Simplified DIY clutch bag tutorial (foldover style optional)

Per your requests, here are the steps I took to make the clutch from this post. Please note that I made a very simple version, so the end product is not lined (I plan on adding lining later, but keep the contents in a large ziploc baggie for now) and is not professional quality.

– Material for the clutch (leather, faux leather, cotton, canvas, etc). Determine what size clutch you want and add approximately 0.5″ to each side for the seam allowance. You will need either two pieces of material that size, or one long piece. If you want a foldover style clutch, make sure add extra length to the height for folding down. In this tutorial, I am using a 12″ x 20″ piece of material which yielded an 11″ x 7″ clutch when folded.

A note on materials – I ordered the cheetah print hair on leather from here (requested a custom size). It was listed as 1.3 mm thick, however my measurements indicated at least 2 mm thick, which I feel is too much for a standard machine needle to handle. For my red clutch shown here, I ordered “ostritch” embossed leather from the same store. That material was accurately listed at 1.2 mm thick, and was fairly easy to work with using my machine.

A sturdy zipper. Try to find one that is the same width of your material. I got a 12″ metal zipper also via eBay.

I decided to do a “fully exposed” zipper and attach it to the outer of the material, because the leather was too stiff to bend using the proper method. Of course you can add a strip of thinner material to connect the two like many professional clutches, but I decided that this shortcut didn’t look half bad.

Step 1. Pin one edge of the zipper to the outer of your clutch material. From the backside, make sure the leather edge won’t interfere with the zipper pull. You can test the zipper after you finish pinning along where the stitches will be.
2. Stitch along the pinned line. Make sure to back-stitch at the beginning and the end to secure the stitches. Don’t forget to remove the pins as your needle approaches!
As this leather was 2mm thick and I only had a standard duty needle, I hand-turned the sewing machine wheel to not risk breaking my needle. I believe you can do this with the machine turned off. I am a very bad hand-sewer, so I opted for this method to get evenly-spaced stitches (as shown in the photo, I had to switch my “foot” because the standard one interfered with the metal zipper).  If you are sewing by hand, maybe use a thimble to assist with getting the needle through thicker materials.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the other half of the zipper. leopardclutch5
3. Turn the material inside-out and mark lines for the side seams. Stitch along the marked lines, and back-stitch once or twice at the edges for durability. If you started with two pieces of material instead of one long one, you’ll need to stitch together the bottom as well.
Closeup – stitch the side seams all the way to the edge of the zipper, making sure not to hit any metal parts and break your needle. I opened up the zipper a little bit before “sealing” the last of the three edges.
4. Snip the bottom corners (may not be necessary for thin materials or fabrics). Get fairly close to your stitched line without cutting any of the stitches. For corners on thicker/stiffer materials, this helps keep the corner sharp after it is turned rightside-out.
5. Open up the zipper and turn the entire bag rightside-out. For stiffer materials, press firmly down on the edges to flatten them, and use a small, sharp tool (ie. pen, pointy chopstick) to help poke out the corners. For fabric, use an iron.

All done! After making this, I found a very thorough tutorial for a DIY fabric clutch/pouch with lining (just skip the felt padding if you’re using thicker materials) and zipper here. I suggest practicing first using fabric, canvas, or another thinner material before moving on to leather.

Readers – Please share any other tutorials for bags or your own DIY tips! And if any of you end up trying this, I would love to see a photo via Facebook or Twitter!

39 thoughts on “Simplified DIY clutch bag tutorial (foldover style optional)

  • Reply bella March 10, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply Victoria March 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    This is so cute! I must invest in a sewing machine!!

  • Reply Elizabeth Exposito March 11, 2013 at 12:04 am

    LOVE this tutorial! Very simple, yet so informative! Love your blog.



  • Reply Chiara March 11, 2013 at 12:14 am

    This is wonderful! What size leather did you use for your red ostrich clutch?

  • Reply Celia March 11, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Love this clutch, Jean! I made one myself after seeing your first post about it. I was wondering how you keep the shape of the clutch rectangular once it's finished? Did you line it with something stiff inside?

    Thanks for being such a great inspiration. 🙂

  • Reply Jen March 11, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Love the calf hair material you chose for your clutch. So chic! Can't wait to see how you wear it and thanks for the easy to follow tutorial as usual!

    Have a great week Jean 🙂

  • Reply SewPetiteGal March 11, 2013 at 1:44 am

    So crazy cute – thanks for doing the tutorial! I typically take my pins out far before the needle hits, but usually pin horizontally to the item in case I do roll over one. Not sure if that makes your pinning easier? I think my klutzy brain looks at your picture and automatically imagines getting pricked in the finger. Might also be easier sewing right side of zipper to right side of material to hide the zipper edge? I don't think it matters in this case because it looks fine the way it is, but if you had a longer zipper, it'd be easier to tuck and hide the tails that way. 🙂

  • Reply Carla Krae March 11, 2013 at 2:58 am

    I've seen purse forms at fabric stores before, so if someone wants a structured purse, you can use these to attach material to.

