If you make your own tote bags and purses, making your own bag handles opens up many more design possibilities than using prefabricated handles. Custom-made handles can match the fabric used to make the bag exactly, and be the precise width and length you need. Custom handles can also be replaced easily, making it simple to change a purse to a tote by just changing the handles. Making your own bag handles is also more economical than purchasing them.
Determine the length and width you would like the handles to be. Add one-half inch to both your determined width and length measurements to add your seam allowances. Cut four pieces out to this measurement. For instance, if you would like the handles to be twenty inches long and two inches wide, you will cut the handles to a width of two and a half inches and a length of twenty and a half inches. If the fabric is not large enough to cut a piece as large as your handle, divide the length in two, add one inch to this measurement, and cut eight pieces of this length. For instance, for handles that will be twenty inches by two inches, cut eight pieces, each eleven inches by two and a half inches.
Cut the batting to match the handle length and width, including the half-inch seam allowances.
If you are making the handles from eight pieces, sew the short ends of two handle pieces together to make a full-length piece. Repeat to make four handle pieces. If you are making the handles from four pieces, skip Step 3 and proceed to Step 4.
Place two handle pieces right sides together, and place a piece of batting on top of the two layered fabric pieces. Sew up the two long sides of the handles. Turn the handles right side out.
Press the handles and topstitch one-quarter of an inch from the edge on both long sides. Attach to bag as desired, folding under the raw short edges, or enclosing them inside the bag's underside.
Things you need
- 1/2 yard of fabric in same fabric as bag, or coordinating fabric
- Piece of quilt batting the same length as the desired length of the handles, and twice the width
- Thread to match fabric
- Sewing machine
- Quilting ruler
- Rotary cutter and mat