Minimalist Wool and Leather Clutch
by Carly DeGraeve | one response | 18 minute read
You can never own too many small handbags. A clutch handbag that is big enough to carry your cell phone, keys, and wallet is always going to be a useful object to own. This wool and leather clutch is very durable and will last forever. There are pockets inside the bag to organize the things you need to carry making it an extra awesome addition to your handbag collection.
100% Wool or Alpaca Yarn
Knitting Needles (correct gauge for the yarn)
Leather or Vinyl – 1 piece the size of the bag
Zipper long enough to run 2 sides of the bag
Twill Tape or Belting
Sturdy fabric for lining such as Canvas or Poplin
Pen or Sharpie
Straight Edge Blade (X-acto Knife/Box Cutter or Rotary Cutter)
Optional: Leather Hole Row Punch
Learn more about leatherworking tools by clicking here.
1) Create the Pattern This is a simple bag to make and an easy pattern to work out if you are new to patterning.
First, determine what size you want the bag to be. Many clutches are size 9” x 6” (23cm x 15cm) and I have found this to be a very good size for what I need to carry when I want to take only a clutch bag with me. This also works well with 14” (35cm) zippers which are usually easy to find. Draw a rectangle on your paper in the dimensions you want your bag to be.
One side of the clutch will be knitted and fulled into the correct size/shape. The other side of the bag will be cut from leather. Neither or these materials need a seam finish as they will both have naturally finished edges all around. Two edges of the knitted/leather pieces will be sewn together and a seam allowance needs to be considered for this. The sewing line for the knitting and leather pieces can be ⅛-¼” from the cut edge. Mark this line on your pattern by adding it to 2 edges of the pattern. Mark the other two edges for attaching to the zipper.
Leave a bit of space around the lining pattern piece as you start to make the pattern because you will need to add a seam allowance. The lining should fit inside the knitted/leather shell so it needs to be slightly smaller than the shell. For this project, I made the lining ¼” (6mm) smaller than the shell of the bag (don’t include the seam allowance on the shell in this measurement). If the bag is 9” x 6” (23cm x 15cm), the lining should be 8 ¾” x 5 ¾” (22cm x 14cm).
The lining of the bag will be made from a woven fabric and therefore needs a seam finish and seam allowance around all edges. With this being a small bag with low stress/wear and tear on the bag and seams, a ⅜”/1cm seam allowance around all edges will be fine. Add this to the lining pattern piece.
I added a handful of pockets on either side of the bag to hold random odds and ends – these pockets many allow one to not carry a wallet inside the clutch but to just use those pockets to hold cards and cash.
The size of the pockets is really up to you. If there are specific items you wish to carry, measure those items to ensure you pocket can fit them. I made the pockets 5 ¾” x 1 ½” (14.5cm x 4cm) plus seam allowance. I placed 3 on either side of the bag. The pockets are basically centered on the lining pieces with ¾” (2cm) spacing between each pocket’s top edge.
The top edge of each pocket needs to be hemmed to prevent fraying and to provide stability. A ⅜”/1cm seam allowance that is pressed to the back and sewn down works well. The sides and the bottoms will need to be pressed to the back and sewn down also. Those edges will experience less movement and wear than the top hem so a ¼” (6mm) seam allowance is enough.
The clutch can be made without a handle but it is a lot easier to use a clutch when it has a handle. This bag was made with a 1”/2.54cm wide handle of fulled knitting and store bought natural colored cotton belting. A 14” (35cm) strap folded in half is a good size for most short straps – it is long enough to get your hand through to hang the bag from your arm but is short enough to comfortably hold the bag with the strap or with your hand through the strap.
It is always a good idea to clearly mark and name your pattern pieces.
Step 2) Knit Side Panel and Handle
If you have not made a sample swatch to know how much your yarn will shrink when fulled, you need to do that before you knit the bag side to know what size to knit.
Knit the side panel and strap for the bag. Finish all the yarn ends by working them into the knitted pieces.
Step 3) Fulled/Felted Knitted Pieces
After the knitted pieces are finished, they need to go for an agitated swim in some hot soapy water. The agitation works the fibers against one another so they fluff up and intertwine. Use your hands to work the piece by rubbing it against itself (you can also boil the knitting if you prefer that technique). Keep a ruler handy and know what measurement you are trying to shrink it down to. Agitate the piece until it is the right size.
