Monday, November 25, 2013

Leather purse tutorial

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

Who doesn't love a good leather bag? Am I right?

With Christmas on my mind, I (Jessica) found a red leather skirt at the thrift store a few weeks ago, for only $4. I loved the soft, sueded texture of the leather, and the color was perfect for the holiday season, but it didn't fit me! I bought it anyways, knowing I could make something else with it. Leather is expensive, after all.

After seeing some of the adorable clutch and cross body bags out in the stores right now, I knew what I was going to do with my thrifted skirt. I was going to make my own leather bag!

This bag turned out better then I imagined, and I can't wait to share the tutorial with you for making your own real leather bag! This was an easy and inexpensive sewing project, and would make the perfect gift for any of the women in your life.

 Here's what you'll need:

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

1. 2 pieces of leather, roughly 12 inches x 14 inches. I cut mine out of my skirt, but you can use fake leather from the fabric store as well.
2. 2 pieces of cotton fabric for the lining, in the same dimensions as the leather pieces. I used an old shirt.
3. 2 small pieces of leather, about 1 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches
4. 1 12 inch zipper
5. 1 chain with lobster clasps on either end (you can buy these at craft stores or scavenge them from old purses like I did)
6. 2 D rings
7. 2 tiny pieces of leather, 1 inch by 2 inches

You'll also probably want some simple, cheap clamps (the kind you use for closing bags of chips), and you will need a leather needle for your machine. Don't be scared by a leather needle! They're exactly the same to load into your machine, but will sew through leather without breaking. They're nice to have on hand for serious denim, too.

Ready? Let's get started!

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

1. Take your two small pieces of leather and place them as shown on either side of the end of your zipper. The easiest way to do this is to use clamps like the one shown, because leather can't be pinned without leaving marks. This one was in a pack of ten at the dollar store.
2. Switch your machine to a leather needle, then sew across the pieces and zipper.
3. Fold the leather pieces back towards the the end of the zipper, so that it covers the tails.
4. Top stitch in place.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

5. Take out your zipper with the leather pieces sewn on to the end.
6. Pin your lining fabric in place as shown, with the right side of the 12 inch end of your fabric being pinned to the bottom (wrong side) of the zipper. This will make sure that the right side of your lining fabric is what you see when you open your finished bag.
7. Pin both pieces of your lining fabric to both sides of your zipper. It's easiest to do this if you unzip your zipper first.
8. Sew your lining to the zipper with a straight stitch. This picture shows you how it will look when zipped back up and laid flat.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

9. Place the 12 inch side of your exterior leather pieces over your sewn-in lining pieces, sandwiching the zipper between them as shown. Clamp them together if needed. I didn't need to use clamps I just kind of held the leather in place as I sewed.
10. Sew your leather pieces to the zipper, but DO NOT sew up the sides yet!
11. This is what your zipper and leather/lining pieces will look when zipped and laid out
12. Top stitch your leather pieces down along the zipper.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

13. Lay our your pieces as shown, then take the two exterior leather pieces up and together, laying them so they are facing each other. Do the same with your lining pieces.
14. Take your tiny 3/4 inch x 2 inch leather pieces and fold them into thirds lengthwise as shown and thread them through your D rings.
15. Fold the tiny leather pieces in half and measure about four inches down from your zipper. Place the D rings leather pieces between your two pieces of leather for the body, with the D ring facing in.
16. Clamp your D ring pieces in place on either side.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

17. Pin all along your lining pieces on the sides, leaving the bottom of your lining pieces open (at least 10 inches). Un-zip your zipper, then clamp the pieces of leather for the body of your bag together.
18. Laying them out as shown, sew all around the exterior of your lining and exterior leather pieces except for the other 12 inch end of your lining fabric you did not pin. You will basically have two giant rectangles sewn together. One half will be lining fabric and the other will be leather, with the zipper in the middle.
19. Trim the corners of your leather pieces by cutting them off at an angle.
20. Open the un-sewn bottom part of your lining. You should be able to open it up and look all the way down past the zipper into your leather exterior fabric portion.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

21. Grab the bottom of your leather pieces, and turn your bag inside out through the portion you left un-sewn at the bottom of the lining (as shown).
22. This is what it should look like when you lay it out once you've turned it inside out.
23. Make sure to take a chop stick (or some pointy object) and poke out all the corners so they're nice and pointy.
24. Take your lining fabric, pinch it together, pin and sew together using a straight stitch. It doesn't have to be perfect, this is going to be the interior of your bag so no one will see this seam.

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

25. Now that you've sewn your lining closed, you can stuff it down into the leather exterior of the bag.
26. When you lay the bag out it will look like it is above.
27. Unzip and zip your bag, making sure that the zipper works. It should!
28. Finally attach your chain strap to your D-rings on the outside of your new bag. You're done!

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

You should now have your very own simple but sleek leather clutch style bag! You can fold the top of your bag over to carry it:

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

You can remove the chain if you'd like and use it as just a clutch, or you can wear it as a cross body bag (or a shoulder bag if you chose a shorter chain).

cross body leather clutch purse sewing tutorial

Isn't it cute? I'll be modeling it in an outfit in a few days! I love how it turned out. It's casual enough to wear every day, but I could take the strap off and wear it as a clutch for night as well. It's smallish, but I can unfold the top to fit more things in it if I need to. It's exactly what I wanted!

If you make one of your own, I'd love to see it. And if you're looking for more sewing projects, you can check out our sewing page!


  1. Brilliant!! I never know what todo with all those scraps- well written tutorial too:) I love the color- this little bag looks so vintage & hip!

  2. What a great idea, Jessica! I love goodwill, but forget to think about leather and suede finds. Thanks for the great tutorial!

  3. A great idea, which seems easy and nice, thank you very much for the explanation, it is very well explained.


  4. Thanks for the super helpful tutorial! Your bag turned out really great!

  5. What an amazing idea of making a DIY leather handbag I must say. The tutorial mentioned above is very easy and clear. Being a fashion designer, I love to do experiments with clothes and leather. Making DIY homemade handbags is one of my favorite hobbies. Though, I often prefer to carry Kilkenny orla kiely handbag, but I love to work with colorful beads and funky establishments. I really like your idea and I will definitely try the same at home.

  6. Lovely and frugal idea for an impressive gift!
    Tx for sharing your Refashion :)
    MammaNene @ SergerPepper

  7. I was going to write a similar blog concerning this topic, you beat me to it. You did a nice job! Thanks and I well add your RSS to our blogs. Thanks so much!

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  8. Awesome creativity..... I love it. Thanks for share a lovely idea to make attractive bag at home.

    Thank you
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  9. Just amazing!!!!! These designs are specific and i am such a lot enamored withe these handbags. i do not know why but I'm having imagination of various cartoon characters in these bags and i am such a lot liking it. I'm always probing for new design bags, I'm so glad that I've found your post. Thanks for sharing.
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  10. I like leather purses, and the color (I have an orange one) is gorgeous without being obnoxious. I've gotten so many compliments on this bag!
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