Hip Purse from a Small Leather Handbag

Hip Purse from a Small Leather Handbag

I think we can all agree that “fanny packs” are immensely handy, especially for travel or while at a festival or fair. BUT, it’s also agreeable that they aren’t particularly attractive and have a punchline stigma attached to them. So, when I was meandering through the purse section of a local thrift store the other day, I had a touch of inspiration from a small purse at a thrift store. I could easily transform it into a hip purse.

Small leather handbag at a thrift store

The purse itself was not overly big, but was strangely flat- thus limiting what it could hold (think along the lines of an overgrown wallet).

Thrift store purse for upcycling projects

And then there was the handle/strap…which was too short to comfortably wear over the shoulder, and too long to hang from my hands. It reminded me of a saddlebag on a horse or bike.

Small leather handbag that will become a hip purse

And that’s when I thought to myself, “This is the perfect purse to refashion as a hip purse”, which you could say is fanny pack’s cooler, more sophisticated cousin.

My plan? To cut the leather strap and turn it into two small, secured loops for a belt to slip through! The hands-free function of a fanny pack (aka, a hip bag) but in a smarter-looking (and interchangeable) package.

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Simple Leather Work on a Small Handbag

So, before I begin, this is what I’m going for when it comes to refashioning a small handbag as a hip purse.

Adjusting the strap of a small leather handbag

First things first, I used my heavy-duty craft scissors to snip the strap at the top, creating two roughly-equal flaps.

Loops for a belt on a hip purse


Next, I trimmed the flaps shorter using my wide turquoise belt as a stand in for the widest belt I could imagine wearing.

Once they were trimmed and of equal length, I punched a hole through each flap using my leather punch, approximately 1” up from the raw edge.

Punching holes in a leather strap for rapid rivets

Finishing Up a Hip Purse or Hip Pouch

Then, I marked and punched coordinating holes on the back of the actual bag portion of my small purse.

Holes in a leather hip bag for rapid rivets

These holes just go through the pack panel and fabric lining, so the front lining and leather panel remained intact. Sorry for not thinking of taking a better photo, but it’ll make sense in a moment.

Now I just needed to secure my strap flaps to the back of the purse, thus creating permanent loops for slipping a belt through!

Because I already have leather working tools, I used some rapid rivets to make the loops from the straps. 

Setting the rapid rivets in a hip purse to make the loops

They snap together with just your fingers, but then you secure them permanently with a rivet setter.

However, you could just as easily punch two holes and sew the flaps to the back of the purse, securely knotting inside. And if you don’t have a leather punch or hand punch kit, you could use an awl, or even a small nail with a piece of scrap wood underneath.

Either way, it’s definitely possible to create this project without any leather working tools whatsoever!

Repurposing a small handbag as a hip purse

Ready to see the hip purse in action?

Hip Purse from a Small Leather Handbag

It doesn’t even look that different, but instead of being a traditional handbag, it’s now a hip purse!

How to make a hip purse from a small handbag

Whether you call it a hip purse or anti-theft purse, it really is a fun way to upcycle a handbag. Perfect for hands-free shopping and/or travel safety for your money and ID.

Hip pouch to wear on your belt for hands free shopping

Can you tell that my friend, Carla Sue Vintage/Kate DiNatale Vintage, and I had fun with our little photo shoot? 

And, let’s face it, a hip purse like this is perfect for traveling. You can keep your money, ID, and passport safe and close to your person!

Upcycling a handbag into a hip purse

It’s also ideal when you want to go hands-free shopping at an art show, antiques festival, or other outdoor fair, as well!

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for a hip purse, then you may also enjoyed these braided bracelets from vintage handkerchiefs, too!

Boho bracelets that are vintage chic from vintage handkerchiefs

Craft on!


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Hands free shopping and travel safety with a hip purse

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Brilliant!

  2. Wow, how creative and useful too! You’re right, it looks so much better than the alternative, which is what I still wear to yard sales…Guilty! I know they don’t look good, but it’s useful. Haha, I tell myself since I lost a bunch of weight that it doesn’t look as bad. The only thing is…I feel like my pants are falling off. I need one of these hip bags!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Florence!! Girl, if you lost a bunch of weight then you DEFINITELY deserve to make a fun and fashionable hip bag! 😉 You need one so you can wear a belt, hahaha!

