Thursday, September 6, 2012

DIY Easy Hip Bag Mod

I mentioned a while back how much I've been digging Fiona's leather hip bag on Burn Notice:

(I've had minor lower-back issues since college, so I only wear cross-body bags these days - but I know a hip bag would be SO much better on my back.)

Since then I've seen one or two crafty bloggers convert a regular purse into a similar style bag, and I've been itching to give it a try. Essentially it's just a regular purse with the strap attached to the sides of the bag instead of the top, so really the hardest part is finding a purse style that will work best on your hip.

As luck would have it, I had this small cross-body bag from Beya (which cost a whopping $10) already tucked away in my closet:

Technically you could take a bag like this and just slide the strap over your waist, but I wanted something a bit better.

First I ripped open the seams on the side buckle straps:

Once I removed the square metal buckles, I glued the small straps back in place to cover the unfinished side edges, where you can see the yellow lining poking out.

Next I cut two three-inch pieces off the purse strap and (messily) hand-stitched them in place on the back of the bag to form belt loops:
(I passed the edges of each strap piece over a flame to melt/seal them and keep the fabric from fraying.)

If you make these loops between 2.5 and 3 inches long, then you'll have the option of wearing your bag on your own belts, in addition to using the existing bag strap.

Another lucky break: I was able to put the the two square metal side pieces together to make one D-ring clasp/buckle for the bag strap:

This essentially gave me a long canvas belt with a square D-ring clasp, which makes the "belt" adjustable.

So now I have a hip bag I can wear two ways: with the canvas strap over things like skirts or dresses, or on my own leather belts when I wear jeans.

I've already used the bag a lot more than I expected, and it was a minor life-saver at Dragon*Con, where I initially planned to only lug around a giant leather messenger bag. (John brought a backpack, so some days I got away with just wearing this!)

The only issue with wearing the bag on your own belt is that it's then fairly high up on your waist, and if you tend to wear longer t-shirts it will make them ride up:

Shorter shirts are perfect with it, though, and it's not so bulky that you can't wear an over shirt with it, too, if you slide the bag forward a little more:

(Here I've got the bag loaded up with my iPhone, wallet, gum, pill case, and lip gloss. It's *just* big enough for everything I need.)

Of course you could also use the canvas strap to wear the bag lower on your hip, if you don't want it it up so high. The only issue I found there is that the bag wants to slide forward over your crotchal region as you walk, which is super annoying. I fixed this by clipping an extra long bobby pin to the strap right in front of the bag, to keep it from sliding. For a more permanent fix, you might try stitching a small square onto the strap that the bag can't slide past to keep it in place.

I'm still on the lookout for a nicer, leather bag that I can convert into a larger hip bag - maybe one I can even add a leg holster strap to, like this:

Blaster 3.0 Brown, $269 from JungleTribe

Or I'd also like to try adding two hanging straps to a small messenger bag, kind of like this:
Purse Wallet Hipbelt, $120 from stashpack

If you make the hanging straps into two big loops, then you can use your own belts *and* have the bag hang much lower on your hip.

So many fun possibilities!

Well, I hope this helps get some of your creative juices flowing! And if any of you end up modding your own hip bags, please, send me a picture - you know I wanna see!


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  1. I've been wearing a hip purse for ages, and I agree - love Fi's bag on Burn Notice!

    My bag was a cheap purse from the mall that I just slung over my hips instead of my shoulder. The only big requirement was a clip/latch from bag to band for me, so I can remove it easily.

    I also just splurged and picked up a Kinies ruffled waist purse from Etsy. If I were handy with a sewing machine, I could have made my own, but I was happy to find one that seems to have such good reviews.

  2. I love hip bags. This is the one I have:

    They also make them with leather, but I prefer the canvas.

    Great find!

  3. Fiona's purse is from Happy Cow which re-uses leather. They are like $40+ from NZ so shipping makes it expensive. My sister got one after watching Burn notice. It's gorgeous. My Husband is going to get me one as well.

  4. This etsy shop has a bunch of different hip pouches. They have different sizes and different fabrics. I got mine from here, and I love it!

  5. I have a bag that would be *perfect* for this. Too bad I'm clueless about crafty things. Want to convert it for me? I'll mail it to you.

  6. I love hip bags! When I was a Character Attendant at Disney World, it was part of the costume and it was SO handy. I could keep everything in there- extra pins, stickers, maps, pens, lip balm, everything a prepared CA would need :-)

  7. But how to make it work with flat hips? I get more success keeping my pants up with suspenders than belts, but atleast I can sometimes wear a regular belt.

  8. Totally cool looking! Not at all like the fanny packs of old! :) My MIL still wears them. haha.

    I think this is something I would like to try but with my belly I'm not sure a hip purse would work. I have more belly than hips. boo!

  9. I am interested in your brown Indiana jones-ish t shirt. Do you have a link?

  10. I have a belt bag that I LOVE, from Storied threads, it's awesome, has a cool Steampunk design and can hold one of my camera lenses and a bunch of other stuff. When I'm not using that one I covered another bag I have with a ton of the geeky patches she has made.

  11. @ Jenny - I'm amazed you could tell what the design was! It's from Threadless, and it's a BttF/Indy mashup. Here's the link.

