Beginner Sewing: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Bags & Totes

A couple key ingredients + some basic know-how is all you need.

Adjustable straps are pretty easy to make, and oh-so-handy to have. Think about that clutch that would be easier to carry as a cross-body bag. There are many occasions when it’s nice to have a hands-free option, right? Dritz belting and hardware are the two key ingredients that you need to make a strap that is both adjustable and removable. The bonus is, you have lots of options when it comes to colors, widths, finishes and hardware styles. Check it out!

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More


Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Let’s talk about the strap hardware. To make an adjustable strap with the greatest flexibility, you will want to make it with swivel hook hardware on either end. This is because the function of a swivel hook – its swiveling capability and its ability to open and close – makes it able to attach to any other kind of hardware. For example, you can open the swivel hook and attach it to any shape of non-opening ring, or fabric tab/loop, that is on your bag. The adjustable slide buckle lets you adjust the length of the strap as desired.

The adjustable strap shown calls for 2 swivel hooks and 1 adjustable slide buckle. You will want to make sure that the opening of the hardware accommodates the width of the strap. In this sewing tutorial we are using 1-1/2″ belting and the 1-1/2″ hardware noted.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Take a look at the Dritz 1-1/2″ belting. This belting/strapping is made out of 100% polyester, and is super soft to the touch. It includes solid colors and stripes. To make a standard size adjustable strap you will need about 4 yards of belting/strapping. 

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

In addition to the hardware and belting, you will also need a tape measure, Dritz Fray Check® liquid seam sealant and your sewing machine.

Begin by cutting the belting/strapping to longest length desired plus 6”.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Seal ends with Fray Check or by melting with open flame.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Weave one end over center bar and under outside edges of slide adjuster. Extend end about 1” past edge of slide adjuster.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Fold end back under slide adjuster and line up with strapping edges.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Stitch a narrow rectangle to secure raw end. (Note that we used a contrasting thread for tutorial purposes – you would likely opt for a same-color thread.)

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

With stitched raw end up, rotate slide adjuster to the raw end side.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Insert other end of strapping through 1st swivel hook.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Weave end back through slide adjuster just as before. Stitched raw end will be between the layers of the strapping.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Insert end through 2nd swivel hook and extend about 1”.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Fold end back and stitch with narrow rectangle to secure. Be sure end is folded back to the underside of the strapping. Pull strapping through slide adjuster to lengthen and shorten strap.

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

You’re done! You now have an adjustable, removable strap that can be used on all kinds of bags and totes. Remember, with the swivel hook hardware you have many options for attaching your strap – just open the hook and attach to other hardware rings, loops, or tabs.

In the 1-1/2″ hardware range, these are the pieces that are available:

Beginner Sewing Tutorial: How to Make an Adjustable Strap for Totes & More

Based on what you are attaching your strap to, you may opt for a non-opening, ring-type piece of bag hardware for the ending of your strap (if, for example, you are attaching the strap to a swivel hook that is attached to your bag or tote). Bottom line: one of the pieces of hardware has to have an opening-closing mechanism in order to attach to the other piece of non-opening hardware. 

The Dritz hardware shown from left to right above:

Dritz belting options (remember to match up width of belting + size of hardware opening):

Excited? We hope so. Check out these additional resources and get making!

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