How to make handbags & purses

Updated February 21, 2017

Handbags and purses can be made in a large variety of styles from a large variety of materials. Creative enthusiasts need not spend a lot of money purchasing supplies to make a handbag or a purse. You can use recycled items lying around the house. Designs for handbags and purses can be simple or they can be complex. It all depends on taste, resources and abilities.

Lay the purse fabric flat and place the lining on top of it. Pin the paper template onto the materials.

Cut around this template. Remove the pins.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the purse fabric down ½ inch and sew. Fold the fabric in half, wrong side out, and sew the sides shut. Leave the top open. After sewing, turn the purse right side out.

Fold the lining fabric in half, wrong side out, and sew the short edges shut. Do not turn the lining right side out.

Cut a long strip of fabric the desired length of your strap. Fold it in half lengthwise and sew the edges together.

Place one end of the strap against the corners of the purse and sew. Repeat for the other end of the strap.

Place the lining into the purse. Fold the top edge of the lining down about ½ inch and sew it by hand to the purse. Make your hand stitches as invisible as possible.

Lay the T-shirt on a flat surface. Cut across the T-shirt, just under the arms, from side to side. Cut both layers.

Turn the fabric inside out. Sew the bottom opening shut, leaving an allowance of about ½ inch above the edge.

Cut a slit of about 4 inches down each side of the handbag.

Attach the handles to the handbag. Place the bottom half of a round handle at the top opening of the handbag. Fold about 1 1/2 inches of fabric around the handle and hand stitch the fabric down.

Repeat step 4 for the second handle.

Select a book the size you want your purse to be. Wrap the book with brown paper to protect its covers. Stand the book on one end.

Cut a strip of duct tape, long enough to wrap around the book. Wrap the tape around the bottom of the book, sticky side out. Overlap the edges to hold the tape in place.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the book is covered. Overlap each tape by about ½ inch. Do not cover the ends of the book.

Cut a strip of tape about 2 inches longer than the ends of the book. Leaving about 1 inch at both ends of the tape, cover one end of the book with the tape, sticky side out. Press the overlapping tape down onto the sticky tape at the sides of the book

Cut a strip of tape equal to the desired length of your strap. The measurement should include the length of the sides and bottom of the book.

Cut another strip of tape, the same length as the first, but a narrower width. Center this strip down the length of the first. Fold the edges of the wider tape over the narrower tape.

Center one end of the strap at the top of the book and take it up the sides. Let the second end of the strap overlap the first by about 1 inch and take it up the sides of the book.

Cut a strip of duct tape long enough to wrap around the book and the strap. Wrap it around the book, sticky side in. Repeat until the book is covered. Each strip of tape should overlap the preceding strip by about ½ inch. Remove the book.

Make a flap for the purse. Cut strips of tape equal to the width of the purse. Overlap each tape by ½ inch, sticky side up. Cover this layer with more strips of tape, sticky side down.

Attach one half of the snap to the flap and the other half to the front panel of the purse. Tape the bottom edge of the flap to the purse, about 1 inch below the edge of the back panel.

Lay a pair of used jeans on a flat surface.

Cut straight across, from one side to the other, just above the crotch of the trousers.

Turn the jeans inside out. Pin the bottom opening to hold it in place. Sew the opening shut. Remove the pins.

Determine the length of the strap for your handbag. Cut this piece from the pant legs. Fold it in half, lengthwise, and sew the edges together.

Place one end of the strap against the side seam of the bag, on the right side. Place it about 1 inch down. Sew the strap to the bag. Repeat for the other end of the strap.


As stated in "Making Handbags: Retro, Chic, Luxurious," "If we can't afford to go out every season and buy a new fashionable wardrobe we go for the accessories." When it becomes too expensive to purchase handbags and purses for every outfit, make them. Use the same pattern to create different purses or handbags by changing the fabric and the size or adding different types of embellishments. Enhance the appearance of your handbags or purses with embellishments such as beads, embroidery, artificial flowers and iron-on appliques.

Things You'll Need

  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Simple purse
  • -Fabric for purse
  • -Fabric for lining
  • -Paper template, 8½ inches by 11 inches
  • T-shirt purse
  • -T-shirt
  • -Round purse handles
  • Duct tape purse
  • -2-inch duct tape
  • -4-inch duct tape
  • -Book
  • -Magnetic snap closure
  • Jeans Handbag
  • -Pair of jeans
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About the Author

Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.