Picture of Simple Leather Purse
Here are instructions for a simple leather purse. No sewing is required, just some leather cutting (which is easiest if you have access to a laser cutter) and some lacing.

The purse is about 9" x 9" x 3" when finished.

Materials required (all are available at Tandy Leather)
1) leather (I used a large scrap of vegetable tanned leather): $20
2) lacing (I bought a 35 yard roll of lacing, but only about 3 yards were needed for the purse): $35
3) a lacing needle ($5-$10)
4) a razor (for cutting lacing)
5) a laser cutter (if you don't want to cut the leather by hand)

Attached are four files with the specific pattern I used:
1) a .dwg file (autocad file) at full scale (inches)
2) a .dxf file at full scale (inches
3) a 1/4 scale pdf with a few dimensions
4) a 1/4 scale pdf with no dimensions

I made it at Techshop:
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Cut out your pattern

Picture of Cut out your pattern
You have a few options:
1) Be a warrior and use a razor or scissors to cut your lines a drill (1/8") or leather punch to make your holes
2) Get with the times and use a laser cutter

Step 2: Thread Your Needle

Picture of Thread Your Needle
There are a variety of needles to use with leather lacing. The type I used was a "Perma Lok" 1/8" lacing needle from Tandy Leather. For this type of needle, you:
1) cut the lacing at a taper
2) put the sharp end of the lacing in the hole
3) twist until it feels solid

Step 3: Bend Your Tabs

Picture of Bend Your Tabs
If you used vegetable tanned leather, as I did, then you can mold your leather using water.

1) take your center piece (the long rectangle with the tabs)
2) wet the tabs with a damp sponge
3) bend the tabs at a 90 degree angle

This will make lacing the center piece onto the faces easier.
SamPB made it!3 months ago

I had to try it! I love this purse. I just made an alteration on the strap, because I didn't have enough leather for it

jstnbeeks11 months ago
Would be great for a possibles bag at rendezvous
solobo (author)  jstnbeeks11 months ago
true that.
HollyMann1 year ago
I miss leather tooling! :) It's a very rare craft - great job.
solobo (author)  HollyMann1 year ago
DragonDon1 year ago
Sooo reminds me of the Tandy leather kids we did as kids. Thanks.
You can cut holes for the lacing by using a punch or you can take a short peice of pipe and a rubber mallet (or hammer) and punch them that way. If you are careful you can use a knife to cut out the main body and strap. People have been doing leather for longer than even the modern knife was invented. I did respect that the author put in how he used a laser cutter. This purse is beautiful..
very well done, congrats on contest win :)
stephenf1 year ago
Definitely cool. I KNOW this will last a long time 'cause my wife still has a similar purse I gave her from my hippie days ... Now I will need to make one for my granddaughter.

Wonder if I can mod this into a laptop/messenger/gear bag ...
TorBoy91 year ago
Nice 'Ible, well written and clear. I've never done lacing as I hand or machine sew all my leather. Buying the leather lace for $30 is simpler but you could have bought a square or larger piece of the same veggie leather and get a lace cutter for $10. The lace cutter is a razor blade that is held off from a guide. The space between is the thickness of the lace. It is easy to use to make your own lace. You can also use the lace cutter to cut the belt.

Veggie tan leather needs protection or water will mark it. Stain it if you wish and then throw some Lexol or some other protector on it and your bag will last generations.
solobo (author)  TorBoy91 year ago
Good tips, thanks!
Azzurro1 year ago
you use laser cutter to cut a sheet of paper in half as well?
catfan631 year ago
You will want to wet the entire piece of leather instead of just the tabs to avoid watermarks.
onemoroni11 year ago
Very nicely done, both the project and instructable.
Could you use the laser to cut the laces?
solobo (author)  mmccullough31 year ago
MaximK1 year ago
Great! Thank you!
legless1 year ago
Depending on the length you need you can often buy scrap pieces for making the strap. Another option is to make it from more than one piece laced/sewn together. Also extendiing the gusset above the top of the bag allows you to use a shorter strap.
pheenix421 year ago
Terrific project!

...but, you must realize most folks don't have access to a laser cutter just yet, right?
'Yet' being the operative word here.
I lusted after a CNC-type paper cutter for ages and finally got a Cameo about a year ago and use it all the time.
Even if you don't have access to a cutter, this is a great how-to and has good pictures and useful leatherwork tips that can be used in your own project(s).

Well done solobo!
solobo (author)  pheenix421 year ago
Very true. If you happen to live in the bay area or a few other key cities, there's a company called "Tech Shop" that allows you to pay a monthly fee for access to a machine shop; that's where I got my access to a laser cutter.
of course they do but those who do can use this technique. I guess you could say this about almost any instructable.... if you dont have the tools or materials it really isnt going to happen for you!
Gregbot1 year ago
(Is anybody else having trouble with the View All Steps button? It will not work for me!) ..... Hey! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this presentation!!!! It soooo applies to more than purses!!!! Thank you!!!!!! .... I even went through all 11 steps with the View All button malfunctioning!!!!!!!!!!
Hey Gregbot, try this instructable.
This is soo cool! I couldn't tell it was all laser cut from the main image! Such an awesome design, do you think you could attach the files?
solobo (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
Thanks! The files should be attached now; let me know if they still don't show up.
Oscelot1 year ago
for those who can't punch the holes with a laser cutter, y'might try a leather punch. heck of a lot easier than going at it with a drill. There are also chisel style punches here . Love the instructable, I think I may have to try this when my current Purse of Doom wears out (which it is sadly working on quite quickly now).
acuchetto1 year ago
I want to try this with some other medium (e.g., rubber, heavy paper, woven plastic bags...).

A laser cutter? It sure would be nice if they were as affordable as most inkjet printers are today!
MonkiMan1 year ago
great, i wanted make something like this for ages and i just never get around to it.
i love the laser cutter idea but i nor anyone near me have a laser cutter so i'll have to cut it by hand.
That is absolutely beautiful! :D