Leather Grommet Bag

It’s not every day that I chop into a leather coat.  In fact, I don’t remember ever sewing with leather before.  But my bravery was rewarded last week with a new short jacket and a big chunk of red leather.  I think I was more excited about what I could do with the part I cut off, but I do love my new jacket.

Red Coat Before and After

The first thing that came to mind for my extra leather was, maybe obviously, a bag.  I decided to work with the bottom hem of the coat as the top of the purse, but this pattern could also be made using regular fabric.  I’m big on pockets, so you’ll find lots of those inside.  I also like to wear my purse across my body when I’m shopping, so I’ll show you how these straps can be adjusted at the end.

Grommet bag 2

To make this bag, you’ll need a piece of leather or 1/3 yard of medium weight fabric for the outside, 2/3 yard of medium weight fabric for the lining and pockets, an 8” or larger zipper, interfacing, one magnetic purse snap, two sets of large metal grommets and 66 inches of 1” wide webbing.

Cut two pieces from the leather, each measuring 14” across the top, 12” across the bottom and 11” down each side.  The sides should angle in 1” on each side from the top to bottom.  Measure in 2” from each side and 2” from the bottom at each bottom corner and cut that square away.  It should be slightly angled to match the side.

Grommet bag 3

Cut the same shape from the lining fabric.

Grommet bag 4

Also from the lining fabric, cut one piece 9” wide by 8 1/2” tall for the cell phone pocket, one piece 4 1/2” wide by 6 1/2” tall for the lipstick pocket and one piece 8 1/2” wide by 11” tall for the inside of the zipper pocket.  I chose to cut the last one from a contrasting fabric, shown in black below.

Grommet bag 5

Fold the small lipstick pocket right sides together.  Stitch around all raw edges (using a 1/4” seam, as throughout unless indicated otherwise) leaving 2” open on one side to turn.  Clip corners, turn right side out and press.  Repeat with the cell phone pocket.

Grommet bag 6

Pin the cell phone pocket 3 1/2” from the top and 2 1/2” from each side on one lining piece.  Stitch down both sides and across bottom 1/8” from the edge.  Stitch through all layers from top of pocket to bottom 4 1/4” from right side to create two pockets.

Grommet bag 7

Pin the lipstick pocket on the other lining piece, 4/12” from the top and centered between the sides.  Stitch the sides and bottom 1/8” from the edge.

Grommet bag 8

Draw a rectangle on the wrong side of the zipper pocket 1/2” from the top, 1/2” from each side and 1/2” wide.  Pin above lipstick pocket so the top of the drawn rectangle is 3 1/2” from the top and 3” from each side of the lining piece.  Stitch around the rectangle, following the line you drew.

Grommet bag 9

Carefully clip through both layers in the center of the rectangle.  Cut through to within 1/4” of each end.  From there, clip to each corner as shown by the red lines in the photo below.  Do not clip through the stitching.

Grommet bag 10

Grab the bottom edge of the pocket and stuff it through the slit you just cut.  Pull it from the back until the entire pocket is behind the lining.

Grommet bag 11

Make sure it’s laying flat on the back and press well from the front.  It should look like this from the front.

Grommet bag 12

And this from the back.

Grommet bag 13

Shorten zipper, if necessary, but sewing over teeth and cutting off below.  Make sure zipper still extends beyond the opening you just created by at least 1/4”.  Pin zipper behind opening, centering the teeth and making sure the pull is accessible from the front.  Stitch around the opening, close to the edge, using a zipper foot.

Grommet bag 14

From the back, fold the pocket up so the top edges meet.  Press the fold.

Grommet bag 15

Stitch the sides and top of the pocket together, 1/4” from the edges, making sure to move the lining piece out of the way and using caution near the ends of the zipper.

Grommet bag 16

Your pocket should look like this.

Grommet bag 17

Now that all of the pockets are completed, pin both of the lining pieces right sides together.  Stitch 1/4” from the sides and bottom, leaving the squares at the corners open.

Grommet bag 18

Press the seams open.  Flatten the corners together so the raw edges meet and the seams touch.  Stitch 1/4” from the edge.

Grommet bag 19

Repeat with the two leather pieces.  Be sure to use binder clips rather than pins to hold the leather.

Grommet bag 20

Turn the leather right side out.  Find the center of each side of the lining.  Apply a 2” square of heavy interfacing to the wrong side of each side.  Mark a dot at the center 1 1/2” from the top edge.  Apply the magnetic snap over the dot, following the manufacturer’s instructions, on each side.  For mine, that meant cutting a small slit on either side of the dot, pushing the tabs through from the front, adding the back and bending the tabs.

Grommet bag 21

Press the upper edge of the lining toward the wrong side 1/2”.  Slip the lining into the leather bag, wrong sides together.  Using binder clips, clip the lining to the bag 1/8” from the bag edge.

Grommet bag 22

Top stitch around the top 1/4” from the edge of the leather.

Grommet bag 23

Mark your desired spot for the grommets.  Mine are 2 1/2” from the side seam and 1” from the top (to the edge of the hole).  Carefully cut the hole through both layers.

