How to Make a Simple Leather Bow Clutch
Leather is always a very popular fabric. I am often asked if it is possible to sew leather using your home machine. The answer is yes if you have the right tools. I thought I would put together this tutorial to walk you through how to make a simple leather bow clutch using your home machine. I will offer you some tips and tricks for working with leather so that you can too. You can purchase leather hides or upcycle an old leather jacket or skirt to make this project. Once you learn how to work with leather the project itself is simple. It was inspired by Elm Street Life.
You will find that there are some specialty tools that you should have when working with leather that will be discussed throughout this tutorial. While discussing these tools I may use affiliate links. If you select any of these links and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Sewing with leather using your home machine is a fairly simple process once you know how to do it but you first need to know how to select your leather.
If you are not upcycling an old leather garment you will need to select leather. You will find that leather is not sold by the yard like fabric. Rather it is sold in hides or skins and by the square foot. The hides are not cut. You get the whole thing. They are imperfect around the edges as they are shaped like the animal they came from. They may have a hole right in the middle. It is very hard to say so you will always have to add additional leather to your calculations to accommodate for the irregularities. I suggest adding an addition 25%. Regardless, you will need to calculate how many skins you will need for your project buy converting square feet into yards. As a reference: 1 yard of 45″ fabric is equal 11.25 square feet. And 1 yard of 60″ fabric is equal 15 square feet.
If you live in a large city there are places you can go to purchase leather. I like to purchase online. Amazon has a large selection of leather skins that you can purchase. For this project I used Lamb leather and suede. Lamb leather is a thinner leather that is easily sewable on your home machine. As leathers go it is relatively inexpensive as well though not cheap. So once you have purchased your leather it is time to prepare to make your project. We are going to make a simple leather bow clutch.
What you will Need: How to Make a Simple Leather Bow Clutch
- 1/4 yard or about 3 square ft of leather
- 1/4 yd or about 3 square ft of suede
- 1/4 yard lining fabric (I recommend a quilting cotton)
- 9″ zipper that matches your exterior fabric
- Sewing thread that matches your exterior fabric
- Standard and specialty sewing supplies
Step 1: Cut your Fabrics
Cut your fabrics. I recommend that you cut your fabrics using a rotary cutter and mat for a nice clean edge on your leather. Cut your fabrics as follows:
- Two 10″ x 6″ pieces of leather for outer bag
- Two 11″ x 5″ pieces of suede for bow
- One 2″ x 5″ piece of suede for bow knot
- One 14 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ Piece for strap
- Two 10″ x 6″ pieces of lining fabric
Step 2: create the strap
Fold the strap in half lengthwise and finger press. You will not be able to iron the leather so you will have to press as best you can. Open the strap and fold the raw edges to the center crease and finger press again. Fold in half to enclose the raw edges clip using wonder clips. You cannot use pins when working with leather. Pins will leave permanent holes in the leather so you will have to use clips to keep the pieces together. I like wonder clips for this process. Sew an 1/8″ seam along both sides of the strap.
When sewing with leather You will need some specialty products. The first is a leather needle for your sewing machine. Do not attempt to sew leather without using a leather needle as the results will not be pretty. A good choice of leather needle is Schmetz leather needles. It is best to use nylon or polyester thread as cotton thread will deteriorate and is not strong enough for the leather. The next specialty product that you will need is a Teflon foot for your sewing machine. This will allow the foot to glide along the leather whereas a standard foot will not and the result will be disastrous. A walking foot would also be a great addition for working with leather but they can be expensive.
Step 2: create the Knot
Create the knot of the bow. Fold the long edges of the knot piece toward the center until they meet. Sew down each side of the knot piece 1/8 from the folded edge. Fold the piece in half matching the short edges with right sides together. Sew together 2″ from the fold. Turn right sides out. You should have a small tube of suede fabric.
Step 3: create the Bow
Stitch the two pieces of suede for the bow along the long edges right sides together. Turn the piece right sides out. Place the piece into the knot you previously created. You will notice that it bunches up where the knot is. Center the bow onto one of the exterior pieces. The bow should be slightly longer than the exterior piece. Sew it close to the short edges to secure.
Step 4: add the zipper
Layer the zipper between the right sides of the bow front and the right sides of the lining piece. I like to use double sided basting tape to keep the zipper in place. Sew the zipper using a zipper foot through the three layers of the outer front, zipper, and lining. I chose to sew along the lining side as I did not have a Teflon zipper foot. Turn the pieces right side out and top stitch along the zipper. Repeat with the other side of the zipper using the back of the clutch piece and lining.
Step 5: Sew the Bag
Separate the lining pieces from the outer pieces. Fold the strap in half and place it half on the bow and half off with a little bit sticking over the sides. Clip. Open the zipper about 1/2 way. Place the outer pieces right sides together and the lining pieces right sides together. Sew along the outer pieces then along the lining pieces using a 1/2″ seam allowance leaving an opening at the bottom of the lining for turning.
Step 6: Finish the bag
Turn the bag right sides out. Sew the opening closed using ladder stitch and push it back into the outer bag. You have now finished your leather bow clutch.
If you would like to make the scarf in the picture feel free to follow my tutorial on how to make an infinity scarf. It is a super simple project that can be made with basic sewing skills in no time at all.
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