Introduction: Leather Cat Purse
The initial design for this purse was made on request from a little niece and has since become a favorite accessory. It requires moderate to advanced leatherworking skills and tools, but can make for a fun weekend project given its small size.
- 2-3oz Leather
- 1-1.5oz lining material
- Heavy cardstock
- 3/4" Strap buckle
- Magnetic bag closure
- Leather glue
- Tokonole burnishing compound
- Leather conditioner
- Double sided tape
- Glue stick
- Masking tape (Optional)
- Cutting mat
- Poly Mallet
- Stitching Irons (Regular and Inverse if available)
- Punch Pad
- Scratch Awl
- Edge creaser or scratch compass
- 4mm Punch (Size dependent on hardware)
- Rivet setter and anvil
- Edge bevelers
- 3/4" round punch
- 3/4" English punch
- 3/4" oblong punch
- French bevelers
- Skiving Plate
- Folding hammer
- Leather rougher
- Sanding stick/paper/Dremel
- Wooden burnisher
- Measuring tape
- Sponge brushes
- Thread nippers
- Thread Zapper
- Hand stitching needles
- Stitching Pony
- Cricut Machine (Optional)
- Cricut Strong-grip mat (Optional)
Step 1: Making the Pattern
The purse pattern was designed using CAD software. Printable PDF's of the purse pattern have been provide. Make sure the print settings are set to scale at 100% and use legal size paper. Once printed, glue patterns to a heavy cardstock and cut out with a sharp knife. Alternatively, editable DXF and SVG files have also been provided if you want create the pattern via a cutting machine. I used a Cricut Maker and 6-ply railroad board for my patterns.
- Cat Purse Pattern.pdf
- Cat Purse Back Leather.dxf
- Cat Purse Back Paper.dxf
- Cat Purse Ear Back and Middle.dxf
- Cat Purse Ear Front.dxf
- Cat Purse Eye White Leather.dxf
- Cat Purse Eye White Paper.dxf
- Cat Purse Fringe Leather.dxf
- Cat Purse Fringe Paper.dxf
- Cat Purse Front Leather.dxf
- Cat Purse Front Paper.dxf
- Cat Purse Iris.dxf
- Cat Purse Nose.dxf
- Cat Purse Side Leather.dxf
- Cat Purse Side Paper.dxf
- Cat Purse Ear Back and Middle.svg
- Cat Purse Ear Front.svg
- Cat Purse Eye White Leather.svg
- Cat Purse Eye White Paper.svg
- Cat Purse Fringe Leather.svg
- Cat Purse Fringe Paper.svg
- Cat Purse Front Leather.svg
- Cat Purse Front Paper.svg
- Cat Purse Iris.svg
- Cat Purse Nose.svg
- Cat Purse Side Leather.svg
- Cat Purse Side Paper.svg
- Cat Purse Back Leather.svg
- Cat Purse Back Paper.svg
Step 2: Cutting the Leather
For this project, the leather pieces were cut out using a combination of a Cricut Maker and hand cutting. I was running low on blue leather so it was cut by hand to be more efficient. I like to place my paper pattern on top of the leather and then mark out the pattern with a scratch awl. These pieces are then cut out with a sharp knife.
Step 3: Making the Fringe
The process of folding over the leather outlined below is an optional step. This process is useful if softer leather is being used; however, the fringe can be cut off at the fold line and burnished if that is preferred instead.
- Using the fold lines from the pattern, mark a line for the area that needs to be thinned via skiving.
- Skive the leather to a paper thinness. Fortunately this section will be hidden, so don't worry too much if you go all the way through the leather.
- Glue or tape the skived top of the fringe to the back of the piece.
- Add another piece of tape or glue the back of the fringe to prepare it to be attached to the purse front.
Step 4: Making the Purse Front
Similar to the fringe, the top fold for the purse front is optional here if you decide not to go with a purse lining. If a lining is not used, cut the leather at the fold line and burnish.
- Ready the purse lining by cutting a piece larger than the size of the purse front.
- Mark the fold line for where the leather needs to be skived.
- Skive the leather paper thin. Be more cautious with this skive, as this piece will be more visible.
- Stitch fringe to purse front along the line indicated on the pattern and punch the necessary holes for the closure hardware.
- Attach closure hardware to the purse front. I used a magnetic closure and used pliers to set it.
- Apply glue to the back side of the purse front and liner. To make piecing the lining easier, I suggest not applying glue to the skived section yet. Let both glued pieces dry to the point where they are tacky.
- At this point, I like to cut a straight edge along the liner to aid with getting it aligned properly to the purse front.
- Carefully place the lining below the fold line of the purse front.
- Trim excess liner.
- Glue or tape the skived section and fold it onto the liner.
- Stitch the skived fold in place.
Step 5: Attaching the Eyes
- For a clean look, use a fine edge beveler on both sides of each of the eye pieces.
- Burnish the edges of each eye piece.
- Use tape or glue to attach the eye irises to the eye whites.
- Use the paper pattern to mark the eye, ear, and nose locations on the purse back.
- Glue or tape the eyes to the purse back.
- Stitch eyes to purse back.
Step 6: Attaching the Ears
- To get a good adhesion, scrape off the top layer of the interior ear piece. I use a special roughing tool, but sandpaper will work as well.
