Small thrift store purse = DIY belt bag

DIY belt bag made from a small purse, photo

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. And any chiropractor will tell you that carrying a heavy purse on one shoulder can cause misalignment, strain, and injury. In addition to all those benefits, belt bags and hip pouches are also great for traveling or biking.

So I searched for a belt bag that would be packable and lightweight, but suitable for everyday use. Aside from the infamously hideous fanny packs of the 80s, I had yet to find one. That’s why when I came across some fabulous hip pouches on Etsy, I was excited.

Small thrift-store purse, before photo

Then I thought there might be a way to convert a regular purse into a belt bag. 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 I actually use it more for biking than anything else. It’s the perfect size for a mobile phone, keys, and inhaler. Now I’m on the hunt for a more dressy, leather version.

As you can see by the hip bags above, there are many ways you can strap a purse around your hips — or even clip it to your belt or belts loops. This tutorial is just one way you can do it. You could sew tabs to the back of the purse that would loop over the belt like tab-top curtains. Sewing clips onto the purse and hooking it onto a belt could also work — and it might even be easier than what I did.

How to make a belt bag from a purse

  • small purse (crossbody bags work best)

  • scissors

  • sewing machine & thread

  • seam ripper

  • fabric scrap

  • iron & ironing board

  • optional: rotary cutter, mat, and metal ruler

Remove the strap with a seam ripper, photo

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

Cut the strap off, photo

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

Cut a piece of fabric, photo

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.

Fold and press top and bottom edges, photo

4. For mitered corner, start by folding over the top and bottom ½ inch twice. Press flat.

Fold and press side edges, photo

5. Open the top and bottom folds and fold over the sides ½ inch twice. Press flat.

Fold and press corners, photo

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

Trim off corners, photo

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, photo

8. Sew both ends about ¼ inch from the right edge, back-stitching at each end.

Sew top and bottom, photo

9. Then sew the sleeve onto the back of the purse across the top and bottom, about ¼ 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.

DIY belt bag made from a small purse, photo

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!

Crafty Nest small purse belt bag Pinterest image

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Made this project? Email your photo(s) to monica (at) craftynest (dot) com, and I’ll share your version here!