Tutorial: Coraline Clutch Handles

The handles for the Coraline Clutch is one of the most difficult parts to perfect of any Swoon pattern. It even takes me more than one try usually to end up happy with them. I thought I’d write a tutorial below on how I make them. The final top stitching is really the most troublesome part.


Cut all of your pieces. Try to get the stabilizer pieces as close to the paper pattern piece as possible. The facing and fabric handle pieces don’t matter as much, but the stabilizer should be as close to exact as you can get them. I have pictured the pieces for one handle – the bag requires two so you’ll have double.

Place your two stabilizer pieces on top of each other, non-fusible sides together. Make sure all sides, corners and center hole line up perfectly. If not, trim them to match.

Fuse each to the wrong side of the fabric handle pieces, centered, with 1/2″ gap on every side.

Pin the facing to the RIGHT side of the stabilized Handle, centered over the stabilizer hole on the other (wrong) side. The facing and handle piece should be right sides together. Be sure not to pin inside of the hole, that’s where we will be sewing.

With a shorter stitch length (2 on my machine) and the stabilizer side up, sew the entire way around the stabilizer hole, right next to, but not through, the stabilizer.

Flip the handle over. It should look like the image below. (I didn’t do a very good job of centering but it’ll still work fine)

Remove the pins and cut a horizontal slit inside the stitched oval. You want to cut right up to, but not through, the stitching. Then cut a few more slits at the curved ends of the oval, like below.

Now pull all of the raw edges through the hole to the wrong side of the handle, starting at the oval ends. Press them flat, pulling so that the oval seam is mostly hidden from the right side. Sometimes I use fabric glue (Fabri-tac) to hold the facing in place at each end first, it makes it a lot easier.

The finished wrong side should look like the image below. Wrinkles are okay, nobody will ever see this. We only want to worry about what the right side looks like. 🙂

And here’s how the pretty right side should look:

Now repeat all the above to make the remaining three. We need two for each finished handle.

Pin two handles right sides together, matching the hole and edges of the stabilizer on each. Do not worry about matching the raw fabric edges, we only want to make sure the stabilizer and hole are lined up as best we can.

Starting at the bottom curved edge, sew up one short side, across the straight top, and down the other short side, backstitching at start/stop. Leave the bottom curved edge unstitched. Sew right next to the stabilizer, at no point should you sew through the stabilizer while making the handles.

Trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4″. Not too close, we don’t want raw edges popping out after we turn it.

Now turn the handle right side out and admire how beautiful it is, because we haven’t gotten to the hard part yet. You could very well just squeeze some fabric glue inside the handle to keep it from separating and call it a day (without the top stitching). But for the ambitious, I’ll continue.

Change your stitch to a longer one (3.5 for me). Starting at the curved raw edge, top stitch up one side, across the straight top, and down the other short side.

Now the hardest part. Top stitch around the handle hole. Start in the top or bottom center and go slowly. Hand crank your maching around the curved ends, again, SLOWLY. If you have an erasable fabric pen, first try drawing a line for you to follow. And use thread that matches your fabric perfectly (and not a gigantic size 16 needle like I did). Handles with patterns instead of solids (like I used) tend to look better in the end.

Voila! Now just repeat all that to make your second handle. Don’t feel bad if you have to rip out some top stitching and redo. We *all* do. 😉

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