Making the Little Pouch in Coated Canvas

Sometimes called coated canvas, coated cotton,  plasticated cotton or oilcloth, this type of fabric requires a few changes to how you work with it compared to standard fabric. For a start it can’t be ironed from the top (plastic) side and you can’t use pins. Here I have outlined how to adapt particular steps from my “Little Zipped Pouches” pattern for use with coated fabric.

To begin with you need to use a leather needle for stitching the coated fabric. Don’t forget to change to a normal needle when stitching the fabric lining.

Step 4:  Draw around paper pattern pieces on the wrong side of the coated fabric, rather than pinning the pattern. You can iron on a medium heat onto the wrong side of the coated fabric (never touch the right side with the iron, even on a very low heat), so iron on the fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric, as pictured.

Step 6: (If adding wrist strap) As you won’t be able to pin & iron the strap edges to meet in the centre, iron the strap on the wrong side for a few seconds then, while the fabric is still warm & soft, fold over and press the edge flat with your fingers. As the fabric cools it should still keep the folded edge. Fold the strap again along the centre & use  small bulldog clips (found at stationery suppliers) to keep in place before stitching along the edge.

Step 10: Use the bulldog clips to keep the zip tape in place before stitching.

Step 17: (for pleated version of the pouch) Iron pleats towards the centre on the back of the fabric & use clips to keep the pleats in place before stitching them flat.

Step 20: Instead of pinning the front & back panels together, keep in place with bulldog clips.

After stitching  around the outside edge it helps to trim the seam allowance  at the base &  around the corners to halfway up the sides to about 3mm. As the coated fabric is stiffer than standard fabric this will make nicer corners on the pouch when it is turned out.

After cutting  notches in the side seams at “F” & “G”, you won’t be able to pin the side seams flat above and below the notch (as instructed in the original instructions). Instead you can either flatten the seam as much as possible with your thumb and fingers or use a small strip of thin double-sided tape to hold down the seam allowances.

Step 26: You will not be able to handstitch the lining to the coated fabric as it is too thick to stitch through. Instead, handstitch the lining to the line of stitching that you did in step 7.  Just insert your needle around the machine stitches then back into the lining fabric.

I have also made my “Mini Sunray Convertible Clutch” in a coated canvas. For this you can use much the same techniques as above.

Butterfly zip pull

I’ve been trying to come up with an interesting zip pull for my pattern customers that can be made in fabric rather than leather, while overcoming the problem of frayed edges. Here are the instructions for one I’ve just made.

First cut a strip of fabric about 3cm wide by 15cm long. If the fabric is thin, such as a light cotton or silk, use a fusible interfacing to add some body and stabilize it.  Heavier fabrics, such as denim, will not need this.

Measure and mark the centre line along the back of the fabric. Fold in the edges of the strip, wrong sides together, so that they ALMOST meet the centre line. Pin & iron flat.

Fold the strap again in half, so that the folded edges meet. Pin & iron. Stitch through all layers along length, close to the edge.

Pass the strap through a small (10 – 15 mm) ring which you will be able to attach to the zip cursor later (see here for more instructions regarding this). Leave one end slighty longer  (1 – 2 cm) than the other.

Fold both ends inwards so that they meet the ring.

Hold everything together firmly and sew through all layers with a short length of stitching just below the ring. Reverse and stitch back a couple of times to secure the stitching.

Little Pouches pattern

I’ve recently designed a new pattern. It’s a little zipped pouch with a few different options included: flat & simple or with little vertical pleats, with or without an easy-to-make wrist strap. The lining is padded for practicality. I prefer padding the lining rather than the exterior as I think it’s easier & adds shape & structure to the pouch without it looking padded.

For more information on this or any of my other patterns, go to my “Patterns for Sale” page.

This PDF pattern is available for sale  here or here.

How to make a Leather Tassel

red tassel close upWith just a small piece of leather and basic tools you can make this leather tassel to add to something you make, or to pep up something  you’ve bought. Adjust the length as you desire – long strands can be glamorous on a bag, on coat pockets little short tassels might be better.

You’ll need:

*a small metal ring about 10mm internal diameter (find in jewellery/ beading or craft stores)

*Approx. 15 x 15 cm piece of leather

*Double sided tape

*Masking Tape

*heavy (preferably linen) thread

*leather hole punch

*Scissors or scalpel knife (depending on thickness of leather)

*Square Ruler

cover with tapeStep 1: Cover your leather, on the right side, with rows of masking tape. Slightly overlap each row to make it easier to peel off later. Don’t press tape down too much.

diagramStep 2: Measure & draw directly onto the masking tape, following the diagram above, using a square ruler to ensure all the lines are at right angles.

make slits

Step 3: Cut around outer edge with scissors or scalpel. Use hole punch to make the 2 small holes (using a piece of heavy leather behind makes punching easier) . With scissors cut all of the 5mm wide strands only up as far as the horizontal line.

