Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How to make detachable straps for your handmade bags

This has got to be the one of the top 5 questions I get asked a lot : How do you make a detachable strap? Is it difficult to make? But it looks ever so complicated! The thing is, everything is easy if and when you know how. Making straps was one of the first few things I learnt when I started making bags myself, because nothing compliments your project like a perfectly co-ordinated handmade strap. 

Detachable straps can really elevate handmade bags into a more 'professionally made' and ironically, make it look like commercially produced bags. They just give it that certain je ne sais quoi. Besides, I have a thing for metal hardwares on handmade bags. To me, they add to the characteristic and the ability to draw people's eyes on different elements of your handmade bags. 

Why detachable straps? Detachable straps are mostly found in bags, usually bigger bags, that have the options of carry handles as well as straps for slinging across the body. For a mother with two children like me, I need my hands to constantly be free, ready to catch my two children who tend to run in two separate ways! So bags with shoulder straps are vital on days out. Some smaller bags that could be converted into elegant carry pouches also benefit from detachable straps - to give you that instant Kate Middleton look. 

Either way, detachable straps are handy and making them couldn't be simpler. In this picture tutorial, I will try my best to explain in great detail how I personally make these straps. All crafters make them in their own ways and this is my go-to version. So keep reading if you want to learn how to make them. 

1. You will need these items handy to make your detachable straps. Clockwise from top - foldback paper clips (lots!), a teflon foot (if you are working with oilcloth), a three bar slider and two swivel spring snap hooks. Now you need to make sure your three bar slider and your swivel spring snap hooks are the same size, otherwise you won't have a lovely finish.

2. Cut your material according to the finished size that you want BUT with a little bit of formula in mind.  I need a strap that is 1.5 inches wide. To get this finish, I need to multiple the width by 4, minus 5 millimetres. For example, to get a 1.5 inch wide strap, I work out 1.5 inches x 4 = 6 inches. From this, take 5 millimetres so you'll get 5.8 inches. This formula works with all width of straps you are planning to make. The reason for this being, although the measurement of your metal hardware might indicate, say 1.5 inches, the strap will be far too snug to fit in those gaps if you make them a perfect 1.5 inches wide. You need a little bit of room for the strap to 'move around' so when you adjust the length of your strap, it won't feel like it'si mission impossible. 

3. So this is my strap to fit into my 1.5 inches metal hardware. I usually cut along the width of my fabric roll because I found that they always produce perfect length. Fabric rolls usually come in 52 inches - 53 inches wide.

4. The fold you material in half lengthways, wrong sides together. This is to find the middle point of the strap.

5. Once you've found the middle position, open it up and fold outside edge to centre line and hold with foldback paper clips like so.

6. The fold the entire strap together, and again, hold with foldback paper clips.

7. Set your machine stitch to 4mm wide stitch.

8. And stitch with a 5 millimetres seam allowance. Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and at the end.

9. Repeat on the other side. Again, don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and at the end.

10. Next step is to push one end of the strap into the middle loop of the three bar slider and hold the ends with the foldback clips. 

11. And sew a rectangle with an X in the middle for extra hold. I always mark mine with air erasable pen because I get nervous about sewing free hand.

12. Next, thread one of the swivel spring snap hooks from the other end of the strap.

13. And then push the end of the strap into the three bar slider like so.

14. Finally, attach the other swivel snap hook at the end of the strap and again, sew a rectangle with an X in the middle to secure your metal hardware.

15. That's it, you're all done! Not that difficult really, isn't it. Once you know how. If you notice, I didn't fold the end of my raw edge because the ends of oilcloth don't fray. But if you are using cotton, it is a good idea to fold you raw edge in to stop it from fraying in the future.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Feel free to share your finished straps with me on Instagram and Facebook if you are making them for your projects. Good luck lovelies!

Fely xxx

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