Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

Upcycled bag

Finally!  I just finished my “new to me” briefcase for BlogHer Food.  This year’s conference is in Seattle and I’m excited to be attending as well as a speaker.  This briefcase turned out quite nicely considering how it began – as an estate sale find that was $1.50 and destined for the garbage heap if I hadn’t saved it.  Even though it sat on my sewing table for a while, patiently waiting its turn in the do-it-yourself, re-do-it, tear-it-apart and fancy-it-up pile, it’s done now and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

DIY briefcase

It has all new leather straps.  I wasn’t planning to replace these but I had to replace one and that made the others look bad, so off they went.  I cut the leather with a utility knife and then used a regular old finger nail file to round off the edges.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

I don’t have a leather punch but used these simple tools instead to punch holes in the leather.  If you don’t have an awl (pictured below), you can use a nail instead.

Leather punch alternatives

The top holes have new leather rivets.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food (14)

These were installed with a hammer and this thick nail set.

Attaching leather rivets

The rivets seem sturdier than these little brackets that were holding the strap together previously.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

After using the old plastic lining as a pattern for sewing the new lining, I placed it inside the briefcase.  Notice how all of the seams are on the outside in the below picture?  Once the lining is in place, you won’t see any of the seams.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

Got it into the right spot…..

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

and carefully hand stitched around the top with doubled-up thread.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

I attached some of the stitching around the sturdier spots on the briefcase.  If it comes undone, I can always re-sew these.

DIY briefcase for BlogHer Food

It’s lined with oil cloth fabric that can be easily sewn on a standard sewing machine.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

You can’t use pins when working with oil cloth.  It leaves little holes that don’t disappear.  The zipper pocket was a hassle to sew but I like having a little secret pocket for my checkbook or wallet.  I sewed the pocket section first and then added the fabric to the sides.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

Use cellophane tape to keep the oil cloth fabric where it needs to go rather than pinning it with regular sewing pins.  And, yes, I added a little key holder, just like on the handbag I re-did.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food (4)

The Velcro straps on the water bottle holder are adjustable.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

I sewed the Velcro onto the straps and then sewed the straps into the seam.

Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

And, since the water bottle holder is adjustable, I can easily use this briefcase for an impromptu picnic basket and place a bottle of wine in my briefcase instead.  For those of you who know me, no, the box wine I usually drink would not fit in here and, yes, it is a miracle that there was an actual bottle, bottle of wine at our house!

Picnic basket holding wine bottle

So, the next time you see a sad little handbag or purse at a thrift store or an estate sale, just think about rescuing it from the garbage heap and transforming it into your very own new briefcase or picnic basket.

Now, I’m off to speak at BlogHer Food.  Come say hello if you’re going.  You’ll recognize me – I’ll be the one carrying this briefcase!

 Go Gingham related links:

Estate sale finds: vintage wrapping paper
A winter cape: sewn from2 second-hand prom dresses
Pretty wine charms: made from estate sale treasures
How to take apart a skirt – similar to taking apart the lining for this handbag
Re-purposed bags: cover an unattractive logo with a pocket
Free stuff: tips for accumulating found treasures
A BlogHer event I hosted in my backyard
Light lanterns for garden – from the “Goodwill Bins”
The claw for the claw foot tub that got traded – even better than buying!
Our library book return basket is also second-hand
Hello handbag – a very stylishly frugal purse bought at an estate sale
The new briefcase before pictures

28 thoughts on “Finished Briefcase for BlogHer Food

    1. Heidi, don’t feel bad – I had to let go of 13 chairs recently that never got re-done because I couldn’t do it all! Also, I’m out of room in my house! Thank you for the nice compliment.


    1. Thanks, Cynthia! I’ll be testing the limits of the strength of those new straps for sure this week. I’m planning to pass out lots of business cards 🙂 I love woven bags and baskets, too. Chairs and pillows are other items I have a hard time passing up. It’s my entertainment and lovely – altogether!


    1. Thanks, Petra! We’ll need to chat when I get back about some fabric ideas. More projects means picking out more fabric ~ which we love!!


    1. Thank you, Rita. I see lots of bags like this around and many are in need of minor fixes only. Just keep your seam ripper handy!!


    1. Thank you, dear Minnie! I can’t wait to use it – I just filled it with business cards to pass out this weekend. It holds lots of business cards, too!


    1. Thanks, Ruthie! The fabric is from Fabric Depot and the leather straps are from Oregon Leather. Both are great local resources if you live in Portland – and they both have websites, too.


  1. Be sure to tuck a “before” photo into the briefcase, just in case you could work it into your “elevator speech”.

    P.S. Since we’ve come to know her, I think your briefcase needs a name . . . like Belinda or Beatrice or . . .


    1. Good idea, Michelle! She does need a name…I’ll have to time to think about one on the train ride later this AM 🙂 Thank you!


  2. This is an AWESOME post! You did such a nice job and the photography is really good. I am so impressed that you had time to do this project – as you are getting ready for all of your events! It looks top notch! Great job!


    1. Annie, I’ve been working on this for a bit – I just needed something to kick start me into finishing it! It was a hit at the conference! Thank you.


    1. Thank you, Natalie! I must say it was the belle of the ball and everyone wanted to take a peek inside the bag in Seattle at the conference. It worked out quite well and it’s now my favorite. Thank you for leaving a comment.


    1. Ah, thanks, Carrie! It was so fun to spent time with you at BlogHer Food. I look forward to our next adventure….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.