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This is part of  a bag making series by Christine Down. Christine loves bag making and used to run an online bag making supplies shop. 


Fabric Bag Handles

How to make fabric bag handles

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

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 bag handles from fabric

 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.


How to make bag handles


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.


Bag Making series by Sew Christine

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. 


Bag making for beginners

 Tab stitched to side of bag

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


How to make 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. 


How to make an adjustable strap for a bag


Adjustable Strap

How to sew a bag

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


How to make a strap for a bag

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. 


How to make straps for bags

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


Sewing bags for beginners

Pin the end to the other strand of the webbing. 

How to make an adjustable bag handle

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