all

January 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

I just realized this week wasn’t entirely lost. I did make a practice bag that turned out quite well (for me, anyway). I wanted to do this really pretty bag I saw on Designsponge but didn’t have eyelets, rivets and the leather strap. And no, I wasn’t just being lazy. I travelled an hour to THE craft store but they didn’t have   any of those. But I thought this was just a practice bag anyway and I didn’t have to do it exactly as shown. I really just wanted to learn how to hide my stitching by using lining.

So, no eyelets? Improvise and learn a new skill along the way.

I realized my sewing machine can make buttonholes! I have a good feeling these stitches are strong enough to handle a wallet, a book, keys, a mobile and a pack of cigarettes.

I also added a pocket inside, just for practice, and maybe for my keys and loose change too. Then I added straps.

I think it works. But just to be sure (because I plan to make a better version of this as a gift – yes, one of the 4 must-finish projects of the weekend), I’m going to take this baby out for a test run. Thankfully my shopping buddy is a nut about oversized bags so if this falls flat I’ll have somewhere to put my stuff in 😀 Happy weekend peoples!


Yes, it is made from extra fabric from my curtains and my first dress 😉

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