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Although you can buy strapping or webbing to use for the handles on your bags sometimes you want to make handles in a co-ordinating fabric, or you want them to be padded. So this tutorial will teach you how to make your own fabric bag handles.
Firstly, calculate the length of the strap, if you are following a pattern or tutorial it should tell you. If you not use a tape measure to figure out the size you want, and remember to add an extra inch.
Width wise you want your fabric to be four times the finished width of the strap when using this method of making handles.
Cut your fabric pieces to the size you have calculated, for cross body bags you’ll want one long strap, for handbags and most other bags you likely need two.
How to add structure to your bag handles
You now have 4 options for adding structure to your strap.
You can use a sturdy heavy weight fabric like denim or canvas. These are often sturdy enough to not need extra structure added.
You can use a fusible interfacing, which you iron onto the reverse of your strap fabric.
You can use fusible fleece, or wadding to add more padding to your strap. Wadding means you’ll need to quilt the strap to hold the wadding in place when the bag is used.
You can use foam to really add padding, great for bags which will be carry a lot of weight so they don’t cut into your fingers or shoulders.
How to make a fabric bag strap/handle
Once you’ve chosen what you want to use to add structure to your bag handle cut the product you are using to the same size as the strap, and fuse together if using a fusible product.
If you are using wadding or foam cut the strip 1/4 the width of the strip and the 1 inch shorter length ways. You can quilt the strap at a later stage when assembling the handle. I do long rows of stitching the entire length of the strap as you can see in the photos above. You could just do a row either side of the strap to secure it if you want. Before you sew down the 2 sides of the strap you insert your foam or wadding inside tucked under one of the edges.
For this tutorial I’m using quite a heavy weight denim so it was sturdy enough without me applying any interfacing or fusible fleece.
Start by folding your strap in half length ways, with the wrong sides together. Iron to press a crease right down the centre.
Open it up again and fold the outer edges inwards, towards the centre. Fold in half so the raw edges are trapped in the middle and press along the length of the strap.
Use sewing clips or pins to hold the strap together. Note: If using wadding or foam insert it into the middle before you sew the strap together, tucked under one of the edges.
Then take it over to your sewing machine and topstitch along the outside long edges of the strap around 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Start with the side which is open.
If you are quilting your strap add extra rows of stitching between the 2 outside rows.
The next step is to attach your strap to the bag. Measure in from the top edge and outer edge to ensure the handles are evenly positioned where you want them. Fold up the raw edges by half an inch and tuck them under. Pin your handles in place.
Stitch along the bottom edge of the strap, then up the outside edge by 1-2 inches (you can sew along your top stitching), then across to the other side and back down to where you started. Repeat this 2 – 3 times then stitch across the diagonals of the box you’ve created just to reinforce the stitching even more.
Repeat the same for the handle on the other side of your bag, then your bag should be ready to use.
The bag above is a recycling bag project which can be found here.