Covering a box clutch purse – a no-sew handbag!

This is another craft project that has been sitting in my cupboard for many months waiting to be started! As a virtual non-sewer, I saw this idea online and thought it was a great way to make a beautiful handbag without having to first hone my sewing crafts! I’m actually pretty pleased with the results :)

Fabric covered shell handbag

I used this great tutorial from U-handbag, although I have to confess that I didn’t buy the hardware from them, I bought it from this Etsy shop instead. I bought the material for the outside from Fabric Rehab (it’s called ‘Aviary Plum Green’ but they don’t seem to do it any more) and the HT2 glue is from Amazon. I bought the fabric for the lining from a small shop in Hong Kong, and I already had some Tacky Glue lying around.

I found the tutorial very easy to follow and had no real problems making the purse. The only thing I changed was that I chose to add fusible interfacing to the fabric before gluing to the shells of the purse. I bought some medium-weight fusible interfacing and followed this tutorial to adhere it to the fabric before using. I wanted to do this because I was afraid that the dark colour of the shell would show through the fabric and I was quite glad that I did because I think that the fabrics still show the black plastic a little.

This is the frame hardware that I started out with:

Purse hardware - frame

Purse hardware - shells

And this is the fabric I used – birds for the outside…

Aviary Plum Green fabric…and spots for the inside

Lining fabric

Cutting the fabric to size – after the minor fiasco with the felt phone pouch, I cut VERY generous margins around the shell!

Cutting to size

Fusible interfacing ironed onto the back (most of the pieces didn’t have as many bubbles in as this one!)

Applying the fusible interfacing

After applying the glue to the shell, letting it go tacky and sticking the fabric on, I used my husband’s small grips to hold it in place but I only had 4 so I just used clothes pegs on the other shell!

Clamping the glued fabric in place

I tried my best to make the corners neat…

Neat corners

…I think I was more successful on the outside than the inside…

Not so neat corners

After glueing the lining fabric in and trimming the fabric to the edge of the frame it looked like this:

Internal fabric lining

I found the fabric so much harder to glue in on the inside than the outside! It was very hard to stop the fabric pulling away from the shell when trying to make the corners. The corners were much harder to make neatly as well.

Also, you can see in the above picture that there are some darker patches on the fabric – they are present because I forgot to wait for the glue to go tacky before I stuck this piece of fabric on. Let that be a lesson to you!

Finally, the grooves in the frame were glued with the HT2 glue and the shells were stuck into place. I did them both at the same time, which wasn’t a great idea. I’d recommend that you just glue one side, wait for it to go tacky and then put the first shell in – it will stop you from having to rush to get the second shell in and allow you to figure out what you’re doing!

Overall, I was pretty happy with the result:

Fabric covered clamshell purse

Inside the purse

I have to admit that I wasn’t totally happy with the frame. Firstly, the shells fitted well to the internal side of the groove, but there was a gap around the outside, which is still visible now.

Gap around frame

Also, the internal lip of the groove doesn’t go all the way round, leaving some rough, exposed edges on the lining fabric. I’m not sure what to do about this!

Exposed fabric edges

But overall, I really like my new purse. Now I just need an occasion to use it!

Covered box clutch purse

Thanks for reading!


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