Heh! The title of this post just kinda wrote itself - it's explanatory and kinda catchy :)
As we all know, bags can range in complexity from a rectangle of fabric sewn up the sides with a ribbon handle to some of the gorgeous bags (that I've seen you come up with) which have lovely shiny wing dings and gee gaws. A great way to add instant interest to a bag is add a ready made handle/s, to your baggy creations, or some shiny rings and a strap slider to you fabric strap/s. I'll be talking a bit about handles and straps in this post because they are just as important and the bag itself (and I've had a fair emails (this week) asking me about attaching handles to bags).
The method you use to attach a strap or a handle to a bag depends largely on the type of handle or strap you are going to use, so we'll look at styles of handles and I'll suggest ways of attaching then to your bag.
These handles all have metal handle hooks, holes, or fixed metal rings at either end of the handle. These handles require you to make a fabric loop for each of the rings, so you attach the handle to the bag via the fabric loop.
How to make fabric loops for the metal hooks, fixed rings, or the holes of a bag handle:
- Measure the width of the hole or metal ring at the widest point.
- Take this measurement and multiply it by 4.
- Decide how long you want the fabric loop to be when it is folded in half and attached to you bag. I personally like my fabric loops to be 1" long when folded in half. This means I need to make each loop 2" long (cos I'm going to fold it in half).
- Let's say for example you like your fabric loops to be 1" long as well, and the width of your metal ring (or handle hole) is 0.5". This means that you will multiply 0.5" by 4 = 2", and you will multiply 2" by 4 as well (because we are making 4 handle loops geddit?). So we are going to cut a piece of fabric that is 2" x 8" to make our 4 handle loops.
- I always prefer to interface my handle loop fabric with some firm iron-on interfacing because these loops are going to need to withstand quite a bit of weight as you use your bag.
- To sew the handle loops follow step 9 in this tutorial (without attaching the metal ring of course).
- After you have sewn the handle loop (and divided the resulting strip into 4 equal lengths) you need to figure out how you will attach the handle to the bag. If the handle has metal handle hooks with a screw rod (as in these handles) you will need to baste the handle loops onto your lining or bag exterior before you sew the bag exterior and the lining together as in picture 1. (see below). When you have sewn the bag exterior and the lining together you just unscrew the metal rod in the hook and thread the hook through the handle look as in picture 2 (see below).
- If your handle/s has fixed rings (as in these handles) you need the thread each handle loop though each fixed metal ring before basting the fabric loop (with handle still attached) onto you lining or bag exterior.
Making your own fabric straps
This is the most economical solution for handles for your bags, but that doesn't mean we can't jazz things up a bit. With a few shiny metal accessories we can make our fabric straps look really professional!
How to make fabric straps using metal accessories (as in the pic above):
- Measure the width of the ring, slider, or snap hook (at it's widest point), and multiply this measurement by 4.
- Decide on the length of strap that you would like plus an extra 3" (for folding in raw edges, and folding over the metal ring. Cut the fabric strip/s according to the measurements made in step 1 & 2.
- I always like to interface my straps (unless I'm using heavy fabrics) because it increases comfort, and it improves appearance and strength, but it's up to you of course.
- Make the fabric handle as in step 3 of this tutorial (to the letter).
- You at this stage add a snap hook to the ends of your fabric strap by folding the strap edges over the ring of the hook and stitching in a box formation (for strength) and/or you can go to the next step.
- Make fabric handle loops as described above.
- Thread your chosen metal rings onto the handle loops as in step 9 of this tutorial and baste the handle loops (with ring attached) to the desired position on your lining or exterior.
- Finish making your bag in the usual way because attaching the slider to the strap is the last job and then the rings.
- Attaching sliders to straps aways confuses me and I can NEVER remember how to do by heart. Let me assure you it is easy, but if you're any thing like me (someone who isn't very gifted spatially - maps REALLY hurt my head) you will need to have a bag with a slider attached to the handle so you can look closely at the handle to figure what gets threaded through where, and when...not very scientific I know, but it works for me!
Wide Handles with wide holes need wide handle loops or casings.
Wide handles are great for wider bags (obviously) or where you would prefer a bolder style of handle.
Wide handles need wider fabric loops (or we can call them casings) the difference with these loops is that we have the option of making then as wide as the handle, or we can make approx 1.5 - 2 times wider than the handle hole to ruche them. Ruching is a yummy decorative feature to have on bags.
How to use wide handles:
- Method A- casing made from a separate fabric piece. You can make a same width casing. To see how follow step 2 of this tutorial. You can also make a rushed casing (which would look very nice). To make a ruched casing make the casing fabric 1.5 - 2 times wider than your handle and make the casing as before. When you've made the casing sew some running stitches along both ends (NOT side) of the casing leaving long thread tails at both ends of the stitching. Pull on the thread tails until the width of the casing matches the width of the handle and baste the ruches in place - eh voila one ruched casing.
- Method B - Casing made from folding the bag fabric over the handle. To use this method you need to make the bag with two flaps that can then be folded and stitched over the bag handle. To see tutorials which use the 'bag flap (not very fancy sounding is it?) method look here, and here. In this case you can make the top edge (and therefore the flap) as wide as your handle. You can also make the top edge of your bag 1.5 - 2 times wider for a ruching effect like I have done here with the bag below (in case you're wondering, the casing is a different colour from the rest of the bag because I stitched another colour fabric to the top of the bag fabric at the very beginning).
Bag made with the 'bag flap' method (surely there is a better sounding name than this? If anyone knows it...) and a ruched casing, using these handles.
Phew I reckon that's it for now. I'll finish with a link to a cool Sewing & Stitch Glossary because you asked me for one of those as well :)
Stuff which is around is the corner includes: pics of me as the drummer in a rock band (yep, really!), and another Up for Grabs Draw. Toodle-pip! XX