Flourish Sew-a-long, Day 3: Sewing the Exterior

Today is Day 3 of our Sew-a-long for the Flourish Clutch pattern! Today we will make great progress on the actual sewing.

Here is our schedule:

November 14th: Fabric, Frames, and Interfacing
November 15th: Cutting out all the fabric and interfacing
November 16th: Sewing the exterior
November 17th: Sewing the interior, sewing them together
November 18th: Gluing or sewing on the frame

Today we will be sewing the exterior.

First, you will need your rectangle exterior piece.  This is where the marks will come in handy that you made yesterday after cutting out the pieces.  I put pins in at each mark.  You don't have to do this, but it does make it easy to match up the lines.  You will be making three pleats on each end. As you can see in the photos, I like to hold the pleats in place with sewing clips (these are Clover brand).  These are very handy, but pins work too. 

At this point, a couple of my testers decided to baste over the pleats.  I however, prefer leaving them unbasted.  Take one of the top yoke-like pieces. On the curved side, line up the center marking with the center pleat, right sides together.  Clip or pin together.  Clip the outside edges next.  Then clip in between, and if it's not perfect, you can adjust one of the pleats. Repeat with the other yoke piece on the other side.  Sew together on your machine, and trim the seam.  Keep the seam around 1/4". You will be ironing it later, and can also topstitch it if desired.  It just works better if it's not trimmed really close to the seam.

Next comes the trickiest part to describe and photograph. I really could have used a third hand! First, put the piece on a table, right side up.  A mat with a ruler makes this much easier.  Pull the two sewn ends apart until the pleats because more distinct.  Then, put your finger down in the middle of the center pleat.  Fold the piece in half.  Now you are looking at the wrong side.

At this point, I take the side edges, and actually tug them a little away from the center.  This is because the center pleat is not really meant to meet up in the center.  However, it's really easy to end up with a lopsided purse, so I use the ruler markings to make sure my pleat is centered.  I show several photos of me measuring the pleat and the fabric around it, on both the wrong side and right side of the fabric. This isn't an exact science. I usually end up with around 1/2" between the pleats on the right side, but that may differ with the fabric I use and the size of clutch I am making.

(And yes, I do have a music note stamp on the back of my hand!  The preschool kids all get one after each music class with me, and the kids thought it was really funny today when Mrs. James gave herself a stamp.  I forgot until I saw the photos!)

Clip or pin that fold, and take it over to your machine. Sew a seam that starts at the edge of the fabric about 1.5" away from the center pleat and tapers to 3/8" (1cm) as it goes across the center 2 pleats, then tapers back to the edge.  I usually backstitch and then forward stitch across the pleats. This time I did that across one pleat and then forgot, so I went back and did another stitch line on top of the first. You will not be trimming this seam! This seam helps the purse sit a little flatter and reduces some excess fabric. Next, take the purse shell over to your ironing board, and iron the seam where the yoke meets up with the pleated part.  Iron the seam away from the pleats.  Then take the iron and on the wrong side, iron the middle small seam one way, then the other.  If you want to topstitch above the pleats, do so now.

Take one of the end pieces, and match up the bottom center marking with one of the center side marks of the sewn piece.  Start pinning from the middle and move to the pointed edges.  These pointy parts will not reach all the way up to the top.   That's the way it's supposed to be!  Just make sure you end up with about 1/4" (6.5mm) of space above the points.  

Sew, starting at the point, and taper the seam to 3/8" (1cm). At the other point, taper back to the edge. I usually sew the whole seam again, just to make sure that seam is extra strong. Repeat on the other purse end.  Trim seams.

Your exterior shell is complete!

Tomorrow we will sew the interior, and then sew together the exterior and interior! Plus, we will add in the foam interfacing. Join me tomorrow!