Rinse the soap out of the piece thoroughly. Lay the knitting out to dry on a towel on a flat surface. Make sure you properly shape the piece so it dries in exactly the right shape.
Step 4) Cut Lining Pieces + Leather
While the knitted piece is drying, cut the remaining pieces from desired materials.
Step 5) Press and Sew Pockets
Press one long edge of each of the pocket pieces to the back equal to the amount that was patterned (I suggested ⅜” or 1cm).
Stitch the hem in place.
Press the short ends and the unsewn edge to the back with the seam allowance amount patterend (I suggested ¼” or 6mm).
Using the pattern piece for alignment pin the top pocket in place on the bag linings. Sew in place along the long edge (we’ll sew the short ends down later). Use a narrow seam allowance so you catch the folded back fabric. I sewed the pockets down ⅛” or 3mm from the folded edge.
Position the middle pocket in place. Sew to the lining along the long edge.
Position the bottom pocket in place. Sew to the lining along the long edge.
Sew the sides of the pockets down now that they are all aligned and in place.
Two edges of the lining will sew together and the other two will fold to the wrong side and later will be sewn to the zipper. The bottom of the bag and one side will be sewn together. The top edge and the other side of the bag need to be pressed to the wrong side.
Sew the 2 edges of the lining together.
Trim the corners of the sewn sides to reduce bulk.
Press the seam open.
Step 6) Sew the Knitting to the Braided Strap
The fulled knitting needs to sew to a backing for proper support of the strap. This can be done with a sewing machine but I opted to sew them together by hand so there is not a visible sewing line.
Cut a length of ribbon or webbing the correct length to match the knitted strap. Pin the backing in place with the knitted strap.
The stitch I used is sort of a modified blanket stitch. Bring the thread to the front (showing) side of the webbing. Put the needle through the knitting straight above where the thread comes through the webbing.
Take a small stitch on the front side of the knitting and push the needle through at an angle so it comes through the webbing to the left of the first stitch. (If you are left handed, work from left to right instead of right to left as described).
Repeat this stitch as you work all the way around the bag strap sewing both sides of the backing to the knitting.
Step 7) Preparing the Leather
This is the first project we’ve done on How Did You Make This? where the leather piece sews to something other than a piece of leather! I bought in a new tool for this project which is the multi-hole leather punch. If you don’t want to invest in the tool, you can use
After carefully “walking” the multi-hole punch tool along the edge of the leather piece, I figured out that if I centered a hole along the long edge, my punched holes would line up well at the corners. The proper placement at the corners is important for the hole spacing on the other sides of the bag. Determine and mark the starting point for the multi-hole punch.
Using a rawhide or plastic mallet punch a line of holes.
Carefully work all the way around the piece.
Step 8) Sew Yarn Side to Leather Side
Determine which side of the knitting you want showing. I selected the purl (wrong) side because of the direction of the color flecks.
Place the leather and knitting wrong sides together. Position the strap between the leather and knitting near the open edge.
Begin sewing at the corner where the bottom of the bag and the side of the bag meet. Sew the side of the bag with running stitch being careful to catch all 4 layers of the strap as you work through that area by hand. Tighten the stitches down using an awl to pull out the slack in the thread.
Return on the same seam filling in the stitches.
Sew the bottom of the bag together using running stitch.
Work the seam again, sewing in the filling stitches. Tie off and bury the ends of your thread at the corner.
Step 9) Work Final Construction
Test the fit of the lining and the shell by placing them together. If there are any places where the lining sticks out too far or doesn’t meet the edges of the shell, re-press the lining or make placement adjustments.
Sew the zipper to the lining.
I hand sewed the lining using backstitch to the zipper for the most control over zipper placement.
Sew both sides of the zipper tape to the lining and finished your threads.
Position the lining inside the shell.
Use the stitching marks on the leather for guidance on sewing the leather to the zipper tape.
Using backstitch again, sew the wool side to the zipper tape.
That’s it. Now you have a very durable easy to carry clutch with little pockets inside that help you organize your items for handy access.