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DIY Buckle Tote Bag

It’s a cinch to give a plain tote bag a big dose of personality— just add stylish straps. Start with an easy-to-sew bag in any size you like, then add buckles or grommets. From there, the options for strap materials are endless—patterned ribbon, nylon rope, and supple leather are all fair game.

Photography: Sarah Anne Ward

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2015


To make a basic tote, first cut a piece of canvas double the desired length plus 5 inches, and 1 inch wider all around. Fold it in half (wrong sides together) and sew both sides with a 1/2-inch seam allowance, then double-hem the top by folding the top edge 1/2 inch, then 2 inches, and edge-stitching all around.


  • Sewing supplies

  • 4 buckles, 5/8 inch

  • Handleless tote

  • Rotary leather punch

  • 2 lightweight cowhide leather strips, each 5/8 inch wide, cut to desired length


  1. Using strong thread, sew two buckles each to top edge of bag front and back, spacing as desired (ours are 2 inches from bag sides). Stitch around each buckle’s center bar several times to ensure secure attachment.

  2. Punch holes 1 inch apart in leather strips, starting about 2 inches from ends. Slide ends through buckles and fasten.

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