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My Second Date with a Sewing Machine

Not wanting to forget everything I’d learned in my pillow making class, I borrowed a friend’s sewing machine over the weekend and dived right into my second I-made-this!-with-a-sewing-machine! project. I cursed, I almost cried, and I pricked my finger more than a few times – but 3 hours (yes, really) and a few YouTube videos later, I made this fold over clutch, inspired by Liz at Say Yes to Hoboken:

Maybe it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing (this is likely the case), but Liz’s tutorial measurements weren’t matching up in my head – she used a 16″ zipper, but cut her pieces to 12″x13.” I think she had to have used a smaller zipper to use such small fabric measurements (right? But then again, what do I know?), but because I couldn’t wrap my head around those numbers, I made up my own measurements based on what I learned in Tuesday’s sewing class. (On a side note, Liz’s clutch is perfection, so I’m thinking my math is just off somewhere.)

First things first: A tutorial this is not, but I will tell you that I used a 14″ zipper, and I cut my pieces to 16″x17.” This allowed an extra inch on each side for my pins and plenty of slack so that I could pin far enough out, preventing visible puncture wounds to my fabric – a tip that was recommended in the comments of Hoboken’s tutorial.

I used upholstery vinyl that I picked up from JoAnn’s (at 50% off with a coupon, yes!), and I ironed on interface to the inside per Liz’s tutorial. I thought about adding a fun, vibrant lining, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself since this was only our second date. Plus, I could just imagine how heartbroken I’d be if I tried to sew 4 layers of thick fabric and wound up with a broken machine. (Does that happen? I don’t know.)

In any case, I will admit that I’m kind of hooked. Sewing is fun! My fold over clutch is far from perfect, but it’s thick, sturdy and if you don’t look too close, it’s pretty, too.

So, what else can I sew?! What are you sewing? Let’s sew stuff!

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  • Hannah K.2.19.13 - 7:05 AM

    Too cute, Kim! Nice work. I’m so jealous you are learning to sew – I have a major fear of sewing machines, but I feel like it would be so useful. Maybe you will inspire me.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley2.19.13 - 7:08 AM

    Kim, your clutch is beautiful! I love the vinyl’s texure. I inherited my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine and have yet to sit down to give it a whirl out of fear. I, too, don’t want to break my machine. Or worse, sew myself into what ever I’m trying to make. Hah! Maybe I should take a class like you did…ReplyCancel

  • Sam Malone2.19.13 - 7:48 AM

    This is great! I got a sewing machine for Christmas and it’s still staring at me and intimidating me, I haven’t gathered up the courage to try it yet. Although I’m sure a little intro class would help me as well.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie aucoin2.19.13 - 8:11 AM

    That’s pretty! Nice job with the vinyl too–that stuff can be a total pain to sew through (and, it would be extreme unlikely you would break the machine by adding in the layers of te lining; more likely you would have broken a needle at worst). Some other easy projects to build up your practice would be larger purses/bags, pet beds, a-line skirts (but if you don’t want an elastic waistband you’ll need to do some reading up on certain supplies needed), jersey material anything (but you need to use ball point needles on knits). Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Aucoin2.19.13 - 8:19 AM

    (Sorry for the duplicate comment. Guess that’s what I get for using my phone with a spotty wifi signal). Reusable shopping bags are another easy, quick sewing projectReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia]2.19.13 - 8:20 AM

    I think it is obvious you are a natural!!! I want one. ….and your pink lipstick. Cute!ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.19.13 - 9:06 AM

      Thanks, ladies! Hannah and Sam, I’m glad I gave in to the class, give it a go!

      Ashley, I almost sewed myself into the clutch, but for the most part, left unscathed! Ha!

