Clutch 101: Because clutches are so basic in their design, it's easy to take inspiration from favorite designers, like queen of clutches Judith Lieber and staples like Kate Spade and Juicy Couture. If you think about it, a clutch is really just an envelope-shaped fabric rectangle. For the most elemental clutch, you could just take two squares of pretty fabric and stitch with right sides together (leaving an opening to turn right side out), fold in thirds, sewing the sides together, with a fold-over for closure.
Getting structured: A heavyweight stabilizer or interfacing is the key to having a purse that is fab rather than floppy. While there are fusible interfacings, which can be attached to the fashion fabric with heat, this is a messy proposition, often wrinkling the fabric permanently. It's also likely too lightweight to provide adequate support. Opt for a sew-in version instead. Also, be sure to preshrink your interfacing by soaking in hot water, so that it won't shrink when the purse is cleaned, which can distort the shape of the purse.
Open and shut: Of course, there will come a point in every clutch designer's life where run-of-the-mill closures are just not enough, and you will want to take on "the clasp." It's really not that difficult to make a framed purse, which begins with buying a clasp frame. From there, you'll make a simple pattern, as there are not many available to buy, due to all the different frame sizes and shapes. Stitch the lining, interfacing and fashion fabric, attach to frame and -- shazam! -- a clasp purse.
Pump up the volume: To sew with sequin fabric, you'll need to carefully remove sequins at the seam lines and hemlines without breaking the thread that ties them together. It may seem like a pain, but, trust us, it's easier than sewing sequins on by hand. If sequins just aren't your (ahem) bag, try a bright silk taffeta and shape the handle of the clutch into a bow for girly effect.
Fave clutch patterns: For those looking to buy a clutch pattern, you'll find plenty of indie options on Etsy.com. Get the whole kit and caboodle, with this purse kit including everything you need to make a pretty bag. Of course, Vogue Patterns is the other go-to for chic clutch designs. Just one word of warning: Whatever pattern you choose, clutch bags are so quick and easy to make, they can be downright addictive!
For more DIY Design columns, click here. Next week, stitch up a fast holiday outfit.