Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY: Convertible Handbag

I wanted a black-on-black striped bag. And I wanted it in genuine leather. And I wanted it to sport lots of hardware. And after setting eyes on these highly convertible bags while window shopping in Laguna Beach, I wanted my bag to be a transformer, too.

I couldn't find that hippogriff of a bag anywhere! Surprise, surprise... cue pout.

I sound like Bratty McBratterson, don't I? Well, I'll admit to being a demanding, neurotic control freak, but I think I (sort of) manage to redeem myself by being willing to work for the things I want -- and boy, when I decided to make my dream bag myself, the process turned out to be work. Seriously, this bag started out as two $1 pairs of leather pants, a $0.50 men's shirt, and a bulk order of D-rings. Forcing these disparate elements to play nicely together took a lot out of me - have you ever tried to apply rivets all along a 14-inch length of leather when your rivet gun only has an inch of clearance? No? It's kind of a pain!

However, for about $30 in materials (blood, sweat, and tears are free... provided they're your own, of course), I walked away with a totally custom -- and customizable -- wearable work of art. Poor rivet planning aside, the bag was not that difficult to construct; if you have some basic sewing skills, then it should be pretty easy to make, as you don't even need to finish off edges when working with leather.

  • Cut leather pants into strips as long as your desired bag is tall.
  • Sew strips together lengthwise until desired bag width is reached.
  • Follow instructions for constructing a lined zippered pouch... only, y'know, use your own measurements.
  • Use leather scraps and a rivet setter to attach a D-ring anywhere you'd want a handle to be.
  • Fashion straps out of leather and secure to lobster clasps with rivets.
  • Clip straps to different D-rings to achieve a different look! Here are some examples in backpack mode, foldover mode, tote mode, and crossbody hobo mode.
This tutorial is bag-specific, but the DIY concept is universal - don't short-change your crafting skills. You could end up saving a bunch of money by ripping your own holes in jeans, bedazzling your own tops, or even just hemming your own pants. It's also a rush to sport your new item about town and be able to say, "Oh, this? Yeah... I made it." Crafting isn't just cost-effective - it's empowering, too!


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