Monday, January 21, 2013

Make A Bag Chapter 3C: Integrated Straps

So! Integrated straps today. That's fancy for "when the bag forms its own straps out of itself". Built-in handles, in other words. But built-in handles of the fabric itself; not wood, metal, tortoiseshell or any other exotic add-on. We'll only be doing three variations of integrated straps today but I sketched some others for your analytical pleasure:

Integrated straps can substantially change the shape of a bag pattern so that, if unfamiliar with the basic shapes and categories of bags, you might be tricked into thinking you were looking at a new species altogether. Be ye not deceived, friends - it couldn't be farther from the truth. Bags with integrated straps are the same old standard bags, except with horns that join together to make carrying loops. Here are those same seven bags, but with their structures analyzed:

Bags with integrated straps are conceptually easy to cut out and sew up. Sometimes they are cut out as a single piece that already looks exactly like the finished product. In such cases, the strap is really a handle made by cutting  out a peekaboo window.

Sometimes a little assembly is required.

If the bag is unlined, finishing it could be as straightforward as simply binding the edges with bias tape. It only gets tricky when you add a lining. If you've ever tried to sew a rouleau loop inside out (think fabric donut) to conceal the raw seam allowances, you'll inevitably find that you've created one of those cursed infinite Mobius strip things. There are a few ways to get around this.

1   WS Together
One way is to nest the lining and outer bag with their WS touching and sew all around the bag opening and handle hole to keep the two layers together.

The exposed SAs are then bound with bias tape. 

2   RS Together
A second way is to sew the lining and outer bag together, RS touching, without first connecting the strap ends. These are then connected and the two bag layers edge-stitched together. Here, I'll show you in pictures. 

These are the pieces that will form the strap portion of a bucket bag. The red arrows show how the straps will join to form a small handle loop. The blue arrows show how the straps will connect to an extension strip to form a longer handle loop. These pieces are mirrored in the polka dot lining fabric. 

The lining is assembled, leaving a hole in a seam for turning the entire bag RS later. The strap ends are left disconnected. The same process is repeated for the outer bag, minus the hole in the seam.

The two bags are nested one in the other, RS together, and stitched together along the edges of their straps. The entire bag is then turned RS out through the hole in the lining. The ends of the straps are left disconnected, as shown.

In addition, the stitching stops a few inches from the actual ends of the straps (blue arrows), to allow for some fabric contortion later.

The ends of the straps are then connected, layer by layer. First, the lining,

then the outer bag (or vice versa). The straps are then edge-stitched around their entire perimeter, closing those side openings in the process. 

The completed straps, fully lined:

3   Disconnected Straps
A third way is to choose to close the ends of the straps, leaving them disconnected but finished. They can be easily sewn inside out and turned right side out - the Mobius strip thing will not happen to them. Their closed ends are then connected by buttons, snaps, velcro, buckles, slide rings or simply tied together in a decorative knot:

Find the other straps here:
Chapter 3A: Open-ended straps
Chapter 3B: Closed-ended straps
Chapter 3D: Drawstrings


  1. Ah, that mobius things has confounded me so many times - I once lost a whole dress inside a cowl collar. Thanks for this series!

  2. My first bag with integrated straps was a torment! I am loving your tutorials!

  3. Great! I like your school! Thank you!!!

  4. Gracias, muchaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas gracias

  5. You are great! Thanks for teaching and sharing!

  6. Great,simple and did I say great tute! Thank you.

  7. Thank u for all this information.


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