August 26, 2010

the Leather Purse

So, here is the tutorial some of you have been asking for - the Leather Purse.  This is a pretty beefy tutorial, so hang in there.  I wouldn't say it's really hard to make this, but it is quite time consuming.  However, it's pretty fun in the end to have a leather handbag that you've made.  I never would have even dreamed of trying to make something like this a year ago.  I love figuring out new stuff!


I tried to make it big enough to carry everything I need, but not giant.  While I won't be giving exact measurements for everything, but I will explain and draw out exactly what you need.


The first thing I did was to create a basic pattern.  I used my freezer paper and cut a rectangle the size I wanted the bag to be.  (Later I ended up rounding the bottom corners.)  The pattern is nice because you can lay it all out on your mat and use a rotary cutter to cut the leather, just like you would if it was fabric.  Yes, it might make your blade a little more dull, but it will cut the leather really well.


Here's a quick sketch of the different parts you'll need and the shapes of each piece.  Remember geometry?  Well, you don't really have to, but just realize that "a" is the same length as "a" below.



The majority of the bag is held together by the leather lacing.  You need to make holes all along the edges to be able to lace it up.  I bought the leather hole punch at the leather store.  It's best to put a cutting board (from your kitchen) underneath while hammering in the holes.  The holes of the two leather pieces that will be laced together need to match.  That's why I laid them next to each other and made sure they'd match up.  Don't panic.  They don't have to be perfect.  You can eye it up. 


You'll punch holes along all the edges except for the top of the bag.  Take your time and be sure not to get too close to the edge with your holes.  Make sure all your holes match up. 


After some sweat, you'll have this.


The leather lace can be purchased at Hobby Lobby.  They have a variety of colors, too.  Lace the pieces together.  Leave the extra lace hanging out of the top for now.  You'll be able to sew it down later.


To create your lining you will use your pattern again.  Cut the pieces the same size and sew them together.  Insert the lining into the purse.  Now, here's something I didn't do but should have.  Find some hard plastic or cardboard.  Cut a rectangle to fit perfectly into the bottom of the bag.  Then insert the lining.  If you do this the purse will keep its shape better when you're carrying a lot of stuff.

I tacked down the lining in places along the top.


Next you'll cut and fold over some long strips of leather to go over the edge.  Sew them down.  This will also help to firm up the purse a bit.  I didn't do that on the sides because I left the leather extra long there.  I folded in the leather flaps on the side and sewed them down.  I made sure that I sewed the leather lace down under that flap so it would stay down tightly.  You now have the main part of the bag finished!


Next up are the straps.  I recommend measuring the length of straps that are comfortable to you on a purse.  Use that length.  Some people like them longer and some like them shorter.  Here's another sketch showing you how the straps work.



Lastly, you'll want to add the flap.  I didn't want the flap to be flimsy, so I made it two layers thick.  I also wanted to carry on the leather lacing here so I cut two flaps, punched my holes through one of them.  Then I lined them up and made marks on the unpunched flap so I would know exactly where to punch the holes to have them match up. 

I sewed the flap onto the back, where I made sure I sewed the leather lace under it as well to hold it in place.


I sewed on a large button for looks and then added a magnetic snap underneath for convenience.



Now you're all done!  Whew!  That was a big one.  Thanks for hanging in there.  If you try this one out PLEASE let me know.  I'd love to see how it turns out.  Here are a few more tips if you're going to make one:

- Most sewing machines will go through the leather quite well.  There is a leather needle you can buy for your machine.  It's a bit thicker so it won't break.  (I didn't use a special one and I didn't have a problem, but you never know.)
- You might want to use a bit of fabric glue between the leather and the lining so it doesn't shift around on you.
- When adding the magnetic snap, use an exacto knife to cut the slits for it in the leather.
- You might want to add a little pocket in the lining.  It would be nice.
- If you don't like having to maneveur things awkwardly under your sewing machine then I would sew the handles on before lacing up the purse.


Thanks for reading my blog.  Thank you especially for all your kind, supportive comments on yesterday's post.  I sincerely appreciate it and I'm glad you're here.  Have a terrific day!