Grommet bag 24

Apply the grommets according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  I can’t recommend the ones I used because they were without instructions, even on the website they directed me to on the package.  As far as I can tell, you put a ring on the front with tabs through the hole, one on the back and bend the tabs over to hold it in place.  I like how they turned out, but the lack of instructions was disappointing.

Grommet bag 25

For the strap, cut two pieces of leather, each 4” by 3”.  Fold the short sides under 1/2”.  Fold right sides together and stitch the long edge.

Grommet bag 26

Turn right side out, which is a bit of work.  Center the seam.  Slide onto the 66” long piece of webbing to the center.  Stitch near each end and 1” in from each side.

Grommet bag 27

Slide the webbing through the grommets on the bag.  Push both ends of the webbing into the second leather tube and stitch like the first one.

Grommet bag 28

By keeping both leather pieces on the handle together, this can be a shoulder bag.

Grommet bag 29

But you can also pull one strap up so one leather piece is on the back of the bag…

Grommet bag 30

…and you can wear it as a cross-body bag.  Cool, huh?

Grommet bag 31

I chose not to add a bottom to this bag on the inside because I wanted it to stay a little more flexible for cross-body wear, but you could certainly cover a piece of cardboard or plastic and add it if you want it a bit stiffer.

Whew, that’s a lot, right?  Well, I’m not done…tune in on Wednesday for another project!




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Faux Suede and Fleece Scarf

I have a hard time deciding what to do with the fabric left over after I’ve made a project.  I hate to throw it away, but often there’s either not enough to make anything else, or there’s nothing else I want to use it for.  In this case, the scraps practically told me what they wanted to be.

Scarf 1

I measured the widest spot I could get from both pieces and worked from there.  To make this, you’ll need a piece of fleece 5 1/2 inches by the width of the fabric, which should be just under 60 inches.  You’ll also need a piece of faux suede 6 1/2 inches by 12 inches shorter than the fleece, which would be about 48 inches.  These measurements are all very flexible, the important part is keeping the suede an inch wider than the fleece and at least several inches shorter.

Scarf 2

Turn the short ends of the suede under 1/2” and press.  Center the suede on the fleece, right sides together and raw edges matching on one side.  Pin in place.

Scarf 3

Stitch with a 1/4” seam.  Match the raw edges on the other side, bunching the extra suede in the middle.  Pin and stitch, making sure not to catch any of the excess suede in the seam.

Scarf 4

Carefully trim 1/4” off each side of the fleece, making it even with the stitching.

Scarf 5

Turn right side out.  Center the fleece so an even amount of suede shows on each side of the fleece.  Neither of these fabrics likes to be ironed, so I used pins to hold it in place.  Stitch 3/8” from each edge on the fleece side.

Scarf 6

Turn the scarf over and stitch 3/8” from the folded ends of the suede.

Scarf 7

Cut the fleece into 1/2” fringe on both ends.

Scarf 8

This might be one of my better uses of scrap fabric.

Scarf 9

And it matches my new jacket.  Double win.

Scarf 10

Faux Suede and Fleece Jacket

I don’t sew a lot of clothing for myself.  I just find it too frustrating to put in the kind of time and funding that it takes to make something to wear, only to have it turn out badly.  Sometimes I get good results, but the stakes are just too high to take the gamble.  But every once in a while I throw caution to the wind and give it a go.


I bought this pattern and fabric at least 6 months ago.  I cut it out shortly after I brought it home.  That was my first mistake.  Someday, I’m hoping I’ll learn it’s better to wait until I’m ready to sew something up before I cut into the fabric.  It’s much less confusing.

The pattern I used was Butterick B5424.  My second mistake was assuming that Butterick and I have the same definition of “Fast and Easy.”   If you’re considering this one, just be aware it isn’t really for beginners, thanks to one “what-were-they-thinking?” step.

This is the instructions.  Looks like you’re fitting together two squared pieces, right?

Jacket 2

Uh, no.  You’re squeezing this round neck…

Jacket 3

into this square hole…

Jacket 4

It took me a seriously long time and a truckload of pins to get these two pieces together.  I finally just gave up and hoped for the best.

Jacket 5

After I sewed it together and it actually looked right and there were no puckers, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I sewed in the sleeves, then moved on to the lining.  I didn’t even consider that it had to be put together the same way.  This almost made me cry…

Jacket 6

But I got through it.  The rest of the jacket went together pretty well, although I’m still questioning their “very easy” stamp of approval.  The only other big issue I faced was no fault of Butterick’s.  Since both fabrics I was working with were synthetic and we’re still in the grip of winter here, I had to deal with crazy static electricity.  My ironing board actually shocked me.  The strings from the edge of the fabric looked like something alien, the way they were following my fingers around.

Jacket 7

The good news is, I actually like the jacket a lot.  I wish I would have remembered to make it a little longer, but overall it fits well.

Jacket 8

Once it’s warm enough around here that I can wear it without a wool coat over the top, I will.  In public even.

Jacket 9

Tune in tomorrow and I’ll show you the matching scarf I made using the leftovers!