Introduction: Make an Eco Printed Clutch

About: When things don't go the way I want, I still hear my father say: ‘There is no such word as can’t.’ The things I make, I make thanks to him. He taught me how to bake and paint and everything in between, I got h…

A new month, a new bag!

I love bags. A long time ago, my mother gave me clutch she had used when she got engaged. A clutch from the 50's that was dried out by age and delicate to use, but a beauty to see. I used it as a model for the clutch I wanted. In the meantime I already made several others, in different versions. I make them from Kraft Tex, also known as 'vegan leather', lined with felt. You can also make it from leather (it’s a pity I can't get leather here) or sturdy fabric. If you use a sturdy fabric, use a fleece liner between fabric and lining that is specially designed for bags, for extra strength.


A piece of Kraft Tex of 48 x 50 cm
A piece of felt measuring 48 x 50 cm
One piece of 48 x 50 cm double-sided adhesive fleece
Sewing machine (needle universal 130/705 H 80/12) stitch width 2.5
Binder clips
Closure (magnetic)
Leukosilk (option)
Measuring tape
Glue stick
Cutting knife
Cutting mat

Eco printing:
Old pan
1 tsp iron sulfate or rusty nails
15 gr. Alum
Spray bottle (only when using iron sulfate)
Glass jar with screw cap
Old towel to work on
Flowers and leaves
Two wooden sticks of 25 to 30 cm
Two strips of (old) fabric measuring 25 x 60 cm
Plastic foil
Rope to tie off
Metal coasters if the rolls are flat in the pan instead of standing
Flame distributor when cooking on gas

Note: eco printing can be omitted if desired.

Step 1: Prepare Kraft Tex

The Kraft Tex that I use is untreated. To give it a leather-look it has to be treated first. Make a ‘prop’ of the Kraft Tex, then wash the ‘prop’ in the washing machine on the coldest setting, this is the easiest way. You can also soak it in a bucket with water but because the Kraft Tex is not moving, the operation is a bit more laborious. If I use a bucket, I make the Kraft Tex to a prop and put the prop first in cold water for a few hours. When it has been in the water for a few hours I take it out and hang it to dry. After drying I repeat the process only now I use warm water and let it stand until the water has cooled, which is about an hour or two. Dry again and repeat the step, but use cold water now. After it has been dried for the last time, the Kraft Tex has a beautiful leather appearance. Kraft Tex can be used on both sides, but I prefer the ‘smooth' side. After it has dried I cut the piece in half, I now have two strips of 24.5 x 48 cm. Kraft Tex shrinks slightly by washing.

Step 2: Eco Printing

Because Kraft Tex is not a fabric but also not real paper, I work as follows. The Kraft Tex weighs 85 gr. When using fabric I always work with 15% alum of the weight of the fabric. With 85 g I should use 12.75 g. I round this to 15 g. I dissolve the alum in a little boiling water and then put it in a sealable jar. Top up the alum with 0.5 liters, close the jar and shake well. I dissolve the iron sulphate in 300 ml of water and put this in a spray bottle, you can skip this step if you are using rusty nails, they will go into the pan later.

Place the Kraft Tex on an old towel and brush the alum solution on the side you want to print and let it dry completely. I did this in the evening so that I can complete the process the other day.

Preferably collect leaves and flowers you want to use in the morning. The outcome is always a surprise! I get good results with leaves and flowers from the cotton plant. Ferns that give others brilliant results hardly make any impression here. I think a lot has to do with where and how it grows. For example, cotton that grows here in the wild gives nice prints, but the same cotton that I sowed in potting soil gives a much less print. The plants I have used are the flower of Texas Sage, orange hibiscus, plumbago, the leaf of papaya and the leaf and flowers of two unknown plants and cotton.

Bring a second layer of alum-solution on the Kraft Tex with a brush and place the flowers and leaves on the Kraft Tex. If you use iron sulfate, spray the flowers, leaves and Kraft Tex with this solution. Wet one of the two strips of fabric with some water and wring out well. Carefully place the cloth over the flowers and leaves without shifting them. Cover the cloth with plastic wrap. The foil prevents colors from bleeding through. Roll everything up as tight as possible on the wooden stick and fix it by wrapping rope or tape around it. Make sure it is tight. Repeat all steps with the second piece of Kraft Tex.

Now that the rolls are ready they must be boiled. If you didn’t use iron sulphate add a few rusty nails to the water. Because Kraft Tex is not a fabric but also no paper, I will stick to this for the following time: if the rolls are completely under water, cook for three quarters of an hour and if the rolls are half under water, cook for half an hour, turn the rolls and cook for an other half an hour.

I use a low pan. To prevent the rolls from lying directly on the bottom of the pan, I placed two pan grates under the rolls. I also have an aluminum bowl in the pan because the pan is really old and I don't trust the bottom anymore. The type of pan also affects the result. Stainless steel and enamel do not affect the result, aluminum does. So if you are using a stainless steel pan you get other results than when you are using aluminum. Because I cook on gas, I use flame distributors for even heating.

