Sewing: Leather Handmade Tote


I had hoped to make more of my Christmas gifts this year, but alas, it was only one (besides teacher’s gifts). I made a leather purse for my brother-in-law’s new girl. We all just adore her, so maybe I got a little excited about making something a little extra special for her.


My friend Susan gave me this rad embossed suede a couple months ago. It’s just a killer color and texture, it was begging to become a purse.

It’s something like a 3 ounce leather, so I couldn’t get too fancy with it with my sewing machine so I made a simple box-bottom tote out of it. My machine didn’t like the leather a whole lot, but it submitted to my will in the end.


The inside is partially lined with leather, so I didn’t want to sew the straps on to the actual leather (3 layers of leather would have made my machine go out for a pack of bubble gum and never come back). So I punched a hole and affixed brass rivet thingies instead. The rivets took considerable amount of work ¬†as a two-person job. Thankfully I had Chris at the ready to help me make the rivets happen.

Despite the possible headache of the rivets, they’re nice and snug on the leather, so I’m hopeful that they will stand the test of time.


The inside snaps together with a brass magnetic button. It was kinda evil genius of me to line the top part of the purse with leather since this provides a considerable amount of stabilization for the closure.


I made two pockets in the interior. They were hard to photograph, but you get the idea. The first pocket is an open pocket that’s flush with where the suede and lining fabric meet.


The second pocket is my favorite: a zippered pocket for secret surprises. It zips all the way across the tote with pink leather details (not pictured) on either end.

The interior fabric is Jay McCarroll’s Los Angeles City Center. Gifted to me by the lovely Kristin. It’s even more rad in person.

Having finished this first leather tote, I’m stoked to make another! It was a little intimidating, but not as hard as I originally thought!

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    1. Leslie says:

      Happy New Year to you and yours Melissa and the bag is lovely :) Good job!!!

    2. Mandie says:

      I LOVE it! It’s beautiful. The lining fabric really is pretty rad, too!

    3. Jennifer says:

      Love this bag! I’ve never sewn leather, but this definitely inspires me to give it a shot. What a lucky girl to get this one for Christmas :)

    4. Katie says:

      I love it! The shape and inner pockets are perfect. I have some faux leather that I might try something similar with.

    5. Erin R. says:

      That is spectacular. As a purple purse lover (it goes with almost everything), I am in love. Nice job.

    6. Katie says:

      It’s gorgeous! I would have been SO excited to get a bag this gorgeous – makes it even more exciting that it is handmade. :) Great job!

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