A couple of weeks ago I purchased this tote bag at Columbia State Historic Park. It was just what I was looking for, something American Indian inspired and well priced (12.50). The only problem with it was the strap. The strap was really thin and did not look proportional to the bag. So, I decided to make a new shoulder strap for my tote out of a leather belt.
Here's how I made the strap for the bag. Keep in mind this strap was made to attach to handbag rings or D-rings.
Leather belt - I purchased mine at the thrift store for $2.
Heavy duty scissors (something that will cut through leather)
Awl - or a small Phillips screwdriver
Rapid rivets - can be found in the leather section of the craft store - should come with a setter and anvil
Here's the bag with its original strap. I just cut it off with scissors leaving all the hardware intact.
Cut belt so you have a long strip of leather with no holes or hardware. Fold one end over d-ring and decide where your rivet will be placed to hold leather together. Mark with pen on top and bottom (two dots).
Punch holes in both pen marks. Make sure your rivet will fit through the holes. Fold belt in half to line up edges together. Using the holes as a template, mark with pen on opposite site of belt. Punch holes on the other end of belt (refer to picture).
*If you don't have an awl, you can make a hole in the leather by hammering a small Phillips screwdriver through it.
Here are the rivets I used. I made sure to match them to the d-rings (silver). Rivets are really easy to apply. If you can hammer an eyelet into paper you'll have no problem with rivets. Usually the rivets will come with directions as well.
Fold belt over d-ring. Make sure your leather is facing the right way. Place tall rivet up through the bottom layer of the belt and up through the top layer (refer to picture).
Place rivet cap on the rivet you placed through the belt. Use a clothespin to hold the leather together and prevent the rivet from coming out. Hammer the top of rivet so it locks into the bottom part. Repeat process on the opposite side of handbag. Make sure your strap does not get twisted in the process.
Now you have a nice leather strap for your handbag. Use this process to update handbags or fix worn out straps.