Fringed Hand Sewn Leather Bucket Bag Tutorial

Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chickHi readers !

This is going to be a long post where I will attempt to explain to you how I sewed my fringed leather bucket entirely by hand. I’ll be including the cutting dimensions and entire process of making this bag, which is my own design and evolved as I made it.  I love it, actually! Which is a good thing, because it took me hours and hours to make.Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chick

Disclaimer: This is my first hand sewn leather project, and while I’m going to explain to you how I made the bag and the dimensions used, I can’t guarantee that there aren’t better methods for sewing leather by hand than the ones I used. I’m just getting started in my leather work, and hope to take some classes soon at my local Tandy Leather store to get better at this craft. I’m most definitely not a leather working expert. Just a dabbler!  I found all the things I wanted to know to make this bag from my leather working handbook from 1955, a yard sale find. Written by Raymond cherry.leathercraftinsideLeather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chick

And here is where I thank The Leather Hide Store, who’ve been so patiently waiting for me to do something with this beautiful hide of brown leather they sent me way back in November. Sorry guys, for being such a flaky blogger and major procrastinator. This brown leather was originally meant to be used to demonstrate the sewing of a leather skirt when I had my appearance on the Sew It All TV show back then, but the show asked if I would demonstrate my segment with my pink leather, instead.

So today, I’m finally using this soft, yet durable brown leather to make this DIY bucket bag. I’ve been wanting a fringed bag for awhile, so why not make my own?Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chick

Anyway, Y’all should check out Leather Hide Store’s huge selection of upholstery weight leathers, which are totally perfect for any hand sewing leather handbag project.Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chickLeather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chickBefore we start, I do have a few thoughts on sewing leather with a basic home sewing machine vs. by hand.DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

I’ve sewn with leather on my home Bernina sewing machine, and also on a special sewing machine designed for sewing ship sails called a Sail Rite. I wasn’t happy with either stitch. I could only use thin all purpose thread with the Bernina, which isn’t really strong enough to hold leather together. When I tried to feed upholstery thread though the Bernina, it got all bunched up underneath, and ruined the leather. And although the Sail Rite can sew through thicker leather with ease, and uses much thicker thread than the Bernina can, the look of its’ top stitching is really messy, and the stitches tend to get smaller with any tension. So in my opinion, unless you want to invest in a power sewing machine designed specifically for leather, you are going to get uneven looking, unattractive looking top stitch quality, no matter what your skill is with the machine. It’s just too much for the most machines. But if you are one of those people who have it figured out, I’d love to hear your secret.badtopsticthing

Typical leather top stitch quality of a home sewing machine.

I have yet to see a project sewn on a home machine with good looking top stitching. Including my own. I also think that seams sewn on the wrong side of leather like a traditional fabric project, look too obvious and not flat enough, without also being top stitched flat on the right side. badseamsIt’s very hard to get the leather nice and flat on the outside, even if you glue it and pound it with a hammer. Most bags that I’ve examined have some sort of overlapped or topstitched seam instead.

I would recommend hand sewing thicker leather for the home DIY er. It takes way more time, true, but the results and the seams are so much prettier for home sewn leather projects. And all that pounding when making holes and adding hardware is a great way to release tension!tools for leather hand sewing

The tiniest amount of tension when sewing slightly thicker leathers on a home sewing machine makes for a small, uneven stitches. I ruined this jacket below because my machine just could not make a decent stitch on the leather and it would get all jacked up when I tried to feed it upholstery thread. I really wish I could sew it over because I really, really loved this bad ass leather. This leather was also courtesy of The Leather Hide Store, by the way.DIY leather motorcyle jacket - sew country chickI had to use normal thread, which looked so bad and way too thin for top stitching. So countless hours were wasted due to the crappy stitch quality of my machine, which is pretty much top of the line for garment sewing, and my poor jacket is a wadder. It looks nice from far away, but up close, the stitches look terrible. .. Never again! It was supposed to be an EPIC project,too. 14 leather machine needles were broken on this project.

This time I’m hand stitching this leather. I’ll be punching my stitching holes with a small tool then sew my seams with a special waxed thread.It seems the only types of leathers that can do well with a home sewing machine are very thin ones, like lambskin. Definitely not the type I’m working with on my bag here.

So here is how to make the leather fringed bucket bag!DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

Leather pieces to cut out: ALL PIECES INCLUDE 1/2 SEAM ALLOWANCE

1 piece-  9 inch circle traced from a paper plate.

1 piece-  piece 13 inches wide by 28 3/4 inches wide.

2 pieces-  7 inch by 28 3/4 inch pieces for the fringe overlays.

1 piece-  2 inch by 28 3/4 inch piece for the top edge of the bag.

2 pieces- 1 1/2 inch by 36 inch pieces for shoulder straps.

4 pieces-   1 inch by 4 inch leather strips to make D ring straps with. (not shown in photo)

1 piece- 36 inch by 2 inch long strip of leather for strap to go through grommets and tighten bag closed. (not shown in photo).

2 pieces- 1 inch by 3 inch piece for slider for bag strap.

