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How to Make Purse Handles With Piping

Updated April 17, 2017

Purses and handbags are more than a way for women to carry their personal belongings; they are fashion statements. Women often accessorise with a purse or handbag that matches an outfit or a particular event theme. Customise your own purse or handbag with handles made of rubber tubing or cloth piping.

Remove the straps from the premade purse. Use a seam ripper to remove the threads holding the straps in place. Once the threads are removed, the straps or handles will easily come off the purse.

Measure and cut two lengths of clear rubber tubing. Handles and straps vary in length; for instance, cut handles 14 inches in length for a hobo-style purse or 24 inches in length for a shoulder bag. Clear rubber tubing is available at aquarium, hardware and craft stores.

Cut two lengths of yarn, ribbon or fabric strips 2 inches longer than the rubber tubing. For instance, if the purse handles are to be 14 inches in length, cut the yarn, ribbon or fabric strips 16 inches in length.

Wind masking tape tightly around the end of the yarn, ribbon or fabric strip so that the edge is stiff and straight.

Cut a length of thread 6 inches longer than the clear rubber tubing. For instance, if the purse handles are 14 inches in length, cut the thread 20 inches in length.

Thread 3 inches through the eye of the needle, then make a large knot at the tip of the long end of the thread.

Pierce the needle through the taped end of the yarn, ribbon or fabric strip, pulling it through so that the knot of the thread stops at the taped end of the yarn, ribbon or fabric strip. Loop it once and re-pierce through the same spot, pull the thread through again and pull it tight.

Hold the clear rubber tubing vertically so that both ends are open. Drop the needle through the top end of the tubing followed by the thread; the needle will come out the bottom end of the tubing.

Grab the needle from the bottom end of the tubing and gently pull the thread through, followed by the yarn, ribbon or fabric strip until there is an equal amount of yarn, ribbon or fabric strip hanging from both ends of the rubber tubing.

Squeeze closed one end of the clear rubber tubing and using the scissors, cut a 1/2-inch split into each of the folded edges, then repeat on the opposite end of the plastic tubing. The splits will make the rubber tubing less bulky and easier to attach.

Pin each end of each handle to opposite ends of each side of the opening of the purse with an arc in between them. The handles should be evenly spaced so when the purse is closed, both are exactly in the same position on each side of the purse. If you are replacing straps or handles, use the openings in the purse that held the old straps to place the new ones.

Sew the handles or straps on either with a needle and thread by hand, or with a sewing machine. If a sewing machine is used, the tension will need adjustment to accommodate for the thickness of the clear rubber tubing.

Measure and cut two lengths of premade cloth piping. For instance, if a hobo style bag is being made, cut 14 inches in length; for a shoulder bag, 24 inches.

Pin each end of each handle to opposite ends of each side of the opening of the purse with an arc in between them. The handles should be evenly spaced so when the purse is closed, both are exactly in the same position on each side of the purse. If you are replacing straps or handles, use the openings in the purse that held the old straps to place the new ones.

Sew the straps or handles on either with a needle and thread by hand, or with a sewing machine. If a sewing machine is used, the tension will need adjustment to accommodate for the thickness of the cloth piping.

Cut two lengths of fabric piping filler the desired length of the purse handles. For instance,14 inches for a hobo style purse or 24 inches for a shoulder bag. Piping filler comes in many sizes; a common size for purse handles is 1 inch in circumference.

Cut two lengths of fabric; make sure it is wide enough to cover the circumference of the piping filler you are using, adding 2 inches to allow for folding and sewing. For instance, if the circumference of the piping filler is 1 inch, the cut fabric should be 3 inches wide by 14 inches in length.

Lay the fabric out with the wrong side up. Using an iron, fold over 1/2 inch on both edges of the wide side of the fabric and iron them flat. This makes it easier to pin the fabric around the piping filler for sewing.

Place the piping filler onto the fabric, then roll the fabric over the cording so that both flatly ironed folds meet each other evenly on one side.

Pin the two folded edges together around the cording, 1/2-inch apart all the way down the length of the cording handle horizontally to the cord and the folds.

Sew the edges of the fabric together as close as possible to the piping filler, removing the pins as you go.

Pin each end of each handle to opposite ends of each side of the opening of the purse with an arc in between them. The handles should be evenly spaced so when the purse is closed, both are exactly in the same position on each side of the purse. If you are replacing straps or handles, use the openings in the purse that held the old straps to place the new ones.

Sew the handles or straps on either with a needle and thread by hand, or with a sewing machine. If a sewing machine is used, the tension will need adjustment to accommodate for the thickness of the cloth piping.

Tip

For best results with clear plastic tubing, it is best to hand sew the handles onto the bag. This saves the possibility if needle breakage with a sewing machine.

Warning

Be sure to adjust the pedal foot to accommodate the thickness when using a sewing machine to sew on the handles.

Things You'll Need

  • Premade purse
  • Seam ripper
  • Measuring tape
  • Clear rubber tubing
  • Scissors
  • Yarn, ribbon or fabric strips
  • Masking tape
  • Large darning needle
  • Thread
  • Premade cloth piping
  • Piping filler
  • Steam iron
  • Straight pins
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About the Author

Annmarie Keller has been a writer for more than 20 years. She has published her work in "Redbook," "Parenting," "Sunset" and "Good Housekeeping." Keller earned a bachelor's degree in English from California State University, Hayward.