      Jessie, thanks for the suggestions – they’re all awesome. Reusable shopping bags are right up our alley (our old Baggus are starting to look a little worse for wear), and it’s good to know that I could’ve added the lining. I suppose I’ll have to try a larger purse! I can never have too many of those…

      Also, am I totally crazy for thinking the tutorial measurements were off? I couldn’t wrap my head around a 16″ zipper but only 12-13″ fabric pieces. Is there a trick to that? Or maybe the smaller sides allow the zipper to work better? I have no idea what I’m talking about, but that stumped me for far too long before I decided to rebel and do my own thing.ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.19.13 - 9:19 AM

      Oh, and Julia, the pink lipstick is a Revlon Just Bitten lip stain. I’m addicted to them and have them in a few colors!ReplyCancel

  • Crystal2.19.13 - 9:19 AM

    I’d guess that she used the longer zipper and tucked the loose end of it down inside the purse. A lot of people do that with zippers when sewing, especially with purses. But then, people also hit the wrong buttons while typing and write the wrong number sometimes too. Either way, you ended up with an awesome end project.

    As for breaking the machine with too thick of fabric, it is possible, but not likely. I regularly sew through leather and fleece, and the biggest problem is fitting the pile of fabrics under the foot of the machine! You do want to make sure to use a heavy duty needle, and a new sharp needle, when doing that kind of thing. And to go slowly if the machine seems less than happy about the whole thing.ReplyCancel

  • jessie aucoin2.19.13 - 9:20 AM

    you’re not totally off base for being confused about the zipper. zipper length is measured from the zipper coil to the metal stops, which means if you want the zipper to go open the entire length of the purse (as she did based on her pictures) it is better to opt for a longer zipper and cut off the excess. you may have also noticed when at joanns that a lot of zippers are listed as a variety of lengths (14″-16″ for instance), and that is why (14″ would be the length up to the stops, 16″ would be the entire length of the zipper tape).

    if you look at her picture above the caption about sewing the second side of the material to the zipper, you’ll see she has extra hanging off the right side, but her tutorial neglects to tell you to cut it off. remember, zippers can be sewn through the teeth (though the zipper you bought is a little trickier because the teeth are so much larger). hope this helps explain thingsReplyCancel

    • Kim2.19.13 - 9:23 AM

      Crystal, yes, I was wondering about that – when you have a pile of thicker fabrics, how do you fit it all under the needle? Are you limited by how thick you can sew?

      Jessie, got it! That’s what I needed to understand. I guess as a newbie, I was taking her words verbatim, which was throwing me off. Also, I bought the wrong zipper foot, so I sewed in the zipper using a regular foot – which was only possible because my zipper was SO wide! I wanted it to be big and bulky for this clutch, but your explanation makes sense for less bulky zippers. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY2.19.13 - 9:27 AM

    Oh, I L-O-V-E it!!!! So cute…ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Aucoin2.19.13 - 9:37 AM

    Anytime! Seriously, I’m a total dork and love to talk about this stuff. I’m FAR from an expert bd am mostly self-taught, so there’s no guarantee what I tell you is correct, but feel free to email me with any questions.ReplyCancel

  • Helen2.19.13 - 12:23 PM

    I’m so impressed! You are a quick learner. Whats next? Make tote bags! I like using magnetic closure. May I ask what machine you are using?ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.19.13 - 1:06 PM

      Thanks, Helen! I was using an older Singer borrowed from a friend. The one I used in the sewing class was a Sears Kenmore! So now, I need to decide on when to purchase for myself (and Janomes keep coming highly recommended).ReplyCancel

  • Sarah2.19.13 - 2:29 PM

    That clutch is so great! I’m beyond scared to try to sew.