  12. Okay, so I'm going to send you a photo of a bag I got awhile ago from Mark by Avon. I know you'll love it- it's ORANGE... and I love it as a hip bag, it requires little or no alteration though it's meant as a cross-body. It has rings on the sides that attach the strap, and the strap has a buckle. All I had to do is punch a hole for where I want it to fit for around my waist (or it could be knotted). I think I got it in 2009 or 2010. I'm planning on wearing it on my hip in WDW next month!

  13. I've got a small canvas bag that is just begging to be altered. I will give it a try; wish me luck!

  14. OHHHHHH thank you so much you are a life saver! The hubby and I are making a combo belt/cross chest gun holster. We wanted to add little pouches onto the best as well and you just gave me a boat load of ideas of how to make this all look sexy and functional. I will be sending pics when the whole costume is done. I am doing Steampunk Red Riding Hood and many of your tutorials are the inspiration for it. The whole thing top to bottom is being made by us or in a few cases modded by us to fit. My husband says it is all your fault! ~giggles~

  15. Very cute.

    Couldn't you put it on another belt and just use that as a strap, so it doesn't ride high? Sorta like an old west gun holster? You'd have your belt through your belt loops and then the bag attached to another belt riding a little lower and at a slant...maybe too much? One of those skinny belts?

    I saw this little number online and thought the design might work for Anonymous who doesn't have's sorta cute and light weight and would convert to a small purse easily, if you're crafty.


    PS: Is it just me or does anyone else have a really hard time decifering the word verification thing?

  16. I have several re-purposed small purses that I did this too, including the one in my three day steampunk wonder costume you so kindly featured. Nice work!

    But I have to ask:

    Have you been looking over my shoulder?? I just finished my mock-up for a basic hip bag that I can remake easily to go with specific costumes!!

    It's just a pouch (pockets and zippers tend to mess up the "remake easily" part of the plan) but the flap can be done in a variety of shapes so it always goes with what I'm wearing.

  17. I always have my iPhone with me but I recently got two pairs of pants without pockets. The price was too good to pass up. I have a dorky, bulky holder that goes on a belt but that last photo is making me think there's hope for something cuter. Thanks!

  18. Hi Jen,

    This bag popped up in my ETSY new items list and I thought you'd like to see it. I bet you can make something similar and custom for a LOT less.



  19. I wore this holster at Dragon*Con this year and it was awesome. Nowhere near as cute as your bag, and it put some unfortunate wear on the inside thigh of the opposite leg when I wore jeans, but it was SO comfortable and practical.

  20. crotchal region? you know you shouldn't use medical terms as not everyone knows them. I'm going to find a way to work that into a conversation tomorrow.

    off topic: love the new bag and it's a great idea to make it wearable with your own belt and jeans! two belts would just be uncomfortable.

  21. Ok, so now who is going to do a diy tutorial for the one that's more of a holster? Love these. (dreamy sigh)

  22. you can also check out renaissance festivals and resources...i've been wearing pouches on belts for my entire life, and the pouches are large, easy to fit on existing belts.
    also easy to clip straps to and have an instant over the shoulder bag too.
    they have plenty of patterns available to sew your own pouch too.

  23. This is a nice easy mod. I often just convert my cross-body bag into a hip bag by tightening the strap around my hips. I love doing this in the summer while I'm out walking the dog because then I don't get an awkward diagonal tan line on my chest and back!

  24. Okay, um, I know I should be paying attention to the tutorial. But your owl ring. GORGEOUS!!!

  25. I like how belt pouches (like EVERYBODY used to wear before pockets were invented) are sort of of coming back around. This amuses me horribly.

  26. Jen,

    This is a great idea. The only problem for me is that you have to have a waist and I don't have one. ;)


    P.S. It was great to see you in Pittsburgh!

  27. Freaky: I am watching Burn Notice, I open up your blog, and I see this entry. I agree, love her bag! And this is a great project. Well done, as always!

  28. I love your DIY version, I just got hubby to splurge for the jungle tribe blaster bag and being I hate handbags person who never carries one a hip bag is great, I can also wear is as a shoulder bag or lots of other ways.

  29. My lo-fi, unmodded technique for the same purpose is a Coach clutch purse: they have a swivel clip on one end of their strap, so I undo the swivel, string it through two belt loops, and fasten it back to the other end of the purse: instant hip pack!

  30. I've been using a Roots hip purse for a few years and I really like it, even though lots of people here view it as a "fanny pack".

    When I took the bus to/from work, I was always paranoid about leaving my purse behind. When I saw this I had to have it (despite the cost). It's not the most stylish but it gets the job done.

    The thing I like the most is that now I have both hands free.,default,pd.html?cgid=leatherWaistPacks&selectedColor=024

    They also have a repair service (for a fee). the leather on this thing is pretty tough though. I think it's going to be a long time before I'll need a fix or replacement. That justifies the cost to me.

  31. When I lived in Brazil, all the dancers would wear hip bags similar to the one that you have towards the bottom. They were made of either leather or canvas and quite handy; I had one for a long time but lost it in a move. I've been on the hunt for the perfect replacement for what seems like forever!

  32. probably too plain for you but my sister loves these:

  33. Does anyone by chance know where to get the leather one with the leg strap? It's so beautiful...I've seen a picture with straps so you can change it to across the chest strap and sort a under the arm thing, but I can't find where the picture has come from!!!

  34. @Anonymous (above me) Here ya go!

  35. That last hip purse is just a sporran worn on the side instead of the front.


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