Gifts Recycle & Upcycle Sewing

Upcycled handbag from a sweater

This is the second part of my mini-series “Complete sweater upcycle”. In this tutorial I will show you how I made an easy zipper handbag from the bodice of a sweater.

I decided to say good-bye to another one of my sweaters but since it wasn’t damaged (I just didn’t like wearing it anymore). I made a winter beanie from it’s collar, I’ve already shared a tutorial on that. I had some handbag handles in my stock and so I decided to use the bodice of the sweater to make this handbag. I wanted it to be an easy under-1-hour project. My handbag is decorated with an embroidered llama and a few more elements but you can decide your own decoration,of course.


  • sweater
  • scissors
  • needle and thread
  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • zipper – adjust the length to the size of your handbag
  • bag handles
  • a piece of canvas or other non-elastic fabric
  • ruler
  • sewing pen
  • anything else you want to use to attach the handles and to decorate the handbag – I used leather threads and beads

I’m making this handbag without interface because I wanted to keep this project as simple as possible. You can add the interface of course and your handbag will maintain its shape better and it’ll be able to carry heavier load. I actually did make another handbag from a sweater with interfacing, you can find the tutorial HERE.

How to:


This is the original sweater, I used its bodice for the hand bag and the collar and sleeved for winter beanie and spring beanie.

I embroidered a llama on the front of the future handbag. I embroidered with the sweater upside down because later on I would turn the lower edge of the sweater inside the handbag as lining.

I cut the bodice off, turned it wrong side out, stitched the bottom and turned it right side out again.

Then I made tucks on the bottom of the handbag. Don’t know how to make them? Check out this tutorial. You can choose to make your handbag without the tucks. You will save some time, however, the tucks are what gives a handbag its depth. Without the tucks you won’t be able to put as many things in the bag and the handag will look more like a simple shopping tote bag.

I folded half of the fabric inside.

The fabric that I folded inside would be the lining of the bag.


I used a leather threads to attach the handles. I pulled the threads through the holes in the pattern of the knitting.

I pulled it through the first layer only and made the knots under the lining.

The lining covered the knots.


I cut two canvas stripes that were 4 cm wide and 4 cm longer than the zipper but you can adjust the size. I folded both stripes lengthwise in half and ironed them.

I placed one stripe on the top side of the zipper aligning their long sides. The stripe was now covering the zipper. I stitched both long aligned sides.

I aligned the other stripe with the other side of the zipper and stitched again.

I opened both stripes and stitched on both sides of the zipper to make everything stay open.

I pinned one side of the zipper to the edge of the handbag on the inside..

I stitched it on the right side.

I stitched the other side of the zipper to the other side of the handbag in the same way.


I used hidden stitch to close up the lining. Here’s the tutorial on the hidden stitch.

I weaved a leather string through the pattern on both sides of the zipper.

I made a knot to connect them and decorated them with some wooden beads.

I am very happy with the handbag. Despite of the lack of interfacing felt it can carry quite a lot.

Thanks for reading and here are some llama babies for you!



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