DIY Bags & Totes — Fold Over Zipper Clutch

Big picture

Young designers will understand 2D to 3D pattern shapes and learn construction skills.

What’s the goal?

Young designers will practice using a sewing machine, understand layout diagrams, and interpret pattern markings. They will stitch straight lines with backstitching and ¼“ seam allowance, and pivot with needles in down position to make square corners.


Each designer will complete an individual project, but will work in pairs to help each other. Pair more skilled young designers with those that may need help.


  1. Prepare the pattern (make out of cardstock or a thicker paper).
    1. Create the pattern piece by drawing a 9” X 15” rectangle on the cardstock, cut out. (you can also draw rectangles directly on the back side of the fabric, and cut)
  2. Pre-cut the fabric pieces (saves time and lessens frustrations for young designers with less dexterious hands!).
    1. Cut one bag body (9” x 15” rectangle) from the fabric.

Seam allowance: the distance between the edge of your fabric and the seam line where the pieces are stitched.

Seam/seam line: a line of stitching that joins two or more layers of fabric.

Backstitching: stitching back and forth a few stitches at the beginning or end of a seam to secure the seam so that it does not pull apart with use.


  1. Finished bag is 8” wide x 7” tall.
  2. IMPORTANT: Use an oilcloth or a fabric that will not fray. The edges in this design are left raw.

    Oilcloth: a sturdy, water resistant fabric made of vinyl on a cotton mesh base.

  3. Pins are difficult to use on oilcloth – they leave small holes and are hard to push in and pull out.  Instead, try clothespins, paper clips or binder clips to hold the zipper on and to hold together the clutch pieces.

    Zipper: a closure device for clothing and accessories, which includes interlocking “teeth”  or a nylon coil that opens and closes with a slider.

  4. A size 16 needle or one labeled “for denim” works well on oilcloth.
  5. The presser foot tends to stick on oilcloth, so you might use a Teflon foot or simply apply painter’s tape to the bottom of the presser foot.  The tape can be easily removed later.
  6. The young designers can use a zipper foot if you have one, but this is not necessary and can be more difficult for a novice machine operator.

    Zipper foot: a narrow presser foot designed for sewing zippers.

Let's get started!

In this activity, we’re going to learn how to make a zippered clutch to understand how flat pieces of fabric can be sewn together to make a fashion accessory.

  1. Place the front side of the zipper and the front side of the fabric together. Sew zipper to the fabric.zipclutch1
  2. Fold the bag body in half, right sides together, folding the fabric down on the line of stitching you just did to keep it out of the way.  Now sew through zipper and fabric on the other half, with the front side of the zipper facing the front of the fabric.zipclutch2
  3. Unzip the zipper, and fold the bag flat, lining up the zipper teeth, and folding the zipper tape together.zipclutch3
  4. Sew ¼” side seams on the left and right edges.
    Backstitch on both ends of these seams.zipclutch4
  5. Trim the corners diagonally, turn the bag right side out and it’s done! Fold over the top of the bag and you have an elegant clutch bag.

Wrap it up

  1. What was the most challenging part of making this clutch?
  2. Can you think of other ways you might close the bag without using a zipper?

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