DIY Leather Purse (Bow)

Hopefully you have seen the tutorial for creating either the plain or frill leather purses and want to know how to take your sewing further and learn how to design and make one of these bow purses.

Plain Leather Purse: How To: Leather Plain Purse DIY
Frill Leather Purse: How To: Leather Frill Purse DIY
Bow Leather Purse: How To: Leather Bow Purse DIY

As with our other tutorials the plain leather purse covers the nitty gritty of working with leather and sewing the leather purses together. If you need to go over these steps I would recommend that you watch or read the plain purse tutorial prior to moving on to the bow purse. In this tutorial I am simply going to be covering the steps you need to make the bow purse.

Let’s start by cutting out the following from your leather or fabric. If you are working with a fabric that frays I recommend reading through the whole tutorial before starting the project. I have left the edge of the bow and the tabs on the zip un-finished (the raw edge of the leather). (If you wish to use a fabric that frays check out this tutorial, especially for the tabs: How To: Quilted Wash Bag.)

Please note that the measurements are designed in metric and imperial separately, the measurements are not converted. Choose your preferred measuring unit and stick with it throughout the tutorial.

I am going to presume that you are comfortable cutting out the leather pieces required. All these details are covered in the plain purse blog post and tutorial: DIY Leather Purse (Plain). You are also going to need a 4″ (10cm) zip for the following measurements.

Start by finding the position of the bow on the front or back of the purse. Although this step isn’t a necessity you should find it helps later on in the tutorial.

Position the bow onto the front of the purse with the right sides facing up. The bow will be wider than the purse, please don’t worry about this. We are going to be looking at the difference in height, the front  measures 4 1/2″ (11.5cm) and the bow measures 2 3/4″ (7cm), therefore there is a difference of 1 3/4″ (4.5cm). Divide this above and below the bow so that it is centred, this will be 7/8″ (2.25cm).

Mark on the right side of the fabric, in the seam allowance.

Once you are happy with the placement of the bow we can start constructing the bow. Take the bow middle and fold it in half with the right sides together and the short edges meeting.

Stitch along the short edges using a 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance and 2.5mm stitch length. I would recommend that you use a walking foot where possible during the tutorial, to help the sewing machine move the leather through the machine.

Trim the seam allowance of the bow middle bow to 1/8″ (3mm) and press open or roll open with a leather roller. Turn around to the right side.

Take the main bow piece and fold it into a concertina so that you can feed it through the bow middle.

Position the bow middle in the centre of the bow, make sure that the right sides of both fabric are facing up and that the seam for the bow middle is at the back of the bow. Play with the bow until you are happy with the shape.

Now the bow is ready you are able to create the main purse. You will need to finish the edges of the zip and attach both the front and back of the purse onto the zip. All of these details are covered in the plain purse tutorial: DIY Leather Purse (Plain). Make sure that you have the pattern or nap of the fabric the right way up when attaching it onto the zip.

Both sides of the purse are attached to the zip and topstitched in place.

Position the bow onto the front side of the bag, when looking at the front of the bag make a decision as to how you wish to open the bag, with the zipper towards the right or left? I personally prefer to open the zipper towards the right as I am right handed.

Position the bow against the markings made in the first step. Line up both the top and bottom edges and check that the bow is straight across the width of the purse. If you would rather your bow isn’t in the middle of the purse you can position it higher or lower, just remember that you have a seam allowance at the bottom and side edges of the main purse.

Use wonder clips or bulldog clips to hold the bow in place, the sides of the bow may extend past the side seams of the purse (in some areas), this is absolutely fine. You are welcome to stitch the bow onto the front of the purse at this point, stitch in the seam allowance.

Open the zipper. Fold the purse with the right sides together and match the top edge and all other edges (ignore the bow if it extends). Hold in place with wonder clips or bulldog clips.

Complete the sewing process as demonstrated with the plain purse: DIY Leather Purse (Plain). Stitch starting at the top edge (next to the zip tabs) on both sides and sew down to the bottom. Stitch following the 1/2″ (1cm) seam allowance, use a 2.5mm stitch length and back stitch at the start and end. I recommend sewing off the fabric at the start so that this area is nice and secure. If your machine struggles to feed the fabric through, use the hand wheel to walk the stitches in this section slowly. If you are able to use the walking foot it will help, however you may find that the zipper tab is in the way and you need to use the zipper foot.

Backstitch at the bottom edge for approximately 1/2″ (1cm), this is the length of the seam allowance on the bottom edge. The seam allowances will be trimmed down after sewing and you need to make sure that the stitches are secure. The reason why you can’t stitch all the way around the purse, down one side, along the bottom and up the other side is due slip you that may have at the top corners. The top corners (of the zipper) need to be sewn first so that they are held in position and that the edges will match when the bag is turned around, you will also find the bow may slip out of position. Make sure that you don’t catch any pleats or tucks of fabric as you stitch over the bow.

Finally stitch along the bottom edge using the same seam allowance 1/2″ (1cm) and back stitching past the previous rows of stitching to secure these areas. If the bag is going to take a lot of strain or tension I would recommend sewing over the first row of stitching, or using a smaller stitch length of 1.5mm for reinforcement.

Turn the purse around to the right side to check that the bow is central and that you haven’t caught the fabric of the bow.

Trim the seam allowances and corners down to 1/8″ (3mm), as demonstrated in the plain purse tutorial. Trim away the excess bow fabric.

Turn around to the right side and poke out the corners. Position the bow to your liking, move the centre of the bow to one side (if you prefer).

All finished! Remember to watch the step by step guide on YouTube if you get stuck at any point: How To: Leather Bow Purse DIY.

I hope you have enjoyed making these purses, if you feel able to share your sewing on Facebook I would love to see the results.