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Leather Handbag

Give an old leather jacket from the back of your coat closet new life by turning it into a stylish everyday tote.

Leather Handbag

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, February 2011

materials

  • Craft paper or paper bag

  • Scissors

  • Seam ripper or craft knife

  • Leather jacket

  • Sewing machine

  • Rotary cutter

  • Ruler

  • Double-sided tape

  • Ruler tape

  • Dremel Stylus drill

  • Awl for All lockstitch sewing tool

  • Black waxed twine

  • Painter's tape

steps

  1. To create the pattern for the bag, with scissors, cut a 30-inch by 18-inch rectangle out of a piece of craft paper or a paper bag. Cut a 3-inch by 3-inch square out of each corner of the rectangle.

  2. With a seam ripper or craft knife, remove liner from leather jacket and discard. Remove sleeves and open inside seam in each to create a flat piece of leather. Finally, remove collar and detach front panels from the back panel.

  3. The back panel will serve as one piece of leather. To create a second piece, patch front panels and arm pieces together with a sewing machine to fit the pattern. Lay pattern on each piece and with a rotary cutter and a ruler, cut the pattern from the leather.

  4. Fold each piece of leather in half, wrong sides together, securing with double-sided tape. Lay one folded piece on top of the other, right sides together, and secure edges with double-sided tape.

  5. Apply ruler tape along bottom and side edges of leather. Using a Dremel Stylus drill fitted with a 5/64-inch bit, drill holes every 1/4 inch, leaving a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Do this on a surface that is safe to drill into such as a workbench or a scrap of wood.

  6. Remove ruler tape and sew sides and bottom together using an Awl for All fitted with black waxed twine, removing double-sided tape from between the leather pieces as you sew.

  7. To create flat bottom of bag, open each 3-inch by 3-inch square cutout at the bottom of the bag and bring bottom and side seams together. Secure with double-sided tape, apply ruler tape, and then drill and sew as in step 5 above. Flip bag right side out.

  8. To make handles, cut excess leather into 1 1/4-inch by 20-inch strips, piecing leather together with a sewing machine as needed. Using a binder clip, clip 3 strips together and braid.

  9. To attach handles, measure 2 1/2 inches in and down from top corners of bag and mark points. Secure ends of braided handle over marked points with double-sided tape, cover with painter's tape, and use Dremel Stylus fitted with 5/64-inch bit to drill holes through the end of the strap into the bag every 1/4 inch in a 1-inch by 1-inch square. Be sure to place a scrap of wood inside bag to prevent drilling through both sides of the bag. Do this on each side for each handle.

  10. Remove painter's tape and sew handles to bag with Awl for All.

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