Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge: Perfectly Pleated Clutch

Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge
I can't believe it is already the 31st. What happened to May??? My goodness.

This month's bag in the Amy Butler's Style Stitches challenge was the Perfectly Pleated Clutch. The book includes three size options for this design; I decided to go with the medium.

The instructions call for 1-7/8 yard of fabric for the medium clutch. From that, there are only 2 pieces to cut, each 9" x 64". This would result in a lot of leftover fabric. So I decided to go ahead and piece mine since I figured I could hide the seam in the pleats. From 1 yard of fabric, I cut four pieces 9" x 36" and then pieced them together to create two pieces, each 9" x 72". Then I pleated... and pleated... and pleated some more.

pleating in progress
There were many pleats.

Here you can see my 72" piece of fabric pleated to measure close to 16" (the width of the pattern piece). And there's that seam-- but it is completely invisible on the front side.

Pefectly Pleated Clutch, pleats in progress
I pleated the heck out of it! I didn't measure my pleats (in fact, the book even suggests varying the pleat widths)-- but I did as suggested and made them small, between 1/4" and 5/8". Now, I've read a number of people say that the amount of fabric is excessive, that you don't need that much to get the cool pleated look. That may be true. But I'm really glad I did it as instructed because not only does it look super cool, but it also really helped to create a very sturdy exterior. Fewer or wider pleats would likely result in a wibbly-wobbly bag and would definitely warrant extra structural support.

In addition to piecing my fabric, I made a couple of other changes in my bag.

Perfectly Pleated Clutch, view of lining
One was to add an interior zipper pocket. For that I used the same technique as described in the Jenna Lou Designs Mabel Messenger bag pattern (which I made last year)-- very easy!

Perfectly Pleated Clutch, zipper view
I also decided to try a different zipper technique for the bag closure. This design offers the same method as was used in the Origami Bag Set, and I was not thrilled with the results. This time I tried a technique shared by Noodlehead in her gathered clutch tutorial that uses tabs to close off the ends of the zipper. My measurements were a little off, so I ended up sewing over most of my tabs-- but you can see the contrasting orange peeking out at either end in the picture above. Even though I haven't mastered the technique, it was definitely an improvement over the Style Stitches method and creates a much nicer finish. With practice (and better measurements), I'm certain it will be a winner.

Perfectly Pleated Clutch, front view
Lastly, I used a tutorial I found over at Alphamom to create the fabric flower that I pinned to the front. Super quick and easy and I love the way it looks. It adds that little extra somethin', I think.

Perfectly Pleated Clutch, back view
I'll be honest here: I'm not a clutch kinda gal. I love me a good shoulder bag. But after finishing this one, my tune has changed. This bag is great: fun design, the perfect size for just tossing in a couple of things and going, and I love that it has a little handle. I'm also diggin' the pretty orange print I used. It is so happy! So much so that I think I'm going to gift it to the friend who inspired me to buy it. Hopefully she'll love it too!

Of course, this means I have to make another one for me. LOL! I'll just add that to the list.


  1. I LOVE this bag! It's super cute and the colors are just perfect! I'm not much for cluches either, but it is nice to have a good one if you need it.

  2. So adorable! Good thinking on the seam idea.

  3. How cute is that!!!!
    I am not a clutch girl either but that bag may change my mind.

  4. Another awesome job well done! I love the pleats and that orange fabric is great.

  5. Love, love, love it!!!!!!!

  6. NICE!! You are so patient to deal with all those pleats!!

  7. gorgoeus, i can see it may have taken sime time but well worth it!