My Grandma passed away a year or two after we moved to Chicago and before I got married. My mom’s mom was one of those special people who just truly loved and accepted everyone (she had 6 kids and always said that she had 6 points on her heart so that everyone was loved equally) and she was always there for every big event in my life (along with my wonderful Aunts who are the exact same way). She was proper, funny, and spunky all at the same time, she loved her jewels, her stories (soap operas), her dog Vanna, and was not a fan of cooking. I am the oldest grandchild and she lived about 90 minutes from us growing up so we were close.
In fact, one of the major pluses that made me choose grad school in Milwaukee was that then I could visit her in the nursing home regularly. It was clear at that point that she was declining so I consider those visits, in the midst of the stress and chaos of grad school to be a blessing. I’d meet my mom or my aunts at the nursing home, we’d visit with her, bring her a Krispy Kreme and help her choose her lunch and dinner menus for the week and then we’d go have Chinese at a little place in a strip mall nearby. And I would leave feeling so loved and so much less stressed. Even when I think that some of the time she didn’t know quite who I was, she was so sweet and happy to see you that you didn’t feel too sad. So when Aa and I got married in 2009, I was definitely sad that she wasn’t going to be there.
At some point, when she moved out of her apartment into the nursing home, my Aunt, who has so kindly acquired an entire basement of other people’s stuff, set aside her wedding dress and someone suggested we do something with it for the wedding. It was teeny tiny, about a size 0 and was a kind of itchy polyester satin that had quite a few large stains. So there was no chance that someone was going to wear it again. But after thinking for a while, I knew I wanted a part of it with me on my wedding day so it would be like she was there.
I thought and thought and thought and sketched and thought some more and eventually settled on a clutch purse to hold lipstick, kleenex etc. And let me tell, you, taking a scissors to a vintage wedding dress is incredibly stressful! I do not recommend it for the especially sentimental or faint of heart! Anyway, in all this planning, my mom also offered up the use of her dress. She’s never been particularly attached to her dress. It was in our dress up bin growing up, but I have always loved it. It’s a long periwinkle floral dress with ruffled hem and a shirred top. And it had a matching ruffled shawl. Did I mention that she got married in the 70’s or is that obvious, lol? But actually, I have always thought it was beautiful! But again, it’s polyester and very 70’s. No one’s wearing it again. Although in this case I was able to just use a small piece of the shawl so the dress itself is still intact.
I ended up with a simple envelope clutch with some of the lace and beading from the neckline of my Grandma’s dress hand-stitched to the outside. That beading was set in mesh so I had to carefully trim it all the way around and then hand stitch it onto the front of the clutch. It has a magnetic clasp and is lined with the beautiful periwinkle print from my mom’s dress. It turned out lovely and got about a gazillion compliments on my wedding day both on how it looked and on the story behind it.
I think the 70’s floral lining is my favorite part. I have always thought that print was beautiful. I hope someday to give it to a daughter, if I am lucky enough to have one, to remind her of both my mom and my grandma! Maybe I can even add a little pocket inside made out of a piece of my dress!
Anyway, on to the tutorial! I thought with this project, I’d try something new, I don’t have any photos of how I made this clutch so I’ve made you some quick diagrams. Take a look and tell me, do you like them? How do you feel about diagrams vs. photos for projects like this, I’m really curious to know!
Easy Envelope Clutch Tutorial
1. Cut your fabric into a house shape via the diagram below. Cut one each of outer fabric, lining fabric and cotton batting. If you want the finished size of your clutch to be X inches by Y inches, the overall size of your fabric shape will be X+1″ by 3y+1″. (For example, say you want a clutch that is 8 inches by 4 inches, your fabric shape overall will be 9 inches by 13 inches)
2. Insert the magnetic snaps. I always like to add a little fusible interfacing on the back of the fabric where I insert the snap for stability. For good photos and detailed description of how I insert magnetic snaps, see my Preschool Tote Bag Tutorial.
3. Layer your fabrics, put the batting down first, then the Lining Fabric, right side UP and then the Outer Fabric, right side DOWN. Pin all the way around.
5. Clip the corners,being careful not to clip your stitches. Then turn the clutch right side out and press. At the opening, press the edges inside and if you want, pin it closed. You will close that opening in the next step.
6. Being careful to keep the opening neatly closed, fold your clutch in thirds, pin and sew up the sides close to the edge as shown, and you’re done!
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