The Perfectly Pleated Clutch is one of many projects in Amy Butler’s Style Stitches book. I’ll be honest, I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year and have had every intention of sewing a few projects. I’m glad Sara provided me the kick in the butt to actually get one done.
There are directions for three different sizes included with this pattern. I chose the medium size, finishing at 9″ across the top, 14.5″ at the widest point, and 8″ tall. I was a little shocked when I read the materials list. I forgot how much fabric pleats eat up. To make this size, the pattern calls for 1 7/8 yards of the main fabric. That’s quite a lot for such a little bag.
I followed the directions for cutting, and ended up cutting off half a yard of my strip I pleated. That means I could have used just 9″ strips across my width of fabric instead of cutting 64″ along the selvage and having a giant piece of fabric left over. I didn’t mind so much, since I had this tiny dot from Riley Blake in my stash and I will easily use the piece for another project. I just would have been a little bugged if I had gone out and purchased this specifically for this project. But, it’s a gamble when you’re pleating the fabric… you never really know exactly how much you’ll use up in your pleats.
In addition to the giant piece of main fabric, you’ll also need 1/4 yd of a coordinating print for the bands and handle, and 5/8 yd for the lining and pocket. I used a fat quarter from Bonnie and Camille’s Ruby line for my bands and still have a good chunk of it left in my scraps. And since the outside was so bright, I wanted something fun but subtle for the inside. I used a Tuxedo Stripe from Riley Blake for my lining.
For an Amy Butler bag, this one is really light on the interfacing! You just need 1 1/8 yd of fusible woven interfacing. I used Shape Flex SF-101 by Pellon, as recommended in the pattern. I use that by the bolt… there’s some in every bag I make! You’ll also need one 10″ zipper. I auditioned a few on Instagram before making my final decision.
This is a nice simple clutch, but there are so many ways to jazz it up and have fun with it. With any zipper bag, I think using a contrasting zipper is a fun way to add a little something special. I love the blue with this one.
I found the instructions easy to follow. Full disclosure, even though I make a lot of bags, I have never used a pattern for one before. I was curious to see exactly how certain things were described. For that reason, I didn’t change anything as I made this clutch. I followed the directions exactly as they were laid out to see if it really worked as it should. Not surprisingly, it did. There’s a reason Amy has so many popular bag patterns out there… she does them well.
Okay, I kind of lied. I did make one slight change, but it was just in the way I did my pleats, not in the actual bag assembly. It’s a small change, kind of a shortcut. She directs you to fold a pleat, and iron each one before moving on. That just takes me way too long because my iron gets the fabric so hot I can’t touch it right away to make the next pleat, and I just don’t have the patience for that. Instead, I make a pleat on my ironing board cover, and stick some pins in it – pinning it to the board. I do a few, maybe 5 or 6, then I press them all at once. I find it gives me pleats that are just as crisp, and I have a lot fewer burns on my fingers. Just make sure you use glass head pins – plastic ones will melt.
Overall, I’d say that an intermediate sewer will have no problems with this clutch. Because of the pleats and zipper, a beginner might get a little nervous, but I think because of the way the instructions are written, they would eventually figure it out. The pleats add so much to what would otherwise be a simple looking bag. Pleating is actually quite easy, just a little time consuming. There are just three pattern pieces, and one piece with dimensions for cutting (though you cut two of them). It took me just a few hours to put together, so it’s great for when you want a quick project that will really make a statement.