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Today’s guest for the Cucicucicoo’s Eco Crafters and Sewers series is the lovely Laura from Le Pecionate! I love the tireless spirit and sense of humor with with she approaches her projects, which, as the name in Roman dialect (from pecione, meaning “bungler”) says, don’t always come out perfectly. But in this age of Pinterest perfection, the motto of Le Pecionate (Laura and her friend Claudia) is spot on: “Done is better than perfect!” Well said, ladies! This is the real handmade spirit, and most importantly, to have fun!
But I would say that the name is a bit too much on the modest side, because this pair creates lots of really cute and useful things. And so let me free up the stage for Laura and her tutorial on how to sew a clutch bag from repurposed jeans!
When Lisa asked us if we had any ideas to be able to participate in an “Eco crafters and sewers”-themed series, our immediate answer was: “just one? We’ve got as many as you want!” Even if we are technically so-so crafters and sewers, we always have loads of works in progress or completed projects that we just haven’t been able to write about. What better occasion, then, to dig up one of our “half hour Pecionate” that was awaiting just a little bit of time and a little bit of space to be written?
Last year, around this time, my blog partner came up with the idea to sew a bag-pouch to give to the kindergarten teacher’s at the end of the school year. No sooner said than done, she (having just started sewing) put in the idea, and I put in the labor.
Having just a couple of hours to work on this project, I emptied out my drawer of fabric scraps and we put paired up those that we like the most: a piece of an old jeans leg and some pieces of quilting cotton that I’d bought but never used.
We brought out the sewing machine, put on the timer, and got to work!
- Fabric for the outside (A)
- A piece of fabric the same size as piece A for the lining (B)
- Two pieces of coordinating or contrasting fabric for the pockets (C) at least as wide as A and about 2/3 as long
- A piece (about 10 cm) of cording, ribbing or bias tape for the closure (D), but if you don’t have any of those, cut another piece of quilting cotton 10 x 3 cm and I’ll show you how to transform it!
- A button (ours was upcycled)
- Sewing machine
- Pinking shears
- Iron, if that’s something that you ever use, otherwise just a bit of patience!
I’m not giving exact sizes of each piece because it’s really not relevant. Our clutch came out as small as our fabric pieces were. The goal here is not to make a bag sized X by X, but to get the best results with whatever material you have on hand! 🙂
Let’s get to work!
1. Make the pockets First take the pieces for the pockets and trim one of the long sides with pinking shears, then fold it a couple of cm inwards and iron or press well with your hands. Then sew down the folded edge. The two pockets don’t have to be the same size!
Cut two big pieces of the same size from the outside (A) fabric and lay a pocket (c) on each, with its bottom raw edge lined up with the bottom edge of A and the folded edge going across the A fabric. Pin in place.
Seeing as one of our pockets was pretty big, we split it in half by sewing a straight line down the center, thereby creating two pockets.
2. Sew the outside
Now lay the two A pieces one on top of the other, right sides facing, and pin the right, bottom and left edges. If you’ve put the pieces together the right way, the pockets are on the inside and you can only see the wrong side of hte fabric.
Now sew all around the pinned edges with a 1.5 cm seam allowance, perhaps going a bit straighter than I did!
Finally, clip the two bottom corners, being careful not to cut into the seams. This will make for a better-finished bag once we turn everything out the right way. (Here’s an explanation for why it’s important to clip corners.)
3. Now for the lining
Take your lining fabric (B) and do the same thing you did for the outside: fold it in half it it’s just one piece, of put one on top of the other if there are two pieces, right sides facing. Sew around with a 1.5 cm seam allowance to close up the three sides and remember to clip the two bottom corners.
Now you have two sewn pieces, the outside (A) and the lining (B), both wrong sides out. Right?
4. Join the outside and the lining
Now a moment of attention because this is the one part that can get a little confusing, or at least for me, who has serious problems with math and geometry (as you can see by the following photos, which I took with some of the pieces facing the wrong way, so please read the instructions well in this part!) But, despite that, trust me that it is actually much easier to do it than to explain it!
Insert A (outside) inside B (lining) RIGHT SIDES FACING (in the photo below the outside is facing the wrong way), matching up the side seams and pushing the bottom corners all the way down. If the top edges don’t line up right, just trim them down now.
Pin the top edges and sew all around with a 1 cm seam allowance, making sure that you leave an unsewn space in the center of one of the sides (shown in the photo below with two pins) so that you can later put your fingers inside to turn the work right sides out (I left 5 cm open, but if your pouch is bigger, I suggest you leave at least 10 cm open).
Once you’ve sewn the edge, pull out the outside part (A) through the opening you’ve left (at this point it will look like the photo below, but with the right sides of BOTH pieces facing out), and then push the lining back inside the outside fabric.
Before closing up the part that we left open, press the fold on the top edge well, either with an iron or with your hands, making sure that the fabric in the opening is folded inwards.
5. Close the opening
Now we’ll insert the closure loop.
[If you don’t have cording, ribbon or bias tape on hand, take a 10 x 3 cm piece of fabric, fold the two long edges inward and iron; then fold the strip in half and iron again. Then close up this strip by sewing a straight stitch down as close as possible to the open side. Voilà! We’re ready to move on with our project. (You’ve just witnessed the absolutely unorthodox “pecione method”for making a bias tape which isn’t actually on the bias…. We are not to be held responsible if you do this with pieces longer than 10 cm!)]
Fold your chosen closure in half, forming a loop, and insert the two ends at least a couple of cm down between the lining and outside fabrics, on the side where you’ve left the opening, and pin it. At this point you can sew all around the top opening from the right side with a very small seam allowance. Besides closing up the opening where you’ve inserted the loop, this topstitching will make your work look more finished.
All that’s left to do is sew the button on the front at the height that you prefer.
We actually sewed on two buttons: one higher up, to carry larger items, and one smaller down to fold the top edges of the pouch down and carry only a few essentials. For example, money and cell phone for when you leave your beach umbrella to go get an ice cream!
You’ll see how convenient it is to have a pouch like this, made from repurposed fabric that you would’ve otherwise thrown away. And don’t forget that you can make it any size you want, perhaps even with fancier fabric to make an elegant clutch for an evening cocktail. The thing that will certainly surprise you after reading this long tutorial is just how little time it takes to make it. It truly does take longer to explain it than to do it!
So, what are you waiting for?? I’m sure that you also have fabric scraps hanging around somewhere that are just waiting for an easy and fast project like this!
This tutorial on how to upcycle yogurt cups is part of the “Cucicucicoo’s Eco Crafters and Sewers” series! Want to see how other sewing and crafting experts upcycle materials? Then check out the other tutorials in the series!