How to make and turn a simple purse strap

Posted by Linda Matthews on January 21, 2011

As you know, I simply love handbags, purses and totes. A girl can never have too many! And if you haven’t done already, make sure you check out my Pinterest page for links to hundreds of free purse patterns and tutorials from around the web.!

And as you all know I also love designing and making them! But for many of us (me too sometimes) one of the most common aspects of making your own handbag, purse or tote, can also be one of the most frustrating; the simple act of turning a purse strap or fabric tube inside out.

You could use a special tool such as a tube turner. These types of tools can be expensive and if you’re anything like me, you can never find them when you need them.

I’m all for taking the easy way out, so this is how I do it. I use this … a simple piece of strong cord or cotton yarn.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

I have various thicknesses depending on how wide my fabric tube is, and I keep them rolled up in little balls in my sewing accessory tray so they are always handy when I need them and they don’t take up much room.

And this method is SO easy. Cut the fabric strip (or strips if you are piecing them together) for your strap and cut a piece of cord slightly longer than the finished length of your strap. I like a 1″ wide strap width so you would cut your fabric strips at 2.1/2″ which includes a 1/4″ seam. I also like to interface my straps with a medium weight iron-on interfacing.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

With the right side of the fabric facing up, baste stitch one end of the cord about a quarter of the way in along the short edge of the fabric strap.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Fold the right sides of the fabric strap together making sure the cording is tucked close up against the fold so it doesn’t get caught in the stitching, and sew the seam.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

When you’re done sewing the seam, the cording should be basted securely to one end of the strap and extend out the other end of the tube.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Holding the end of the strap where the cord is attached, gently pull the cord from the other end. The strap should bunch up.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Once it’s bunched up a bit, carefully pull the cording so that the other end begins to pull through the inside of the tubing, and it should now be quite easy to pull it completely through so the right side is facing out.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Once pulled through, remove the basting stitches so the cording falls away.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

At this point you can press and topstitch your purse strap.

Tip I find that it’s often difficult to add a really nice topstitch to your purse strap if you try to position the seam along the edge of the strap, so I like to position my seam along the center of the strap. Simply finger press the seam into position and press in place with an iron.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Once the seam is pressed in place, you can easily top stitch along the edges for a nice finish without having to deal with the bulk of the seam.

Tip For a really easy way to get a perfectly straight topstitched edging, use your stitch-in-the-ditch foot and nudge your needle over to the left a little. The center guide of the foot is perfect for positioning the edge of the strap and ensuring that your topstitching is straight and even. For topstitching, use a long stitch length. I like a 3mm length.

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

And what you end up with is … a simple and perfect purse strap !

How to sew and turn a fabric purse strap tube

Categories: Fabric and Thread, Tutorials, Tutorials: Fabric and Thread
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  1. Thanks for the tips. I find that after awhile the strap get mushed up. It doesn’t stay flat and tidy with use. What do you do about that? Someone suggested that I put a layer of batting in the center of the strap and not turn it inside out. They said they sew the seam down the center back enclosing the batting with in. I’d be glad to hear what you do in this case. I don’t want the strap to be too thick though.
    Nice chatting with you.

    • Cindy you could try batting but I find that gets mushy too after a while, although a combination of interfacing and batting could work, but for a crisp, firm strap I use a double layer of heavyweight interfacing; something like craft fuse; this works fine for me.

  2. Great tutorial. I have those tube turners and always end up more frustrated with them …. not worth the effort. Never thought of using cording. Thanks for the great ideas and tips.

    • Yes, those tube turners are forever getting lost; still not sure where mine are.

  3. Great tutorial. I usually use this method when I am using decorator fabric. I find that the turning tools do not work with thicker fabrics.

  4. SUPER! :)


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