How to Make Handbags

by Melanie Williamson ; Updated September 28, 2017

Making a handbag is a great way to personalize your style or give a heart-felt gift. You can make the handbag any size necessary, and you can personalize it any way you can imagine. The whole project should take less than two hours, and you can control the cost when deciding what to add and the kind of material you want to use. Although using a sewing machine would be quickest, this project can easily be done by hand. And it's is an ideal way to teach a young person how to sew.

Choose the material you want to work with. Your handbag can be made out of cotton, fleece, hemp, canvass or denim, for instance. Some materials are easier to work with than others, but you'll use the same assembling method for all of them.

Cut the material 1 inch wider than the width you want the finished bag to have. Cut the material length so that it is three times longer than the desired depth.

Lay the material flat so that the outside of the material is facing up. Fold the bottom third of the material up so that you create a pocket.

Sew the two sides of the material together, leaving 1/2 inch on each side. After you have sewed both sides, turn the material inside right so that the seams you sewed are now on the inside of the bag.

Trim the flap of the handbag to the length you want. Untrimmed, the flap should go to the bottom of the bag, which is fine if that is the look you want. After you have trimmed the flap, fold in 1/2 inch of material on the three sides of the flap and fasten them with straight pins. Iron the fold to make a crisp edge. Then hem the edges of the flap so they look finished. When you are done you can remove the straight pins from the material.

Leave the handbag with an open flap or add a closure. The closure can be a button, snap or Velcro. If you choose a button, sew it onto the body of the handbag and then cut a button hole in the flap. For a snap, sew both sides of the snap to the handbag and flap. Velcro typically comes with peel-and-stick adhesive.

Add a strap to your bag. The strap can be made from a strip of the same material you used to make the bag. Or make a strap out of a different kind of coordinating material. Make a strand of beads in coordinating colors and use that as a strap. Typically, the length of the strap on a handbag is 6 to 18 inches long. Decide how long you want your strap to be by measuring the one on a handbag you already own and are comfortable with. Sew the ends of the strap to the inside seam on either side of the handbag.

Decorate the bag. Sew beads, sequins, fringe or any other material you find suitable and attractive onto the bag. Get as creative as you want.


  • Don't be afraid to try different ideas with the closure, strap and embellishments. If you don't like the way something looks, remove it and start over.

About the Author

Melanie Williamson graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She worked for four years as a college writing tutor. During that time she proofread and edited academic papers. She works as a professional freelance writer and writes for a variety of websites. In April 2011 she published her first book on resume writing.