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Fabric Bag Handles Tutorial

Bag handles tutorial

This bag handles tutorial is part of a bag making series by Christine Down.  

If you missed the previous parts of this series find them here:

Tools and equipment used for bag making

Fabric, interfacing and patterns

Handles, frames and closures

Bag making techniques and tutorials


Fabric Bag Handles Tutorial

To make bag handles you need to work out how long you want your handles to be.  You can make short handles for carrying on your arm, or longer handles for carrying over your shoulder.  If you want a longer strap for an across the body bag or an adjustable strap it is made the same way.  (Just longer of course!)

Once you know how long you want your handle or handles to be, you need to work out how wide to cut your fabric.  Your final width will be 4 times the width of your handle.  So if you want your handle to be 3cm wide your fabric needs to be 12cm wide.  Reinforce your fabric with iron-on firm interfacing.  Fold the handle piece in half longways and press.  Open out and fold the raw long edges to the centre on the ironed mark.  Press.  Fold over again so that the folded edges touch. Press.  Topstitch down both sides.

How to make a fabric bag handle

You can now finish off the ends with D rings or fold the ends over to make a loop.  For a longer strap you can add a slider to make it adjustable.


Handle for Handbag

As already mentioned these handles can be any length and can be either directly attached to the bag or you can use a variety of attachments.

fabric bag strap tutorial

How to make a shoulder strap

You can stitch the shoulder strap to the bag, but in this example there will be one shoulder strap and two side tabs.  Cut out some fabric long enough to attach O rings with and the same width as the shoulder strap.  Apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the tab exterior pieces.  Using the method shown above, make your tabs.  Zig zag across the unstitched ends.

How to sew a shoulder strap for a bag

Fold the tab over so the zig zagged end is about 2.5cm from the other end trapping the o ring in the fold.  Stitch across the zig zagged end three times.   Mark the centre of the bag sides approximately 10cm from the top.  This is the stitching line for the tabs.  Pin the tab into place and stitch across the bottom three times. 

How can I sew a handle to a bag?
Tab stitched to side of bag

Make the shoulder strap as above.  Satin stitch (very close zig zag) across the ends.

How to make fabric handles for a bag

Slip the hooks over the ends of the strap and stitch across the ends three times, securing the hook.  Using the hook attach the strap to the O rings. 

Using bag making hardware

How to sew an adjustable strap

Beginner's bag making tutorials

This is the same whether you use a strap you made or webbing. Thread the slider onto the strap. 

How to sew an adjustable bag strap

You will need to attach a slider holder to one side of the bag with a tab.  Thread webbing through slider holder from the front. 

Making handles for a bag

Thread the webbing through the back of the slider under the central pin. 

How to make a bag strap from cotton webbing

Pin the end to the other strand of the webbing. 

How to sew bag strapping

Fold the end under and stitch into place.  You then to check to make sure the slider can move freely. 

What interfacing to use when making bag straps or handles

Interfacing for bag straps

There are several different options of interfacing you can use to give your fabric bag handles support/strength. They vary depending upon how padded you want your handles to be. 

Bag Foam – For really padded handles like the ones shown above bag foam is perfect. It’s can be quilted like I’ve done, or you can buy iron on versions. Or you can simple top stitch either side to secure it in place. 

Fusible Fleece – For handles which are a little squishy and padded, but not as much so as with foam fusible fleece is ideal. It is iron onto your strap and has a bit of body to it so provide a little cushioning. 

Firm interfacing – For support but not volume (for a flat handle or strap) firm interfacing is ideal. You can get iron on or sew in versions. 

Bag Making Supplies

The following online shops have a good selection of bagmaking tools and hardware:

Emi B Designs

Me Made Makes

Rebecca Woollard Sewing School

Pelenna Patchworks

Your Perfect Bag

Lovely Jubbly Fabrics