  • Reply Kimberly March 11, 2013 at 5:00 am

    This is amazing – with your tips, I think this is one DIY I might actually attempt…love it!

  • Reply Rachelle March 11, 2013 at 5:43 am

    I've been wanting to do this, great tutorial. Thank you.


  • Reply KDot March 11, 2013 at 6:13 am

    The Ann Taylor sale is for the US only but I am excited to see international shipping. It's a start.

  • Reply Cher March 11, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Thanks for the link, Jean! I've been meaning to make my own foldover clutch, but I just hadn't come across the right material. This looks perfect!

  • Reply Kitch March 11, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Wow…great post Jean. If I could do this I would have dozens of clutches now 🙂 I always envy you and S' great sewing ability. The clutch looks very chic btw.

  • Reply lisacng @ March 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Love both your clutches! I feel so intimidated by zippers so thank you for showing me they're ok :). Also, thanks for the links to the materials. I trust your judgement of the materials. And also the link to the other tutorial for a lined clutch.

  • Reply Christie March 11, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I love this DIY tutorial on the clutch. I have once saw an oversized clutched made the same way and I can't wait to pick up some materials for this! Thank you for sharing! Your blog is wonderful.



  • Reply QueenLina March 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    wow!!!!!! That's great! :*

  • Reply Anonymous March 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    So clever! Thanks for sharing with your readers how you make your magic! Inspired by your DIY and tailoring projects, I'm currently learning how to sew.

  • Reply tasha March 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    thank you for making a step by step on how to make this. I will be trying my hand at this

  • Reply Kholá March 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I wish I was disciplined enough to do a DIY. I actually may try this one. Thanks for the how-to 😉

  • Reply lin March 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    great DIY and tutorial. thanks for sharing. 😉

  • Reply Jessy March 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Totally saving this, Jean! Thank you <3

  • Reply Franziska March 11, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I'll add another " Thank you!" to the pile. I'm borrowing my mom's sewing machine in April so I'm excited to try this out. Also that skirt tutorial in the works 🙂

  • Reply Love Style March 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    thanks for the tutorial! i can't wait to make one. i've been wanting to get a fold-over clutch and now i can just make one!


  • Reply Suzie Q March 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Great tutorial! This looks like a fun DIY project, thanks for the detailed tutorial!

    Suzie Q

  • Reply Joy March 12, 2013 at 1:09 am

    this looks fun! cute clutch! thanks for sharing. I definitely need to take a sewing class…or buy sewing for dummies or something.

  • Reply sarah March 12, 2013 at 3:48 am

    WOW. This is really amazing!! I might have to break out my mom's old sewing machine from the 80's! I'm loving the calf hair too, super adorable.

    <3 sarah

  • Reply pretty little things March 12, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I love this idea — the clutch looks great! xo

  • Reply FashionEdible March 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Great tutorial! Nice budget-friendly way for people to be able to sport the trend!
    FashionEdible Blog

  • Reply Nala T March 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm
  • Reply Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Love your blog!

    did you know someone is using your image to sell the Ann Taylor vintage lace dress on Ebay? It would freak me out if someone did that to me, so wanted to let you know!

  • Reply Anonymous March 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Lol, I bought sewing for dummies AND signed up for a sewing course!

  • Reply casper+pearl March 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

    gorgeous style, adoring your blog miss!
    would love to see you in casper&pearl; one day!

    lots of love from the c&p; girls,
    casper&pearl; blog

  • Reply Jackie March 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Omgosh! I've been after one of those but I can never find the right one! This looks so easy! Thank you, Jean! Now I'm gonna make my own 🙂

  • Reply Kelly D. March 17, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Jean you are a genius! I purchased the leather from the same ebay store and just finished making my own clutch! I added a striped lining and it looks great. Thank you so much for your tutorial and amazing links. Similar Clare Vivier cheetah leather clutches retail for $198, ouch! Mine was made for under $40!

  • Reply Janki April 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Hi there! I'm so happy Lent is over and I can go back to reading your blog! (I gave that all up for the season and now am restricting myself to once a day for blogs and FB).
    I have to say that I really love the turn your blog has taken to DIY, tailoring, and fit. I have been practicing on my sewing machine and am starting to make simple alterations on my clothes. Oddly enough, during my blog break I ended up making lined zippered pouches too.
    So many blogs are about insane consumerism… buying multiples of one look, "coveting" items, etc. Not all of us are binging on purchases. Your blog is showing me how to make the items *I* have work for my body and understanding why some items weren't working.
    My next project is a cross body bag, inspired by your coach purchase (will be fabric, not quite ready to sew leather)

  • Reply Cathlea Mahardiestya April 4, 2013 at 5:34 am

    LOVE IT!

  • Reply Heather Hightower June 16, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Loving this DIY…can't wait to try it….slowly getting my mojo back into handbag making.

    Heelz Stay High

  • Reply sharon kang April 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Awsome! !! Where did you purchased the fabric??

  • Reply Sheena Martin July 8, 2015 at 12:11 am

    This short article posted only at the web site is truly good.7 Mil Butterfly Pouch

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