Project: Ombre Flower Clutch

I’ve been on the search for an ombre bag for a few months now. I searched everywhere but couldn’t find what I was looking for. There was a very clear picture in my head of what I wanted: embellished, feminine, not too dainty. Anything I found online just wasn’t right. Wrong colour, wrong fabric, too big, too small…

What do you do when you can’t find it? Sew it yourself! So I did:

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I love it.

Here’s how I made it…

Figuring Out a Plan

Can’t beat some notebook action to get your thoughts straight.

I decided to give the project a go with a deadline in mind: a hen party at the end of the month. There’s nothing quite like taking a handmade bag on a night out. It really does wonders for your paranoia, that constant nagging feeling that the thing is going to fall apart at any second and scatter your belongings across the street.

After some online research, sketching and measuring my favourite clutch bags, I decided to go for a 10in x 8in frame bag with three colour ombre effect using chiffon flowers to create the embellished look I was after.

The Materials

I tried my best to use materials I already had at home, including wine crepe satin from Fabric Bazaar, floral corduroy from Mandors and fusible quilted interfacing from U-Handbag.

There were a few bag frames in my stash, but none of them were the right size for this project. I bought a new antique gold frame and chain from U-Handbag and some Gutermann Textile Glue (the best glue you can get, shame they’re changing the formula).

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I sourced the chiffon flowers on eBay and I chose three pink shades: Plum, Mauve and Dusky Pink. I had my fingers crossed that the colours would look similar to the picture. Thankfully they worked out ok.

Putting it Together

I’ve done a few bag frames in the past, and always found that Lisa Lam’s tutorial on U-Handbag is the best way to go about the whole process, from pattern drafting through to sewing and getting to grips with the frame itself: Purse frames de-mystified.

My main additions on top of the tutorial steps were to apply the flowers to one piece of the external fabric using the Gutermann glue. I also added a little pocket. My original plan included a zip, but I was running out of time so went with the quicker option and used a zig zag stitch to pretty it up a bit.

By far, the most challenging part of the project was inserting the completed bag in to the frame. This was due to the bulk added by the flowers. I managed it eventually, but I’m a bit worried that some of the sections are not entirely in the frame and will fall out once I put weight inside it. I imagine I’ll only know the answer to that when I use it for the first time. Cue that paranoia I mentioned earlier!

The Finished Product

It worked out quite well in the end. I finally have my hands on the bag I’ve had in my head for months! It’s not perfect: it’s a bit squinty and chances are it will fall apart in the middle of the hen night, but I’m still chuffed with the end result. It will go very well with my standard all-black outfits!

Lessons Learned

I enjoyed the whole project: from sketching ideas, trawling eBay, being disgusted with my woeful fabric cutting skills, wrestling with the frame… right through to accidentally glueing my FitBit to my arm.

Would I do it again? Yes. Are there things I would change? Always.

In my line of work, we talk about ‘failing forward’. Experiment, figure out what happened and learn from it.

Here are my main take-aways from the process:

  1. Put the flowers on after you’ve assembled the bag. Glueing them before sewing won’t make much difference to the end product, but it makes the sewing much easier if you reduce the bulk.
  2. Cut the interfacing a little narrower than the fabric, otherwise you will end up with so much bulk you won’t know what to do with it.
  3. Don’t glue in an unventilated room (unless you enjoy that sort of thing).
  4. Take your time when cutting the fabric – the closer to the pattern,the easier it is to assemble. Otherwise it’s a very high-risk guessing game, especially if you’re sewing through all those flowers and you don’t have replacements.
  5. Keep your arms away from the glue.

I’m pretty happy with this one! Hen night, here we come.

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