This project is an excellent way to hone some very important sewing skills, not the least of which includes how to apply the optional lace appliqués. The lace on its own provides a feminine, vintage touch. Applied over a print it becomes very modern and unique. We’ve shown the attaché in a lovely pastel hue with ivory appliques, but it would be amazing in a range of combinations. Imagine it done in rich jewel tones with black lace appliques or all done in trendy neutral tones! Have fun choosing your unique combination. Make it uniquely you or make it with a friend in mind. It would be such a lovely gift!
Here’s what you’ll need:
½ yard fabric
¾ yard heavy craft stiffener (we used Peltex)
1 package extra-wide double-fold bias tape
1 spool thread to match bias tape
½ yard soutache braid or similar fine cord
Ruler, Fabric Marker and Scissors, OR Ruler, Mat, Rotary Cutter, Scissors and Fabric Marker
Small scissors (very sharp for trimming appliqués)
Sewing Machine (straight stitch)
Iron and Ironing Board
Small bowl, saucer or large coffee cup to use as template for rounded corners
Optional (for appliqué):
¼ yard corded lace fabric with motifs suitable for appliqué
1 spool invisible thread (we used YLI Wonder Thread)
Sewing Machine with Zig Zag Stitch
Let’s make a pattern!
Instead of making a paper pattern, we made our pattern directly out of our piece of Peltex (craft stiffener). First we cut it to a length of 21”. Then we cut it to a width of 13”. At one corner, place the bowl upside down so the edges of the bowl are lined up with the two edges of the stiffener. Trace the edge of the bowl at the corner (a quarter-circle). Do the same at the adjacent corner as shown. Cut along the arc as shown in the last photo. This is your finished pattern and your stiffener is ready to use!
Let’s cut our fabric!
Lay the stiffener on top of the folded fabric. The straight edge of the stiffener should line up with the fabric fold. Cut the fabric along the length, around the curves and back along the length – DO NOT cut along the fold.
Open out the fabric and place the stiffener between the two layers of fabric. The straight edge of the stiffener should be tucked snuggly into the folded edge of the fabric. Place pins through all layers at the folded edge. Place pins through all layers around the rest of the perimeter of the fabric and stiffener as shown in the last photo.
Cutting and placing your appliqués for the flap (optional):
If you are applying appliqués, roughly cut a set of four as shown in the first and second images above. There should be a nice allowance of plain tulle around each appliqué. Our appliqués are in pairs (left and right). We placed a pair between the two rounded corners that will become the flap of our attaché. Use a ruler to make sure they are balanced. Try to keep the edges of your appliqué within 4½” of the rounded end as this will be the depth of the flap. Use appliqué pins to secure the appliqués in place.
Stitching the appliqués for the flap (optional):
Thread your sewing machine with the invisible thread in the needle and in the bobbin. Set your sewing machine to a medium-width zigzag stitch with a shorter stitch length (we used a stitch length of 2). Line up the corded edge of the lace with the centre of your zigzag stitch. Begin stitching in a clockwise direction around the outside edge of the lace. Your stitch should go back and forth over the corded edge. When you need to pivot, bring the needle into the down position and lift the presser foot. Pivot work, bring presser foot back down, and continue. This may be a little tedious at the beginning, but you will get the hang of it. Remove the pins as you go. When you arrive back where you started stitching, tie off your threads on the underside of your work. Using your sharpest little scissors, very carefully trim away the excess tulle. Repeat the same process for the other appliqué.
Placing the appliqué on the body of the attaché (optional):
To figure out the placement of the other pair of appliqués, fold the straight edge toward the flap. The fold should be 7 ½” away from the straight edge. Then fold over the flap, which is 4 ½” deep. Place the remaining pair of appliqués on the main body of the attaché between the edge of the flap and the main fold as shown in the first image. Open out the body and the flap in order to stitch the appliqués in place.
Stitching the second pair of appliqués (optional):
Stitch the second pair of appliqués in the same manner that you stitched the first pair (described above).
Let’s create our attaché!
Once you have completed the appliqué (optional), fold the straight edge of the attaché toward the rounded edge as shown. The fold should be 7 ½” from the straight edge. Place pins through all layers to hold in place.
Let’s bind the edge:
Open out the end of your double-fold bias tape. Cut the end of the tape at a 45-degree angle. Fold back the bias tape and line up the folded edge at the bottom edge of the attachéd. Place a couple of pins to hold the bias in place (first image above). NOTE: Pin through all layers. The binding will actually be holding the attaché closed. Begin stitching in the crease starting from the bottom edge of the attaché. Backstitch to secure your stitching. Remove pins as you go. Continue stitching in the crease taking special care as you sew around the rounded corners. As you near the bottom edge of the attaché, stop stitching and leave the needle in the down position. Open out the bias tape and cut the bias at a 45-degree angle as shown in the fourth image above. Fold the bias tape back toward your work, so the folded edge lines up with the bottom edge of the attaché. Stitch in place, securing your final stitches with a backstitch.
Wrap the bias around to the back of the attaché, making sure that the fold edge on the bias tape overlaps the stitching that you just did. Pin bias in place and stitch in the ditch between the bias and the fabric (making sure that you are securing the bias on the underside). Once you have finished stitching the bias, give it a nice press.
Create the 4 ½” flap by folding and pressing it.
Let’s finish our attaché!
Stitch one button on the flap (centred and about 1 ½” from the edge of the flap. Stitch the other button on the main part of the attaché mirroring the button on the flap. Create a slip knot at one end of the soutache braid and slip this over the button on the flap. To secure your attaché, simply wrap the soutache around the two buttons in a figure ‘8’ fashion. You now have an excellent way to carry important documents or photos!