DIY Bags & Totes — Diagonal 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 patterns (make out of cardstock or a thicker paper).
    • Print one of each pattern piece. Cut along the solid line.
  2. Pre-cut the fabric pieces (saves time and lessens frustrations for young designers with less dexterious hands!).
    • Cut one of each – front piece, back piece, and outer pocket – from the fabric.

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

Seam allowance: the distance between the edge of your fabric and the stitching line.


  1. Finished bag is 7” wide x 4” 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 together the clutch pieces.
  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. Plan ahead if you want to use different colored/patterned fabric for the back, front and pocket.
  7. Be sure that the young designers backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam that they sew.

    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.

Let's get started!

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

  1. diagonal1Place the outer pocket (right side up) on top of the front piece (right side up) matching the side and bottom edges.
  2. Stitch the front piece and the outer pocket together on the dotted line, pivoting at corners with the machine needle down in the fabric, lifting the presser foot to turn the fabric. Make a line of stitching right up the middle of the pocket section to divide the pocket into two sections. Remember to backstitch!
  3. diagonal2Place the front and back pieces with right sides together, matching the side and bottom edges.
  4. Stitch the back and front pieces together on the dotted line, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam, and pivoting at the corners.
  5. Trim the corners, turn the bag right side out, and flip over the back piece flap. If you like, you can use a stick-on Velcro dot to close the bag.

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