- Apply glue and piece the three ear parts together.
- Carefully stitch the three layers together. There is not much room for error here, so be careful in how the stich line is measured.
- Clean up the edges of the ear by sanding.
- Burnish the ears.
- Stitch ears face down to the purse back.
Step 7: Back Liner and Attaching the Nose
- Cut a piece of liner larger than the size of the purse back.
- Apply glue to the liner and the purse back and join the two pieces when the glue turns tacky.
- Punch out and/or cut slots for closure hardware.
- Trim excess liner.
- This step is dependent on the hardware that is used, but the magnetic closure I liked was slightly too big for the purse nose. This was fixed by using a pair of bolt cutters to trim back the magnet tines and help it lay flat. A snap closure may also be used to avoid this issue.
- Glue the nose piece on top of the hardware.
- Stitch nose to purse back being careful to avoid hitting the hardware.
Step 8: Preparing the Purse Side
- Similarly to the previous steps, the purse side is skived paper thin at the fold line. Once again if a liner is not used, this piece may be cut and burnished at the fold line.
- Apply glue to the liner and the purse side while avoiding putting glue on the skived section.
- Once tacky, join the purse side to the liner.
- Punch strap holes at the points indicated by the pattern.
- Trim the excess liner from the purse side.
- Glue and fold the skived sections to the leather.
- Stitch the folded section down.
Step 9: Attaching the Purse Side to the Back Part I
This is the most difficult part of the project as it is very easy to misalign the front, back and side of the purse. Even small misalignments can cause the purse to look lopsided, so the steps outlined below are designed to help avoid this.
- Use the paper pattern to mark the top of the fold line of the purse front.
- Place tape (Do not glue!) on both sides of the length of the purse side piece.
- Starting on the left side of the the purse back, use the tape to attach the side piece onto the purse back at the fold line that was marked. Stop attaching the piece on the left side once you get to where the purse back starts to curve to the base. Do the same for the right side leaving the base unattached.
- Mark the stitch line on the side piece down to the base curve and punch stitching holes. Do this for both sides.
- Center the side piece as best you can along the base of the the purse back, mark a stitching line, and punch stitching holes along where the purse side can be laid flat.
- Make sure you can still see where the top fold line should be and remove the side piece from the purse back. Afterwards, fill in the remaining stitch holes along the purse back base. This is where a pair of inverse stitching irons comes in handy, as it will allow you to flip the purse over where it is easier to make and see your stitch line.
- Continue the punching around the top of the purse back above the fold lines that were marked.
Step 10: Attaching the Purse Side to the Front Part I
This step is very similar to the previous one and serves the same purpose to try to get a good alignment between the purse front, back, and side.
- Using the other taped side of the purse side piece from the previous step, attach it flat to the purse front.
- Mark the stitch line to the base curve and punch your stitching holes.
- Do the same for the opposite side.
- Center the side piece along the base of the front piece and set your preliminary stitching holes.
- Important! Make sure you remember which side is which for the side piece and make sure it does not get reversed.
- Remove the side piece from the front piece and fill in the remaining holes
Step 11: Attaching the Purse Side to the Back Part II
- Reattach the side piece to the purse back. Glue or tape may be used now.
- Stitch the side piece to the purse back. The stitching around the closure flap of the purse may be done at this time as well. I like planning out my stitching to end around the top of the purse interior to better hide my finishing stitch.
- Sand the edge of of the purse back to even out the leather.
- Bevel the non-liner sides of the purse.
- Burnish the edges. Edge paint is also recommended as an alternative since the liner can be difficult to burnish.
Step 12: Making the Purse Strap
The size of the purse strap can vary by child. I recommend testing the length out using a similar bag and then adding a few inches to account for growth. In this case, a 42-47 inch strap was used.
- Starting with the buckle part of the strap, use a round punch to cut the end of the strap that attaches to the purse.
- Use the pattern to mark the rivet holes and punch them.
- Skive the buckle end of the strap to allow it to fold over the buckle. I like to bevel the tip of the strap to make it look clean as well.
- Find and mark the center of the strap using a pair of calipers or similar tool.
- Use a 3/4" punch along this center line.
- Insert buckle, apply glue and fold skived section of the strap.
- Once again, find a center point on the strap and use this to rivet the skived strap section down. This can be stitched down as well.
- Finish the buckle strap by beveling and burnishing it.
- For the tip part of the purse strap use the same steps for punching the purse attachment holes.
- Punch the tip end of the strap.
- Measure 1" from the strap tip and mark five or six center points at an 1" interval from here.
- Punch out the marked strap holes.
- Bevel and burnish the tip strap.
- Rivet both straps to the purse sides.
Step 13: Attaching the Purse Side to the Front Part II and Finishing the Purse
- Seal the purse up by stitching the front to the side piece. Double check the fit again to see if any adjustments are needed. If you think the pieces may be misaligned, you can stitch from the top fold on one side and then switch to the other side to lock the alignment at the top in place. From here you can adjust as needed on both sides to even out the alignment.
- Sand the front to correct and even out the edge.
- Bevel both sides of the purse front.
- Burnish the front edges.
- I like to finish the piece with leather conditioner to help clean up the surface and make it look nice.
Second Prize in the