Making your own professional-looking bag straps is not only super-satisfying, it means you can make perfectly matching straps for your bags. I have had requests from bagmakers asking me how to make bag straps that do not twist so, in this post I am going to talk about working with pleather and show you how to make your own smooth, twist-free bag straps.
This post is a companion post I wrote recently, on how to use our Diamond Bag Strap connectors.
Instruction photos are shown below the instruction. I hope you enjoy!
What you will need
- Faux leather. We stock lots of coloured and metallic pleather.
- Washable double-sided tape
- A fresh Universal or leather needle - 80 or 90
- Sewing clips
- Quality branded all-purpose nylon thread
- Ruler and fabric marker
1. Below I am using a small rectangle of faux leather (PU) to demo making a strap (of course your leather piece will be a lot longer!). To make your strap you will need to cut your PU four times the width of the desired finished width so if you wanted a 2.5cm (1") wide strap, you'd need to cut your fabric 10cm (4") wide. Unless you are using fine leather you will not need to add interfacing to the strap fabric. The strap is folded 4 times so that should make it plenty strong. On the wrong side (WS) of the fabric draw a line down the long edge centre as shown.
2. Apply double-sided adhesive tape to both WS strap fabric long edges. A word about the double-sided tape, I advise against using plain basting double-sided tape (and that goes for the stationary and sewing variety, this kind of tape will gum-up your sewing needle. A gummed up needle will lead to skipped stitches and leaving goo on your sewing. Yuk!). Use washable adhesive tape, it won't gum up your needle and you will wonder how you lived without it! Notice how I have applied the tape 0.3cm (1/8") down from the edge, this will help alleviate bulk at the strap centre.
3. Peel of the tape backings and fold both long edges to the WS centre line. Notice how I have left a 0.3cm (1/8'') gap at the centre between the raw long edges. Again, this is to help reduce bulk at the centre for when we fold the strap in the next step. When working with thicker fabrics and layers, we always want to reduce bulk and create a bit of breathing room, this helps to relax things and minimise twisting.
4. Fold the strap in half along the long edge centre and hold the fold in place with sewing clips. When working with real/faux leather do not use pins to hold pieces together because the pins will leave holes in the material. Use sewing clips like I have. Place your clips at the very edge of the strap, this way any indents from the clips will not show up in the middle of the strap.
You might be wondering how what I am going to do with the strap ends. These strap ends are destined to be on show. Rather than folding in the strap end fabric in and stitching the ends down (which I think (on PU straps) looks a bit meh and is too layer-tastic for some home machines), I am later going to finish the ends with some nice metal caps.
5. Get ready to stitch your strap. To prepare for sewing with real/faux leather I place a sticky note (or two) onto the throat of my machine. This prevents the fabric from sticking. I also add some washi tape to mark out seam allowance. I like my strap topstitching to be a scant 3mm (1/8") from the edge. For real/faux leather I topstitch with 3.5 - 4 length. The thicker the material/the more layers, the longer the stitch length should be. Remember, to avoid twisting we want to keep things relaxed and loose, to do this we can try increasing stitch length, easing off sewing pressure and loosening tension. To see how the stitches will look, how your machine will behave and if the strap will begin to twist, try testing on a piece of leather (folded 4 times).
Pop to the loo, put the phone on silent and place a 'do not disturb' sign on your door and topstitch along both long edges. I like to stitch along the strap open edge first (to get the folded edges meeting perfectly) before stitching the folded edge.
6. Ta da! A perfectly flat, smooth and rather swish-looking bag strap. See what I do with the strap in my strap connectors tutorial.