Step 4: Pull off all masking tape.


Step 5: Cut double-sided tape into narrow strips & apply 3 rows to back of leather, all the way along top. Remove protective layer on tape.

Step 6: Pass tab of leather at top through the metal ring and fold down tab to stick to tape.

Step 7: Fold over end of tassel once (as photo above). Use hole punch through existing holes to make holes in exactly the same place below.

Step 8: Continue rolling/ folding one turn at a time and each time make the 2 new holes directly below the last holes.trim

Step 9: When you get to the end of the leather, if there is excess trim as close as possible to the holes. Cut along  the closest strand, as shown above.


Step 10: Stitch thread through holes a few times, pulling thread firmly each time you pass it through. You shouldn’t need a needle if the thread is heavy enough.

knotWhen both ends of thread are at the back of the tassel (ie the side that has the end of leather showing), knot twice & pull tightly. Trim ends of thread.

To attach to an ordinary zip puller, see my previous post “Making a chunky leather zip pull”. On some bags, such as the purple clutch at the top of this post, it’s best to add a few rings to make a small chain before you get to the tassel so that it hangs in a good position on the bag.

Pleated Clutch Pattern

Sunray Pleated Clutch

I’ve just put up for sale the pattern and instructions for this clutch bag. The front has a sunray pleated detail and there are little pleats at the bottom corners to give volume. The sunken/ hidden zip makes it look sophisticated and finished -I just don’t think an exposed zip cuts it as an evening bag.

I’ve made it in a Duchess (i.e. heavy/ matt) satin, but brocades and shantung type silks or even  a heavy polished cotton would work. Lighter fabrics would need to be backed first with some fusible interfacing. I’m looking forward to trying it in a stripe as I love the wonky effect of this kind of pleating when made in striped fabric.

I’m going to be keeping my eye out in charity shops for horrible clothes made in great fabrics to cut up and make into this clutch.

The pattern is available here and here

Jetsetter Wallets Pattern

jetsetter wallet

I have just added my first PDF pattern for sale on my Etsy shop. It’s a fully lined fabric purse with a stylish “hidden-zip” construction, sized to hold banknotes, coins, credit card & even passport.

There are 4 applique patterns included to stitch on the front:  dollar, pound, euro & yen symbols. You can organise your leftover foreign currency ready for the next trip, or adorn with your home currency symbol for an everyday accessory.

It comes with 4 pages of instructions that explain step-by-step my secrets for making this construction look great using a domestic sewing machine.

My previous post shows how to make an interesting zip puller for this wallet. As soon as I get time I plan to add here on constructivblog a few extra tips for making this pattern in leather and plasticated/ coated canvas materials.

The pattern is available for sale here
& here

Making a chunky knotted leather zip puller

the finished zip

The little metal zip pulls that come on home-sewing zips are  fine for dresses & skirts but not particularly attractive, or practical, for accessories.  But you can easily jazz up your purses & bags by adding your own. Once you know how to remove the metal puller and attach a ring there’s no end to what you can add….beads, tassels, curtain rings? Here I’ll show you how to knot a simple chunky leather puller.


You’ll need some wire cutters or  pair of pliers with a cutting edge. Use these to cut straight across the metal puller. Then use the ends of the pliers to pull out the remaining bits of metal, so only the “cursor” that runs up and down the teeth remains.

attach ringNext you need to attach a ring into the cursor. You can use either a “jump ring” which has a gap in the metal that you prise open with pliers then close up again once attached, or a “split ring”  (as photo) which has 2 rows of metal wire so that you can open it up slightly & slide around the cursor until it is attached. Both types of ring are available from jewellery & beading suppliers. Whatever you choose ensure that the metal wire is thin enough to fit into the hole in the cursor with enough room to move around freely.

Either use a length of  ready cut leather thonging (available from beading & craft shops, or even sold as shoelaces) or cut a 2 -4mm wide piece from a skin of leather with scissors. The length you need depends on how long you want the finished puller to be. It’s best to start with about 30cm to be safe.

knot 1

knot 2

Insert an end of the leather into the ring and pull so that the ends are even & the exterior of the leather is on the outside. Start making knots, tightening as each knot  is made. Follow the diagrams below to tie the knots. Continue until you have the length you need & trim the ends with scissors, leaving a little length at the ends so that the knots don’t unravel.

knotting diagram