33 comments:

  1. wow, I can tell you put a lot of work into this. The shape is really great and the colors are just fabulous!

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  2. Ok. . . this is amazing! I am so impressed with your patience to poke all those holes and make sure that they line up! I know I could never complete this project :]

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  3. Been lurking for a while...love this tutorial. I worked with leather in college and they have a punch fork that makes 4 holes (actually slits) nicely spaced, that might ease the lining up of the laces. But, mostly I love your handwritten notes and pictures. It's like my bff is explaining something to me. Love your blog, I visit every day!

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  4. Thanks! This is a wonderful project. I feel like I need to rush right out and stalk the leather isle at the fabric store!

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  5. Love the purse! I can't wait to make one of my own :0)

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  6. very cool bag cheri.
    Love the colors you chose too!

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  7. The colors are lovely!

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  8. Love it! Next time I have a budget for material I might just have to make this. :)

    I am a long time follower, just always too shy to comment :) Love your blog!

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  9. Oh i love this purse... how much can i pay you to make me one?

    I really want one. The problem is, like all my other craft projects, it would take me 6 months to complete this thing and my craft table would look like it does now with 7 half finished projects on it - just with one more.

    Thanks for the tutorial... maybe i'll get brave and try it. If not, i'm seriously going to be back to beg you to take my money and make me one!

    love your site btw - you are my super crafy hero!

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  10. Gorgeous purse! I'm definitely going to try it! I think it would make a great Christmas present for my sisters.

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  11. Thank you so much for posting this. I love it. And the colors too. When i get around to making mine, I may have to just use blue and red too. Hope you don't mind. We'll see how mine goes, then I'll think about gifts.

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  12. I am LOVING all of your leather tutorials. So much so that I looked up a local store that sells leather! I am headed down there in the near future!

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  13. Thanks for the sewing with leather tip. I had always wondered if it would break my machine/needle, so I hadn't tried it yet.

    Also, did you know you can buy a leather punch that has like 6 different sizes to punch holes? I've seen them at Michael's and they are GREAT. It's kinda like a paper punch.

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  14. I have a leather tool kit and have always wanted to use it but have been a little scared I would mess it up... After seeing you post I think I just might try it. Have been wanting to make a belt for a long time. Love the blue and red combination. Jeanna@dramaqueenseams.blogspot.com

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  15. Nice Job! That puppy looks pretty professional. You've got skillzzz!

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  16. WOW great project. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  17. I LOVE IT!!! Totally my favorite. And the red lace with the teal leather. Well, it's just perfection. And for some reason the button is really speaking to me. All of it just works so well together. And that is why YOU ROCK!!

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  18. What a gorgeous purse! The size is great and you used my two favorite colors. LOVE it!!

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  19. absolutely stunning. and so inspiring!! thank you for posting - i've really enjoyed reading this x

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  20. Wow! That's a seriously cute bag. Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial.

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  21. That purse ROCKS! I can't believe you made it.....very inspiring! Now I just have to visit a leather store to find an awesome color like you did ;)

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  22. totally cute! and you're right, really not that hard! YAY!

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  23. Oh my goodness, that is so cute. You're so good to put all that effort in it. It totally shows!

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  24. so ridiculously cute! I love the colour combo...and that button and paisley fabric are just killing me! Bravo!!!

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  25. This is seriously fantastic. I am moderately scared to attempt this, but maybe someday when my sewing skills improve....

    Love it.

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  26. This is really cool! Where did you get the leather from?

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  27. Wow, that is very cute! I bet using a cropadile would make it so much easier!

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  28. Cool, cool, cool! Thanks for the tutorial. Must be so time-consuming stopping to take photos for each step while making it. I appreciate it and can't wait to try making it myself.

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  29. so amazing project and finished, thanks for sharing

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  30. Oh my, I am totally in love with your purse, love the color combo and the modern vintage feel, I'm going to link to this too, hope that's okay with you! all the best, I'll be back to see more of your great projects1

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  31. This is hard work indeed! You will end up with soar fingers, but what an original purse! :-)

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  32. I loved this tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

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