When Converting a Purse into a Cross Body

July 3, 2017

Finished Bag

I have a new(ish) purse.  It was a great price, color and size. It has lots of pockets in just the right places for what I need to organize. Only downside is it has a single short strap.  It looks great but when wearing a slick wintry jacket it doesn’t stay put and don’t even mention when bending over how it swings down and almost knocks me out. I have always liked cross body bags but they became essential once we had kids. Who can deal with all the kids baggage while fighting to keep a purse in place on a slick coat or just on your shoulder? Not I. Vera Bradley bags were my go to, but they wear out so quickly and cost a pretty penny… so enter the cheap, fake leather bag with the awesome layout. True it might not last long but considering its cost and the simple way to make it into a cross body I figured it was worth the effort. Here is what the purse looked like off the shelf:

good old grey

Here it is with my strap fabric.  I’ve had this little piece of fabric for a few years, it is heavier than quilting cotton but a little lighter than canvas. Made by Echino I think. If not it really reminds me of the style and weight.


Now onto the mechanics of the strap. Making the strap itself is straight forward and great to know for other types of tote bags. Here is the tutorial. And here is the strap magically finished!


I took a look at my other cross body bags to make sure I understood how the strap was put together. I needed the strap to be adjustable, sometimes I need to wear it on one shoulder (when carrying multiple bags I like it to go on my shoulder so I don’t have straps crossing me every which way, not so flattering). And that’s just me, I like to make things as useful as possible so adjustable it had to be! So I found a very plain strap adjuster, yes that’s its actual name, imagine something named for what it really is…


Thread it onto the strap like so: making sure the side you want to show is on the top in this photo.


Folding under the last 1/4 inch, hold it so that it folds back on itself just like this:


Try not to let your cat catch it, he (Leo) isn’t supposed to be on my work table but he worms his way on there every day and I don’t have the heart to tell him to go away. It gets kind of lonely working alone all day so he is great company (truth is: I can say that I am talking to him instead of myself, if he weren’t here it would be the wall).


After stitching shown below (forgot to take a picture during). I stitched the same distance from the bottom edge as I did when making the strap and then added two more lines of stitching to secure it. Same stance apart to make it look nice, make sure you are keeping the edges lined up and catching the folded under 1/4 inch. Doing the first end is a little bit easier, you don’t have to touch the bag yet.


Now it is time to place the new strap on the bag. Be very careful to do it right, see how the free end of the strap is looped through one side of the purse. I put the adjuster towards the back of the purse in relation to how I was going to wear the bag. I am right handed and I like to have the bag on my right side so it rests on my left shoulder. It is handy to have the little key pocket on the outside, so keep things like that in mind when putting the strap on.


Here is how the strap went onto the other side. No twists or flips or anything to make it uncomfortable.


Folding it in the same way as the other side and being very careful with stitching. Don’t let the purse or ring get in the way. Go slow through all those layers. A thicker needle would be helpful here.


This is how it looked before the final, irreversible cutting of the original strap.


The point of no return. Make sure you like the new strap you added before you cut the old one. In this case there was no turning back once it was cut.



What do you think about the convenience of cross body bags??? I think all of my purses from here on out will be cross body!

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