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How to sew an upcycled leather purse

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Thank you Facebook Marketplace for sponsoring this post. There’s something for everyone!

How to sew an upcycled leather purse

Refashions are fun, inexpensive, and eco-friendly, but sometimes it can be frustrating if you have a very specific ‘before’ piece you’re hunting for. I’ve grabbed a few second-hand things off Facebook Marketplace in the past, so I’m excited to share more about the process and also a tutorial for how to sew an upcycled leather purse! Check out my refashion sewing tips here before you get started.

After months of looking at thrift stores for a leather piece this color, I gave up and found one right away on Facebook Marketplace! It was much cheaper than shopping secondhand online and having to pay shipping, and an easy way to shop local. This jacket is nice and long so I knew I’d have lots of leather to play with.

Find more upcycled purse inspiration in this round-up here! Or get other ideas for how to recycle leather here!

refashioned purse tutorial

This bag will get way more use! Super simple, comfy, and handmade.

If you haven’t used it before, you can search by keywords, narrow it down by distance from you, and ask questions/haggle with the seller. Some of the other things I’ve found are vintage linens, wool sweaters, and funky frames to paint and upcycle.

So that’s how I ended up with this beautiful bag! Facebook Marketplace is an easy, convenient way to find refashion and upcycle treasures (and also a great way to sell finished projects once you’re done!).

 Let me know what you’ve been on the hunt for, or if you’ve ever second hand shopped from home like I did! Ready to see how I turned that vintage jacket into something I’d actually use? If you’re looking for a more traditional shape, consider cutting up a leather jacket and use it for my simple tote bag tutorial intead!

Check out these other posts while you’re here:

Pin this tutorial for later, using this link and collage photo!

Easy sewing tutorial with this before & after jacket upcycle!! After months of hunting for a leather garment this, I got to shop secondhand from the comfort of my couch. Sharing the full #refashion tutorial on the blog, with a jacket from #FacebookMarketplace #FBMarketplaceSpringRefresh #ad

How to sew an upcycled leather purse


  • 3/8″ grommets & grommet installation tool
  • Rotary cutter & acrylic ruler
  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Long leather coat to upcycle
  • Hammer & small piece of wood or point presser & pounding block
  • Leather needles
  • Coordinating thread
  • Walking foot for sewing machine
  • Wonder clips
  • Magnetic purse closure


Step 1- First, I dissected my coat! I cut the lining off and then some of the exterior pieces that I knew I wouldn’t use while attached like the collar. When you’re picking out where to lay pattern pieces or cut things out, it’s easiest to have the garment laying flat as possible. 

Step 2- For my particular coat, I worked around and with the seaming. Be sure to seam rip carefully so the needle holes don’t widen when you’re deconstructing. Above, you can see where I decided to cut the tote out, using the seams to guide the shape. I opted to use the pre-existing hem for the top of the tote so it would look more finished.  Step 3- If you’re looking to recreate the exact same shape, you’ll have to sketch out a pattern! 

  • 17″ wide at the top, 13.25″ wide at the bottom, 16″ tall, including the hem already folded over and measured at the side.

Step 4- Time to sew. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance and leather needle, I lengthened my stitch length out to 4 mm and sewed the bottom hem and then the sides, making sure to unfold the hem while sewing.

Step 5- In an effort to make the seams lay nicely, I used a point turning/tailor hammering block and a hammer, then finger pressed them when right side out.

Step 6- Fold the top hem back down, and then measure and place your grommets – mine were 4″ from the center and .5″ down from the folded hem.

Step 7- Install the grommets! The packaging should have installation instructions specific to that brand and size. I love using these things, it’s so simple and looks super professional.

Step 8- Time to sew straps. Cut 4 strips 3/4″ wide and 28″ long (you may need to piece several cuts together), and sew with the wrong sides touching, 1/8″ from the edge.

Step 9- Thread 2 handle pieces through on each side, inserting with raw ends to the inside and knotting tightly. Flip the hem back up and insert a magnetic purse closure if desired, and you’re done!

Can you believe that beautiful leather is from that stodgy old coat! I still have some pieces to play with for future projects, and a fun new bag to use on date nights.

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Friday 31st of December 2021

Great idea for leather tote bag. Gotta get to the thrift store!


Sunday 2nd of February 2020

This motivated me to make a bag out of my moms leather coat I inherited. Have been wanting to make a bag...maybe I can make a crossover bag too! I got some leather dye to use on it too since its an odd burgundy/brown! Thanks!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Monday 3rd of February 2020

Sherry, I am so delighted to hear that!! I'd love to see it when you're done :)

Laura Handville

Thursday 30th of January 2020

Dang! I wish I could turn back time and NOT give away the gorgeous leather jacket I bought at the San Lorenzo Market in Firenze 28 years ago- (It was too big on me even then, but, I had to have it!) It would have made an even better bag... Well, gotta go, I'm off to the thrift shop! Thank you for this simple tutorial that maybe even I can handle. I'll let you know! L.J. Zutell

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 30th of January 2020

Hope you find a new treasure to make over :D

Emilio Selena

Monday 12th of August 2019

Great information. You shared the tutorial about your leather dress to leather purse it's very useful. I am using your idea because I have an unused leather jacket. Thanks for sharing the great article.


Monday 15th of April 2019

What a lovely bag. I think it would have looked even nicer with the knots for the straps on the outside but fabulous all the same.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 11th of August 2019

It's easy to switch, that's a fun feature! Thanks for reading Gill :)

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