belt bag pouch hip

Small pouch purse

I am all about being hands-free and reducing the weight on my shoulders. I use a lumbar bag instead of a backpack for hiking. Being an asthmatic, taking the load off my shoulders makes a world of difference. Any chiropractor will tell you that carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder can cause misalignment, strain, and injury, so I wanted to find a fashionable belt bag for everyday use. But, aside from the infamously hideous fanny packs of the 80s, I had yet to find one. That’s why when I came across these fabulous hip pouches on Etsy, I was excited.

The North Face - Sport Hiker (Black) - Bags and LuggageRecycled Leather Hip Bags by Happy CowStow All Unisex Pocket Belt in GreenRecycled Black Leather unisex Hip pouchHappy Cow Urban Travel PacksBlack Gold Utility Wear Pocket and Belt

Clockwise from top left: The North Face Sport Hiker, Recycled Leather Hip Bags by Happy Cow, Stow All Unisex Pocket Belt in Green, Black Gold Utility Wear Pocket and Belt, Happy Cow Urban Travel Packs, Recycled Black Leather Unisex Hip pouch.

Then I thought there might be a way to convert a regular purse into a pocket belt. To make one as cheaply as possible, I combed thrift stores for the right purse. I bought this black fabric pouch purse for $3. Converting it to a hip pouch was a cinch. This one is great for casual T-shirt-and-jeans days, but now I’m on the hunt for a more dressy, leather version.

How to make a belt bag from a purse

Supplies and tools

  • small purse
  • scissors
  • seam ripper
  • sewing machine and thread
  • fabric scrap
  • rotary cutter, mat, and metal ruler (optional)
  • iron and ironing board

Remove strap with seam ripper

1. Remove the strap from the purse with a seam ripper.

Cut strap away

2. You may need to cut the strap off instead.

Cut piece of fabric to size

3. Cut a piece of scrap fabric to make a sleeve that the strap will slide through. I used this ticking stripe material because it looks cute—and it’s what I had on  hand. My sleeve needed to be 7 x 2 inches, so I cut my piece 9 x 4 inches to allow for seams. (Alternatively, instead of a sleeve, you could sew a tab to the back of each side of the purse that would loop over the belt like tab-top curtains.)

Fold top and bottom seams

4. For mitered corner, start by folding over the top and bottom 1/2 inch twice. Press flat.

Press seams at each end

5. Open the top and bottom folds and fold over the sides 1/2 inch twice. Press flat.

Fold in the corners

6. Fold each corner in at the point where the two inner side folds meet in the corners.

Refold the seams

7. Trim off a small triangle from each corner (where the outer two side folds meet the edge). Refold the corners, then each side, so it looks like this. Press flat.

Sew the ends

8. Sew both ends about 1/4 inch from the right edge, back-stitching at each end.

Sew the top and bottom

9. Then sew the sleeve onto the back of the purse across the top and bottom, about 1/4 inch from the edges. Make sure you’re not sewing shut an inner pocket or other detail of the purse. Feed the strap through the sleeve.

Belt bag on model

10. Use the existing adjustable slider (most long shoulder straps have them) as a belt buckle. Cut the strap if it’s too long for your waist. In which case, melt the end with a match to avoid fraying. You’re finished!