How to Salvage Leather from an Old Handbag to use for Jewelry Making

Hey everyone! I’m Jessica from
and Bespangled Beads on Etsy. Welcome back to my studio. In today’s video
I’m going to show you how to cut up an old leather bag or purse to salvage the leather to use for making
jewelry. Now I’ve got a ton of fun projects planned
with this leather – I want to make some bracelets and I will show you how to do that in another
video, but today we are just going to focus on cutting up this bag and getting as much
leather as we can from it. All you need for this project is the bag that
you want to cut up, a craft knife with a new sharp blade or a stitch ripper, a work surface
that’s safe for cutting on, and (optional) a metal ruler I’m going to start by just choosing a seam
and using my craft knife to insert the blade between the two pieces of leather where the
stitches are and just cut carefully the stitches between the pieces of leather to separate
them. And you’ll notice the angle of my knife – I’m
moving the blade along the leather horizontally, not perpendicular to it because I don’t actually
want to cut the leather at this point. I’m just going to continue ripping the seam
– you can also use a stitch or seam ripper for this – and then I’m going to cut the flap
away from the rest of the bag. And that will be my first piece of leather. Now you should be able to pull the thread
easily from around the edges. I’m going to move on to the next piece where
the handle is held onto the bag. Now it looks like this piece is made of vinyl so that’s
just going to pull apart easily and we don’t need to keep that – it’s trash. I’m going to continue on the other side of
the bag and separate it from the lining, Disconnect that flap from where the handle
attaches on the other side and discard that piece of vinyl. Then continue separating this large piece
of leather. So now I’ve got two nice sides of leather, and we’re going to take apart
this bottom part of the bag. Using the same technique, just ripping the
stitches gently between the two pieces of leather. And obviously, every bag is different but
the technique is going to be pretty much the same for any stitched leather bag. This is the rib at the bottom of the middle
of the bag – I’m just going to separate that – it’s probably made of vinyl so that’s trash
too. Continue on separating all the elements where
you find a seam until you’re satisfied with the leather that you have. I’m going to cut off the handle, and I think
I’m going to leave this piece of leather stitched intact and I’m going to save these interesting leather
rings and set those aside – those might be fun to use in a project somehow. Some bags might have more exciting hardware
than this one so you might want to save buckles and anything you think you might be able to
use later. Now that we’re finished separating all the elements, we’re left with several
nice scraps of soft, supple leather that can be cut using a ruler with your craft knife
to make nice straight-edged pieces that you can use for making bracelets or anything else
that you can imagine. In my next video, I’ll show you how to make
this cool ‘magic braided’ leather bracelet using the leather that we just salvaged from
that bag. I’ll link to that project here when it’s ready,
or you can always subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss any future videos! Thank you so much for watching – I really
hope you enjoyed this project and I hope you might take a minute and visit me over at
(if you’re not already watching this video there, of course 🙂 . You’ll find tons of
fun, free jewelry tutorials and resources, and if you’d like to visit my shop you can
find it at I’ll see you next time!


  • Sweet thanks for sharing this. I probably wouldn't have thought of it any time soon but it solves a current minor problem for me. I have been wanting to make a choker necklace but haven't been finding any material I am really happy with. I want to go to Goodwill now and see if I can find an old leather bag. 😀 I could even put some white lace over the strip … or maybe black… I will test both colors.

    – Heidi

  • I love the idea of salvaging the old purse! May I ask what was the brand of the purse? Looks very soft and easy to work on.. 🙂

  • I like your voice. Nice tutorial.

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