‘TIS THE SEASON

craftsy stocking

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends, the countdown has begun for the biggest holiday shopping weekend of the year. Why not give the gift of making?

We, as designers, each have unique skills and talents. Offering someone your time and expertise can be a truly thoughtful gift to give or receive, as much as it is to create something uniquely yours. At this time of year, everyone is flocking to shopping malls and madly scrambling to get everyone on their ¨naughty-or-nice¨ list something… anything. Material items often breakdown or requires batteries, or soon become outdated or forgotten and collecting dust, but the memories of sharing an experience or learning something new can last a lifetime. So may I suggest to all of you who may have a budding sewer, knitter, quilter, crocheter, photographer, gardener, baker, artist, jewellery-maker, cake decorator, cook, embroiderer, wood-worker, weaver, scrapbooker, or perhaps even treat yourself, on your gift list to present them with the gift of creating and making. I’ll be offering special gift subscriptions to my Craftsy class, MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin, or you may wish to peruse the many hundreds of crafts and disciplines offered by Craftsy and their expert instructors from around the world. Each one makes a great stocking-stuffer and a thoughtful gift.

When planning your gift-giving, think about who the recipient is and what he or she values. Recall what they may be passionate about or what makes them happy and joyful. Use this to inspire heartfelt, personalized, and thoughtful gifts from you that will be remembered and appreciated.

Think about a skill or craft that you can share by subscribing to instructional lessons for a loved one or learn a craft yourself and design your own. It’s a wholesome way to spend time with a special person and share your passions. All Craftsy classes are available 24/7, anytime you want, whenever you want, and all have a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. Most of all, many have big savings for the holidays just for you, beginning with Black Friday and Cyber Monday through to the Twelve Days of Craftsy.

The 12 Days of Craftsy… mark your calendars and get ready for the holidays with a new amazing deal each day from Craftsy. Yes… a new offer each day with big savings! Offers go up daily at 12:01AM and taken down at 11:59PM daily (Mountain Time) beginning December 1. 

Click here for today’s offer and use the daily promo code.

Select gifts that let your loved ones know you see their true selves or applaud their inner creativity. This year, change your holiday shopping routine to bring ease instead of stress and give the gift of making. Embrace the spirit of the season and take the time to put thought and care into each and every selection you give and encourage their sense of learning and adventure. It’s the best way to create the joy and anticipation of giving and receiving this holiday season and throughout the year.

Save 50% off the regular price of my online design class, MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin by clicking on this link below:

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LINED HOLIDAY GIFT BAGS

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Something a little different from the design studio today. Instead of talking about designing our own fashion bags I have a quick and easy tutorial about creating your own holiday gift bags. My sister and I used striped ticking and stencilled some crashcloth from her quilting classes to make our gift bags this past weekend but you can use almost anything fabric you want. Think holly jolly and ’tis the season. It was only an after-thought that I think we should have lined them as well. Live and learn, I say! 

My sister and I were reminiscing about how Mom would have all us kids on holiday wreath duty at this time of year when we lived on the homestead. I suppose it was her way to keep idle little hands busy and curb our enthusiasm that Santa was coming soon. There was four of us… me, my two sisters, and my baby brother who was really too young to be of any help except eating popcorn Mom made from scratch. Throughout the year, Mom collected clear dry-cleaning plastic bags and clear produce plastic bags from the grocer to be turned in feathery, shimmering holiday wreaths trimmed with pinecones and dried flowers we picked on our woodland excursions and freshly-pressed old ribbons from gifts received throughout the year. My job, being the eldest, was to cut away any printed labels from the plastic bags, then cut open the bags into a flat plastic sheets. Each flat sheet was then divided into approximately 12-inch strips. Mom, second in the assembly line, would roll the plastic sheets into a tight ‘cigar’ roll and slice 1-inch ribbons from it to create piles of feathery streamers. My sisters, whenever they weren’t grabbing handfuls of popcorn and next in the assembly chain, would tie the plastic streamers one-by-one around recycled wire clothes hangers that Mom had distorted into circular shapes. Once all the cutting had been completed, we all joined in with the popcorn-eating and double-knotting of the shimmering streamers to the wreath, packing them tightly together next to each other until you could no longer distinguish the coat hanger. I recall we were a productive team of Santa’s little helpers and made wreaths for every window and door frame in our home.

Mom would trim up the scraggly bits from the wreaths to even-out the form into a fluffy feathery halo and tie on big ribbon bows and clusters of pinecones.

So today I thought I’d show you how to making your own lined holiday gift bags which are quick and easy to make assembly-line-style with your children. I think children can be very creative and it is easy to harness their enthusiasm for the holidays. Most of all, it creates wonderful memories and holiday traditions.

You’ll need a few supplies but as sewers and crafters you may have most of what you need covered already and it is an excellent way to tidy up your sewing room and re-purpose those odds and ends you’ve been saving or use up from your fabric stash or quilter’s fat quarters. The list is short: cotton prints for exteriors, cotton stripes and solids for interiors; colourful cloth ribbons, flat braids, cording, and twines for tying up; and handmade hang-tags from Christmas Past and ornamental finishing touches such as jolly jiggle bells, yarn snowballs (pompoms) or dried natural pinecones. Actually, anything that you have on hand!

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1. From Robert Kaufman, ¨Holly Jolly¨, designer: Mary Lake-Thompson; 2. ¨Winter Church Scenic¨ by Spring Creative Products, designer: Susan Winget; 3. From Pillow & Maxfield, ¨Scarlett Poinsetta¨, designer: Michael Miller; 4. From Wilmington Prints, ¨Woodland Holiday¨, designer Lisa Audit; 5. Wilmington’s ¨Frosted Holiday Presents¨, designer: Katie Doucette; 6. From Henry Glass & Co., ¨Holiday Tradition¨, designer: Jan Shade Beach; 7. From Henry Glass & Co., ¨Holiday Homecoming Snowflake¨, designer: Jan Shade Beach; 8. From Robert Kaufman, ¨Winter Grandeur¨, designer: RK Studio; 9. ¨Holiday Homecoming Novelty Stripe¨, from Henry Glass & Co., designer: Jan Shade Beach. 

 

Every year fabric designers come out with their holiday collection prints which are colourful and festive to take much of the guesswork out of creating a theme. This year is no exception. Above are a few examples of holiday themed prints which by no means is complete. You can get about four gift bags from 1 meter of 115 cm wide cotton fabric.  For the linings I prefer using stripes and solids but take a look at this year’s offerings from various fabric designers’ collections below, the patterns are wonderful.

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1. From Magnolia Home Fashions, ¨Red Ticking¨; 2. From Pillow & Maxfield, ¨Curly Swirl Santa Red¨, designer: Michael Miller; 3. From Henry Glass & Co. ¨Holiday Homecoming Swirl Red¨, designer: Jan Shade Beach; 4. ‘Romantic Afternoon Flannel Dots¨by Wilmington Prints, designer: Lisa Audit; 5. ¨Frosted Holiday Ticking^from Wilmington Prints, designer: Katie Doucette; 6. ¨Gingerbread Christmas Diagonal Stripe¨by Maywood Studios, designer: Meg Hawkey; 7. from Riley Blake Designs, ¨Jingle Jangle Snowflake¨, designer: Christopher Thompson; 8. From Wilmington Prints, ¨Romantic Afternoon Flannel Plaid¨, designer: Lisa Audit; and 9. ¨Cosy Christmas Flannel Stripe¨by Riley Blake Designs, designer: Lori Holt.

 

This particular bag design is large enough for gift-wrapping a bottle of wine, a tall stack of home-baked cookies, an assortment of mixed unshelled nuts, candy boxes, or a small toy. Once you have learned the sequence of assembly, you can use this production method to make larger gift-bags using larger quantities of fabric. 

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Before we get started, a word about safety and ability. While I consider sewing to be a safe activity to do, it is not without risk. We are using sharp objects like scissors and dress pins, power tools like a sewing machine, and hot equipment like steam irons. It is important to respect and use these tools correctly. Assign each job to someone who understands how the equipment operates and has the ability to perform each one. The sewing skill required is basic. This project requires no pattern and only uses a straight stitch in its construction. Even a school child can sew a straight stitch on a sewing machine. Pressing with a steam iron, on the other hand, should be left to a teenager or an adult. Let tiny tots be in charge of ribbons and trimmings. They are very good at making hangtags from old greeting cards using blunt scissors and gum paste.

Ok, let’s get started…

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BASIC SET-UP

Step 1: For each meter of fabric, fold the printed material across its width and align selvedge with selvedge and pin selvedges together. Press the fold of the material flat using a steam iron. Open the fabric face up and lay flat. Cut along the fold line to form 2 portions.

With each portion (100 cm cm x 55 cm), fold the material in half along its length and align the raw top and bottom edges . Pin together and iron the fold of the material flat. Re-open the fabric face up and lay flat. Cut along the fold line to form another 2 portions. In total, there are 4 fabric portions. If the print is a directional pattern, be certain to position the fabric so that the print is pointing in the correct direction (usually it is upward).

Repeat the above steps for the interior fabric. Cut 4 portions.

Step 2: Join 1 exterior fabric with 1 interior fabric. (In this case, 1 print fabric with 1 solid or striped fabric).

Place the exterior fabric face up with the pattern of the print in the correct direction and lay flat.

Then lay the interior fabric face down on top of the exterior fabric and pin together along top edge, matching B to E and C to H.

Step  3: Machine-stitch a straight seam across the top of the fabric bundle using a 10mm seam allowance from B-E to C-H.

Step 4: Press seam allowance open and flat with steam iron. Then press all the seam allowance to one side from the exterior portion to the interior portion (E-H towards B-C).

Step 5: Place the fabric rectangle face up with the exterior portion at the bottom and lay flat.

Measure down from the seam line on the left side 5 cm (from B-E to point X) and apply an evenly-folded piece of ribbon or twine ( 1 meter long) at point X. Baste or pin in place.

Fold the fabric rectangle in half across its width matching points A to D, B-E to C-H, and F to G.

Keep ribbon ends loose within the fold.

Step 6: Machine-stitch a straight seam from top to bottom (A-D to F-G) using a 10mm seam allowance to form a tube. Be certain to catch the sandwiched ribbon in the seam stitching. Press seam allowance open and flat.

Step 7: Machine-stitch a straight seam across the bottom of the fabric tube using a 10mm seam allowance from F-G to fold of the fabric. Do not sew over the ribbon ties. Press seam allowance open and flat.

mit 3_FotorStep 8: Align the vertical seam over the horizontal seam at point F-G to create a diagonal point.

Measure from point end inward along seam line 5 cm and sew perpendicular to the seam lines.

Repeat this step, this time aligning horizontal seam F-G over the foldline and sewing a perpendicular seam 5 cm from the corner point.

Step 9: At the top of the tube, turn under the raw edge 10 mm and press flat. Repeat step 8 at A-D and also at the fold line, leaving the top of the tube open for turning.

BAG SETUP_FotorStep 10: Pull the bag right-side-out through the opening in the lining and match the turned edges of the opening together. Edge-stitch along opening to close up. Then drop the lining into the cavity of the gift bag and stop when the lining reaches the seam allowance of the joining seam (B-C to E-H). Here you want to ¨wrap¨ the lining over the seam allowance to form a piped effect across the top of the gift bag. The width of this effect is equal to the seam allowance, 10 mm wide. Stitch-in-the-ditch along the groove of the seam line to catch the lining in place.

 

 

Your teamwork is complete. Add a hangtag and any ornaments to the ribbon ties.

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INTRODUCING: Craftsy Unlimited!

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photo courtesy of Craftsy

Why Craftsy Unlimited?

Endless Inspiration 3,000+ hours of premium video tutorials in more than 16 different crafts, including exclusive content only available to members. Plus, bonus recipes, guides, patterns, and more (including new videos released every week!).

Expert Guidance 24/7 access to 600+ of the world’s leading experts. Ask questions and get personalized answers as you go.

Creative Connection Join 13 million other makers for inspiration and support, plus ideas, tips and feedback for every creative journey.

* * * *

Today I want to tell you about the new direction that Craftsy is taking… unlimited access to the world’s most creative community. Not only will you have access to my online class, ¨MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin¨ but also all of the hundreds of instructional videos offered by Craftsy. Whether you sew, quilt, bake, paint, make jewellry, knit, snap photos, garden, weave, woodwork, draw, embroider, do papercrafts… there is so much more to experience with Craftsy. This is a new way to practice your passion and share with your family and friends. 

So take another look at Craftsy and see what they are offering today. Start your 14-day trial here.

START TODAY – click here!

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TOPSTITCHING

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Top-stitching is exactly as it sounds – a line of stitches, often decorative yet functional, that are visible on the face surface of your bag design. Technically you can use any stitch and thread to topstitch a bag exterior, but if you want professional results and a polished finish, it’s best to learn to topstitch like the pros. The addition of top-stitching to any bag will make it decorative while adding body to the bag structure and firm up the shape to the bag without adding any interfacing. Do keep in mind to keep the stitch-type and its length, consistent and uniform for a harmonious professional finished look.  A cluster of unrelated stitches will ruin the appearance of your bag design and denotes poor execution.

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You can embellish with topstitching and it can be machine-stitched with a polished topstitching thread or hand-sewn with waxed linen thread.  If I do decide on hand-stitching, I often pre-punch holes whenever I use leathers or plastics by ¨walking¨ an unthreaded needle in my sewing machine by hand, using the flywheel instead of the foot-pedal to keep control, along the edge that will receive the top-stitching. Then, I just follow the guided path with my hand-needle. This gives me a smooth, even appearance and makes it easy to sew. You can also use the same method to create a laced-edge effect on your design. Your stitch line should be slightly longer in length than a construction stitch when you are topstitching. After all, if you’re going to put in all that extra labour and time, you want everyone to notice it.

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Design-wise, you can use top-stitching to create in part the style of the bag, such as in quilting or trapunto. This type of embellishment uses a padded backing or interlining that can add extra body to the structure of the bag. Also, be aware that, the more  machine-stitching you apply to the fabric’s surface, the stiffer the fabric will become. In other words, you don’t even need interfacing to make your bag’s exterior more rigid while at the same time keeping the bag light in weight.

Think like a designer and be creative with the thread colour pathway and use a fun contrasting colour. This can bring a pop of style and pizzazz to your finished product.  Add piping or cording for extra impact.

saddlestitch

Lastly, I like to do topstitching by way of the saddle-stitch on hard-to-sew cut edge styles and for simple leather bag handles. This simple hand-stitch denotes high-quality workmanship on any bag design and is a very professional-looking embellishment and finish.

Here are some professional tips when topstitching:

  • Top stitching thread is heavier gauge (weight) than conventional sewing machine thread; you use this thread in the top load of your machine and use regular sewing thread in the bobbin.
  • 90/14 is a special needle sized for top stitching; it has a larger eye to accommodate the thicker thread gauge.
  • Sometimes your project might work better with a different thread & needle for topstitching; make certain you choose your needle wisely.
  • Take your time and test on a piece of scrap fabric first. Make sure you use the same number of layers in your test swatch as you’ll have in the finished project, and test out a few different threads, needles, and stitch types/lengths before you decide on the real deal. Taking the time to do this step is the difference between homemade and handmade.
  • Top-stitch spacing from the edge is extremely important when applying. Consider using a seam guide tool for consistency. Speaking of consistency, to be harmonious in your overall design, your top-stitching should not be a hodgepodge of different stitches nor stitch lengths. Choose one style of top-stitching and use it throughout your design.
  • Depending on the thickness of fabric layers, the tension may need adjusting. This is especially important with thicker materials such as canvas/leather. Again, it’s always important to do a test piece first. 
  • If you are using topstitching thread in the bobbin as well, you might want to get a second bobbincase dedicated solely to the heavier gauge thread. Your sewing machine dealer can help you with that and set the bobbin tension for you.
  • If you’re using a thicker fabric or a lot of layers, position some scrap fabric under the back of your presser foot before you begin to sew. This allows the presser foot to remain straight, horizontally, so that it doesn’t have to “climb uphill” to begin sewing the bag.
  • Don’t backstitch – at least, not in the traditional way. Instead of stitching back and forth a few times to begin and end your topstitching, first shorten your stitch length to something very short; backstitch just once back and forth, then lengthen your stitches and sew as normal. This creates a more subtle way to anchor your stitches.
  • When you’re finished sewing, pull the top threads to the bottom or back of the work and tie them in a knot with the lower threads, then trim away loose ends.
  • Stabilize fabrics as needed. Use tear-away stabilizer under the material and then tear it off when you’re finished sewing. Another option is to add a layer of interfacing between the fabric layers.
  • Trim seam allowances before topstitching. This reduces the bulk of the fabric under the stitches, making it easier to get a smooth, even finish.
  • Lastly, throw away the rule book and experiment with your decorative stitches!

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Celebrate National Sewing Month

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Here we are again, September is National Sewing Month, and we’re ready to salute the art of sewing all month long! Want to join in on the fun? Here are a few ways to ignite your creativity for a September full of new sewing projects.

1. GIVE A HANDMADE GIFT

You don’t need a special occasion to make something meaningful for someone you love. Whether it’s a simple zippered bag or a customized totebag, a personalized gift means the most when it comes from you.

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2. PLAN A CHARITY SEWING PROJECT

Share your sewing with those in need this month. Need a few ideas? Consider local charitable organizations who need sewing help, join a community centre sew-along project for goodwill, or gather your sewing friends to help out a local non-profit.

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3. LEARN SOMETHING NEW – for FREE!

Check out one of the many free mini-classes from Craftsy’s crafting community while surfing the Web or let it run in the background while cooking or doing chores. Or, loan out a variety of great sewing books from your local library which you can read on the go or when you have a quiet moment to relax!

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4. TREAT YOUR EQUIPMENT WELL

Make your sewing supplies last longer and work better with a good deep clean! Find out how to clean your ironsewing machine, and while you’re at it, your whole sewing room. By the time you’re done, you’ll be sewing more efficiently and productively.

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5. DISCOVER YOUR NEXT PROJECT

The best way to celebrate National Sewing Month is to simply sew! Get started on a new project with patterns (some free) from the world’s best independent designers on the World Wide Web and right here on BAG’N-TELLE in our tutorial section.

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 All-You-Can-Watch Day

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Hey, everyone… Craftsy is having All-You-Can-Watch Day. You may have heard by now…coming up on September 4th, they’ll give students a chance to wet their creative pallets by test-driving all Craftsy content for free (but only during that time period) and you can get a preview peek at MAKING LEATHER BAGS with Don Morin.

That’s right, you’ll have the ability to watch bag-making design content for free from 12am ET – 12PM PT. I won’t be available to answer your questions in class, nor will the course material be available but you will be able to preview my class and any other Craftsy classes all day, as many as you want for free!

So circle the calendar and save the date, Monday, September 4th and have fun on All-You-Can Watch Day. Spread the word to your friends.

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BAG STRAP DESIGNING & PROPER FIT

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While bag straps details are a small style component in bag designing, choosing the right strap for your bag design is important when you are designing a handbag collection. In the manufacturing world, most bag handles and other bag fittings are bought through wholesale suppliers but when it comes to the actual bag strapping, much of it is made in-house. When deciding on a strap style for your creation, it’s important to consider the length and width because each has their own characteristics which change the look, comfort, and the way the bag is carried.

CHOOSING A BAG STRAP LENGTH

The strap length is measured from one end to the other, including the attachable hooks/hardware. Please note that “strap length” is different from “drop length” which measures the distance from the top of the strap to the top of the bag, when being worn. Measure all straps by their length (from end-to-end) because the drop length depends on the type of bag, what type of clothing you’re wearing (a heavy coat for example), your height, the position the bag is worn and so forth. By using the end-to-end length method, you can select the length that works best for your personal needs.

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The standard strap lengths listed below should work for most people, however I’ve found that it is really a matter of personal preference. Only the user knows the strap length that makes carrying a bag comfortable and a pleasure. Here’s how you can find the right length.

To determine the length of strap needed, dressforms get used in my studio often, along with a tape-measure to help determine my desired strap length or drape it on my assistant (I’m certain you can find a volunteer live and willing) in the design studio. As well, I can recommend using a piece of cord or flat ribbon, attached to your mock-up sample, with it adjusted until the length is as desired. Measure the ribbon from end-to-end to determine your strap length. Another method that often works well is to find another sample bag you have produced that has the strap length you’re looking to replicate. You have already done the design work so odds are the strap length will be a good choice. If possible, attach it to the mock-up to see if it will work for the length you’d like to achieve on your new prototype.

I have categorized 7 typical uses and lengths of handbag straps:

  1. Wristlet (6 to 10-inch range)
  2.  Short Handle (12 to 20-inch range)
  3. Shoulder (30-inch range)
  4. Long Shoulder (40-inch range)
  5. Crossbody (50-inch range)
  6. Extra Long (60-inch range)
  7. Adjustable (22 to 60-inch range)

Wristlet Straps:

Wristlet straps fit around the wrist then attach to the bag, making them a great choice for smaller bags that need to be kept close, like a clutch or billfold. Wristlet straps have an approximately 6-inch opening for your hand to slip through. They are designed to fit most handspans, while still being “snug” enough when placed on the wrist that it won’t easily slide or fall off.

A wristlet strap can also be used as a lanyard or even as a large zipper pull for larger totes.

Short Handle Straps (12 to 20-inch range):

Short handle straps are used to carry handbags either as a top-handle carried with your hand or over your arm, or as a tight-fitting hobo-style strap. If you’re a petite person, a 20-inch strap may work well to hold the bag tightly under your arm.

Keep in mind, when attaching a short handle strap to a hobo-style handbag, the weight of the contents will change the shape of the bag and increase the drop length quite a bit (sometimes double) so be sure to test this on your mock-up bag.

Shoulder Straps (30-inch range):

Shoulder straps are generally in the 30-inch range and are typically used to carry bags closely under your arm and close to the body. This is a popular bag strap length because the strap can also function as a top-handle for other bag styles, such as a tote. Many people like this length because it allows you to hold the handbag by the handle while you carry it on the shoulder, yet you are allowed to let go and be hands-free while commuting.

The beauty of detachable/attachable straps is the freedom to carry the bag any way you want. Simply attach the strap of your choice and go!

Long Shoulder Straps (40-inch range):

Longer shoulder straps are generally in the 40-inch range and allow the bag to hang down near the hip area when worn over the shoulder (depending on how tall you are, of course). For the petite person, this length can often be used to wear the bag across the chest, or often referred to as the “cross body” position.

When using as a cross body strap, this will have the top of the bag style sitting near the natural waist, depending on your height, weight and clothing. 

Crossbody Straps (50-inch range):

Crossbody (sometimes called “chest straps”) straps are generally in the 50-inch range. This type of strap allows the bag style to be worn securely over the head so that the strap rests on the shoulder and the bag crosses the chest then sits around the hip area on the opposite side of the body.

This style is very popular because it allows the bag style to be worn securely in busy areas while commuting or travelling, etc., frees up your hands to carry other things, and generally provides the most comfort. Even if the bag style wasn’t designed for cross body wear, it is usually possible to convert it using a longer attachable crossbody strap.

Extra Long Straps (60-inch range):

Extra long bag straps have many uses and are a great choice if the user is a tall or plus-size person, wear heavy clothing like a winter jacket, or prefer a low-hanging bag. This longer length is designed to provide a similar drop-length as the 50-inch crossbody straps, but for those that fall into the scenarios just mentioned.

It is possible to go longer than 60-inches, but the strap materials quickly become limited. Due to genuine leather hide size limitations, it is often not possible to go longer than 65 to 70-inches or some kind of hardware connection is needed. Other materials, like imitation  leather and nylon webbing, can be made into very long bag straps because they are yard goods available on large rolls.

