DIY Leather Tote


DIY Leather ToteIf you are anything like me at the beginning of this project then you are scared of sewing with leather, am I right? Cause I was… I didn’t even know if my sewing machine could handle it. The Leather Hide Store asked me if I wanted to try out some leather sewing. They are a small family owned store that sells wholesale leather hides and remnants… they also work closely with the craft community! I was up for a challenge so I chose a color called “Peanut Brittle” from their remnant section. The piece received a few days later was HUGE!!

DIY Leather tote

I decided on a lined tote. Here are some “sewing with leather tips” I learned along the way:

sewing tips

diy leather tote

I started with my pattern. This is a very rough and not to scale picture of what I measured out on the wrong side of the leather. I just used a ball point pen to measure out my pattern.

bag measurements

diy tote bag IMG_8134

After tracing the pattern, I cut it all out. For the straps I cut out two pieces at 2.5″ x 32″. I like REALLY long straps so most peolple might want to shorten this.

diy tote bag

Remember not to use pins on leather. This was the hardest part for me, the leather needle actually cuts a little dot so once you make those sew lines you can’t really do it over. I used my clover clips to keep it all together. Place right sides together and sew up the sides and the bottom of the bag leaving the corners alone.

diy tote bag

I also read not to back stitch and to tie up the ends of the thread. However I back stitched in a few places and I think it did fine.

diy leather tote

Next, I closed up the corners. Do this by “smooshing” the sides together and matching the seams. diy leather tote

This was the hardest part for my machine, I had to sew to the seam then use my wheel to manually go through all the layers.

diy leather tote

At this point it should look like this… kind of bag-ish :)

diy leather tote

Now on to the lining. This part could be skipped all together because leather won’t fray. I wanted a pop of color and I needed a pocket so I decided on it. I cut two pieces at the exact same measurements as the outer bag pieces.

diy leather tote

I also made a pocket by cutting two pieces at 11″x 7″. Place pocket pieces right sides together and sew all around leaving an opening for flipping. Flip and and press so you have a double sided rectangle. Top stitch the top of the pocket. Place on your lining where ever you want. Pin and top stitch around the two sides and the bottom.

Diy leather tote IMG_8150 IMG_8151

Then I measured my phone to make a perfect little pouch for her. I just sewed up the center of the pocket making two.

diy leather tote

I also added a little taylormade tag for fun. I used my burning tool then cut some leather into an oval and sewed it to the other side of the lining.

diy leather tote

With the two lining pieces cut, do the exact same thing as you did with the leather. With right sides together, sew up sides and bottom then sew the corner.

diy leather tote

diy leather tote

You should have two bag pieces now. With right sides together place the lining part over the leather part. diy leather tote IMG_8164

Match the seams and use clips or clothespins and sew all the way around the top edge leaving an opening for flipping.

diy leather tote IMG_8167

Flip the bag right side out and push the lining into place. I usually would sew the lining down so it doesn’t show from the outside but I liked the little pop of color so I sewed it with a little lip showing. Either way top stitch all the way around.

diy leather tote IMG_8170

Lastly we have to make the straps, remember that my measurements are extra long so feel free to shorten them. I just pinched the wrong sides together and sewed leaving a few inches at the end. I marked where to stop sewing.

leather bag straps

Next, I measured 4″ from the seam of the bag and placed the straps. Then I just used a box stitch to make sure they are good and sturdy!

diy leather tote

Voila.. I sewed with leather!

diy leather tote

DIY Leather Tote with tips!


Thanks so much to Leather Hide Store for providing the leather and helping me overcome my fear :) Have I inspired you to make your own tote? Its your lucky day! Leather Hide Store is giving one lucky reader a $50 gift card to their online store! Enter by the Rafflecopter below. Good Luck!
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  1. Mary Beth says

    Wow! Nicely done Taylor! It’s not as complicated as I would have imagined. I love the chocolate ostrich on The Leather Hide website. That would make a luscious tote to carry my work essentials.

  2. Susan Miller says

    Love your tote! I love making bags, but have never gotten the courage to sew leather. I love the New England light gold or the red distress. They are both too pretty to decide.

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