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How to Turn a Placemat into a Clutch

Sometimes when I scan the aisles of Target, things catch my eye that I don't have an actual use for...like placemats. I use placemats for just about anything other than their intended purpose. (I am millennial after all, and we probably killed placemats like we did everything else, ha!) In this case, I turned a placemat into a clutch by adding a zipper and a tassel zipper pull. Even the beginner sewist should be able to conquer this project in less than 30 minutes.

 Many placemats you buy may have a back lining (as mine did), and it's up to you whether or not to remove it or keep it. Personally, I removed it because of how thick it made the fabric, and it was an extra layer to worry about. Don't have a placemat? That's OK too! You can follow this general tutorial for regular cut fabric as well. This is a great beginner tutorial because you don't necessarily have to follow traditional sewing rules to create this style of clutch - forget things like turning the fabric inside out to create clean seams. 

Materials:

  • Fabric placemat
  • Matching zipper, about 9 inches
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Embroidery floss (optional)

Step

Remove tags from placemat. Cut down to desired size if needed so that the width of the clutch is approximately the same as the zipper. If desired, remove lining in the process. 

For example, I cut the placemat to about 10 in x 15 in, so it was about 10 x 7.5 once sewn.

Step

Fold in half (with right sides facing out) and position the zipper in the middle of the placemat, where the two ends meet. Pin the zipper along one side, positioned in the middle of the fabric. For the cleanest look, fold the edge of fabric before pinning to the zipper if the placemat does not have a finished edge. 

Step

Sew as you remove the pins, securing the zipper in place. Back stitch at each end and trim loose threads. 

Step

Pin the other side of the zipper to the other side of the fabric, folding a seam the same way as the other side. Open the zipper and remove the extension plate of your sewing machine so that you can sew only one side of the clutch (see above photo). Sew along the zipper as you remove the pins to secure the zipper in place. Back stitch at each end and trim loose threads. 

Step

Zip up the zipper. Sew a thin seam up each side of the clutch, squaring over to meet the zipper if needed to sew up all sides of the clutch. Back stitch at each end and trim loose threads. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect!

Step

This step is optional. If you wish to create a tassel for the zipper pull, wrap the string around a small piece of cardboard until thick. Tie another piece of string around the top, threading under the string. Cut bottom to create tassel and remove from cardboard. Tie a string around the mid-top of the tassel and trim strings so they appear even. Lastly, tie the loose top securely to the zipper pull and trim excess string. 

Now your placemat clutch is ready to fill up! You can customize this tutorial however you see fit and add even more embellishments to make a clutch that is completely unique. I bet no one will believe your new clutch is actually made from a placemat! 

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