DIY Gift Series: Bleach-Dot Clutch

We’re excited to kick off a short series of guest DIY projects from Merrilee Lilliard of Mer Mag. Merrilee will be sharing some handmade gift ideas over the next few weeks, starting with this lovely bleach-dot clutch. Thanks for joining us for the holidays, Merrilee! — Kate

Hello, Design*Sponge readers! Merrilee from Mer Mag here. I’m thrilled to be joining you today and for the next few weeks to share some fun and simple DIY gift ideas. I’m a big fan of making gifts for the holidays, and if they are simple to make, well, then I’m even more on board. This bleach-dotted clutch is just that. I’ve always enjoyed the different things you can do with bleach and have wanted to try out this technique for some time. It has just the right “wow factor” while being simple enough to make for everyone on your gift list! — Merrilee

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • dark cotton fabric for exterior
  • corresponding fabric for interior
  • thin batting
  • dropper for applying bleach
  • button
  • bleach
  • sewing machine
  • corresponding thread
  • scissors
  • pattern template


1. Using the clutch pattern, cut out dark exterior and interior fabric, as well as the batting.

2. Using the dropper and test strip of fabric, suction a small amount of bleach onto the fabric. Different fabrics respond differently to the bleach, so this is an important step. Play around until you are comfortable with the dropper and how your fabric responds to the bleach. Let this test strip sit for at least 10 minutes to see how the end result turns out.

3. Now that you have experimented using a test strip, go ahead and place droplets in a grid pattern onto the dark cotton fabric. Have fun with it! The serendipity of this process is what makes the end result so appealing. Set it aside to dry.

4. Pin and stitch together the interior lining fabric to the batting.

5. Trim the lining and batting.

6. Place the bleach-dotted fabric on top of the lining, fabric side up. Pin together.

7. Pin together and stitch, leaving a small opening on the side to turn the fabric inside out. Trim the seam allowance and corners.

8. Turn the clutch fabric inside out and press. You can hand stitch the opening closed or just press it, as it will be stitched closed at a later time.

9. Fold over clutch and decide where you want the button and button hole to be.

10. Using your machine’s button hole settings, create a button hole in the top of the clutch flap.

11. Now stitch your button onto the inside flap.

12. Pin the sides of the clutch and stitch together. Carry the stitch all the way up and over the top portion of the clutch and back down. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitch to reinforce seams.

13. Fold over the top of the clutch, fasten and you are finished! Fill your clutch with goodies for the perfect gift to give a dear friend. But don’t forget to make one for yourself :)

  1. Lizabeth says:

    Clutch pattern or at least the flat size of the material? Seam allowance size? Could hazard a guess based on the photos but would like to know. Can’t wait to make it!

  2. Allison Alexander says:

    Are you worried the bleach will leave holes in the fabric?

  3. mer says:

    Hi Allison! I’ve had the clutch for about a month now and no holes :). xo Mer

  4. Maya says:

    Love this – thanks for sharing :) I fancy a pattern of bleach-dots kinda fanning out from the corner of the clutch, bit like a sun or starburst. Lovely.

  5. Laura says:

    what a great and simple idea – just so perfect. Lovely design and very fun, yet also ideal for adapting too.


  6. Carmen says:

    Very cool. I’ll have to try sometime.

  7. lizabeth….there is a link to the pattern in step one. :)

  8. I like this alot. Reminds me what we used to do back in the 60’s and tie dying. Love the pattern that the bleach made, good technique for any solid fabric. Thanks for sharing with us.

  9. lisa says:

    is anyone else having a problem printing? i cant get more than like the middle portion to print lol

  10. Annette says:

    What a great project! I think that as soon as the bleaching process has reached the desired result it is highly recommended to rinse the fabric immediately. Otherwise the bleach keeps on doing its thing which can result in holes indeed.

  11. mer says:

    Ooh thanks Annette! Good info. xo Mer

  12. sarah k says:

    great project..a neat gift idea too.

  13. yes i agree with Annette! washing it reduces the chance for the bleach wearing through thinner fabric. I love this, but i love anything with a dotted pattern. one of my favorite tank tops i still wear has an accidental bleach splatter on it -t his gave me inspiration to try it on purpose!

  14. caroline says:

    Hi thanks for the post! I’m looking to get back into sewing and your machine looks easy to handle – what make is it?

  15. mer says:

    Hi Caroline. It’s a Baby Lock Ellure and I love it. I purchased it about 5 years ago because it has embroidery capabilities but I’ve never used it for that! If you can find a less expensive Baby Lock without embroidery that would be a great machine for getting back into sewing. xo Mer

  16. caroline says:

    mer, thanks for your help. i have started to look into their machines, and i enjoyed delving into your blog/website. merry christmas to you and yours, caroline

  17. Muycuqui says:

    Amazing idea and project.

  18. Ashley says:

    Just completed this today as a Christmas gift! So excited to see her reaction. Easy and fun DIY! Next time I might make my own template because this one was a little small onces everything was sewn together.

  19. Dani Malloy says:

    I had some leftover fabric from a purse I made, so I omitted the bleach dotting, but this is simple and turned out cute. Thanks!

  20. zen says:

    this is so chic! need to do a bag DIY for happinessswherever :)


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