How to make a Leather Tote Bag (Handmade Gift Idea)

leather tote bag

You can learn how to make a leather tote bag with this easy to follow tutorial.  This tote bag is perfect for quick overnight trips, school books and grocery shopping.  Perfect for on the go.
This leather tote bag is a perfect gift for a friend or family member this Christmas. Or, keep it for yourself! It is a convenient size for shopping trips or those weekends away celebrating the holidays with family.

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The bag is sewn from a medium to heavy weight cotton woven and faux leather. You can often find faux leather in the apparel section of your fabric store, or you can use a lighter weight vinyl from the home decor section. I fully lined the bag with a cute acorn print, and the lining near the top opening is faced with more of the faux leather.

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The hardware is what makes this bag looks so professional. I used nickel 1″ D rings for the straps and simple rivets for the strap and strap tabs. The bag closes with a magnetic snap.

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I love these little details. 

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1/2 yard medium weight cotton, eg) denim, twill

1/2 yard faux leather or lightweight vinyl

1/2 yard quilting cotton

4 D rings

16 rivets

1 magnetic snap


out of twill:

2 X Outer Bag (Piece A) – 22″ x 18″

4 X Strap Tab (Piece E) – 6″ x 4″

2 X Strap (Piece F) – 25″ x 4″

out of faux leather:

2 X Outer Bag Leather (Piece B) – 22″ x 13.5″

2 X Lining Facing (Piece C) – 22″ x 4.5″

out of cotton:

2 X Lining (Piece D) – 22″ x 14.5″

It is helpful to label each piece with masking tape so they don’t get mixed up!

Sewing Machine

Sewing Essentials (scissors, pins, etc.)


All seam allowances are 1/2″

How to make a leather tote bag:

Step 1 – Sew the Lining

Cut a small scrap of fabric, approximately 1″ x 2″, and fold it in half. This is to reinforce the snap. Center it on the wrong side of Piece C

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Cut 2 small holes and insert the magnetic snap. Repeat with the other side.

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With right sides together, pin and sew lining facing (piece C) to lining (piece D). Fold seam allowance up and topstitch. Repeat with other side.

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Pin and sew lining together along sides and bottom, leaving a 3″ opening along the bottom edge for turning. (I forgot, so I had to seam rip it open later!) Clip bottom corner.

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With the right sides together, fold the lining so that the side seam is lined up with the bottom seam. Measure up 2.5″ from the bottom corner and stitch across.

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Trim this seam. Repeat with the other corner.

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Now you have a lining with a base and sides!

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Step 2 – Sew the outside of the tote

Fold under 1/2″ of one of the long edges of piece B. I find it helpful to use glue stick to keep it in place. Pin it to the right side of piece A.

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Topstitch close to folded edge. Baste remaining edges. Repeat with other side.

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Step 3 – Assemble the Straps for the bag

Fold the short ends of the strap tabs (piece E) 1/2″ to the wrong side. Press.

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Fold in long ends in towards the center, then fold the strap in half. All the raw edges are now enclosed. Edgestitch along all 4 sides.

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Thread the strap tab through the D ring. Fold one end over 1″ and topstitch in place. Apply the rivets. 126leather tote bag-10

Position the strap tab on the outer bag 3″ down from the top edge and 6″ over from the side. Topstitch it in place. It is helpful to use a zipper foot to get around the rivets. Repeat with the other strap tab and the other side.

Sew the straps in the same manner (piece F) and stitch them to the other side of the D ring.

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Step 4 – Put the tote bag all together

Assembly outer bag in the same way as the lining by stitching across the bottom corners.

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Place the outer tote bag inside the lining, right sides facing, matching raw edges at the top of the bag and aligning side seams. Be sure the straps are tucked out of the way. Stitch.

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Turn right side out through the hole you left in the lining.

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Stitch opening in lining closed (hand stitch for a cleaner finish).

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Topstitch along top edge. You’ve completed the how to make a leather tote tutorial

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Other Free Bag Patterns: