Introduction: How to Cover a Bag Strap Using (Almost) No Pins
Fabric stores sell strap material, known as webbing, in a variety of colors, but rarely will their colors match your fabric perfectly. Synthetic strapping, which is usually available in more color varieties, is also slippery and has a surprisingly rough edge. The solution is simple: Cover your strap in matching fabric.
But when you're making a long strap, the process of pinning the fabric in place can be frustrating. So, over the past year, as I made straps for the shoulder bags I sell on Etsy, I've perfected a method for covering the webbing tightly and with as little pinning as possible. In fact, it only requires three or four pins.
You Will Need:
Cotton or synthetic webbing cut to the length needed for your project.
Fabric in the color of your choice.
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine and thread
3 or 4 pins
Step 1: Cut Your Fabric
Cut your fabric into a long strip that will wrap around the webbing.
For the width, double the width of your webbing and add about an 1-1/16". For this tutorial, I'm using 1-1/4" webbing and a fabric piece that's 3-9/16" wide. It needs to be about 2 inches longer than your webbing.
For best results, make a pattern and cut it out. Your pattern is basically a long rectangle. I've attached a pattern for 1/2", 1", and 1-1/4" webbing in PDF that you can print out and cut it to the length you need. You can also easily draft your own with a pencil and paper.
If the strap is especially long, you can make your pattern half the length of your final strap, and then either fold the fabric and use the pattern to cut both layers, or cut two pieces and sew them together on one short end.
Step 2: Sew the Fold Line
With your needle on the straight stitch setting and in the left position, stitch along one long side of the fabric. Keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the 10mm line, or the first line after the edge of your presser foot.
(In this photo, the stitch has already been made. Note the position of the needle and the edge of the fabric.)
Step 3: Fold the Hem
Take your fabric to the ironing board. Fold along the stitch you just made, using the stitch like a perforated line in a piece of paper.
If your fabric has a printed and a blank side, do this step with the printed side down on the ironing board. If you stitched two pieces of fabric together to cover your strap with, make sure the rough side - the side of the fabric with the seam allowances - is also facing up.
Press the fold flat.
Step 4: Finish the Hem
With your straight stitch now in the middle position, hem over the fold you made to secure it. Keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the right edge of the presser foot.
You now have a finished seam on one edge of your fabric
Step 5: Attach the Webbing
With the rough side up, place your fabric on top of your webbing. Line up the un-hemmed long edge of the fabric with the long edge of the webbing. The end of the webbing should be about an inch away from the short edge of the fabric.
If your fabric is printed, place it on top of the webbing print side down.
Using another straight stitch in the left positon, stitch the fabric to the webbing. Use your hand to line the edges of the fabric up as you work.
(You can also do this stitch with the needle set to the middle position, if you feel like you need more wiggle room in your stitching.)
Step 6: Finish the Ends
Pull the fabric up and flip it over the stitch you just made. You should now see webbing on one side of your project, and fabric on the other, with a clean seam between them. The webbing should remain flat, while the fabric is folded. Turn your piece over.
Fold the ends of the fabric down over the edge of the webbing. Line up the fold so that it makes a 90 degree end to the fabric, pin, and stitch. Do this for both ends.
Step 7: Start Wrapping
Take your piece to the ironing board again. Continue to wrap the fabric around to the back side of the webbing. Pull the fabric tight around the edge of the webbing, and iron the seam flat with the webbing up.
Step 8: Finish the Wrap
Pull the hemmed edge of the fabric around to completely surround the webbing. The edges of the fabric should overlap slightly, and should just cover the end of the webbing so none is sticking out. If webbing is sticking out the end, trim it with scissors.
Step 9: Sew the Wrap Closed
Put the piece in the machine, with the open side on the left and leaving the needle in the position you made the previous seam with. Pull the fabric tight around the webbing, and stitch. Again, use your hand to pull the fabric into place as you sew.
Before you finish the stitch, check to see if any webbing will stick out from the end, and trim it down if so.
Step 10: Make It Pretty
Turn your strap around, and make a stitch along the opposite side to give it a balanced look. You can also add more stitches or decorative stitches.
Attach the strap to hardware - such as buckles and rings, or stitch it to your bag. You can use it wherever you would use webbing!
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