Traveler’s Purse Tutorial

Traveler's Purse

We love to travel in our family! We just returned from a great vacation to the mountains and we’re embarking to head off on an overseas trip to Japan in a few weeks. All of this traveling has led me to search for a small little purse that can hold just a few of my essentials. I created this traveler’s purse tutorial so I could have a small bag that is just big enough to hold my phone, wallet, lip gloss and sunglasses, just the necessities. Take a look at this simple 10 step tutorial to make your own traveler’s purse.

Traveler's Purse

Materials to Sew a Traveler’s Purse

Tips for sewing with leather

  • Have a new, sharp leather sewing needle in your machine (these are marked leather on the front of the case.)
  • Use binder clips or clover clips instead of pins to hold your project together.
  • Remember that once a needle goes into leather, the hole is there forever.
  • You don’t need to finish seams or line a leather project, the edges will not fray.
  • Use a presser foot with a non stick sole, such as Straight stitch foot #53 with non-stick sole
  • If you do not have a non-stick foot, use a piece of tape attached to your presser foot as mentioned and illustrated here.

Assemble the Pattern

Print out the traveler’s purse pattern above. It will print out on two pages. Make sure when printing the pattern that you have selected print to actual size and auto portrait/landscape.

Instructions to Sew a Traveler’s Purse

Step 1: Cut Out Pattern

Once the pattern is printed, cut out two body pieces from the leather. Do not cut out the triangles at this time, only cut on the outside lines.

Cut out bag

Step 2: Cut Out Triangles

Now it is time to cut the triangles from the pattern. Once they are cut out, trace the triangles onto the wrong side of the bag pieces.

Cut Out Triangles

Trace Triangles

Step 3: Sew Triangles

With right sides together, align the two legs (straight lines) of the triangles. The point of the triangle will be at the fold and the two edges will meet up. Sew directly on the marked line. You will sew a total of four triangles.

Sew Triangles on Traveler's Purse

Step 4: Sew Front and Back Together

Finger press the triangles you sewed in step three. Press the triangles from the front bag piece to the inside and press the triangles from the back bag piece to the outside. Doing this will help the triangles nest against each other, making it easier to line seams up, this also creates less bulk. Use binder or clover clips to hold seams in place and sew the front and back pattern pieces together using 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Press triangles in opposite directions on the body of the traveler's purse

Sew front to back of traveler's purse

Step 5: Topstitch

Finger press down the top edge of your bag. Press down 1/2 inch, and use binder or clover clips to help hold in place. Using 1/4 inch seam allowance, top stitch this edge.

Top Stitch Purse

Step 6: Cut Out Flap

From the remaining piece of your leather, cut out one flap pattern piece.

Cut out flap

Step 7: Top Stitch Flap

Finger press the top edge (straight edge) of the flap down 1/2 inch. Use binder or clover clips to hold in place. Top stitch this edge using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Now top stitch around the remaining sides using 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Finger Press Traveler's Purse Flap
Top Stitch

Step 8: Attach Flap

It’s time to sew the purse flap to the body of the bag. Measure down 3/4 inch from the top of the bag and align your finished edge of the flap on the 3/4 inch line. Sew the flap in place, using 1/4 inch seam allowance on three sides (the left, right, and along the previously top stitched line).

Attach flap

Step 9: Add Snaps

Following the snap manufacturer’s instructions, add snaps to the bag. Make sure your snaps align. Here’s a quick little tip for adding snaps to leather. I found it challenging to poke the prongs through the leather, so I used a sewing needle to help get those holes started. The prongs then easily slipped through the small hole I created with the sewing needle. 

Traveler's Purse

Step 10: Sew on Straps

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to the last step. It’s time to take your webbing and sew on the purse strap. I simply measured the length I wanted my strap to be, added 1 inch and cut to size. Fold under 1/2 inch on either end and pin to itself to hold the fold. This last step I used double sided tape to hold my webbing to the bag.

Double Sided Tape

Measure down 1/2 inch and tape your folded webbing in place. The double sided tape is strong enough to hold the strap in place while you sew on all four sides, using 1/8 inch seam allowance. I also sewed an x where the strap is on the bag to help reinforce this seam.

Double sided tape

Traveler's Purse

Sew Straps to Traveler's Purse

That’s it! Your traveler’s purse is done and you are ready for your adventures!

Traveler's Purse


Our December 19 Gift for You:

A bright BERNINA red umbrella to keep you dry when skies are gray to one lucky WeAllSew fan!

