{Tutorials & Handmade}

The Beastly Clawlet

“The Beastly Clawlet”
The Epic Drama of Design Versus Function

Introduction: Readers join Mary as she shares years of frustration, tragedy, frugalness, contemplation, creativity, and finally, triumph.

Disclaimer: men folk may not appreciate this post.  But… oh well.

I’ve had this problem for a while now.

It’s really a multi-tiered, complex problem, one which has caused me embarrassment and confusion.

You see, a couple years ago I bought a wallet at Meijer.  I’m not always super fashion conscious so I bought what was on clearance.  It was not incredibly cute, but I did not need cute.  I needed it to hold my wallet stuff.  You know, since that’s what wallets do.
But I quickly discovered that the pockets for cash in this wallet were TOO SMALL.  The bills were always wrinkled and getting mashed, which made them immensely difficult to keep organized.  I’d be standing at the checkout of the grocery store, handing over crumpled up pieces of obscured money.  Oh yeah, I was that lady, the flustered, hurried, panicked, well-meaning, kind woman ahead of you at the grocery store.  With seven people and laden carts waiting behind her, she felt the need for swift payment but just couldn’t quite execute.

Except, normally those ladies have screaming children on their hips.  I just have my pathetic excuse of a wallet. *shakes fist in air at wallet*

I’m sort of finicky about function, but this seemed extreme to me.  I mean, how do you design and market a wallet that’s TOO SMALL for CASH?  But, at the time I didn’t want to buy something else since it was still pretty new, but too used to return (remember, I was still in undergrad, it took a a few weeks discover this cash problem… I had to get cash first.).

Also, during this undergrad era (as I’m henceforth going to call it) I acquired my Timbuk2 bag.  I love my Timbuk2 bag.  It’s comfortable.  It burly.  It’s held up for some serious years of textbook mistreatment, laptop carry-age, coffee spills, ink pen explosions, and dropping it on the floor.  I even threw it in a toploader the other day, and it didn’t even dream of flirting dangerously with the agitator. 

Years pass.  I bring my bag to weddings, church, and all sorts of other formal occasions when I really should have something a bit more… feminine.  

All this time I’ve been avoiding getting a purse.  My big ole bag has a pocket that I zip my wallet into, and everything is arranged nicely.  I cannot imagine constantly switching my items from my book bag to a purse.  It’s simply inconceivable to me.  And I will not carry both.

I realize there are women that do either of those options.  I simply refuse to be a bag switcher.  It’s too much work, and it’s inefficient.  
All for what?  A little fashion?  For me, it’s not worth it.   

Until this spring.  This spring, while we were in Massachusetts I made one friend.  My one friend and I went out to a restaurant for dinner, and we stopped at a cute used boutique shop on the way.  I commented on a cool purse, and my dear friend said, “Yeah, you probably should have a bag that looks like it’s for a girl.”  I was wearing nice jeans, a dressy top, and eyeshadow.  And I had my diaper bag (as Jared has nicknamed it).  I felt a little conspicuous as we walked into a cute, trendy east coast tapas bar a few minutes later.  I love having friends that will tell you like it is… even if it’s about your diaper bag. 

Somewhere in here, I was also starting to ditch my bag altogether and just grocery shop with my keys in my pocket and my wallet under my arm.

But my friends commented sparked the dilemma anew.  So I contemplated.  I had had the wallet long enough that I didn’t feel badly about getting a new one, but I did NOT want to do the purse to bag switchero every-other-day.

And then, it hit me.

I would get a “Clawlet”.  

It would be part clutch, so I could still slip it under my arm for the quick-ditch run to the grocery store for ice cream milk, but small enough that I could still zip it into the pocket reserved in my Timbuk2 bag for my wallet.  It would be part wallet so I could store my cards and cash and change in it.  It might even have an extra pocket or two for my phone.  It would be a wallet, that looked like a clutch.

It could stand alone if I needed it to, but it could also fit right into the organizational system in my diaper bag.

And, it could be pretty.

Design + FUNCTION= Triumph

But, I couldn’t find such an accessory anywhere I looked, muchless on my budget (ahem, under ten dollars, thanks very much).  

So, I took matters into my own hands.  I would sew this accessory!  But, time got the better of me, and at the end of our time in Michigan we said goodbye to my parents, and, sadly, my mom’s sewing machine.  I hadn’t gotten the clawlet done because I was working on other projects.  After several years, it still wasn’t a priority. 

And then, wonder of wonders!  Papa and Grandma Goose gave me a sewing machine!  Papa had gotten it from a woman and their church, and it was just hanging out in his shop.  It’s from the same era as my mothers, which means it’s tough and simple to use, features I appreciate in a sewing machine.

So yesterday I brought the Clawlet to life.

Presenting, The Clawlet:

I wanted it to be somewhat feminine, so I could use it at weddings… or {insert fancy places I might go}.  

I saw a picture of a gift wrapped in butcher paper and a doily, and the idea of a little lace with a natural fabric was born (note: I actually thought the gift was a clutch.  and then I figured out it wasn’t.  and i felt smart).


I got the lace at Bibles for Mexico in Holland, Michigan (Hi, Grandpa!) on one of the several trips there Jared and I made over the summer.  The proceeds of Bibles for Mexico are used for… need I say it?  Sending Bibles to Mexico!  Huzzah!  They have two handy locations on the North and South side of Holland, so if you’re in the West Michigan area I highly recommend stopping by.  My Grandpa manages the Thursday crowd on the North side, so it’s always a blast to treasure hunt while he’s working.
Anyway, the lace was actually a lace “collar” (Seriously?  Did women really used to wear collars of lace?  Because if they did, I’m surprised I haven’t seen that back in style, even though I wouldn’t wear it.  But that’s generally how I operate with fashion trends.) 

Inside, I sewed a 6 card-slot wall, and a zipper for cash and change (with ample room for the cash to be completely unhindered in it’s flat, unwrinkled existence.  sorry to be dramatic.  i like the word ample.  and flat, organized cash).  I also sewed two pockets on the opposite wall for chappy and my phone. 
And baseball cards.  

Ha!  Faked you out!  As if I carried around baseball cards… no, they’re only in the vault in our guest room.

Ha!  Faked you out again!

Wowsa, I need to take my Sunday afternoon nap, eh?

Anyway… I think it’ll likely be a great solution for my dramatic tale of design and function woe.  I’m so glad that it ends with triumph.

Also, this is the corner of our duplex.  And one of the chairs that we painted and reupholstered in a crazy streak of recylcing, upcyling, and flat out changing our stuff.  I’ll show you the table some time.  It is p-retty.

This weekend, I sewed another clutch (a real clutch, not a clawlet), a laptop sleeve, and a spiffy little whale for a wee man child I know.

I have plans for many more sewing ventures.  This afternoon.  Before school starts tomorrow.  Even though my body says I should take a nap.


p.s. please send help.
p.p.s. for me.  and support for Jared.
p.p.p.s. I promise not to say the word clawlet in the grocery store or in public ever again.

{Edit, if this kind of thing tickles your fancy, I really couldn’t find a tutorial that was perfect for this project.  So, I combined the clutch tutorial from here and the cardslot/zippered pocket portion of this tutorial.  Over and out.}


One thought on “The Beastly Clawlet

  1. You're the best. Seriously. I laughed. Out loud. I cried. (Not really.) And now, because of your inspiration, I'm going to go sew. Actually, I was already going to, but now I'm more inspired…especially since I've never sewn before.


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