Introduction: All in One Leather Make-Up Bag, Shoulder Bag and Belt Loop Purse

About: Leatherwork is's's an awesome way to express creativity! I dabbled in leather crafting in the mid 1980s, making my then 5-year-old son a leather holster for his cap gun. At that…

Are you looking for unique? cool? or just plain awesome?

Carry the bag as purse with a chain strap; clip it to your belt loops when you ride your bike; fold it and carry it as a clutch; or fill it with your make-up and toss it in your travel bag.

In just a couple hours, you can create a perfect all-in-one bag / purse!

Step 1: Materials

Let's first gather the materials you'll be using for this project.

Most of the materials and tools that I used in this project I was able to find at the Tandy Leather Company. This was convenient for me since I was able to see and touch the leather and choose one that I liked best. I'll provide the catalog numbers for the materials and tools to help you, if you'd like to check them out. These are the materials:

1. Select a soft, supple leather. I chose upholstery leather in a Dusty Rose color

2. Pick a 7" zipper in a color that matches your leather (or if you're eclectic, choose one that doesn't match)

3. Medium sized double cap rivets, nickel plated (#1373-12)

4. Two 3/4" trigger snaps (#1154-01)

Step 2: Tools

There are very few tools needed for this project...these are the ones I used:

1. Mallet or Maul (I don't use a hammer because I don't want to damage my hole punches)

2. Craftool Round Hole Drive Punch #02 1/8" (#3777-02)

TIP: You'll want to use a poly cutting board or pound board to protect both your work surface and your tool tips when punching the holes in your leather.

3. Scissors

4. Ruler (at least 2 feet long)

5. Triangle

6. Razor cutting tool

7. Clips

Step 3: Cut the Leather (10" X 24")

The dimensions for the leather required for this bag are 10" x 24"

1. You can use a pen to mark your lines on the reverse side of the leather since it will be inside the bag when you finish...not even noticeable! Let's make a rectangle...

1. Using your ruler, and close to the edge of your leather, measure and mark a line 24" long

2. Straight up from each end of the 24" line (you can use a triangle) measure a perfectly perpendicular line. Make these lines 10" for the width of the rectangle

3. Measure and mark the other 24" line to close your rectangle

4. Cut out the rectangle

Step 4: Measure the Zipper Hole

Your zipper is going to be placed right in the center of the bag, so let's make a few more marks...

1. We know the length of the leather is 24", and we want to mark a line to show the half-way point, which is 12"

2. Measure and mark the mid-way point of the length (12")

3. Once you mark the 12" line, measure over 5" from the side and make a small mark at the half-way point. This is the center of the leather.

Let's put this aside for a second and take some measurements from the zipper...

Step 5: Measure the Zipper

The width of the teeth on my zipper measured 1/4"

In order to insure the zipper pull can slide back and forth once the zipper in sewn in place, I will allow an extra 1/4" on each side of the teeth, which means that the width of the cut I will make in the leather will be 1/2"

The zipper I chose for this project is 7" long

So, our dimensions that we will use for our zipper cut out in the leather will be 7" x 1/2"

Going back to the leather...

Step 6: Cut the Zipper Hole (Centered 7" X 1/2")

We've already have our center line marked and have a small mark at the 5" point.

1. The width of the cut for the zipper is 1/2" so on each side of the line, mark 1/4" and draw those two lines. They should be parallel to the middle line that you had previously drawn

2. We know our zipper is 7" long, so on the leather, at the middle point where we made our small center mark, measure out 3-1/2" to the left and to the right of that mark.

3. We should now have our 7" x 1/2" rectangle marked, smack dab in the middle of the leather.

4. Cut out that rectangle.

Step 7: Attach the Zipper

Working on the backside of the leather, add a thin bead of glue all the way around the zipper cut-out.

Take care to make sure it doesn't go over the edges and get on the front of the leather.

Very carefully, put the zipper in place (you'll notice I changed the color of the zipper mid-stream...)

Turn the leather over and check that the zipper is placed perfectly straight and that the leather is spaced correctly.

Gently press all the way around the zipper to make sure it adheres properly.

Once the glue has dried, you can either hand-stitch or machine stitch it in place.

Step 8: Round the Corners

With a drinking glass as a template, use your pen to draw the rounded off corners of the leather.

Use the scissors to cut those corners.

Step 9: Attach the Trigger Snaps

1. Cut two strips of leather, measuring 4-1/4" x 3/4" and round off the ends

2. Place a strip of leather through the end of the trigger snap

3. Add glue to one end of the leather strip

4. Carefully fold the leather ends together and press firmly

5. Repeat for the second leather strip and trigger snap

6. Once the glue dries, make the marks for the cap rivets, centered and approximately 3/4" from the end and 1-1/2" from the end

7. Punch the holes using the 1/8" hole punch

Step 10: Attach the Trigger Snaps

The orientation of the bag is important at this point: make sure the zipper is at the top and the zipper pull is on the left...

1. Measure over 2" from the left side of the bag and down 6" from the top and make a pen mark at that point. This is the placement of the top hole on the trigger snap. The second hole is marked 2" from the left side and 3/4" down from the first hole. Punch the holes using the 1/8" hole punch.

2. Repeat on the right side.

3. To add a bit of stiffness to the points of attachment, cut two additional leather strips, 2" x 3/4" and punch the holes, 3/4" apart. Slip the stems of the cap rivets through the leather strips, as illustrated.

4. Then through the backside of the leather bag.

5. Then through the leather on the trigger snaps...making sure that the trigger snaps are facing up towards the zipper.

6. Press the caps on the rivets.

7. Repeat for the second trigger snap.

Step 11: Sew the Bag

1. Unzip the bag...I made the mistake of not unzipping it and had a heck of a time getting it opened!

TIP: If you want to add any patches or other decorations to the leather, this is the time to do it. Once it's sewn, it's difficult to impossible to do so.

2. Fold the bag in half, inside out

3. Use clips to hold the edges in place

4. Begin sewing down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side.

5. Trim the excess leather from the sides you sewed, taking care not to cut your stitching

6. Turn the bag right-side-out...

Step 12: Finished!

Your bag is now complete!

Add charms, chains, or whatever else you'd like to make it you...

Check out some of my other bags...

Step 13: What Else Can You Do?

Make yourself an awesome bag!

You can make a simple, plain leather bag; or you can show off your colors!

Go for it!

Please post a pic, I'd love to see what you come up with!

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016