2 pieces – 2 inch by 6 inch piece for fringing and attaching to the edge of the straps that go through the grommet holes.

As far as how much leather to buy, I’ll let you do the math. Just add up the dimensions and remember that leather is sold by the square foot.

I had more than enough leather, so I forgot to figure it out for you. Sorry!

Hardware for bag :

Leather contact cement from Tandy. Water based formula. Unless, you want to fry some brain cells, use this one, Eco Weld.

Brown waxed cotton cord leather thread.

Diamond 6 prong leather punch fork for making thread holes.

12 brass 3/4 inch grommets .

A grommet hole punch and grommet attachment kit.

Small bag of double cap rivets.

2 brass 1 inch D rings

2 brass swivel snaps with 1 inch opening for bag strap.

A mallet for pounding.

Small package of leather harness needles.

I bought my supplies at Tandy leather and at Sav Mor leather in downtown LA. DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial Cut out the leather pieces as described above.

DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

Cut fringe on the two 7 inch by 28 3/4 inch panels.

Cut the fringe in the two 7 inch wide by 28 3/4 inch pieces. I drew a line 1 inch below the top along the length and cut freehand fringes about 1/4 inches apart. It does take time,  but not as long as actually drawing the lines. But unless you are pretty confident cutting straight lines, I’d recommend you draw them first.DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

 Draw fringe placement lines on large body piece.

On the wider long main body piece use a crayon or marking pencil to draw two lines along the length. Draw the first line 1 inch below the top and draw the second line 6 1/2 inches below the top.

Use the leather cement glue to glue the two fringe panels to the lines

Use cement glue to glue the top 2 inch piece to the top of the bag edge. It will end at about where the fringe begins.

Let everything dry for an hour or so.

Punch holes with hole punching fork through glued down fringed pieces and main purse pattern piece.

When you punch the holes with the fork, there will be deep holes going throught o the cutting board so make sure you use a board that you don’t care about trashing.

Thread the harness needle with a long piece of waxed leather thread and sew through holes with a running stitch. Double knot the end and beginning inside the purse. Add some glue to knots so they don’t come undone. You can also use a saddle stitch, which looks more professional, but I decided to make the easier and quicker running stitch for this project, which takes half the time of the saddle stitch and has a Boho look.

DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

Glue down top 2 inch panel to the top of purse and let dry. Punch holes in the top and bottom of it. Sew with a running stitch.

Measure out where you want to place your grommets on the 2 inch top piece. Use mallet to punch holes.


DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

Use the grommet kit and mallet for attaching the grommets.setgrommetDIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial Glue bag together at sides and sew together. Then glue the bottom to the sides and let dry.DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

 Cut notches out near the bottom of two long straps like below so they can fold over swivel clasp.cuttingstrapFold over, glue down and let dry.gluingstrapNow punch holes.punchedholesSew running stitch and knot from behind. apply glue to secure knots. Attach some rivets to make it extra strong and to give a cool look.

DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial

Glue each pair of D ring clasp pieces together.DringsFold over cemented D ring tab pieces over D rings and make stitch holes and rivet holes with the hole punch fork and the hole punch pliers for the rivet holes. I trimmed mine to make them curved.DIY hand sewn fringed leather bucket tutorial Make the same spaced holes on each side of the bag to attach the D ring tabs. Sew on the sides, then attach the rivets.dringtabs

strapforgrommetsCement some upholstery piping to the center fold of the 1 yard piece of leather.

Cement the whole length thing shut on the fold. Let dry, then punch holes and stitch with running stitch. I had to show off that 50’s gossip magazine I just bought at a yard sale…..


sliderCement two inch by 4 inch slider pieces together, let dry then fold in half. Fold in each side piece to the middle, punch holes, and hand stitch from behind.

Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chickTo make the fringed tips of the clasp strap, cut fringe on the 1 two 2 inch by 6 inch pieces inch by four inch pieces, leaving the top 1/2 inch uncut. Glue the top uncut edge, and wrap it around the tips of the strap.

Done! It was a long process, but I enjoyed making it! And thanks again to the Leather Hide Store for providing this leather!

Leather Fringed Bucket Bag tutorial- sew country chick

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  1. Kristi says

    Love your bag! I don’t normally comment but this is awesome. Fantastic job!

  2. Dee says

    Your bag is really cool. I bought a discounted leather working book years ago in hopes of making a purse, but haven’t attempted it so far.

    Now, having said that, I got completely distracted very early in your post, because BABY BUNNY! Do you have a pet bunny is does it belong to some other lucky person?

      • Dee says

        Congratulations! Bunnies are so much fun, and so clever! Our bunny was an adult when we got her (she was a rescue), but they are adorable even all grown up. 🙂 If you need any bunny health advice, or how to get through the crazy bunny “teenage” phase, the House Rabbit Society has tons of great info.

  3. says

    Wow!! That’s really really awesome. I just loved this type of bag when it flooded the market and was looking for a DIY like this…and u totally amazed me. It’s beyond words <3 <3