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Leather Handle Tote Bag. Free Tutorial and Pattern

 I love making these leather handle tote bags!  I have made so many in different fabrics.  They are are great way to use the gorgeous canvas and linen fabrics that so many designers have been releasing.
I have been wanting to write down the pattern for ages now, and I was finally able to do it.


Exterior Fabric – 1/2 yard
Lining fabric – 1/2 yard
Pocket Fabric – 1/4 yard
Fusible Fleece – 1/2 yard
Shape Flex – 1 yard

Note: The fabric requirements are rounded to the nearest ¼ yard for purchasing purposes.  The amount used will be less, so if you are pulling from your stash, refer to the cutting guide.

 Tools and Notions

cutting mat
rotary cutter
fabric scissors
clear acrylic ruler   
thread to match
marking tools
ale or stiletto
fabric marking pen   
point turner
iron and ironing board
seam ripper
scalpel or box cutter

 Cutting Guide

Exterior Fabric -(2) 19” wide x 15.5” high
Lining fabric – (2) 19” wide x 15.5” high
Pocket Fabric – (1) 15” wide x 6” high
Fusible Fleece – (2) 18” wide x 15” high
Shape Flex – (2) 18” wide x 15” high

Iron each piece of fusible fleece to the wrong side of each exterior piece and the shape flex to each piece of the lining.  Line the interfacing up so that there is about a 1/2” around the top and sides and it is aligned with the bottom. Follow manufacturers instructions to fuse.

To prepare the pocket, fold in half so the short ends line up.  Sew around the edge with a 1/4” seam allowance leaving a gap for turning.  Clip the corners and turn right side out.  Press well.

Fold the pocket in half with the short sides together and finger press so you can see the fold line.  Mark the line with chalk or a removable marking pen. Take one of the lining pieces and fold it in half, short sides together to find the center line.  Place the pocket 4” down from the top and line up the centers.  Make sure the gap you left open is at the bottom.  Pin in place and sew along the edges side and bottom edges backstitching well at the beginning and end.  Sew down the center line you marked to divide the pocket.

Take the lining pieces and place them right sides together.  Pin.  Sew along the sides and bottom with a 1/2” seam allowance backstitching at the beginning and end .  Repeat for the exterior.

Mark a 3” square on the bottom (sewn) corners of both the lining and the exterior.  Cut out the squares.

Press sides and bottom seams open on both the lining and the exterior fabric.

At the cut corners, pinch the bottom and the side together so that the seams line up.  Pin and sew with a 1/2” seam allowance back stitching at both ends.

Line up the tops of the lining pieces and measure and mark the center and 1.5” down from the edge.  Take one side of your snap and line it up over the mark.  Press down so the prongs leave indentations in the fabric.  Take a scalpel or sharp box cutter and cut on the indentation marks so you go through both layers of the lining.  Insert the snap on the right side, place the disc over the prongs and flatten the prongs on the wrong side.  For extra reenforcement, place a scrap of Shape Flex over each disc and iron in place.

Take the exterior and turn it right side out.  Slip it into the lining so the right sides are together.  Line up the side seams and pin.  Sew around the top edge leaving at least a 4” gap to close the bag.

Turn the bag right side out through the gap.  Press the top edge flat, lining up the gap and pressing.  Slip the bag bottom into the gap and align at the bottom.  If using a fusible bottom, press in place.  Topstitch all the way around the top about an 1/8” from the edge.  Give your bag one last press.

Snap your bag closed and flatten out.  Measure and mark 5” from the left side of the bag.  Make marks at .75” and 1.5” down from the top.  Repeat on the right side.

Stand your bag up and align the top edges.  Using an awl or stiletto, poke a hole at each of the marks going through all layers on both sides of the bag.

Open up the bag and use the awl to make the holes large enough so you can fit the post of the rivet through, working from the inside out, working one side at a time.

Flip to the outside and place something like a block of wood or a book inside the bag, under the rivets.  Place the handles on the rivets and snap the caps on.

Hammer the rivet caps in place.  Make sure they are not rattling.  A wax mallet is ideal for hammering directly on the rivets.  A rivet setter and regular mallet is also a great option.  (If using a regular mallet, you may want to cover it with a cloth to avoid damaging the rivets or handles.)  Attach the same handle to the same side of the bag.  Repeat with the other handle.

Enjoy your new tote!


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