It may not be a textile you’re familiar with using, but leather is a lot easier to work with than you might think. This gorgeous handbag is hard-wearing and, given proper care, should last a lifetime. We’ve hand-stitched soft leather in unusual colours for a sophisticated effect. Choose pretty contrast prints for the lining, as these will peek out on the bag’s outside too.
- Fabric: leather, soft, purple; yellow; white;
- cotton, two prints, fat quarter of each
- Interfacing, fusible, lightweight
- Thread, sewing, strong Leather punch pliers
- Glue, fabric
- Handbag clasp
- Sliding bar adjuster buckles, three Clothes pegs, small
- 21cm x 29cm
Make a bag
Cut out the pieces. Fold the edges over the interfacing and tack down. Fuse the two rectangles and the flap decoration piece onto a second printed fabric. Add the same 1cm seam allowance, cut out, then fold over and tack the edges.
Cut two bag body pieces from purple leather. Trim a small triangle decoration piece from yellow leather and lightly glue to the bottom centre of one body piece. Use punch pliers to make a series of small holes around the top edges of the triangle, then sew through these holes with running stitch to attach the triangle to the body. Sew back through the work in the opposite direction to give the look of machine stitching. Fix the bottom half of a handbag clasp to the centre of the triangle.
Fold over 1cm on one long side of each of the two fabric rectangles and hem. Place one rectangle on the right side of a fabric body piece in the centre, with the hem at the top. Stitch around the remaining three sides to form pockets in the bag lining. Repeat by adding the second rectangle to the other body piece.
Place the linings so they lie interfacing side up, and lay the leather body pieces on top. There should be a very narrow border of folded fabric seen around the edges. Lightly glue the underside of the leather to the interfacing.
Cut a 4cm x 70cm strip of purple leather and find the centre. Peg one side of it to the bottom centre of the bag front so a narrow border of fabric can be seen along the gusset edge. Use punch pliers to make 10 holes through all three layers, starting from the peg, 2mm from the edge of the leather. Begin stitching through the holes. Make 10 more holes and continue stitching until you reach the top edge of the bag.
Turn the work and sew back through the holes in the opposite direction. There will be excess leather at the top edge of the bag. Punch and stitch the other half of the bag front in the same way. Attach the back of the bag to the other edge of the leather strip in the same way, stretching if necessary to ensure the tops of both sides line up.
Trim the excess leather strip at the top to 4cm. Remove the sliders from two adjustable buckles to make rectangular loops. Pass the excess on either side through a loop, fold over, punch and stitch as before, but using a double thickness of thread for added strength.
Cut a second small triangle piece from yellow leather, and a flap decoration from white. Glue, punch and stitch the triangle to the flap decoration. Back the flap decoration piece with its corresponding piece of interfaced fabric by lightly gluing it. Cut a bag flap from yellow leather, and place the decoration in the centre. Sew together along the bottom two sides of the decoration.
Back the bag flap with its corresponding lining. Punch and stitch along the lower edges. Mark the centre of the flap top and the top edge of the bag back. Lightly glue the top edge of the flap underneath the back of the bag allowing a 5mm overlap. Stitch the two pieces together through all layers, working from the centre out in both directions and back again. Add the top half of a handbag clasp to the flap.
Cut a 4cm x 70cm strip of purple leather, wrap around and sew one end to the sliding bar on a buckle. Pass the other end of the strip through one of the bag loops and back up through the buckle before securing to the loop on the other side of the bag.
1.Download the templates and print. Cut two bag bodies, one flap and one flap decoration section from fusible interfacing. Then cut one 11cm x 15cm and one 15cm x 20cm rectangle. Press a fat quarter of printed cotton fabric and fuse the body and flap pieces to the reverse, leaving a generous 1cm border all the way round each piece.