This week Sara made a great mod to the Hexie Hipster Bag. I love the bohemian look. Now I’m inspired to hit the thrift store in search of the perfect leather belt!
Hello! It’s Sara. I chose to make a Hexie Hipster Bag with an upcycled leather belt strap. The Hexie Hipster Bag stands out as a unique pattern in a sea of messenger bags and traditional purse patterns. It has an interesting shape formed by large pieced hexagons. I thought it would be fun to try something different and learn some new bag making techniques with this pattern. Depending on the fabric you choose, you can make the bag look like a fabulous vintage find or a modern handmade accessory.
Inspired by a global bohemian style, I chose bright batiks from the Allison Glass Handcrafted line. I had a free-spirited and fun friend in mind when I was choosing fabric for this bag, and the gorgeous colors of these fabrics seemed perfect. Isn’t that the best part about sewing? You can choose exactly the right fabric for your friends. It’s so satisfying to see their eyes light up as they say, “This is SO me! How did you know?”
The Hexie Hipster Bag comes in 2 sizes. I chose to make the larger size. I made 2 changes to the pattern. First, I added an interior zipper pocket. Betz included a patch pocket on one side of the interior, but I always like to have a secure zippered place for small items inside my bags.
Second, I used a thrifted leather belt as a strap and also used a piece of belt leather to accent the flap. I enjoy repurposing thrift store items (I know Betz does too!) and I like how leather adds a high-end look to a handmade bag. Thrifted belts are one of the best sources of scrap leather and you can usually find them for less than $2.
Let me share a few quick tips for working with leather. If you don’t own leather tools, the best way to cut clean edges is with your rotary cutter and mat. The cut edges of the leather are often lighter in color, but you can use a brown marker to color the cut edges so that they match. Make sure you switch to a heavy-duty needle if you plan to machine sew the leather. I sewed very slowly, sometimes using the hand wheel to make a few stitches if the machine got stuck.
For this modification, I recommend looking for a thin, flexible leather belt. You will need to be able to sew across it (either by machine or by hand). The original strap for the large purse is around 1 ¾”. You can use anything from 1-2 ½”. I’ll show you how to modify the connecting pieces to fit.
Trace the strap end template onto another piece of paper. Mark the center of the short side and redraw the line to the width of your belt plus ½”. Use a straight edge to connect the new ends to the bottom corners. Mine was slightly wider, but you can also make it smaller.
To connect the strap ends to the belt, place the strap end right sides together and sew along the diagonal sides. Slide the belt in through the wider end and align it to the narrow end. Sew across the narrow end to secure the belt. Open out the strap ends, press, and topstitch across the belt.
If you want to add the leather accent to the flap, you’ll need to follow some of the instructions out of order. Normally, you assemble the flap at the end and attach it to the outside of the bag. In order to hide the end of the leather in the seam, you’ll need to assemble the flap before sewing the lining into the bag. I followed the instructions for sewing the flap as directed, except that I left the entire square end open. Since it is hidden in the seam, there is no reason to finish it. Then align and topstitch the leather accent to the flap. When you insert the bag into the lining to connect them, sandwich the flap in between the layers with the leather facing the hexagon that you want on the back side of the bag. Then follow the instructions for sewing and turning the bag right side out.
Overall, I’m thrilled with how the bag turned out! Though the hexagon piecing may seem intimidating to non-quilters, the instructions and illustrations will walk you through each small step. I read through the instructions a couple of times, but once I got started the bag shape came together very quickly and easily. The fabrics and bag pattern, paired with the sashiko blouse I made, mix perfectly to make that global, bohemian style I was hoping to create. I can’t wait to send this beautiful bag off to my friend!
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This post is part of the Betz White Sewing Collective series. Content is written by compensated contributors expressing their own views and opinions.