Do you have a pair of boots in your stash that doesn’t get worn much? Maybe it’s just me, but there are more than a few things in my closet that have only been taken out a handful of times. These boots were no exception. I bought them on a whim with a coupon about a decade ago. I was won over by the buttons and the folds in the leather. The just-okay pair of boots sat for too long before they became upcycled boots to the coolest clutch bag I own. Yep, that’s right this one isn’t for sale.
While the boots fit well, the heels are a bit too narrow and flimsy for my style. The color is somewhere between a warm gray and a sage green which never seemed to match anything in my closet. So in turn, they only got worn a few times and went to the donate bin with some dust on them.
But, they never made it to the donation center because I still loved those buttons! So when a recent upcycled bag challenge arose, I knew these leather boots would be converted into a bag. And the outcome is one of my favorite upcycling projects to date. Keep reading to find out the materials and tools used to create this unique crossbody upcycled purse.
Upcycled Bag Materials and Tools Used
Check out this full list of my favorite bag-making supplies and resources here.
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- tall leather boots – these are genuine leather!
- lining fabric – I used a rayon dress with a fun paisley print
- Pellon SF101 – fusible woven interfacing was added to the lining fabric to stabilize and remove the stretch
- Decovil Light – to give the leather extra body
- metal snap closure
- zipper pulls – the zipper tape came from the boots, these #5 zipper pulls fit perfectly
- 1/2″ d-rings in gunmetal – to connect the wristlet strap and optional crossbody chain
- 1/2″ swivel clasps in gunmetal
- crossbody chain – it’s removable to convert to a wristlet
- metal rivets – to give the D-ring connectors some extra hold
- heavyweight thread – this was from my stash and happened to match, I recommend Bonded Nylon #69/Tex 70 for sewing with leather
- custom iron-on labels – from Etsy
- sewn on my Janome HD9
- rivet press – I use and LOVE this rivet press from Buckleguy
Upcycled Clothing to Bag
If you’re looking to upcycle clothing into bags, don’t forget to check the shoe rack. Thrifted and discounted boots are a great way to find inexpensive leather with fun details. Upcycling boots it also an inexpensive way to experiment with sewing leather.
Clutch Purse Pattern
No pattern was used for this boot to clutch refashion. Everything was self-drafted on-the-fly based on the shape and amount of material available. The main shape of the clutch came from the boot itself.
Almost any tall leather boot would work well using this same method.
Thirfted Mini Skirt to Tote Bag
When you fall in love with a skirt but it’s not just right, turn it into something else you’ll use. Learn how to transform a mini skirt into a bag that’s just right for everyday use.
The boot was labeled as “Genuine Leather.” This leather is pretty thin and pliable, and approximately 1oz. / .4mm thick. A thin leather like this is easy to work with and can be sewn on most domestic/home sewing machines with the correct needle and thread.
I stabilized the leather with Decovil Light to add some extra body to the clutch. I kept the stabilizer out of the seam allowance.
Not only is this an upcycled leather bag, but the interior was refashioned as well. The lining is made from the dress I wore to my high school graduation. I could never part with the dress because it still fit and the fabric was pretty. But during this upcycled bag challenge, I put it on and decided it was destined for a new life so the scissors came out. It’s a rayon fabric so I backed it with woven fusible interfacing (Pellon SF101) to give it the structure needed to line the inside of the bag. Adding woven interfacing also removed any stretch from the dress fabric.
There was plenty to work with, plus some leftover for another project.
A few years ago, my husband gifted me a designer wallet/clutch with a removable crossbody chain strap. I didn’t think I’d like the chain as much as I do. Now they’re a staple in my crossbody bag pattern designs.
I added semi-hidden D-rings and metal rivets on this clutch so it can also be carried as a crossbody purse, wristlet, clutch, or stand-alone wallet.
The front flap closure is secured with a metal snap.
The zipper pockets all use the original zippers from the boots. The #5 handbag zipper pulls from My Handmade Space happened to fit the zippers perfectly.
Take It Easy Crossbody Bag Pattern
Do you love making bags? Try my easy bag pattern, the Take It Easy Bag for your next sewing project. Bonus if it’s an upcycle. :)
Use code SNS25TIE for 25% off.
How to Turn a Pair of Boots into a Bag
Browse the thrift store shelves of boots (or your own shoe rack) and you’ll see the potential of boots to be an upcycled bag, clutch, purse, or wallet. Each boot offers unique characteristics that can be integrated into the design of a bag. Plus, you may even be able to do what I did and make a pair of bonue booties with a matching clutch for a night out on the town.
What to Look for in Upcycled Boots
Look for zippers, buttons, buckles, or stitching details that would easily convert into bag details. This pair of boots offered a zipper, large leather-covered buttons, and unique folded ruffles for a small crossbody bag.
Check out the lining on the inside of the boots to see if you can use what’s already there or if you could replace it with something else, perhaps an old shirt or skirt. The lining on these boots was a fuzzy minky-like fabric, but I replaced it with the fabric from a dress with a fun print.
Read the labels to find out what type of materials you’re working with. I always choose leather over any other material for my upcycled boot projects.
Boot Refahion: How to Update Your Boots
Sometimes our boot selection gets tired! Get inspired to update those boots to match your current style.
Tips for Sewing Upcycled Boots into Bags
- Know your machine
Not all sewing machines will handle extra the thickness. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a heavy duty or industrial sewing machine. My domestic machine (Janome Sewist 525S) would handle this project just fine with the right needle and thread.
- Use the right needle
What are the boots made of? Leather? Faux leather? Fabric? Boots and shoes are usually made of heavy-duty, durable materials. This will require a larger needle (size 18 and16 are my favorites). If the material is leather, use a leather needle.
- Thread Matters
Leather and faux leather work best with heavy-weight thread or bonded nylon thread. I like to use Bonded Nylon #69/Tex 70 thread from Thread Exchange.
- Let the design of the boot work for you
Can you use existing stitch lines, zippers, or folds in your upcycled bag project? This boot to clutch upcycle is basically the boot on its side. The original boot zipper turned into the back pocket, and the ruffles turned into the front flap. And that asymmetrical silhouette is completely unique.
- Can you save the boots?
Knee high boots will likely provide you enough material for a small bag while still being able to wear them as short booties. Take this into consideration when cutting the boots. Cut them as booties first, then work with the left over materials to make your bag.
I hope that you’ve found some inspiration and are already examining your old boots. Ask questions and send pics! I’d love it hear about and see what you’ve created! Leave a comment below and be sure to tag @scratchandstitch on Instagram with your creations.