make a simple leather tote

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how to make a slouchy leather tote (if you can find a hand me down leather skirt- this project is nearly free!)It’s funny the power that the seasonal rhythms hold over my creative mind- I am living in the land of endless summer (well, currently the land of crazy rain and typhoon warnings, but you get my drift). And yet, my mind swirls with cozy, texture-y ideas like big pom pom lined throws and pumpkin-y treats and leather bags.

I actually pulled some leather out of my stash last week and made something small for Piper Jane, and also started making plans for a leather travel tote (can’t wait to show y’all what comes of that). Hopefully I will finish it up before we head to Hong Kong and Singapore next month.

how to make a slouchy leather toteAnd then, in all my fall-ish project contemplating, I noticed a leather bag (actually two leather bags) that I made around this time last year (like I said, seasonal creative rhythms- haha!). Both are fabulous, but tutorial-less. It’s time to redeem that fact, don’t you think?

easiest ever leather toteThese leather totes are really simple to put together. Even better- if you can find a hand me down leather skirt like I did, or score one at a thrift store, this project is really cost effective as well!

how to make a simple leather toteTo make a simple leather tote-

how to make a leather toteCut off the bottom of the leather skirt, giving yourself an approximately 15″ tall piece of leather for your tote (of course, adjust the sizing to fit your preferences). Cut the tube open, creating one wide rectangle of leather.

how to make a leather toteAfter measuring the total width, figure out the dimensions that’ll work best for your side panels. I made 5″ side panels (using 10″ total since there are two side panels) and then divided my remaining inches by two to figure out the width of my main panels. Mark your measurements with a fabric pen on the interior side of the leather, rotating side-main-side-main (so for my bag, I marked  5″ – 12″ – 5″- 12″). At each mark, fold over the leather (right sides facing each other) and sew a line of stitching from top to bottom. This gives the tote shape and makes attaching the bottom panel easier. Match up the two open edges and sew together, making a tube (again), but now a box-like tube.

how to make a leather tote

Cut a rectangular bottom panel from the skirt leather or some other leather/vinyl in your stash. The panel’s short sides should match the smaller measurement you chose and the long sides should match the larger measurement. To attach the bottom to the sides, pin the raw edges of the box-ish tube to the bottom panel (the finished edge that was previous the bottom of the skirt will now become the top edge of the tote), right sides facing in and sew all four sides in place.. There are pictures here that might be helpful if you haven’t made a tote previously.

how to make a leather toteAdd four grommets to both main panels, about an inch from the top edge, a couple of inches from the sides.

how to make a leather toteCut three long (about 35″-40″) thin strips of leather from the skirt for each handle. Braid the three pieces together. Repeat for the second handle. Thread the unknotted braid through the grommet, moving from the outside of the purse to the interior. Knot the end securely. Repeat with second handle, taking care to ensure that the knotted end is on the inside of the tote.

how to make a leather toteDone! One gorgeously textured tote for fall (or any season really!).


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  1. Thats one thing I would miss if I had my dream come true to live at the beach……fall. Maybe I could come back for fall and then stay at the beach the rest of the year, lol! I girl cam dream.! Love this tote and it looks so easy. I’ll be on the hunt for some leather!

    1. Haha- if you figure out that plan (endless summer plus fall), let me know! 🙂
      And YES the tote is seriously SO easy. 😉

  2. Love this bag! Would probably add a zipper closure to the top; and also add a lining too! The strap, I’d consider macrame. Sorry, my sis tells me, that I change everything. Ha! Ha! I’m an artist, and a right-brain thinker, so I’m already in trouble. Ahem!

    Thanks so much for sharing this bag! I’d like to make these for my grand-daughters — Christmas comes fast. Your idea is unique, and the cost is minimal. I’m feeling that suede fabric, or corduroy would probably look nice too! I will, however, check out Goodwill for the leather first! Maybe one for myself too! That’s a great suggestion!

    With appreciation,

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