Betty Box Pleat

Covering a Purse Frame

Long before I started Betty Box Pleat the only purse frames you could get in Australia were horrible! The plating would pit and scratch easily and they were very thin things, this cover technique saved my bacon many times! If you’re using our Betty Box Pleat frames you don’t need to be concerned with quality however this can still be fabulous for when you want to change things up or cover a mishap like a hammer blow/crimping moment that went askew!

It is an advanced technique, not because it’s hard to do, but because you need to manage the thickness of your purse’s top edge to adjust for the reduced fabric gap from the cover. I would always put the cover on first, work out my revised fabric gap (glue in thickness) and then create the purse body, adjusting the interfacing to work with the new installation area. You also need to be confident with leverage work during cover application and final purse body installation, it’s fiddly but worth it!

I mostly use light/thin stretchy leather, eg. nappa,  however you can also use fabric that doesn’t fray easily and is cut on the bias to enable smooth corners. The glue you use will reduce the risk of fray however I’d still go with something that’s well woven and stable. Make sure the cover you use isn’t thicker than 1mm or you will have difficulty with your frame closing.

This technique is best used with plain glue in frames with simple clasp mechanisms, I have used it on the 10” with external chain keepers but my leather was very flexible so melted around the extra features easily. It doesn’t work with internal chain keepers (well at least I haven’t found a neat way to do this yet, there are better heads out there than mine so I’m sure someone will find a way!)


1 x glue in purse frame with external features (not recommended on frames with internal chain keepers)

2 x 1.5 Inch / 38mm wide lightweight leather the length of your purse frame as determined below

Frame glue eg. Tiger grip, hemline general adhesive, HT2, I’ve used Tiger grip in our example frame as I like how it cleans up, it’s easy to see and it’s a great hold.

A butter knife or flat headed screwdriver for leverage

Mini Bull dog clips or similar clips eg wonderclips

Cardboard offcuts to protect the leather from clip indents as it’s drying.

Note: During this process make certain you don’t have any glue going near your hinges or they will seize up.

Measure your purse frame along the metal edging from the base edge, up the side, along the top and back down the opposite side to determine the length needed (picture – blue lines)

Always start on the outside side of your frame as that way any joins made to work around clasps/chain keepers are only visible on the inside.

Step 1

On the inside of the outer edge panel, run a thin line of glue along the length of the frame.

Step 2

Using the long edge of one leather cover, attach the wrong side to the glue line using a knife or similar implement to attach it evenly along the inner panel. Do not allow your leather panel to journey onto the top edge, it needs to sit up against this but will only cover the internal side edge panel. Leave to dry

Step 3

Once the first panel is dry, fold your remaining leather up firmly to meet the clasp. Mark from the base of the clasp up, to provide a clear line to cut around your clasp (don’t cut yet)

Step 4

Fold your leather cover back down to expose the outside edge panel. Run your glue along the metal outside edge panel. Pull the leather cover firmly over the outside edge and clip as you go.

You will notice that it wants to flip over those top corners and that’s ok, let it flip, your corners will be uneven however you can easily move the leather into place. Once the corners are smoothed, allow this section to dry

Step 5 Cut your clasp opening line and check that it wraps around the clasp base firmly. It may need a nick more however be careful not to go too far it needs to wrap tightly around the base.
Working with the side that sits under the clasp first, apply glue to that half of the metal frame, wrap the leather over tucking it in tightly around the clasp base and down over the inside frame panel.

Note: the remaining leather will be tucked inside the frame once this section is dry.

Apply glue to the remaining half of the metal frame

Step 6

Fold the leather firmly over the panel matching the two halves together under the clasp to form a neat finish. Leave to dry.

Step 7 Once the sides panels are dry, apply glue to the remaining leather and using your knife/flat head screwdriver push the leather up inside the frame and secure to the side while it dries using your clips and card (if needed – helpful if your leather is sensitive to clip marks – mine is)

Repeat on the other side

Once dry insert your purse/bag as normal, it will be a tighter bond, you may need your knife/flat screwdriver to assist however there may not be any need to crimp the frame! As always ensure your glue is top notch.

Quick tip: Depending upon the thickness of your leather you may also need to adjust your kiss clasp to create a tighter bond.

Where do we find all the hardware mentioned:

Purse frames:


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