Convertible Strap Waxed Canvas Backpack Purse




Introduction: Convertible Strap Waxed Canvas Backpack Purse

I saw some beautiful bags made by a local artist that were way out of my price range. I realized that the reason I liked those bags was because they were waxed. For whatever reason, the waxed canvas just made them seem cooler and higher quality.

So, I decided to make my own. I like wearing a small backpack for a purse. It's out of the way when walking around our town square. However, sometimes, it's convenient to be able to sling it over a shoulder, so this design accommodates both.

It converts in seconds and is waterproof to boot!

Thanks to asergeeva for the waxed canvas lunch bag inspiration.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


cotton print fabric (optional)

double fusible webbing (optional)

(4) swivel clasps

(4) D-rings

12" zipper

(2) 42" leather strips/diy belts


disposable stiff bristled paintbrushes

wax (I used tealight candles, but any parafin will work. Some prefer to use a mixture of beeswax and parafin.)

coffee can or other disposable metal container

rotary cutter

small stovetop pot

quilter's cutting mat and ruler

leather punch


riveting tools

hair dryer


sewing machine

clothes dryer

Step 2: Panels

Cut two square panels of canvas. Mine are 14"x14".

Iron a quarter inch hem on one side of each.

Step 3: Pocket

Cut a piece of canvas about half the height of the panels in the previous step.

I wanted to use this print I designed on Spoonflower from a photo of graffiti in Dublin, but I felt it was too thin to use on it's own. I decided to back it with canvas. If you'd like to do the same, continue with the steps below.

In addition to the half size piece of canvas, cut a piece of double fusible webbing to match.

Cut your cotton about an inch taller than the canvas.

Fuse the canvas to the cotton with a hot iron.

Press a hem into the cotton at the top of the canvas and stitch in place.

Step 4: Attach Pocket

Attach the pocket to the bottom of one of the panels with vertical stitches. These stitches divide the one large pocket into smaller pockets.

I opted to divide the pocket into two smaller pockets and much skinnier pen/pencil pocket.

Step 5: Handle

Cut a 1/2" strip of leather for a handle. I cut mine to about 12" long.

Cut two 1/2"x1.75" pieces of leather for supports.

Punch three holes in each end of the handle.

Lay the support strips behind the previously punched holes and punch matching holes.

Punch holes about 2" from the top center of the canvas panel that doesn't have the pocket. Make sure there's at least 2" of clearance from the bottom rivet to the top of the canvas.

Snap the bottom rivets onto the handle but DO NOT hammer into place yet.

Step 6: Leather and Hardware

To attach the D-rings to the back panel, you'll need four strips of leather and four support strips.

Cut four 3.5"x1" strips of leather.

Cut four 2.5"x1" strips of leather.

Use the corner of the cutting mat and ruler to cut the end into a point.

Step 7: Template

Use a scrap piece of tagboard from the packaging of the D-rings or clasps to make a template.

Put a hole in the corner of one side and two holes side-by-side on the other.

Use the template and leather punch to put one hole in the pointed end of each strip and two holes at the flat end.

Fold the flat end over 1" and use the previously punched holes in the end to make matching holes in the center.

Step 8: Leather Supports

Lay each of your 2.5" strips along the back of the 3.5" strips and punch matching holes.

Snap rivets in to place to keep matching pieces together until you're ready to apply them to the bag.

DO NOT apply all these to the bag just yet.

Step 9: Applying D-Rings

Hammer the bottom leather strips into place on the canvas panel that doesn't have the pocket about an inch from the bottom and side.

Step 10: Sewing Zipper and Sides

Twist the handle around to get it out of the way.

Sew the zipper onto the top of each panel.

Unzip the zipper and sew the panels together inside out.

Cut off the bottom corners of the canvas.

Step 11: Hammering Rivets

Turn the bag right-side out and hammer in the rivets on the handle.

Hammer the top D-rings about a half inch from the handle.

Step 12: Straps

Cut four 3"x1" strips of leather and cut the ends into a point.

Punch a hole into one point with the template used earlier.

Fold each piece in half and punch a matching hole in the other side.

Punch an additional hole above the first.

Cut two 1/2" strips of leather the length you want your straps to be.

Punch matching holes in the end of the straps.

Rivet the small pieces to the straps with the clasp in the folded end.

Step 13: Waxing

Take the straps off of the bag and set aside.

Melt your wax in a coffee can in a small pot of boiling water. I used some tealights, because it's what I had on hand, but I found that some prefer a combination of parafin and beeswax.

Use a stiff bristled (disposable) paintbrush to paint the wax onto the front and back of the bag.

Step 14: Heat

Use a hair dryer on high heat to melt the wax into the canvas.

Once the wax is melted, put the bag into a pillow case and put it in the clothes dryer with a towel to help it tumble. I know this is scary. No one wants their dryer to be coated in wax, but I've done this several times now, and there was no noticeable residue in my dryer afterward.

Run the dryer on high heat for about 15 minutes.

Step 15: Crumple

I opted to crumple my bag to give it a bit of a head start on the breaking-in process. It also gives it a cool effect as you can see the wrinkles even after smoothing it back out.

Step 16: Enjoy

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    5 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I have been planning to wax a bag I already have for a while now. Does the pillow case absorb the extra wax? Should I use a pillow case I don't care about?


    Reply 3 years ago

    I didn't notice anything on the pillowcase, so it likely doesn't matter. However, I wouldn't use your favorites, just in case.


    Reply 3 years ago



    3 years ago

    So true! There is something about waxing a bag that some how elevates it. Waxed bags are just so elegant, especially in the scientific use of the word. I love your use of your custom fabric too!