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Hardware Handbag

Turn a basic canvas tote into a sophisticated handbag with this how-to from Erica Domesek.




If desired, spray-paint the lock a fun color before attaching to bag.


  • Four small hinges
  • Canvas bag with handles
  • Needle and thread to match bag
  • Pencil or pen
  • Masking tape
  • Craft knife
  • Fabric glue
  • Skinny belt
  • Small lock
  • Spray paint (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Open hinges and stitch each to bag, directly below where each handle end is secured. Reinforce by going through hinge holes several times with thread.

  2. Step 2

    Turn bag inside out. Mark two points on each side of bag: 3 inches from top of bag and 1 inch from each side seam. Place a piece of masking tape over each point. With a craft knife, cut uniform Xs over each point, with the height of each X slightly taller than the width of the belt you intend to use.

  3. Step 3

    Fold back the points created by each X, and glue to the inside of bag with fabric glue.

  4. Step 4

    Loop belt through the four holes, and buckle. Attach lock to belt.

The Martha Stewart Show, September 2010



Reviews (10)

  • Seajewells 20 Feb, 2011

    I love this idea - using an on-hand belt and lock, plus hinges from the hardware store for a few coins, it's a fabulous and fun way to make a unique handbag. However, muji online doesn't sell this particular tote bag, and I can't seem to locate an equivalent size, shape, and design of tote bag. Has anybody successfully managed to locate a good option, for anyone not living in NYC (or Japan) and thus not able to access one of the muji stores?

  • mimimia 19 Feb, 2011

    I think most of the items can be bought at a thrift shop. Buy a used belt and old hinges that can be spray painted whatever color you want.
    Using this idea as a starting off point, you can make something that is really cute!

  • PJE2 18 Feb, 2011

    I do agree that it isn't necessary to spend more on the supplies than many of us ordinarily spend on a handbag--but the idea is clever. One can certainly find a bag and a belt and a padlock fot MUCH less and use the idea to make a clever bag. Thanks again, Martha.

  • Sonya_Nimri 18 Feb, 2011

    I'm sorry, but 50 dollars to make something that looks terrible?! Really Martha...

  • malz1951 18 Feb, 2011

    cherylgreen and broadbrush,

    Can we see your talents!

  • auntiedawn 18 Feb, 2011

    Even if the items are more expensive than what I would use, it's still an idea and inspires me to think of other options that I would do. Come on people! Is the sarcasm really necessary?

  • cherylgreen 18 Feb, 2011

    Doesn't every woman own a tote? I have several. And as for the skinny belt, I went to my jewelry box and found a neck chain that did the job. I do not agree with willowbird. The fun thing about making an item like this is not shopping for it, but looking around the house and recycling items you already have to make something fun and useful. If you want to go out and 'buy a bag to make a bag" why not just buy a bag that is already done. just my thoughts.

  • BroadBrush 18 Feb, 2011

    I didn't expect to see an article on dressing up an existing bag. Handbags are easy enough to make from scratch, so I was hoping for something a little more interesting--and yes--less costly.

  • LisaEnglish 18 Feb, 2011

    I agree with willowbird35, too much cost involved with this. Although, I might take the idea and use recycled materials and see what I can come up with. Time to see what the thrift stores have!

  • willowbird35 18 Feb, 2011

    Let's see, she spent over 20 dollars for the tote and then 30 something for the belt, plus the cost of the hinges... for that she could buy a purse! (maybe not the one that "inspired" her, but a purse, nonetheless.