  3. Turned out really nice!!

  4. Juliet Luiks says

    Love it. I no longer have to embarrass my kids with the usefulness of a hands-free bag. (Not that I really listened to them.)

  5. Great idea; it’s neutral enough for a guy to use, too! Would be great for carrying just what you need when yard saling/flea marketing this summer!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yes!! It’s the perfect size to just hold your phone, cash, cards/ID, keys, and a lip balm. LOL, the latter is a must-have item for me, so I always assume everyone else needs it, too! 😉

  6. I so could have used one of these Hip hip bags last weekend during Celtic Days. By the end of the day I was ready to throw my satchel across the park from it constantly falling off my shoulders. Very clever idea!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Ohhhh, this would be PERFECT for a Renn Faire festival…especially if you found a more weathered/worn leather purse. Thank you so much!!

  7. This is such a great idea!! I love it.

  8. I love this project..it really has a fun, modern look!

  9. That is a most beautiful dress you have on in the pic of your purse you made. Did you make the dress. And your purse is wonderful also. Keep up the good work.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thanks, Elizabeth! One of my dearest friends owns a vintage clothing shop and I selected this one for her to wear during the photo shoot. I love it, too!

  10. Shay Moore says

    Very clever, and functional also !

  11. Very cool idea Sarah! I can definitely see wearing something like this. It is so much nicer than those fanny packs.

  12. You’ve not only created something classy, useful and trendy you’ve probably set off a whole new style! I love it and I would definitely wear it before I would don a fanny pack (being 62 years old and wearing a fanny pack is TOO consistent with all the jokes about them :)) I will keep my eyes open in Thrift shops for just a bag. I’ve seen many lovely leather ones that are just as you say – a funny shape or size with the wrong length of strap. Thank you for the inspiration!

  13. Fonda Rush says

    Brilliant remake of a useful item! This is a wonderful creation, and so many people could use one of these.

  14. Love it! What a chic alternative to the fp 😉 Thanks for sharing @Vintage Charm!

  15. Fiona on “Burn Notice” wore one a lot. Cute! Looks like a Fossil bag?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Oh, cool- I had no idea! It wasn’t a Fossil bag- in fact, there were no markings/labels expect for a leather-stamped grizzly bear head under the flap.

  16. That is super cute! And I love your dress (:

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thanks, Gina! It’s not my dress- my friend, Kate DiNatale Vintage, modeled a dress from her shop for the photo shoot! And it sold shortly after my post went live, haha!

  17. Even I can do this!! I have way too many handbags sitting around waiting for Good Will. Maybe I can reprpose and garage sale them. Thanks!

  18. Look how practical you are! What a handy hands free bag to keep handy! Thanks so much for sharing at Celebrate Your Story!

  19. So clever and chic too. So much better than the fanny pack! Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle.

  20. diyadulation says

    This is such a fabulous idea! I usually use a cross-body bag but this would be a lot more convenient. Thanks for sharing your tutorial with us at Merry Monday this week!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thanks so much! Yeah, this would give you other options, as well- I like the cross-body bag for travel, too! Anything to feel more secure. 🙂

  21. What a clever idea and it is more safer to bring your bag this way! Thank you for sharing at Sweet Inspiration Link Party 🙂


  22. You are one clever chicka! We would have so much fun thrifting and upcycling together I think.

    (BTW- Thanks for linking to the Waste Not Wednesday Linky Party)

  23. Sarah this is the most stylish bum-bag (excuse the expression – that’s what we call them in Australia) I’ve ever seen! I’ll be featuring your bag at this week’s party. xx

  24. I really like I might make the bag from scratch to match a denim outfit

  25. I’m so impressed with the simplicity of this tutorial! It looks so great and is going to be perfect for the farmer’s market I was planning on getting to tomorrow morning. I just stumbled on your site from AllFreeSewing and I am hooked! I run a little DIY fashion blog too! I’m so excited to “meet” you!

  26. Diane Reid says

    Fantastic! Just what I was looking for when I go on a Quilt store hop or when I go to our Creative Sewing and Needlework festival. Leaves my hands free to touch fabric LOL or just for carrying a drink and not worrying about my purse slipping off my shoulder or having to find a spot to put my purse down to get my wallet. Great tutorial!

  27. Sharon Davison says

    Lovin the hip bag. The pouch/saddle model is perfect. So many fanny packs (such a nasty name, lol) are too small.

  28. deborah truesdale says

    I LOVEEEEE this!!!!!!!!!!!!

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