This leather and fabric handbag is the perfect project for those who are starting to sew with leather and for those who are bored with fabric only handbags. You can make this with a normal domestic sewing machine so don't be afraid to give it a try!
I am not yet an expert in leather work. But, I absolutely love the material for its durability and handling. Furthermore, the shine of the leather will forgive a mistake should you need to unpick a seam, so I suggest to buy a whole hide and not to be afraid of trying. It won't go to waste!
If you don't feel like trying with leather, you can also use vinyl, oilcloth, canvas or another heavy fabric. I just wanted to try with leather and it came out so well, my daughter won't give it back to me..
In the months ahead we will be exploring the many possibilities of the leather work, so we will be using all the scraps. I will be sharing with you easy tutorials that can be made at home without the need of an industrial machine.
This project suits someone with advanced beginner to intermediate skills. If you have made another handbag from our website, you will find this project very easy.
- Two outside pockets
- One inside pocket for your wallet
- RFID lining optional
- Easy to make
- Small handbag but big enough to carry an iPad
- Crossbody bag option
- Soft leather
- Makes a great gift
- Leather hide metallic silver or gold 2 ounce average
- printed cotton twill fabric
- cotton quilt fabric
- polyester thread
- RFID fabric or lining fabric.
- Satin bias tape 1 1/2″ yards
- 1 sheet of acrylic self-adhesive rhinestones 3mm or 26″ of self-adhesive Swarovski crystals
- 2 spring opening rings 1″ inside diameter
- 4 grommets 3/8″ diameter and tool
- crossbody chain strap (optional)
- 8″ nylon zipper
- leather tool deluxe set (optional) if you are going to be making more leather bags this is a great set)
- sewing machine leather needle
- teflon foot
- cutter knife or leather scissors
- Fuse-N-Shade 13″ x 3″
- Clover clips
- metal ruler
- leather puncher
- FriXion pens (Optional)
- walking foot (Optional)
- leather glue
Step One: Preparing the fabric
Fuse interfacing to all the lining pieces and the main fabric piece. Follow the pattern markings for this step. Place the main fabric print side up and mark the middle on the fuse side and the print side.
Place the Fuse-N-Shade rectangle in the middle of the main fabric piece. Use the iron to fuse it in place.
Step Two: Cutting the leather
Draw the pattern straight on the back of the leather. Use a cutter or leather scissors.
Step Three: Making the straps and adding them to the fabric
We're going to be making a strap that is half leather and half fabric.
Cut two straps of leather and two straps of fabric 31″ in length by 1 1/4″ wide.
The mixture of fabric and leather can be slippery to sew. I found that by zigzagging both together with a very small stitch I am able to keep the two together more easily.
Sew the leather and fabric strap at 1/4″ on both sides.
Turn the strap using a large paper clip. Be careful not to pull the strap so hard because it will rip the leather.
Glue 8″ from the end of the strap applying a very thin coat of glue.
Place the strap fabric side down at 3″ from the side.
Repeat on the other sides. Let the straps dry at least two hours.
Step Four: Making the inner pocket and sewing the lining
Cut the lining using the exact dimensions of the fabric (13″ x 20 1/2″). You can use RFID fabric instead. For more thoughts on using RFID fabric please check out our tutorial on the RFID Shielded Handbag.
Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric and to the entire piece.
Cut a piece of fabric 13″ x 11″ and apply fusible interfacing. Use RFID fabric if you want and place it print side down.
Draw a rectangle 7″ x 1/2″.
Sew around the rectangle.
Cut on the line in the center until the tip of the triangle, then continue to cut to each corner but not through. Turn the pocket through the cut and iron.
Pin the zipper and using your zipper foot topstitch around the zipper at 1/8″.
Turn the lining print side down. Fold the pocket upwards and sew the sides of the pocket at 5/8″.
Pin the gusset to the lining starting at the top working your way all the way to the other side.
Sew at 3/8″, trim and zigzag the seam allowance.