Adjustable Straps (28 to 65-inch range):

Adjustable bag straps offer the ultimate in flexibility. Adjustable straps come in two forms: with the popular tri-glide “slider” hardware for precise tuning of strap length, or with “punched holes and a buckle” that have fixed adjustable lengths.

Adjustable bag straps range in lengths from 28 to 65-inches. Many customers elect for the 55-inch adjustable strap because its range can be changed quickly from 34-inches to 55-inches, making it seamless to convert the bag style from a shoulder to crossbody style.

A bag strap with a slider mechanism or buckle will alter not only the strap length but the drop length of a bag too. With an adjustable bag strap, the user has the freedom to carry or wear the bag exactly the way they want, on the shoulder hanging low to the hip, across the chest, or tightly under the arm.  This design detail makes any kind of bag styling much more versatile, therefore saleable, when presenting a new collection.

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CHOOSING A BAG STRAP WIDTH

The strap width is the portion of the strap that rests on the shoulder or in the hand (if used as a “top handle”). Generally speaking, the larger the bag strap width, the heavier a bag that can be supported. This is because the contact area of the bag strap increases as the strap width increases, which allows for improved weight distribution and comfort. This is particularly useful for anyone with sensitive shoulders (due to arthritis, for example). You could add a shoulder shield to the strap to prevent narrow straps from cutting into the shoulder and pad them a little bit to add additional comfort when carrying heavier loads.

Also interesting to note, a slender strap usually hugs the shoulder better, helping to prevent the bag from slipping or falling off. As a rule of thumb, smaller bags generally use smaller width straps, and larger bags generally use larger width straps. It makes common sense!

So the challenge becomes finding the right balance between usefulness (do I need to carry a large and heavy bag, or small and light weight bag?), comfort (will I be carrying the bag for extended periods of time and does it fit my body?) and appearance (does the strap look balanced with my bag?).

I have categorized handbag straps into 7 widths and uses:

  1. Extra Slender & Drawcord Straps (3/8-inch)
  2. Slender Width Straps (1/2-inch)
  3. Standard Width Straps (3/4-inch)
  4. Classic Width Straps (1-inch)
  5. Wide Width Straps (1½-inch)
  6. Extra Wide Width Straps (2-inch)
  7. Chain Straps (varying in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch)

Extra Slender & Drawcord Straps (3/8-inch):

An extra slender or drawcord bag strap is great for a minimal look on small bags. Drawcord straps do not come with attachable hooks (extra slender ones do, however) because they are designed to be knotted at the ends and looped into or through the bag’s hardware, or used on a bag style with a traditional drawstring closure.

Slender Width Straps (1/2-inch):

Slender bag straps are great for smaller bags, clutches, envelope bags, slender billfolds or if the bag styling is seeking a delicate or minimal visual look to your handbag collection. Slender straps tend to stay on the shoulder with less slippage. For bags designed to carry a lot of weight, choose the more apt “classic” or “wide” bag straps.

Standard Width Straps (3/4-inch):

Standard width straps provide good carrying capacity for small to medium sized bags, and offer a good balance between the minimal look of a slender strap and the wider/larger look of a classic strap. These straps are comfortable to wear and are double-stitched to provide good carrying strength.

Classic Width Straps (1-inch):

Classic width straps provide great comfort and carrying capacity for medium to large size handbags and purses of all types. This is the most popular selling width and can carry heavier bags with ease.

Wide Width Straps (1½-inch):

Wide width straps offer excellent strength and comfort for large tote bags, brief cases, diaper, camera or weekender bags. These straps are great for carrying a lot of weight because they distribute the weight of the bag, easing stress on the shoulder.

Extra Wide Width Straps (2-inch):

Extra-wide width straps offer excellent strength and comfort for large shoulder bags, sports bags, duffles and other travel bags. These straps are great for carrying a lot of weight because they distribute the weight of the bag, easing stress on the shoulder or across the body. Often extra wide widths are top-stitched with multiple rows of machine-stitching which adds body and strengthen the strap. 

