Today, I’m sharing something different — a me-made leather purse!
This is the first time that I’ve sewed any leather with my sewing machine. I have been working with leather for quite a while — but everything I’ve made before this bag was hand sewn and much simpler. I’ve made wallets, belts, and a pair of moccasins — all cut from un-dyed leather and the wallets and belts were from tooling leather. That kind of leather is thicker and much stiffer than this remnant leather and I’m not even certain that I could have sewn that on my sewing machine. This leather, however, I was able to sew quite easily on most points with my machine.
I used this handbag pattern from L&Z patterns on etsy. They are no longer on etsy and sell from their own website. I don’t recommend this pattern unless you really know what you’re doing (which I don’t….) as this was quite frankly a pain in the butt to make. The pattern seems well drafted, but there are NO INSTRUCTIONS and NO SUPPLY LIST. I have made evening bags and simple tote bags before — all without patterns — but nothing that utilizes the equipment needed for this project. I emailed the pattern company about the supplies and they gave me a list, but without saying how much of each was needed. At least I now knew what supplies were required, but not how much of each nor white sizes. I looked online a little and ended up buying supplies at Beverly’s. I purchased some really nice Clover d-rings and foot nails, but then when I got home I realized that I did not have enough…. My closest Beverly’s is 1 1/2 hrs away, so I went to my closest Joann’s (1/2 hr away) and found some supplies there. Unfortunately they did not have the nice Clover d-rings and I used ones that were a bit larger and not as nice as the other ones.
As there were no instructions and I really didn’t know what I was doing, I just kind of figured out how to put this together. It wasn’t easy to sew as it’s not like sewing fabric bags or clothes and was difficult to sew things like the bottom of the bag, the sides, straps, etc. I pretty much just looked at the photos and tried to copy…. boy it was not easy….. I also initially thought it would be an easier task than it ended up and I know if there were instructions, it would have been a lot easier!
I figured out that there were magnetic snaps on the sides to keep the sides in. That was easy enough to do. I decided to put one to hold the purse closed, too, as I couldn’t find any nice zippers. I didn’t know how to hide that snap on the outside, so I attached a concho that I had to a piece of leather and sewed it over the outside of the magnetic snap on each side to hide it.
I also wasn’t sure how to finish up the inside either…. I used some red tartan from my Christmas dress for lining. I used the same pattern for the purse to cut out the lining — cutting out the front/back and side pieces — and sewed it together.
I put foot nails on the bottom. Those were pretty easy to put in as well.
Overall, not the outcome that I had planned, but fair. If I had instructions and the forethought to purchase more d-rings I think it would have turned out better. It sucks to be in the midst of a project that you need to finish and not have all of your supplies and then have to choose from what was available…
So why did I purchase said pattern? Well, I looked for quite a while for leather purse pattern and I couldn’t find one I wanted until I stumbled upon one on etsy. I wanted a more structured purse that looked less DIY and more RTW. This pattern had what I was looking for and had good reviews. Well…. that must have been all from people that knew what they were doing without instructions. My final purse doesn’t look much like the purse in the image. Perhaps that one is made from thicker leather or has some type of plastic/cardboard inside to make it look stiff. With the magnetic snaps on the sides it does bring in the excess material from the side panels and gives it a little more structure, but not much. The pattern did say on the pattern piece that you could add plastic/cardboard to the bottom piece to make it stiff, but it did not offer this suggestion for the front/back/sides.
- No instructions
- No supply list
- Does not have a pattern piece for the shoulder strap
- Does not have a pattern piece for the “luggage” tag
- Does not have a pattern piece for the leather piece for the zipper pull
- PDF is difficult to put together as it has no circles, numbers, letters to identify how to piece it together
- Pattern seems well drafted
I also read on a review that this pattern company (based in Asia — China, I believe) did not draft these patterns. If that’s true, I’m not even sure that purse in the picture was made by a DIY person and may have been in a factory…. I don’t know…. just some possible assumptions after my experience with this.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM SEWING LEATHER:
- You can definitely sew leather with a regular home sewing machine!
- You need to adjust your stitch length
- Use a leather needle
- Have patience!
THESE ARE THE TOOLS I USED:
- Sewing machine
- Schmetz Leather sewing machine needle
- Leather hand sewing needle
- Heavy duty thread
- Leather awl
- Rotary cutter/mat
SUPPLIES NEEDED FOR THIS PURSE PATTERN:
- 4 – D-rings
- 4 – foot nails
- 2 – magnetic snaps (3 if you use one as closure)
- zipper (I did not use)
- cording for the handles
I didn’t know what to use to insert in the handles so that they had some structure. I asked my fellow sewists on IG what to use (with what I would have on hand) and Anne suggested plastic boning or wire while Qui said that cording would be used. I had boning, so I used that and it works fairly well. Will use cording the next time I make something like this.
Overall, I think I did a fair job, especially with not having any instructions nor knowing what I was doing. When/if I make this again, I think I can do better as I’ve learned more about sewing on leather and how a bag like this goes together.
I do have some of this leather remnant left, so I’m looking forward to using it for something else. I’m not sure that another bag is in my future, but I am inspired by using leather in garments like Jenny and Andie have recently done. It would be interesting to use the leather in one of those ways as a cool accent piece.
Also, this leather was nice to sew. It went through my sewing machine just fine for most of the parts on my purse. The only parts that I had trouble was on the seams where the leather is quadrupled and the places on this purse that are really hard to get to with the machine. For these parts I did some hand sewing. Just be careful with that as that leather needle is damn sharp and you have to do some pulling and pushing to get it through. I had to make sure my fingers weren’t in the way!
Also, you can’t pin the leather pieces together when you’re sewing, so you have to use your fingers a lot to keep things together. For things like the leather straps for the d-rings, I glued them in place first and then stitched them on. Also, it’s dang hard to do top stitching on this purse!!!! I really envy those who make fine leather items!
Honestly…. I don’t think leather purse sewing is for me…. I looked at my new Dooney & Bourke satchel which has similar handles and such and compared them and mine just looks like a piece of crap compared to that… Yeah, I know my Dooney purse is a designer good made in a factory by knowledgeable craftsman who know what they’re doing. Not some novice on their sewing machine….. I just tend to think that just like jewelry, it’s not really my forte and I will just stick with other avenues of creativity.
However, it was nice to try something different!
Note: I received this leather remnant as a gift from the Leather Hide Store in order to produce a DIY project and provide a review post