I'm so excited to share the first (and definitely not the last) leather tutorial on my blog! I designed this purse after seeing something similar made in cotton and thinking how awesome it would be made from cowhide! There is definitely room for change, so use your creativity. If you share your creations on Instagram, tag me @southernsewingcompany :) Love the bag but don't want to make it? Order one here!
Let's get to it...
Below are the general supplies needed for this bag. I also included links to materials on Amazon that can be used! Please note: When using leather, this tutorial requires an industrial sewing machine.
(2) 12" x 18" Leather main panels- more on this below
(2) 12" x 18" Lining pieces- cotton, lightweight canvas, etc. but nothing too thick or stiff
Lightweight scrap leather for zipper tabs and fringe
70" (+/-) of 5/8" leather strapping (7-8 ounces)
(4) 3/4" Swivel Clasps- I use antique brass for all of my hardware
(3) 3/4" D-Rings
(3) Double Cap Rivets and a way to set them and make holes: Here is a link to a set with tools included OR this hand-press is my absolute favorite and includes rivets.
Double-sided tape **definitely need this!!**
Optional: Leather stain
Glossary- use this to quickly jump to specific parts:
A note about the leather used in this purse: I designed this purse with a hair-on-hide in mind. However, a lighter weight (2-4 oz.) leather would work great also! The idea of the fold-over has to be considered when picking out a leather. You want it to easily fold and not be too stiff.
Preparing the Zipper:
If you're using zipper tape, don't forget to slide the zipper on before this step! Cut (2) 1.25" x 1.5" zipper tabs from the scrap leather. On both tabs, place a piece of double-sided tape along one 1.25" side. Remove the back side of the tape, and stick the tabs on each end of the zipper. Fold over the other side of the tab towards the back side of the zipper and clip in place. Repeat on the other side. Sew down each tab, across the zipper, and then cut any excess leather from the backside.
Attaching the Clasp Closure:
This step is optional and only if you want to include the clasp closure as pictured above. The purse still folds over on its own without it! I just think it gives it a little something extra.
From the same leather used for the two main panels, cut (1) 3/4" x 3 1/2" piece for the top closure and (1) 3/4" x 2 1/4" piece for the bottom.
Figure out which panel will be on top (folded over and facing out on the front of the purse). This is where we will attach the top leather piece.
Fold the top leather piece you cut earlier in half and slide a swivel clasp in between. Using a small piece of double-sided tape, secure the top piece closed. The center point of your panel is 6". Align the folded edge with the clasp in the middle of the panel (see photo). Secure it with tape. Create two holes about 1/2" away from each other, closer to the raw edge of the piece. Attach two rivets here to hold your clasp in place.
Find the bottom of the panel that will be facing the front of the purse (see the photo at the top of this section for reference). Take your leather bottom piece (3/4" x 2 1/4") and fold it in half. Place the D-ring in it and with a small piece of double-sided tape, tape it closed at the top.
Measure about 3" up from the bottom edge of the panel and center (remember the center is at the 6" line) the bottom leather piece here with the D-ring facing up. Double-check that your purse would close correctly. Make a hole and set your rivet here. Your two-panel pieces should resemble the photo at the top of this section.
Constructing the Purse:
This video features a clutch bag but has the same construction as this bag tutorial and will help to clarify the instructions.
An optional step (that just adds to a nice finish) is to use the leather stain and carefully stain the top of the panel that will be sewn to the zipper. I would skip this step if you're using chrome-tanned leather as it will bleed into the leather. However, if you're using veg tanned or hair on hide, this step just makes it look cleaner but is totally optional.
Next, apply double-sided tape to the long edges of the prepared zipper on the top and bottom (four total edges are taped).
Remove the tape on one of the top edges of the zipper. Take one panel and center it along this edge. Repeat this step with the other panel on the other side of the zipper, making sure that the edges of the panel are aligned and straight. Flip the two panels and zipper over to the backside.
Now we will be taping the lining into place and creating a fold so that when the zipper is sewn into place, it will create a nice finished look on the inside with the lining. This part is a little confusing, but the video should clarify this step. Remove the double-sided tape backing from one back side of the zipper. With RIGHT SIDE facing down, lay the lining fabric over the zipper and over the opposite panel. Align the top raw edge with the piece of tape you just unbacked. Now, fold the lining over and finger-press it down. It should align with the main side panel and the right side is now facing up. Repeat this step with the other side. All four pieces should be taped to the zipper at this point.
With a zipper foot, or working as close as you can to the edge of your panel, sew across the panel to attach the zipper. Repeat this step to the other side. You are now ready for the fringe!
Creating and Attaching the Fringe:
There may be many ways to create fringe, but I'm just detailed on how I do it! Basically, we need to cut a bunch of 12" long, 1/4" wide pieces from our scrap leather. I never counted how many exactly, but it's a good bit. I think cutting them individually is faster and enables you to be able to use different color leathers if you'd like! Find the outer panel you attached the D-ring to. This is the panel to that we will be attaching the fringe and D-ring side tabs to.
First, cut (2) 3/4" x 1.5" tabs. Fold them in half and stick a D-ring in each. Secure them closed with a piece of double-sided tape (if you haven't noticed, double-sided tape is my BFF). With your ruler, measure 11" up from the bottom of the panel. Place a piece of tape along both edges, up to that 11" point.
Take the D-ring tabs you just created and place them with the D-ring pointing towards the inside of the panel (remember, we're flipping it inside out) 11" up from the bottom on both sides. They should be directly across from each other.
Next, take your fringe and start lining it down the side of the panel over the tape you've laid down right sides together with the panel. Check out the video on this! Repeat this on both sides, stopping about 3/4" up from the bottom. As pictured, make sure the fringe is all safe in the center of the bag and out of the seam allowance. It's easy for these little pieces to accidentally get sewn in an extra place!
In this video, you'll see the proper placement of the D-ring tabs and the process of adding the fringe.
Purse Construction Part 2:
We will now sew the purse together inside out.
First, place the two outer panel pieces, right sides together, and clip them together. Make sure that the top of the panels line up and that all of the fringe is tucked inside the bag, out of the seam allowances. Do the same with the lining pieces. You should have a super long rectangle now with the lining pieces pinned together on one side and the two panel pieces clipped together on the other.
Now, we will sew all around the perimeter using a 1/2" seam allowance. We need to leave about a 6"-7" opening on the lining piece side to turn the bag right side out. When you're finished, clip the corners on the lining and leather to reduce some of the bulk.
Reach into the opening you left in the lining and carefully turn the purse right side out. This is the exciting part!! Take care to pucker all the corners out of the bag. Also, make sure that the zipper ends and tabs are flipped right side out. I found that towards the bottom, it was easier to slightly tug on the fringe pieces to pull the bottom corners out. When your bag is completely turned, sew the lining piece closed and push it inside the bag.
Preparing the straps and wristlet:
With your long piece of leather strapping, cut one 14" strap for the wristlet. Fold in half, and wrap one end over and around the other end as pictured. Using a hole punch, create a hole for your rivet through all three pieces of leather. Add in a swivel clasp and then set a rivet in the hole.
Now we will make the cross-body strap. I generally cut the strap about 49" and after adding the clasps, the strap will measure 45". Adjust the length according to where you want your purse to sit on your hip! Take one end of your strap, fold it under about 1", and punch a hole through both pieces. Place your swivel clasp on the end, then set your rivet. Repeat this step for the other side of the strap.
You're ready to attach these to your bag. Add a scrap piece of leather or tassel to your zipper and you're finished! Share your work with me by tagging @southernsewingcompany on Instagram!