Introduction: Make a Leather Clutch or Purse
This clutch is a very simple design that can be altered in an almost myriad of ways to produce unique results. I have stuck with one basic style for the ones I have made with only minor changes but there are many things you could do to customize it to your liking. Originally I made one for my wife and we are now selling them at our etsy store so if you would like one but don't have the time or resources to make one yourself feel free to wander over there and purchase one.
If some details seem to change from picture to picture it's because the pictures are from different versions. Everything should be pretty much the same though. I just changed minor details like switching up the order I did something in or putting on a snap or stitching up the middle, etc.
Step 1: Supplies
For this clutch I used 2-3 oz vegetable tanned leather. It might not hold up to the same rigors that a thicker leather will but I liked the weight for this project.
Also needed are standard leather supplies such as:
A Pencil or chalk
Scissors or a razor blade
A Hole Punch
A Stitching chisel or punch
A Stitching Awl with waxed thread
Step 2: Design
The design process for this was fairly arbitrary. I basically just found what seemed like the right size for it to be, adjusted it a little to make sure it would be big enough for a cell phone and a small wallet to hold cards and went with that.
If you want to make one the same size the pattern is 11 inches wide and 18 inches long (that includes the point on the flap). The folded height can vary depending on where you make your folds but it's designed to be about 6-7 inches tall.
The angle of the flap is pretty much up to you as well! I just took a straight edge, angled it to where I thought it looked good, and cut it there. You can have a shallower angle, a centered point, a flat edge, a curve, pretty much anything you want.
Step 3: Cutting It Out
With the pattern in hand I checked my leather to see where would be the best place to cut it from; the least scars, least discoloring, etc. I traced around the pattern and then used a metal ruler and my knife to cut nice straight lines on each side. It usually takes a couple passes with the knife to cut through so patience is key. Trying to force it to cut through in one slice could end up with an injury, a broken blade, or a damaged piece of leather and trying to go too fast could end in some messy cuts that don't quite land on top of each other.
Step 4: The Strap
I liked the idea of doing a "Mystery Braid" handle. Rather than trying to teach everyone how to do it I will just point you right to where I learned, over at this instructable.
It's a good idea to make the braid before punching the holes since it will shorten your strap. Once I finished with the braiding I rounded the corners of the straps, punched holes in the tabs on the ends, then laid them out on the clutch to mark where the holes needed to be punched on the clutch itself, and punched those holes.
Step 5: Sewing and Riveting
Unlike the title of this step the riveting should come before the sewing! It's much easier to rivet everything when you can still open the leather up and lay it flat. I riveted the strap on and then folded it up to figure out the snap placement and punched the hole and attached the snap. If you're unsure about the riveting process or about how to attach a snap I have covered the process in some of my other leather instructables. Another great resource is the Tandy Leather video library. They have free videos to watch on how to use any of the various leather tools they carry.
I used a stitching chisel to pre-punch all of the holes for sewing. You can sew it up multiple ways. I've used a stitching awl and I've used the two needle method. If you want to watch a video on how to get the perfect saddle stitch this one is pretty good. Whichever method you're comfortable with should work just fine. On most of the clutches I have made I just sew up the sides, however, you can also sew up the middle to give you two distinct pockets. Weave the loose ends of the thread back through your stitching once you've cut them off so they look neat.
Step 6: Finishing
I used some Gum Tragacanth and an edge slicker on the edges to give them a nice smooth finish. So far every one of these that I have made has been finished with oil. It gives a nice look and seals the leather a bit without changing its look too drastically. If you want to use a dye it's relatively easy to do but it might be a good idea to apply it to the leather after punching all of the holes but before sewing and riveting everything together.
Step 7: Bonus: Card Holder
I made a card holder to go with the initial two pocket clutch that I made for my wife. I have since stopped making them because I find it's easier to simply leave the clutch as one large pocket so that a small wallet can be transferred to it rather than stitching the middle seem and creating this card holder. That being said, it's still nice to have a little custom fit card holder. If you've followed through the project thus far the process here is pretty much the same. Pattern, cut out, punch holes, stitch together. Two notes I will give about it's construction is that I initially punched holes across the full bottom edge of the dividers but then (thankfully before I punched the holes on the back part) I realized this would make it needlessly bulky and a few stitches would suffice. I also realized that if I wanted to slick the top edges like I did with the rest of the clutch I would need to do that before I fully stitched it together.
And that's it! It fits perfectly in one side of the clutch.
Step 8: The Finished Product
Now you have a clutch which you should feel proud to carry around or gift to someone you know.
Thanks for checking my instructable out! Once again, if you like what you see here but don't want to make one yourself, feel free to purchase one at my etsy shop LittleHouseBlue (link in my Bio).
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