Getting Crafty – Built-in Purse Keychain

The key holder on our messenger bag inspired this project!

I dispensed with a major pet peeve of mine–digging through my purse to find my keys–today with a simple craft project using only items I had laying around the house!

My beloved Timbuk2 messenger bag has a nifty little clip on the end of a ribbon, so I can attach my keys and never lose them in the otherwise cavernous bag. So why not my other purses?

Now each of my purses is outfitted with a clip made to hold my keys. It was quick and easy, even for a novice with needle and thread like myself.


  • 1 keychain with a swivel hook and several detachable key rings or several individual swivel-hooks as pictured
  • several 4-8″ pieces of remnant ribbon, preferably in colors that coordinate with your handbags
  • heavy-duty thread that matches the thread
  • sewing needle

Here’s how I did it…

Everyone probably has something similar to this in their junk drawer, right?

My original idea was just to completely replicate the Timbuk2 bag, so I set off rummaging through all the shit treasures in our junk drawer and tool box looking for several clips.

Instead, I found this little gem! I bought it some time ago to do something similar to this and it failed because modern-day car keys are too big to fit on the tiny rings and it was far too bulky to carry around in my already heavy purse.

But what if I turned it upside down and used each little detachable key-ring in a different purse? That would give me four built-in key holders at any one time so that I could easily change bags on the run. Score!

For purses that had a clip on the inside, I wouldn’t even need to do any sewing, but for ones that didn’t, I would just sew in a ribbon just like the Timbuk2 bag.

My everyday keys.

Here are the keys that I carry on a more or less daily basis: one set of house keys, one car key.

They fit easily onto the swivel hook of the blue keychain, meaning that I can detach them without taking my gloves off when it’s -20C! That’s less convenience and more necessity here in Helsinki.

The other thing I love is that I can easily detach the car key and leave it behind on days that I’m taking public transport instead of driving without breaking a nail fiddling with a conventional keyring. Less clutter and weight in my bag leaves room for my Kindle, a knitting project, snacks for the kids, or a few small groceries picked up on the way somewhere else.

Attach a keyring to the zipper in your purse...
Thank goodness my Kate Spade had a perfect zipper for attaching the keychain, because there was no way I was going to deface my nicest bag with shoddy novice stitch-work, even for the sake of convenience.

However, my new Marimekko bag has solid zip-pulls, and it’s extra-large, three pocket design meant there were extra nooks and crannies in which to lose my keys. So I pulled out my sewing box and got to work.

I chose a short piece of extra ribbon I had laying around. I eye-balled the length of the ribbon so that the heavy keys would rest on the bottom of the purse instead of dangling with hopes that the ribbon will last longer and that I’ll have less jingling as I walk around town.

The finished product.

Then I put one end of the ribbon through the key ring and folded the ribbon in half so that it overlapped itself by about half an inch. At this point, if you have a sewing machine, I would recommend machine-stitching for extra durability. However, I doubled-up about 18 inches of heavy-duty thread and hand-stitched down the edge of the ribbon, across the cut edge, back up the other side, across the top of the ribbon (just below the keyring) in a square and put a few stitches in the middle of the square for good measure.

Then I folded the other end of the ribbon down half an inch and carefully stitched it to the top edge of the canvas of my bag. I made sure that I was getting the needle all the way through the inside layer of canvas, but that I wasn’t hitting the outside canvas–I didn’t want stitches showing through or want my brand-new bag to pucker.

Leather or other materials may pose more of an issue than cloth, but hopefully you can find a tag or other bit of cloth that you can get a needle through to outfit all of your bags with this nifty little key-holder.

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