In the previous post, we discussed open-ended straps and how they attached to bags. Today's post is all about closed-ended straps.
Closed or finished straps have ends that are completely sewn up so there are no exposed raw edges. These finished ends do not have to be inserted into seams; they can be attached to bags in other ways.
We will deconstruct four kinds of closed straps -
- The Simple Free Strap
- The Adjustable Slide-and-Buckle Strap
- The Corded Rouleau Strap
- The Truly Reversible Integrated Loop Strap.
Shudder. Do you hate those silly names? Me, too, but I couldn't think of how else to describe them. Sorry.
1 The Simple Free Strap
This strap is literally free-standing. It can be sewn permanently onto the fabric of a bag or remain detachable, fastened temporarily onto a bag by buttons, snaps, ties, buckles or any other device you like.
Here is a method for making a closed strap with rounded ends. This strap is made with two fabrics, so that it is reversible. One one side of the strap you can see the white interfacing, which is of the finished size and shape, surrounded by a grey border, which is the seam allowance (SA). The other side of the strap is made with the brown printed fabric. The four pieces at the bottom of the picture will become a pair of anchors for this detachable strap.
Both strap pieces are placed with their RS together and stitched around the perimeter of the interfacing, leaving most of one long side unsewn. The SA of the ends are notched/pinked to reduce bulk
and the entire strap turned RS out through that huge opening. The SAs of the opening are pressed inwards and the entire strap is edge-stitched all around, closing the opening in the process.
Here are some other similar straps showing this edgestitching.
This particular strap was paired with anchor pieces which were inserted into the top seam of the bag. The strap itself was buttoned on to the anchors
but it can also be buttoned directly on to the fabric of the bag.
2 The Adjustable Slide-and-Buckle Strap
This strap is closed on only one end - the other, open end is inserted into the top seam of the bag. You will see this in later photos.
Start with one short strap - this will be the anchor, and it goes with the single loop. Sew this up like a typical open-ended strap. The longer main strap goes with the sliding loop that has the middle bar. This is the one we will be working on in the next few photos.
Sew the two pieces of the main strap, RS together
as shown by the red stitching line. Leave one end open (this will be inserted into the top seam of the bag later) and most of one long side unsewn (blue arrow) all the way to the open end. Sew the other end closed and clip the corners of its SA to reduce bulk.
Turn the entire strap out through this big opening and edge-stitch all around, closing this opening in the process. Note: because this strap has one open end, you could choose not to leave the big opening and instead turn the entire strap RS out through the small open end. I personally wouldn't, because it would mean crumpling the interfacing, not to mention a lot of tugging and chopstick-work (or pliers).
The finished closed end:
Slide the closed end over the middle bar of the sliding buckle and stitch it down. Below are two photos showing the same thing done with an open-ended and a closed-ended strap, just to prove a point.
The photo on the left is of an open-ended strap. Notice that its unfinished end requires it to be folded inwards to tuck the raw edge away. This introduces bulk, which could mean your needle works that much harder not to skip stitches when going through the layers. This might be a moot point if you are using thin fabric with no interfacing but my straps are always thick and stiff, so I'm always conscious of ways to reduce bulk.The photo on the right is of a closed-ended strap doing the same thing. Because its end is closed, it does not require an extra inward fold. Less bulk = easier to sew, and neater.
And here is that strap-and-buckle system attached to a bag -
Left photo: the open end of the main strap is inserted into the top seam on one side.
(Right photo: the anchor is inserted into the top seam on the other side, with the closed end of the main strap connected to the anchor through the single loop and sewn around the middle bar of the sliding loop.
As mentioned in the previous post, being inserted into this top seam allows the strap system to be fully reversible along with the bag. If, however, this reversibility is not important, you can also attach the strap anchors to the outside of the bag, as in the photo below.
3 The Corded Rouleau Strap
This is just a strap enclosing a cord for structure.
You can easily find tutorials online for making these with various configurations of open ends and closed ends and numerous clever ways to turn the strap inside out with the cord magically enclosed. Just for fun, let's make a partially-corded strap with two closed ends.
We haven't done a folded closed strap yet, so let's do that here as well. Cut a double-width strip of fabric for the main strap. Many people will cut this strip on the bias, since it's going to curve around the cord in its role as a bag strap. I chose not to, for two reasons: one, I was being stingy with my fabric, and two, I liked the polka dot print in this grain alignment. And honestly, with this fabric, it didn't make a significant difference.
