How to Make a Leather Handbag

Written by pat olsen
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Want to learn to make your own leather handbag? This is a beginner's project that completes a large, simple, hand-stitched, oval leather bag that will be finished with a magnetic clasp. There is no pattern necessary, because there are only two sides. This project is a slipper bag, but it could easily be done in any other shape.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Oval platter or similar geometric shape
  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • Copier
  • Scissors
  • Leather punch
  • Leather glue
  • Hammer or soft mallet
  • 4 feet of coordinating leather cord
  • Magnetic clasp

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  1. 1

    Use an oval platter for a pattern. Use tracing paper to trace around the platter. If you want it bigger, enlarge the pattern on a copier. Make a smaller oval to be used to shape the handles and opening of the purse.

  2. 2

    Use the large pattern to cut two ovals out of leather. Fold the bottom of the smaller oval up by 1/3 of the length. Place the smaller oval pattern about 2 inches inside the top of the purse ovals; make sure it is centred so the straps are equal on all sides. This is the pattern for the inside of the straps and purse opening. Adjust the pattern length if you wish.

  3. 3

    Cut the shape of the handles from the inside of the purse. Cut across the bottom of the pattern to leave a straight edge for the opening for the purse.

  4. 4

    Use a leather punch and make holes 3/4 inch apart and ¼ inch in, all around the outside and inside edges of the leather pieces.

  5. 5

    Place leather pieces wrong sides together and mark where the opening of the bag will be. Take the top piece off and place a thin bead of leather glue ½ inch around the inside edge, just inside your punched holes. Place the top piece on, and with a soft mallet, tap the edges of the purse together. Repeat for the inside and outside handle of the purse. Allow to dry thoroughly.

  6. 6

    Leave a 1-inch tail and begin lacing over and through the punch holes at the bottom of the bag. Go around the entire outside and finish the cording by weaving the end through the first few stitches. Weave the tail back through the end stitches. Place a drop of leather glue on the raw ends, and tap with the mallet.

  7. 7

    Begin on the inside edge of the handle, and stitch across the front of the opening, around the inside of the handle, attaching both sides together, and across the back side of the opening. Tuck and glue the raw edges as you did for the outside of the purse.

  8. 8

    Cut two tiny slits in the centre of the opening on each side and attach the magnetic snap closure according to the manufacturer's directions. The purse is ready to use.

Tips and warnings

  • You can also use a sewing machine with nylon thread and a piercing needle to stitch on either the inside or outside. Clip the excess fabric close to the seam. If you don't have a sewing machine, take your pieces to a shoe shop where they will sew everything in place for you. They can add grommets for a tie closing as well.

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