    Just wondering if you’d be willing to share where your sweater is from? I’ve been searching around for one that looks like it. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.19.13 - 2:37 PM

      Hi Sarah, thanks! The sweater is from Old Navy. I’d been looking for a chunky cream sweater for a while, and this one fit the bill! I probably wear it too much actually!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah S2.19.13 - 3:10 PM

    Kim – Thanks so much! I can’t even express how excited I am that they’re only $15ReplyCancel

  • Hannah @ OneDogLife2.19.13 - 6:10 PM

    That material is beautiful! Please tell me it’s leather and feels as good as it looks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.20.13 - 9:09 AM

      Hi Hannah, thank you! It’s actually an upholstery grade vinyl – but it looks and feels like leather :)

      Jennifer, I accidentally bought a “vertical zipper foot,” so while it was the right FOOT, it wouldn’t go on the machine due to where the screw was. The folks at our local hobby store are extremely unhelpful (something we groan about every time we need to run to the store), so no one could help me. As for the needle, I used the one on the machine. I borrowed the machine from a friend, and she warned me the needle might be a little dull, but I trudged forward – and with no problems!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer P.2.19.13 - 11:28 PM

    Eee, what a beautiful piece you sewed! Would you mind sharing which (wrong?) zipper foot you purchased? I’m going to attempt sewing in zippers this weekend, but I have no idea which foot to buy. And did you buy a new thicker needle to sew your vinyl?ReplyCancel

  • Pauline2.20.13 - 3:14 AM

    You can do anything you want with a sewing machine! Just have to be patient and organized…
    After making pillows and seat covers, I sew peter pan collars to accessorize my sweats or tee-shirts…It is not so hard to do when you find the good pattern (that’s also true for everything you want to sew).
    I think I’ll try this clutch soon..thanks for this idea!ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ The Borrowed Abode2.20.13 - 11:29 AM

    Great job, Kim! I can’t figure out that original zipper length either. . . sounds like what you did makes the most sense.

    I have broken needles a bunch back when I was still learning. My dog crate pads are really thick and the final sewing steps to finish them are tricky because they barely fit through the machine, but fortunately I have an above-average machine that can handle tougher jobs. If you ever do get an urge to sew another clutch and add a lining, just use a heavyweight needle – one marked for use on denim should do fine – and go slowly.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey Johnson2.20.13 - 1:01 PM

    I LOVE this bag!! I really enjoyed talking with you last weekend. Your home and your Talents are amazing :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.20.13 - 2:23 PM

    Thanks, Jane! I’m soaking in all these tips.

    Kelsey, it was fun talking with you too. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • […] 1. Sewn Clutch from Yellow Brick Home […]ReplyCancel

  • Fashion meets Beauty3.2.13 - 4:15 AM

    It looks excactly like the purse i purchased @ H&M a while ago. Love it !ReplyCancel

    • Kim3.2.13 - 11:17 AM

      I actually noticed a purse at H&M this week that looked just like it – I thought, hey, that’s my purse!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian4.5.13 - 8:29 AM

    UGH, how’d I miss this one?!?!? I love love love your clutch!!! Do you use it a lot? How’s it held up?!? I WANT! So what are all the colors you have of the lipstain?!? I’m so excited for my Falsies and lipstain to arrive, ahhh, the little THINGS! IT’S FRIDAY! hahahaha. Oh, and I scored houndstooth shoelaces for my GOLD SHOES for a buck fifty on clearance at Target! Although the vanilla creams are on their way. I guess when I’m sick of the print I’ll throw those babies on. HA!ReplyCancel

    • Kim4.5.13 - 9:11 AM

      Jillian, you’re too funny! I have 2 colors: Romantic and Lovesick. Let me know about the Smitten – it was also on my list! I use the clutch quite a bit, and it’s held up wonderfully! I thought I brought it when we went to lunch a few weekends ago, but now that I think back, I think I had my more practical over-shoulder purse instead. Boo!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian4.5.13 - 8:31 AM

    And thx for making me want that sweater when SPRING is supposedly finally coming. Do. Not. Need. Sweater. Do. Not. Need. Sweater. Ok, I’m done drinking coffee now.ReplyCancel

  • […] Indie Press Cheat Sheet – (If you’re looking for something new to read.) + This adorable clutch – (For those of you who sew.) + This outfit – (I’d wear it every day if I could.) […]ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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