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.
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.
Supplies and tools
1. Remove the strap from the purse with a seam ripper.
2. You may need to cut the strap off instead.
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.)
4. For mitered corner, start by folding over the top and bottom 1/2 inch twice. Press flat.
5. Open the top and bottom folds and fold over the sides 1/2 inch twice. Press flat.
6. Fold each corner in at the point where the two inner side folds meet in the corners.
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.
8. Sew both ends about 1/4 inch from the right edge, back-stitching at each end.
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.
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!