Wednesday, February 16, 2011

upcycled leather jacket tote bag


I use two tools that every crafter should have at their work table: a Dremel Stylus and an Awl for All.  The Dremel has unlimited uses—it's that friendly power tool that tends to come in handy when making many different things. The Awl for All is basically a hand-held sewing machine—perfect for any sewing project a standard machine can't handle and useful to have around for repairs. When you get in the rhythm of sewing with it, it begins to feel therapeutic, similar to knitting or crocheting.

On the show I demo how to turn a single jacket into a tote, but you can be creative and make any style bag you like.
I found this green 80's moto style leather jacket at a local thrift store and used its leather to make a cross-body purse. The lapel lent itself perfectly to becoming a flap. 
Home Depot carries some interesting hardware, like the Stainless Steel Anchor Shackle, which I used to attach the braided strap on this purse.

It's clever to take the material from one item and transform it into another—it's a great way to recycle—upcycle actually.
 A great reuse for an old fur coat is donating it to Coats for Cubs!

The Humane Society set up this amazing program of giving fur back to the animals.
Buffalo Exchange participates and are collecting coats right now!!

If you miss the show, watch the segment online here.


  1. Awesome. I have those tools and a handful of old leather coats. I'll have to check out the how-to.

  2. I want to make one with you! Wish I wasnt away so I could have done that segment with you....the perfect fit!

  3. yeah and Martha never asked me what my inspiration was!
    It was you, Meli, my sister!!!!

  4. can you recommend some thrift stores? I'll be in the city next week, the ones in my area had zipo.

  5. hi suzy
    Majority of the jackets I purchased were from No Relation thrift store.
    204 1st. Ave (between 12th St & 13th St), NYC
    Remember to look for soft leather and the bigger the better!

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  7. This is so cool! Want to make one right NOW! :)

    Where can I get a hold of that tape you use? (esp the one with measurements on it!) I live in far far Northern Europe, so online stores shipping internationally would be the only choice... Any ideas?

  8. hi r.
    Try this link for tape:
    or amazon:

  9. The links to the video and article are broken, can you post the pattern and instructions?

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  11. Hi Flleurdavril,
    Below is a link to the instructions:

    Let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. Hi! Have you ever used the mini dremel that has just two speeds? Just trying to save some money since I am new to this.
    What size bit should I use and do I use the coarse needles with the awl for all?

  13. Hi.. i wanted to thank you for the wonderful tutorial, i got home and made my bag in under 4 hrs i wish i can down load pics of mine.