Chain Straps (varying in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch):

Chain straps range in width from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch. Most chain straps are metal making them impossible to cut by thieves and can carry a good amount of weight depending on the chain style and thickness. You can find plastic chains as well though they are used for making more of a fashion statement rather than for practicality. Remember though, carrying a heavy bag on your shoulder with a chain strap can quickly become uncomfortable. I don’t recommend carrying heavy bags on the shoulder with a chain strap due to the increased pressure. A wide fabric bag strap or a thick chain with leather shoulder/handle, is better suited for this scenario. That said, chain straps are great for communicating elegance, sophistication and class, which generally translates to fashion/style rather than function.

Luxury chain straps have the look and feel of fine jewellery and come with connecting hardware that are ready to attach to your bag. Chain straps are available to match with almost any bag design detail, whether it be: hardware, material, or colour, making them an excellent and elegant styling choice.

BAG STRAP MAKING MATERIALS

It goes without saying that if you are designing a bag fabricated in a certain material that the bag straps are made from the same material. However, thinking like a designer, there are other options you may want to consider. We want the bag strap to be durable yet comfortable to wear. We want the bag strap to appear balanced with the rest of our bag design to unify our design concept. We want the bag strap to be useful and support the weight we are carrying. Therefore you may want to consider other choices for making bag strapping apart from the fashion fabric.

Furthermore, by designing an attachable bag strap you can:

  • Add or replace a strap on the bag so you don’t have to replace the whole bag
  • Convert a purse or other bag into a cross body with an adjustable or long cross body strap
  • Restore your favourite handbag that is no longer usable with a new genuine leather strap or chain handle

Genuine leathers and imitation leathers are classic materials used to make bag straps as they are very durable and look great as a contrast detail. They are available in many traditional and fashion colours, and surface finishes. The only drawback is conventional sewing machines are not powerful enough to sew through thick layers of leather so hand-stitching may be required.

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Nylon webbing is incredibly strong, sturdy and durable. Cotton canvas webbing is sturdy, soft to the touch and complements many bag types. Webbing straps are also a low-cost alternative to a genuine leather strap. Adjustable O-rings and D-rings can be used as connectors and set in place with rivets. Webbing is available by the roll in a variety of solid and patterned colours.

Luxury chain straps have the look and feel of fine jewellery, are metal with a gold-tone, nickel, gunmetal or antique brass finish, and connecting hooks are available in matching metal colour/finishes that can be attached to the chain lengths. This material works well for making replacement bag straps for existing daytime bags and adds a lightness and sparkle for evening bags.

HARDWARE OPTIONS FOR BAG STRAPS

Now that the design dimensions of the bag strapping has been decided, connecting hardware needs to be chosen. There is plenty of choice in the marketplace but attachable hooks/attachable O-ring metal hardware seems to be the favourites among designers. These attachable connectors are ideal to making replacement bag straps for existing bag designs, as well. They are available is many different metal colours and finishes, from classic silver and gold with polished finishes to antique brass and gun-metal with brushed finishes.

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Tri-glide sliders are popular for precise tuning of strap length and offer the ultimate in flexibility when designing adjustable bag straps.

Metal buckles can be used in your bag strap design that allow for fixed adjustable lengths to the bag strap by way of adding punched eyelet holes to the strapping.

Measure the inner diameter of the hardware to ensure the strap fits into the hardware without buckling or allowing any slack.

Also think design harmony within the styling of your bag. Try to match or compliment other bag fittings such as bag feet and bag zippers to the metal colour and finish of the connecting hardware you are using on your bag straps to create a unifying look. These little touches makes the difference between a homemade and a handmade bag.

Design Your Bag the Way YOU Want and Make the Style Your Own

With the right choice of bag strap, you have the freedom to design your bag exactly the way you envisioned it. There is no need to worry about how a bag will look or hang with the strap it came with as length and width have been well-thought out. Now, that choice is yours in the styling, with a strap that fits the user’s needs, mood or style!

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