Picture of Leather Tote - DIY

In this Instructable you will learn how to transform a piece of leather into a modern, simple tote bag. It can be used to carry books, as a purse or for groceries or any other use you can think of. Because of how the bottom is sewn, it can stand upright on its own as well. It's a bag that should last you a lifetime.

Step 1: Materials for Leather Tote


  1. Leather (I used a finished double shoulder leather I got on sale)
    • please see image with measurements so you know how much you need
  2. Basic Leatherwork Tools
    • a rawhide or basic wood mallet
    • a hard surface - ideally a marble or granite slab if you plan to do tooling
    • clamps
  3. Ruler & Other Tools Needed
    • scissors, utility razors & ruler
    • leather glue
    • hole punch tool
    • spray bottle to wet leather
    • small rivets and a rivet setter
    • 2 metal clasps (which hook onto the bag for long strap - I used two swivel lobster clasps)
  4. Materials for Sewing
    • needles for sewing the leather
    • waxed or sinew thread
    • pliers - sometimes are needed when pulling needle through holes
    • awl - needed for punching holes into leather for sewing
    • creasing tool - used to make an even line in preparation for stitching
    • overstitch wheel - makes indentations where the holes will be put for stitching
    • stitching groover - this gouges a channel along the edge to prepare it for the holes & sewing
cdevildevil9 months ago

I love this. I'm so tired of buying bags every few months because they fall apart. I want to give this a try.

flyangler10 months ago

Elegant in its simplicity. Well done.

AAAHan1 year ago
Good designer!! nice bag!
3366carlos1 year ago


Holly, this bag is beautiful! I love it--great work! :)

ekiessling1 year ago
I too love this bag. I think if I had 2 or 3 if these to put groceries in I might just use them instead of leaving them in the car!!
I just love stylish accessories...the stylier the better. Thank you Holly, you are a very creative lady...:)
...now to find material in northern ontario...
HollyMann (author)  ekiessling1 year ago

Thank you so much for such a nice comment. :) I agree with you though - about actually using a bag like this. I picked up a few things the other day and decided to use it - I also constantly forget my bags in the car - and it was great. The bag is so strong it can handle it. And I even got a nice compliment on the bag :) Anyway - thank you again for your comment...I suppose you could get leather online :)))

Do you know what the actual measurement for the long strap was? It is not correct in your diagram (it is listed as 11 1/4" even though that is about the same size as the handles). Judging by the size relative to the cut out of the main bag compartment it would appear to be in the 32-34" range, but that is assuming that your diagram is done to scale (it might be but I don't know). My girlfriend wants me to make a bag almost exactly like this one... so now I might have to give it a whirl! :)


HollyMann (author)  DaveButcher1 year ago

Hi Dave. Thank you so much for this comment - as I can't believe I missed that in the measurements. I have fixed that diagram. It is not exactly to scale in the graphic - but now the measurements are all accurate. The strap should be 36 inches long. If you have any more questions along the way please let me know. You are so nice to make a bag like this for your girlfriend!

This tote is so pretty!! All of your creations have that elegant style in common, I simply love it! :)

HollyMann (author)  lindarose921 year ago

Thanks Linda! :) You are very sweet!

The tote looks lovely! I've made one last week using rexine but yours looks much better :)

HollyMann (author)  Muhaiminah Faiz1 year ago

I bet yours looks amazing! You always have really nice creations!

Ceddy171 year ago
Well done. Nice bag! You should enter the leatherworking contest imho.
HollyMann (author)  Ceddy171 year ago

Thanks Ceddy - I might do that!

That is just beautiful! Wonderful deisng; nice and simple :D

HollyMann (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago

Thanks Penolopy - that means a lot! :) The simpler the better...

sunshiine1 year ago

Holly,What a nice book bag or purse. I think anyone would love one of these and treasure it for years! Your pictures are so awesome. Keep inspiring me, I may try this when things slow down. Have a great day.


HollyMann (author)  sunshiine1 year ago

Thank you so much Sunshiine - you are so sweet. :) I know life is so busy. Thanks for the compliment on the photos too - I try to take a lot of them ..hoping to have a few decent ones in the end. :)