Step Five: Adding decorative details to the leather
I am changing my machine foot to a Teflon foot. You will notice the combination of the material will make the tape move around so use clover clips.
Fold and sew the tape on the right side of the leather, following the first crease as perfect as you can manage.
Fold the tape and sew in the space between the leather and the fabric.
Cut a rectangle that is 13″ x 4 1/4″.
Sew right sides together at 5/8′. Trim the seam allowance by half and turn inside out.
Place this rectangle under the leather and sew on the space between the leather and the bias tape. The stitch will not show. Notice in my picture I have sewn the fabric backward. You can see the stitch line facing outwards, rather than inwards as it should. I do not want to rip the seam out, so I will show you later how to transform a mistake into your advantage;)
Step Six: Sewing the side leather gussets
Keeping a strict seam allowance and sew the pieces together at 3/8″. When you are sewing the rounded part of the pattern walk your machine foot or sew just 2 to 3 stitches at a time. As you sew through the rounded part of the gusset pivot the gusset piece as you walk your machine. This process will take a few minutes to complete but it is worth taking the time and doing it only once.
Turn the bag inside out and topstitch around the gusset. Make sure the gusset side lies flat towards the fabric. This step is topstitching step optional, so I will show you how it looks without topstitching. This is what it looks like with topstitching. Personally, I like the topstitching..Once you have decided what you want to do, trim the seam allowance by half so the curve takes a smooth shape.
Cut two straps of leather 18 5/8″ by 1 1/4″. Start sewing about 1/4″ and back stitch. Sew at 3/8″.Open the seam and top stitch on each side of the seam. Repeat on the other side.
Measure the band and apply bias tape on one edge.
Take the leather band and clip it to the bag, shiny sides together.
Sew at 1/4″ and turn. This time topstitch leaving the bag side laying flat. The topstitching helps the leather turn easily.
Step Seven: Putting the leather and fabric handbag together.
Insert the lining into the bag.
Apply a very thin coat of glue on the bag and press the lining into the leather using your fingers. Do not allow any ripples or bubbles to form. This technique is only possible if you use a glue that dries transparently. Otherwise, leave an opening in the lining to be able to turn the bag inside out. A sample of this technique can be found on our Anti Pickpocket Bag.
Step Eight: Applying grommets and the rings for the cross body bag option
When I design any accessory, I find that giving options is what sets your design apart. If you take a look in the fancy stores most of the bags have the option to be carried at least in two ways. This is possible with the help of grommets. You can use different sizes to adapt to your design. I am going to use the ring.
Mark 3/4″ from the side seam and 1/5″ from the top. Use this dot as the center of your grommet and with the use of a leather puncher, punch a hole. Enlarge this hole with the use of very sharp pointed scissors. Do not make the hole too large. It is better to stretch the leather and the fabric than to make a hole that is too big.
Insert the grommet from the outside of the bag and place the washer from the inside of the bag.
Use the tool to set the grommet in place. Measure and punch the hole on the other side.
Insert the ring and attach the chain if you are going to use the bag as a cross body bag.
To make up for the stitch line issue I mentioned at the end of Step 5, I added some bling with a row of rhinestones along the stitch line. This turned my mistake into a nice feature of the bag.
I am not an expert in leather work, as I mentioned before. But I love to learn new techniques and quite frankly what I love most of all a little challenge. So join me in this path of discovery and together we can add one more skill to our sewing repertoire. I will make the mistakes so you don't have to. However, I have to say this, there are really no mistakes in fashion. If you do make a “mistake”, change the design and adapt to the situation you have created. By doing this you will find that you will grow your creativity and lose your fear of trying something new.
This handbag is big enough for my iPad, a drawing book, my wallet, and sunglasses. I am happy with it, but I will like to know how far I can push this color of leather. Leave your comments below. I love to hear what you think about this new take on a leather and fabric handbags. Join me next time for more leather and fabric handbag work when we will be making a stylish hand clutch that can be worn as crossbody bag as well.