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How to Make a Handbag

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A home-made handbag.

There are some days when you just can't fit anything into your handbag. Fashion currently dictates that handbags are getting smaller and smaller, but sometimes that's just not what you need, you need a big bag that you can just throw your life into.

However, these life-carrying bags are more than often impossible to find. When you do find these bags they certainly don't always follow the principle of 'big is beautiful'. This is why making your own bag is a fun and useful alternative and won't take long to create.

You Will Need

  • An old pair of trousers1
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Self-adhesive hook-and-loop velcro
  • Fabric pins
  • Sewing machine

How to Make the Bag

The Body of the Bag

  1. Choose the pair of trousers you want to use and it is advisable to wash the trousers prior to use.

  2. Turn trousers inside out.

  3. Lay material out on a flat surface.

  4. Using the scissors cut off the legs of your trousers just above the crotch.

  5. Discard leg material but do not throw away as it'll be needed later.

  6. Set up the sewing machine putting in a thread spool and reel in a colour as close as you can find for the material2, alternatively you could use a completely different colour of thread and use it as a design feature.

  7. Sew a straight line across the base where you cut off the legs leaving a couple of inches of excess thread at the start and end (there should be two either end) in order to tie-off.

  8. When tying off gently pull one of the threads so that the lower one is pulled to the same side as the one you're pulling, you will need to use a needle or stitch-picker3 to pull the thread through completely. Once you have both threads on one side you will need to tie the threads in two knots to secure the stitch so it doesn't unravel. Repeat at the other end of the bag.

  9. Turn the trouser back the right way round, this is your bag shape. Set to one side.

  10. Cut four equally-sized pieces of hook-and-loop velcro4 (two of hook and two of loop), two inches should be enough but keep it on the paper backing while you cut.

  11. Remove the backing of each strip individually and attach to the waist band of your trousers, this will create fastenings and give your bag more security5. (You may wish to make a few stitches around the edge of the velcro just to ensure it stays in place if tackiness is lost.)

The Shoulder Strap

  1. From the discarded leg of your trousers cut a long straight strip of fabric, 2.5" (6.5cm) in width, with the length dependent on how low you want your bag to sit.

  2. Fold the fabric in half length ways, right sides together, holding it in place with fabric pins.

  3. Put the fabric under the sewing foot, lining up the right edge of the foot along the raw fabric edge.

  4. Make a straight stitch down the length of the fabric taking out pins6 as you go.

  5. Tie off the threads as before.

  6. Carefully turn the fabric strip the right side out giving you invisible seams.

  7. Turn the two open ends inside so that there are no rough edges - make this about a centimetre or more in and pin.

Finishing Off

  1. Take the shoulder strap and bag and pin together where the outer seam of the trousers is. Pin the shoulder strap twice, repeat at the other side of the bag.

  2. Using the sewing machine, stitch a rectangle where you have attached the strap, then make a cross diagonally from each corner of the box you've sewn. This will help to strengthen the strap and keep it from detaching half way along the high street.

  3. Tie off and repeat at the other side.

Once you have finished making the basic shape of your bag you can personalise it by adding badges or patches, which you can get in any good fabric or craft shop. Alternatively, you could also embroider your own designs onto your bag.

1Denim jeans work best as the fabric is stiff and a stiffer fabric will help to keep the bag's shape. Stiff fabric isn't a necessity, but it will give substance to the bag.2Go for a shade darker than your fabric if you can't find a perfect match as this will be less obvious.3Most sewing machines or good sewing kits will provide you with a stitch-picker, this is a piece of equipment, which looks like a hook.4Self-adhesive hook-and-loop velcro comes in large strips on backing paper, both kept separate but on the same piece of paper.5You could use buttons, zips, sew-on velcro or ties, but self-adhering velcro is quick and easy.6A lot of modern sewing machines can sew straight over sewing pins, but it's safer to remove them as they could break the machine's needle.

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