Thursday, June 11, 2015

Upcycled handbag hardware

I do love to make sewn handbags. I have made tote bags, little pouches and messenger bags..... It is a lot of fun to make something so useful.
One of the main parts of the bag is the handle.   In the past I've usually sewn the handles out of fabric, although sometimes I purchase leather handles to add to the bag.   One thing that I've often wanted to try is to recycle handles from a discarded bag onto a new one.

A few weeks ago, I was in the Goodwill store and came across a whole bunch of bags that were priced between four and $10.  
these five bags cost $26.00 all together with the tax.  
I immediately set about the deconstruction.  
These three that I took apart are not leather, but vinyl,   They have a lot of great detailing, and there are alos some good magnetic clasps in there.
A person can learn a lot by observing how a commercial bag is assembled!
After this take-apart phase must come the "thinking about" phase, which can take a while.
In my case, it co-incided with a "sewing with Tim Holtz fabris" phase, and an "english paperpiecing hexagons" phase....

these hexagons are bigger than ones I've used before, two inches on each side, so as to show off the amazing fabrics,
After a while, my path became more clear.  
I decided to use the hanles and bottom section from this black bag,

I sewed the hexagons together into a horizontal section three hexies tall, (by machine)
then, I appliqued them to a rectangle of cotton/linen that I had on hand.   the rectangle is about 16" tall and 40" long.  (it was longer than needed so that I could fine tune the length later as I was sewing it all together to fit the base.)
Next, I backed it with a rectangle of foam interfacing, my favorite is by Annie's Soft and Stable.  I did some very simple quilting 
quilting was mostly straight lines and curves from corner to corner,
To attach the bottom, I ended up stitching it by hand, using the holes that were already punched.  however vinyl is a lot softer than leather I think and so it isn't hard to make new holes when you want to. 
It was a pretty simple totebag construction, no pockets or any complicated stuff.
I sewed the handles on by hand as well.

it has a very simple lining, which was cut extra tall so that I just folded it down over the top edge of the bag to finish the edge.
It is a pretty good size!
the handles are spaced a wee bit wider apart than I'd like, but I didnt want to cover up the butterfly on the fabric,
it should work well for all sort of carrying!
As you may have noticed, I have several more rescued bags to use.   so, now I am back to the "thinking about" phase!


  1. BEAUTIFUL. : ) We have belt buckles if you want any. Liam repurposes thrift store belts and now he has about 15 single mismatched buckles. If you could use them, he could swap you for left over leather/pleather. ? : ) See you soon! Monika

  2. That's so clever! I would never have thought to reuse the bottom part of the bag! And why not indeed? Your bag looks amazing!


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