All you have to do is post a comment below answering the following question:

What type of bag or purse do you want to learn how to make in the coming year?

A winner will be chosen at random on December 20, 2016 and announced the following week!

Good luck!

The contest is open for comments until December 19 at 12:00 midnight Central Time. Click here for contest rules.

Congratulations to WeAllSew reader “cecilia3,” the winner of our December 19th gift. Enjoy!

73 thoughts on “Traveler’s Purse Tutorial

  1. Small purses with different shapes like the one today. They are great for short trips to fairs and expos. They hold just what you really need and the shoulder straps are perfect so no to get lost.

    1. My son in law is a falconer and has almost lost his phones while hunting with his birds. This would be a great help to him. He wears a lot of gear to keep his hands free and this will make him a wonderful tool when he is out in the field hunting!

  2. While I’ve knitted and felted bags, I’ve never sewn a purse or a bag. I’d really like to learn some basic techniques so that I could design my own tote and clutch. Ideally, I’d like a heavy canvas tote that is wider than it is long and that has long handles so it can be carried as a shoulder bag and a zippered clutch large enough to hold an iPhone 6+, keys, lipstick, and credit cards.

  3. I want to make a small simple wristlet to carry my debit/credit card, drivers license and keys that I can quickly pull out when I don’t want to carry a purse.

  4. I love the size of this purse. Perfect for traveling. I would also like to make another “professional Tote Bag”.
    I took a class earlier this month from my local Bernina Store and made one for my sister. The directions were a little difficult to follow and I would love to make one for myself so I would love to take the class again.

  5. I would love to have a pattern for a strong, multi compartment bag. With outside compartments for cell phone and keys. Inside compartments for an I-pad, school papers, lunch, wallet, glasses etc.

  6. I am in the process of making a bag with pictures of every member of my family on fabric that I can print pictures on. It is a quilted bag. I started it last summer, and then my husband and I decided to move. So I put it away and now I have Christmas gifts to finish. I will love using it when I am done. I carefully made sure I have the same number of pictures of each grandchild on the bag. LOL

  7. Project bag – something that will help me organize the sewing projects I am working on. I would also like to learn how to make a bag for overseas traveling – one that will hold my passport and other documents needed to board an airplane and cruise ship.

  8. I would like to learn how to sew this purse or another cross body purse. I used to carry a larger purse but it gets heavy and weighs on you shoulders and neck.

  9. I started making bags about 2 years ago. I still have trouble with deciding what to use to close internal pockets-snaps, velcro, zippers? They all have issues

  10. Number 1 – I want to make this traveler’s bag!
    I would like to make a carry-on bag for air travel out of leather. Pockets, zipper, lightweight, ando fits under seat.

  11. I’m just finishing a large duffel (weekender) bag from my own pattern. I would like to make another for my sister, but first would love to see a tutorial on a large bag with lining and inset zippers. Also, lots of pockets, inside & outside. Thank you! Linda

  12. I too would love to learn how to make purses of all sizes and materials. Sometimes I need to carry just a bit…other times it seems like I need way too much!

  13. I love the idea of this purse, although I would like one a little larger just big enough to hold a water bottle, in addition to the other items mentioned for traveling.

  14. I have made a lot of fabric purses. I would like to learn how to make one with leather, especially since I have the leather roller foot for my Bernina !

  15. I would like to learn to make a “pochi” pouch. There is some fabric printed expressly for making one, but there is also a way to make a pattern on one of the blogs I follow. It’s a cute zipper pouch.

  16. Very easy pattern with well written instructions. I would make it just a bit longer, but not wider and add an inside cell phone pocket. Fabric weight leather would be great or even ultra-suede.

  17. I have made many bags over the years, with or without a pattern, to match outfits. I have made camera cases and storage bags for electronics. It is a good way to practice zippers and use up those pieces of free motion stitches and leftover quilt blocks.

  18. I have an old leather coat that I would like to make a hobo bag with, also would like to make different cases, i.e. flash drive case and tape recorder case.

  19. I need a nice evening bag in black…something glitzy. Plus I would like a cross body bag. small like this one, but maybe with a coupled zippered pockets for security. I think I have a couple patterns somewhere that I need to get busy on.

  20. Cute! Have a great trip! I’d like to recreate a bag my mom really likes but broke. It has several exterior pockets and a large zippered main area. I would also like to make some reuseable shopping bags.

Leave a Reply