DIY handbag ideas

DIY Handbag Ideas – 10 Upcycled Bags you can Make Yourself

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A lot of the fun of upcycling is seeing what you can transform into something entirely different. These DIY Handbag Ideas have this transformational element in spades. From Leather Boots to Suit Jackets you’ll be amazed what you can make fabulously original and unique handbags out of!

Old Books

You may wish to debate this one – as in ‘should you really be destroying books to make handbags?’ Discuss. However, we can imagine a scenario where you spilt a cup of coffee on the pages of an old book but the cover remained in tact…or perhaps a moth, mouse, goat, etc took a bite out of the pages, in which case it only makes sense to try to reuse what’s left. Okay we’ll leave the moral dilemma on this one to you, but if you love this idea as much as we did, you will want to have a look at the short tutorial video below we found from Curbly. Here’s a hint – it involves a whole lot of fabric glue!

Shirt

Most shirts on their own will be too thin to make a bag out of, but if you add a lining you can make something cute and light for your bits and bobs like this lovely donut print bag.

Elizabeth Chaney from @iheartartstudioe made this tote handbag from an old shirt she found at a thrift store for $4. She loved the print but the shirt didn’t actually fit her. So she took the shirt apart, and cut out the tote sides from the front and back panels of the shirt. The pieces from the front of the shirt required a seam to create a rectangle large enough for the tote. 

Both sides of the tote are identical, the pockets were cut from the sleeves of the shirt. Elizabeth already had matching pink cotton fabric in her stash and she used this to create the lining for the bag, pockets and the straps. The bag measures about 16 inches wide and 13 inches tall.  We think it is super sweet so we reached out and asked Elizabeth if we could share it – thankfully she said yes so here it is. You can find her on instagram here.

Football (Soccer Ball)

Thomas Casadei della Chiesa of PangaeA Bags creates these gorgeous bags from old footballs that aren’t any good for playing with anymore. He gave us an insider look into how they are made in his guest blog which you can find here. It includes an amazing time lapse video of the construction process.

Is this a genuine DIY handbag idea? We are not going to pretend these would be an easy one for you to recreate yourself, but perhaps it will inspire you to put your own twist on it?

Wrappers

What better Upcycle project than to use actual rubbish to make something amazing. The examples above are candy bar wrappers (the woven one), crisp/chip bags, and the third one is dyed tetra pack packaging. We thought the first one was especially intriguing, so we had a look to see if we could find someone who could explain how to make the links easily. We found this video by Retro Faerie Craft Tutorials that tells you everything you need to know to get started.

Suit Jacket

Who doesn’t love a classic wool or tweed bag? But that fabric if bought new is pretty pricey. So what a genius idea to reuse old suit jackets as bags, either pretty much in tact – check out the Pocketo example above! – or in pieces, definitely the more subtle and understated way to go with this. The obvious DIY tip for this is to preserve the pockets as you are cutting your fabric/suit jacket and reuse them in strategic places on your bag. Now all you have to do is convince the husband he won’t wear that one again and he might as well let you cut it up!

Belts

If you found a load of old belts in the wardrobe while you were hunting out suit jackets for that last one, you could try using them as the material for your new bag. To do it use a drill or leather punch to create holes along the edges of your belts so you can sew them together. Then sew or glue a lining to the back side of your belts and use another belt (or two) for the strap.

Leather Boots

how to upcycle a leather boot as a handbag
Photos: Upcycle My Stuff

There are actually a lot of ways you can go with upcycling your boots into handbags. Depending on the type of leather your boots are made up of you can actually make up to 4 purses or handbags with one pair of boots. It all depends on what size you want your handbags to be. You can use the long calf section of each boot to make two narrow but long purses – the perfect size for a kindle, iPhone or ladies wallet. Or you could cut along the seam of your two calf pieces and attach them together to make a larger handbag – this method means more tough sewing through leather so we don’t recommend this method if you are working with very thick or rigid leather. Another ideas is to use one of the calf pieces to make a foldover style purse like we’ve done with the one pictured above. You can find the How to Guide here.

We are also experimenting with ways to use the shoe part of the boot to make some smaller clutch handbags. But that’s for a future post so make sure to subscribe for updates if you are interested in that one.

Jeans

Don’t fancy sewing through leather? Do you think you could handle denim? This is a cute and fun option and who doesn’t have a pair of ripped or ill fitting jeans sitting around they couldn’t try this with? We even found this site that has measurements for the panels needed to make different shape bags. So cut your jeans up one seam on each leg, lay them out flat and then cut them as if they were any other fabric. Denim is strong so you can use it for the straps as well. You can go patchwork, add some lace, or combine more than one pair of jeans too. We love the example above from with the two waist bands, which as a bonus means two sets of outer pockets! You could also add a fun print to the lining inside to make it extra unique to you.

Coffee Sacs

Coffee Sacs and Burlap are a trendy option these days for a lot of craft projects. And we think these bags look lush. The trick for these ones is cutting and sewing the sac/burlap so it doesn’t unravel. Painted Furniture Ideas has some tips for this here. A lining fabric for these bags is essential.

Cardboard

We are warning you right now if you don’t varnish or otherwise coat this one it will not stand up to the rain! But how fab to make a handbag out of the scads and scads of cardboard that end up in your recycling bin every week? There is a brilliant how to guide here, although it didn’t mention what kind of varnish to use. We think this one would work. We reckon you could decoupage these bags as well to make them even more personal and to make them unrecognisable as cardboard. ….So many ideas, so little time!

We hope you’ve enjoyed these DIY Handbag Ideas, if you are looking for more upcycling inspiration check out our How to Guides here organised by different ‘stuff’ you can upcycle.

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