THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 13, 2006

Reuse That Old Handbag Hardware

Filed under: Accessories,Bag,Closures,Els,Embellishment,Leather sewing — Els @ 3:01 pm

By Diva Els

 Since I made my last leather bag I felt the urge to sew another one for everyday use. I save my bags although they are be worn out or out of date but I cannot throw a bag away. One of my favourite bags ((bought 10 years ago) was worn out but I still like the design and the hardware was good enough to reuse again.

 So I made a copy of this bag.
A piece of dark green butter soft leather was in my stash and waiting for a use.
I measured the bag width, length, height, and depth and made a paper pattern.
The original bag has a center seam at the side where the zipper pocket is placed but I had enough leather to skip that seam.
I interfaced the leather parts with a fusible non-woven special leather interfacing which can be ironed with a warm iron.

The non-woven interfacing is cut with seam allowances. The bottom and side part could use a bit more strength so I added an extra layer of a sturdier interfacing between the first and second layer (this one without seam allowances).
The shoulder straps also could use a bit more strength so I did some testing and used a piece of petersham ribbon as an extra layer.

The opening of the bag where the zipper will be attached is stabilized with fusible seam tape as well as the lining opening.

I used leather glue to hold the leather seam allowances, and a hammer to flatten the seams. The bag has two pockets on both sides, one is an open pocket,

and on the other side a zippered one.

The lining is interfaced with a fusible cotton red interfacing. The inside pocket is made of a double layer of the lining fabric.
The inside pocket

has a double function, the outside is a zippered pocket while the under layer is an open pocket,

This pocket is sewn at the lining by topstitching around the edges. I also added a key ring at the side depth of the bag.
When I was sewing the short end of the zipper at the bag with the hardware ring attached, I noticed I made a mistake. The hardware has a silver colour and I used a matching green with brass colour zipper teeth.

I removed the green brass zipper from the opening but left the pocket zipper because that side is not shown to the public while I wear that bag. I wear my shoulder bag on my left shoulder so the zipper pocket is towards my body. I bought a new green zipper with silver teeth which had a nice zipper pull,

but the colour was not spot on and the zipper was not working properly. It was stiff. I tried to smooth it by rubbing beewax on the teeth but it did not help. So I decided to use another zipper from my stash. This time a grey one that worked okay but needed to be covered to hide the grey tape.
I used 2 strips of leather to cover the tape.
I stretched the leather a bit while sewing the leather at the zipper tape so the zipper has the same shallow shape, to match the bag’s shape.

So the zipper is sewn in on a different way. The original bag zipper opening is topstitched and the zipper tape was partly visible.
It was easy to sew this bag on my Pfaff sewing machine because the leather was soft, the hardest part was sewing in the zipper. I needed to do some tests for the zipper to see which order to sew it. I found out that the short side of the zipper, where the ring is attached, needed to be sewn in first. Secondly, the zipper long ends on both sides, and lastly the other short end where the shoulder straps is attached.
The lining is sewn in by hand at the zipper tape,

because I had already glued the leather seam allowance to the inside.
The final step was to add the bag stop,

which helps to prevent the shoulder strap gliding of my shoulder.

Finished bag.

Done and ready to use.

A source from the US which sells Pro_Tricot fusible interfacing for leather is



  1. Oh Els, you make it look so easy! 🙂
    I know, I wouldn’t have had the patience to cover! the zipper band.
    I love your craftmanship. Great project!

    Comment by Karina — December 14, 2006 @ 4:18 am

  2. More inspiration! Thank you Els!

    Comment by Mary Beth — December 14, 2006 @ 4:39 am

  3. Els, I love it! I especially love the covered zipper. What a creative way to solve a problem!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — December 14, 2006 @ 4:58 am

  4. I adore your bag, Els! Once again a wonderful tutorial. You make the BEST stuff!!!

    Comment by Cindy — December 14, 2006 @ 7:04 am

  5. I am in awe of all who sew in leather and have the patience for hand bags. What a wonderful bag, els.

    Comment by Lorna — December 14, 2006 @ 9:36 am

  6. Terriffic! And since I am contemplating making my first handback thankyou for detailed instructions. Do you have an online source for your leather interfacing?

    Comment by Nancy — December 14, 2006 @ 10:17 am

  7. I can see the Goodwill being a good source for hardware too.

    Your bag is just super!

    Comment by vespabelle — December 14, 2006 @ 10:46 am

  8. Thanks for the freat input. I have a hard time throwing away handbags too. I knew there was a reason why!

    Comment by Georgene — December 14, 2006 @ 6:26 pm

  9. I love your bag! I just took a load of clothes including some old bags up to the thrift shop- I wish I had kept them now.

    Comment by Anonymous — December 14, 2006 @ 9:43 pm

  10. You blow me away everytime you make a bag! I am in awe!

    Comment by Lisette — December 15, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  11. Hi Nancy the non-woven leather interfacing I used can be applied without steam
    It is called LE 420 and you read more information about this product at the website from Freudenberg which is the manufacturer of this interfacing

    I do not know where you can buy this interfacing in the US.

    Comment by Els — December 16, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  12. I could not make a bag so fine in a million years. Great work. Love the detail.

    Comment by Ms. Place — December 20, 2006 @ 10:04 am

  13. Fantastic. Excellent job.

    Comment by Linda — December 22, 2006 @ 4:02 am

  14. Wow !
    Do you have a tutorial on putting zippers into a bag?
    I would like to put more zipper pockets into my bags but, I don’t know what I’m doing.
    Thank you for all your help.

    Comment by marie — February 19, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  15. leather handbags are superb, they look good and they are great as gifts too ”.

    Comment by Electric Lighting — November 17, 2010 @ 2:59 am

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