I bought this lovely leather while in Paris and wanted to make a bag that had all of the pockets I wanted on the inside, and just the right size — not too big, and not too small, and with inside pockets that are my favorites from my other bags. Here is How To Make a Custom Bag!
I started by measuring all of my favorite bags in my closet, and their pockets. I decided a finished size of about 22″ wide and 15″ long was a good size for me. And, I wanted one side to have pockets for my phone, business cards and keys. I have one bag that has a zippered pocket that is large enough to fit my wallet that I like for travel, because I can zip up my passport and wallet in a separate section.
I started by making the zippered inside pocket. Here are two pieces of fabric, with 1/2″ pressed on the long side.
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Then I topstitched the inside pocket zipper to the pressed edge of the fabric. I used a 9″ zipper.
Then, sew down the other side.
Open the zipper and put right sides together and sew all three open edges to make a zippered bag. Make sure to open the zipper before you sew. Ask me why I remind you – otherwise you end up not being able to turn it inside out!
Turn it inside out and press the seams. No need to finish the seams, as we’ll topstitch this down on our inside lining, and that will finish off those inside seams.
Take one of your 15″ x 22″ pieces of lining fabric and place the zippered pocket about 3″ down from the top and centered.
Topstitch along both sides and the bottom of the bag. What I love about this is you not only have a zippered inside pocket, it makes another pocket that is perfect for a small notebook, too!
Now to begin on the pockets on the other side of the lining. I wanted a little one particularly for my keys, and thought to put a little elastic along the upper edge, so it wouldn’t be as easy for the keys to fall out.
I cut one piece of fabric and sewed right sides together along most of the edges, leaving an opening to turn the fabric right side out. Pressed flat. Then turned over about 3/4″. Cut a piece of elastic about 1″ shorter than the width of this pocket.
I sewed each end of the elastic to the part that will be turned inside on the pocket top.
Then, topstitched the edge of the top turned down, encasing the elastic.
Sew the extra little key pocket on the larger pocket piece on three sides.
Here is the whole 2nd inside pocket piece. See the little key pocket?
Sew this to the 2nd inside lining piece on three sides. Then sew lines to make pockets that fit your phone or whatever. I measured before sewing the key pocket. The area to the left below was perfect for my phone, then I sewed halfway through the right side to make two smaller pockets for my business cards.
Now to begin making the actual purse. I procrastinated cutting into the leather. I first cut the two major pieces from the two skins I had.
I wanted to have leather wrapped handles. I measured my favorite length, and cut two lengths from 3/4″ cording. I cut 2-1/2″ width pieces from my ‘scraps’ of leather and wrapped the cording and sewed with my zipper foot. No need to finish the edges – leather won’t ravel or anything.
I wanted to have the top of the bag have piping from the leather, and I had enough leather scraps to make piping. I used the same cording, and cut the leather wider for piping, so there would enough leather to catch in the seam allowance.
I sewed the cording to the lining first.
Then, I wanted to make sure I put the handles where I wanted them. You don’t want to put pins through leather, as they will make holes. I used some of my quilting clips to hold the handles where I wanted them.
This picture wasn’t very good – sorry. This is where I was sewing the right sides together. In this picture, I have the leather for the bag folded back, as I was about to fold it over the handle and sandwich the handle between the lining and leather.
I topstitched the zipper to the seam allowance that included the piping, binding and leather.
Then I sewed the side seams and the bottom seam on the leather ONLY. Don’t sew the bottom of the lining (yet) — you won’t be able to turn it right side out.
Then, I marked 3″ on each side of the leather bottom to make a gusseted bottom. I put the pins in the seam line, where there were already holes from sewing.
I then matched both pins, to form the triangle for the bottom.
And, sewed to form the bottom of the leather side of the bag.
Then, sewed about 4″ across the bottom of the lining from each edge, leaving the middle open to turn the bag.
I sewed the same triangles on the lining, turned the bag inside out, and then topstitched the opening on the bottom of the lining closed.
Voila! A finished bag, the size I like, and with the inside pockets that are perfect for what I carry around!
See the little key pocket? And phone pocket to the left?
And, my lovely zippered pocket for passport and wallet!
And that’s How To Make a Custom Bag! I love my new handmade leather bag!
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