Once the cooking is done add a cup of vinegar to the water to fix the print. Let the rolls cool down in the water. Where I normally leave fabric overnight, I don't dare to do that with Kraft Tex and I take the rolls out of the water as soon as it has cooled down.

Unroll your rolls and remove the plastic, the cloth and all the flower and leaves. Rinse the Kraft Tex admire your results and hang to dry.

Step 3: Create a Pattern

Using a ruler and paper, I draw the pattern on paper. Then I cut out the pattern parts and stick them on cardboard, by using a glue stick, for extra strength. Cut away the excess cardboard. The pictures show all sizes. I have added the parts of the full clutch, but in this instructable I will not use all parts. I do not make the little pockets and instead of a strap to close I choose a magnetic closure this time. I added a photo showing what the clutch looks like with pockets and a closing strap.

Step 4: Cut the Pattern

The pattern must be cut three times 1x from Kraft Tex, 1x from felt and once from double-sided adhesive fleece. Do not use pins to fix the pattern but use clips. If you make a hole in Kraft Tex you keep seeing this.

NOTE: When cutting the slots for the magnetic closure:
For the front (where the holes are also drawn for the press studs) you make the slots in the Kraft Tex.
For the front/back part you make the slots in the felt.

Cut two extra squares of Kraft Tex of approximately 2x2 cm to reinforce the closure and cut slots for the closure using a cutting knife and mat.

Step 5: Attach the Magnetic Closure (or Strap or Pockets)

Before you iron felt and Kraft Tex together, attach the magnetic closure. Attach it through the slots. Place the metal plates over the legs followed by the square Kraft Tex. Fold the legs, I fold the legs outwards because it flattens more out. When folded inwards, the legs overlap, then it is slightly thicker. I add an extra strip of leukosilk on the legs as extra protection. Continue with step 6.


If you choose a closure with a belt, first iron belt. Iron the felt on the Kraft Tex with the help of the fleece and do the same with the small narrow strip, this strip makes the ring for the belt, but make the felt for the strip 1.5 cm shorter on both sides for easier sewing.

Follow the instruction that comes with the fleece line. If there is no instruction, put the iron just below the cotton setting. Use an old towel on the ironing board to protect the board from any glue residue. First place the Kraft Tex with the back side up, place the fleece liner on top and then the felt. Make sure everything is well arranged. Now put an old tea towel or press cloth over it. Make sure that the parts to be ironed do not move. Make the press cloth slightly damp with a plant sprayer and now press the layers together. Press the iron and count ten seconds in one place and then slide it up a bit. Do not make forth and back movements with the iron and do not use steam.

Let the work cool for at least half an hour before continuing, otherwise you risk loosening the adhesive.

After cooling down sew the belt and strip all around for extra strength, stitching about 3 mm from the side. Insert the narrow strip through the slots of the Kraft Tex front piece (take the slots: using belt) and sew the two ends by hand at the back, overlapping the ends of the narrow strip by approx. 1.5 cm. Cut according to the pattern, a slot in the front/back piece on the back part (see drawing: using belt) and insert the strap through the slot. Slide until the other side of the strap is just half an inch above the flap on de front part and sew the strap just below the slit. Any pockets and press buttons must also be attached before the remaining felt is ironed on. The inside of the pockets are not lined. Finally cut out the rectangle in the front part of the front/back piece.
Continue with step 6.

Kraft Tex is easier to sew when damp!

Step 6: Ironing Felt an Kraft Tex Together and Stitch the Clutch

Once the closure is attached, the rest of the felt and Kraft Tex is ironed, the fleece line instruction is in step 5B. For firmness, stitch all sides that are not stitched together, these are the red lines in the photo. Do not go up and down with the machine but fasten by sewing the thread to the back of the work with a needle and fasten with a knot.

Do not use pins for assembling, but clips!
When assembling the clutch start en stop each stitching by going up and down with the machine but do this as short as possible (a stitch or 3/4)

The spacer/between piece is 46 cm long. Divide this with tailor's chalk in 12cm-22cm-12cm.

Place the back piece with the felt side on the back part of the front/back piece and place these two parts with the felt side on the felt side of the 22 cm part of the spacer. Make sure everything is level and secure with clamps. Now sew the bottom seam together, keeping approx. 3 mm from the edge.
The sides remain open for now.

After the bottom back, first secure the bottom of the front part. Place the inner part with the felt side on the felt side of the front part and then place the two panels on the spacer. Make sure that the stitched seams are at the top and the magnetic closure at the bottom and on the outside! Secure with clips and sew.

At last we sew the sides. The sides are a bit difficult to stitch. This goes easier by first folding the spacer in a V and if necessary moistening the Kraft Tex. First do one side of the bag and then the other side. Just like the bottom, secure all parts again with clips and then sew. Do this with all 4 seams. Finally, cut away any protruding pieces and cut the corners at the bottom a little round. The clutch is now ready.

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