Ya Girl Made a Handbag, Y’all.



I’ve been talking about making a purse for a while now. After my last foray with leather/faux leather (that ended in a fold-over clutch), I was a bit disheartened about the prospect of making a bag. However, after spending a few months looking at patterns and examples on Pinterest, I built up some confidence. I found a really nice pattern from Riva la Diva for a DIY Céline Inspired Oversized Tote. It looked simple enough, so I decided to go for it.

The first thing I did was gather my materials. I got a yard of marine vinyl in black and a 1/2 yard of cotton upholstery fabric. I caught some REALLY good sales and got all of the materials for the bag for around $20. I decided to take it really slow with this project. I had to castaway some of the anxiety to finish that usually takes hold in most of my projects. For this one I really wanted to do things the right way. Overall, working in small increments of time, the project took me about six hours.

I followed the pattern as closely as possible. The first part of the bag was fairly simple. I, however, couldn’t figure out how to  topstitch the sides of the bag. I’m 100% sure that it was just me overthinking it, but I couldn’t figure out how to topstitch when the sides of the bag are already sewn. I was like, “Well how the hell do I get this through the machine? What kind of witch magic is this?!” So I decided that I would topstitch the sides by hand. After starting, I realized that this might have been a bad idea. Hand sewing through vinyl is not fun. My fingers ached and I have NEVER been so thankful for the invention of the thimble (shoutout to the Romans or whoever is responsible for it).


So the sides didn’t look the best, but I was pretty proud of myself for doing it. Will I ever do this again? No.

Once I got the body of the bag together I felt so accomplished. The inside of the bag looked pretty cool too. I even made a pocket:


THE hardest part of the bag was the construction of the holes for the strap. I was so happy with the body of the bag that the idea of cutting holes in it terrified me! It took me two days to get up the gall to cut out those circles. Not only was it terrifying, but it  was hard to do. I spent a lot of time making and attaching the squares that make the holes and it ended up looking a little wonky. Regardless, I’m proud of myself for actually conquering my fear and making those holes!

The last thing I did was make the strap. This is another moment where I was faced with the fact that my machine – even with the leather needle – can’t push through so many layers of materials. So I hand sewed the parts of the strap that were too thick for the machine. I ran the strap through the holes, tied it, and celebrated.


I feel really good about this project and I feel empowered enough to try out making more bags. I definitely feel a lot more confident working with the vinyl. I would say that I will try real leather next time, but I’m a broke bitch. Maybe in the future when I finish grad school and have a job.

Ya girl made a handbag, y’all.




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