Also make two anchors - mine were finger-shaped. I also left them open at one end because the fabric was thin enough for its SA to be tucked under later without introducing too much bulk.
The main strap was folded along its midline, RS together, and sewn as shown. Two openings were left - these were roughly where the ends of the cord would lie.
I thought I'd share one way of turning skinny straps inside out (apart from Slow Death By Chopstick or Tugging With Pliers, my other two unfavorite methods).
Left photo: Sew a knot in the seam allowance near one end of the strap. I sewed my knot at some random point just because it was nearer the opening. You can also sew it right at the end and poke it through the fabric.
Right photo: Insert the back of the needle through the opening and push it all the way along the strap
till it emerges at the other opening. The entire tube will bunch up, especially as you begin pulling the rest of the trailing thread out behind the needle. Invert the end of the strap with the knot through the strap and slowly pull the thread till the end turns right side out through the strap, following the thread.
When the strap is completely RS out, thread the cord through it with a safety pin. The two openings allow you to easily adjust the position of the cord so it lies centrally between the two ends of the strap.
Edge-stitch the ends of the strap, to close the openings as well as to secure the ends of the cord in place.
Finished corded strap! This one is closed at both ends (i.e. it's a free strap).
Earlier, we attached a closed strap to a bag with buttons. Here is another way - permanently sew on the anchors to the bag
and then tie the straps on. Not really a LiEr kinda style- I suspect it endears more to the ruffles-gathers-florals personalities - but still pretty. See - I just wanted to show you that I don't only make bags that I like. Sometimes I have to make bags other people like. Groan. It's so hard to be selfless.
4 The Truly Reversible Integrated Loop Strap
Hardware is very cool in bags. Some people think that hardware makes bags look less homemade and more store-bought. That may be true IF they are properly installed. Last Spring, I made these reversible watch straps for Mum with a channel for hardware, for attaching to the lugs of her watches.
This method can be used for bag straps as well, when they need to go around loops AND need to be reversible.
First, let me show you an anti-example: these lovely blue straps that now belong to my sweet mother-in-law:
Here are those straps in action with their bag. Such a beautiful bag, yes. But do you see it? Do you? Are you shielding your eyes from the horror of the way the ends of those straps fold over the metal loops?
In my (feeble) defence, I was choosing between piping and true reversibility when I made those straps. Yes, it is possible to have both i.e. I could have made this bag strap look just like my mother's reversible watch strap AND have piping but I convinced myself that because this blue bag wasn't meant to be reversible, the straps didn't have to be, either. Very poor logic - apparently it had completely slipped my mind that the important issue was good tailoring, not novel reversibility. I am very ashamed.
So to make atonement for all the ugly looped bag straps I have ever made, I am teaching you how to make The Truly Reversible Integrated Loop Strap. Without piping, of course - we don't want you to be distracted and make the same mistake as I.
Start out with two anchors, two loops and one main strap that is twice the length of the finished strap.
Press the SA towards the WS of the strap.
Mark on the WS, the midpoint (X) and the quarter points Y (when measuring the length of the strap, exclude the SA of the ends).
Fold in the SA around the quarter points and edge-stitch them down.
Here's a close-up. I'd sew about 1" to either side of the actual quarter mark.
Slide the two buckles onto the strap.
Push the buckles to the midpoint, fold the strap in half, RS together, line up the ends and sew the ends together.
You will now have a loop, or a double-layered strap, the length of which is the finished length.
Position the seam in the middle of the strap, above the midpoint X and slide one buckle to each folded end (Y). Tuck the SA in to the WS, sandwiching them between the two layers of fabric
and edge-stitch both layers together. You will be sewing over part of the earlier stitches near the metal loops.
When those straps flop over to expose their backsides - still perfection.
And if you'd used two fabrics so that one coordinates with the bag lining, this strap would be truly, perfectly reversible.
Here's a pictorial summary of our four straps, their anchors and their attachment/fastening device. Naturally, they're not in order, because I wasn't thinking when I took the photo.
A: The Simple Free Strap - button
B: The Adjustable Slide-&-Buckle Strap - buckle
C: The Corded Rouleau Strap - tie/knot
D: The Truly Reversible Integrated Loop Strap - buckle
Find the other straps here:
Chapter 3A: Open-ended straps
Chapter 3C: Integrated straps
Chapter 3D: Drawstrings