Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Embellished Button Purse (DIY) ~ With

 I fell head over heels in love with the handmade feel and vintage style.  At that moment, I realized that I really wanted -no needed- an embellished leather purse of my own.  

 While browsing Etsy (a hobby that borders on obsession for me), I found another beautiful embellished flap purse (lower left image); this one made of tooled vintage leather and painted flowers.  But, alas, it was sold out.
I can't explain why I adore these embellished purses so much, but looking at them brings to mind images of cozy camp fires, Hansel & Gretel, thick knitted scarves, and colorful autumn leaves.

If only I could make one, sigh.  To be honest, I don't see myself learning how to embroider any time soon and I wouldn't even know where to begin with tooling leather, so I embellished my own bag with with felt and buttons.

The online store, gave me a $30 gift certificate to pick out all the buttons I could ever want ($30 will buy a lot of buttons).  My favorite thing about the site is that each of the hundreds of buttons has a different name, such as Ashlie, Rick, or Tamra (Sadly, I didn't find a 'Heather' button. If I had, I would have added it to my cart).  Along with large images and lots of information, there's also a very helpful live chat option for any button related questions you might have.
(image from
For this project, I tried to stick with buttons in two basic colors: red and tan.  To add texture and interest, I picked a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.  The package was sent via air mail and mine arrived covered in a dozen different stamps (it was like getting a letter from another country; just pulling the envelope out of the mailbox was exciting).

<---- The buttons arrived quickly and neatly wrapped up like this.  They look almost like candy! So cute!

Here's how to make your own embellished button purse:

You will need: 
leather purse 
tissue paper
needle & thread
ink pen
hot glue gun

First, you will need to make a pattern - and this method is not at all scientific, but it works.

Take the piece of tissue paper and place over the area you would like to embellish.  If the area has a seam as a border (like my purse does) hold the paper down with one hand and use a finger nail on the other hand to gently push the paper into the seam area all the way around.  When you move the tissue, you will have an indented outline.

Use the outline as a guide to cut out your pattern.

Set your pattern in the area to be sure that its the right size.  If not, just use another piece of tissue and try again.

If your purse doesn't have a seam, hold the tissue paper on your purse and draw the shape you would like to add with your pen.

Use the tissue pattern to cut out your felt shape(s).

Arrange the buttons on your felt sections.  I tried to create a pattern with mine, but it isn't very obvious.
Once you feel good about the arrangement, sew them in place!
(Hint: take a picture to reference before you remove the buttons)

To attach the embellished felt section to your purse, run a small line of hot glue near the edge.  Go around the felt section gluing just an inch or so at a time (to prevent glue from hardening before your felt is adhered).

And that's it!

This purse is from Goodwill.  Check thrift stores and vintage boutiques for the perfect leather bag with a flap.  For best results, hunt for a purse designed with a seam around the area you plan to embellish.  A seam will hide the edges of your felt section, making the bag look polished.
Look for beautiful buttons with rich patterns and textures and add as many as you can squeeze into the area.  I used about forty, but could have easily added twenty more.

I'm looking forward to toting my new bag around in the fall.  It just seems to go with baggy sweaters and boots.

This tutorial was featured on!

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