I love the look of ready-made leather/pleather piped bag handles, but I've never seen a tutorial on how to make a professional-looking version. So I figured it out for myself. I wanted to make piped handles from PU, I wanted them to have neat stitching, have a slightly padded feel and to have hook ends. I'm really pleased with the result! I'm going to show you how to make your own pro-looking PU piped bag handles. You can choose the colour, the length and whether the handles have a hook, ring or plain ends.
In order to make pleather piped bag handles, your machine will need to comfortably stitch through 4 layers. I stock many colours of home sewing machine friendly Pleather Fabric which can be used to make these beautiful handles (I ship worldwide).
If you'd be interested in a piped bag handle making kit (that contains all you need except the PU fabric), please let me know whether you'd prefer a hook or ring version. If there is enough demand, I'll make them up. Thanks x
Instruction photos are shown below the instruction. I hope you enjoy the tutorial. X
What you will need:
- Flexi-tube (purchase according to length and number of handles desired)
- *0.5m (18") Pleather PU fabric. Find many of colours of PU here.
- *0.5m (18") Vilene Heavy Sew-in Interlining
- 2 - 2.5cm (3/4 - 1/2") wide metal hooks/rings as preferred. Use 2 per handle.
- 0.8 - 1cm wide x 0.5cm tall Chicago rivets or 8mm wide x 6mm tall cap rivets. Use 2 per handle.
- A fresh Universal or leather needle - 80 or 90
- Hole punch
- Sewing clips
- Pointed Awl
- Quality branded all-purpose nylon thread
* Amounts are enough to make several pairs.
These piped handles are made from PU fabric. The PU is stitched into a tube which is then stuffed with plastic tubing (the tubing is first wrapped with sew-in interlining). The PU handle ends are bent over hooks/rings and then the ends are screwed/riveted down. In the tutorial, I will describe a formula to make a handle to any length you want. Or you can follow my instructions for a 76cm (30") long shoulder handle with hooks (note: I can only guarantee these instructions will work if you use all of the same materials that I have (because other fabrics, tubing etc may be thicker).
To make one 76cm (30") long shoulder handle you will need:
- 74cm x 7.5cm (29 1/8" x 3") PU fabric
- 68cm (26 3/4") Flexi-tube
- 73cm x 6cm (28 3/4" x 2 3/8") Heavy sew-in interlining
- 2 x 2.5cm (1") wide swivel hooks
- 2 x 0.8 - 1cm wide x 0.5cm tall Chicago rivets or 8mm wide x 6mm tall cap rivets
After cutting out as per instructions above, hop straight to step 5, skip step 9 and skip the first part of step 10):
1. Decide how long you want your finished handle to be. When deciding on your desired length, remember to take into account the length of your hooks/rings or if you are having plain ends. This tutorial will only concern itself with the PU handle length, not the finished handle length including hooks/rings (because they are your choice). I hope that makes sense! (For the 76cm (30") long handle I have taken the hook length into account).
2. Cut your PU to the right length. Don't worry about the PU width, we'll come to that later. To calculate the PU fabric width you need to take your desired handle length (minus the hooks/ring etc.) and add on 6cm (2 3/8"). If you are having plain handle ends you need to add 9cm (3 1/2") to your desired length measurement. Either way, note the PU length down on paper.
3. Cut the Flexi-tube to the right length. For a hook/ring end handle, you need to cut the flexi-tube 10cm (4") shorter the length of your PU fabric. For plain end handle you need to cut the flex-tube 13cm 5 1/8") shorter.
4. Make an interlining sleeve for the tube. This will give our handle a nice cushioned feel and it will make the tube easier to insert into the PU handle. Cut a piece of Heavy sew-in Interlining 6cm (2 3/8") x flexi-tube length plus 5cm (2 1/2"). Take this piece of interlining and wrap it around the flexi-tube ensuring the interlining long edges match, as shown below.
5. Mark where the interlining fully encircles the tubing. Use a pen to mark where the interlining comes full circle around the flex-tube. This mark will be your stitch line (we are actually going to add on some ease, by stitching just to the right of this mark).
6.Remove the tube and stitch the interlining into a tube. Stitch one of the short edges shut and stitch along the interlining long edge. Notice how I have stitched just to the right of my mark (by about 2mm (1/16") this provides ease. You need to do this to ensure the interlining tube is not too tight a fit. Stitch all along the long edge (with stitch the open end shut, later.
7. Trim the interlining seam close to the stitching.
8. Insert the Flexi-tube into the interlining tube. When the Flex-tube is fully inserted into the interlining tube, stretch the interlining tube down over the flexi-tube free-end (there will be a fair amount of stretch, so be firm as we want a nice snug fit). Stitch the interlining tube open-end shut and trim the seam.
9. Measure the tubing width and finish cutting your PU fabric. Ensure one of the PU long edges is cut perfectly straight and wrap the PU around the covered Flexi-tube and, as in step 5 mark where the PU forms a circle around the covered flex-tube. If you look below at my handle you will see that the PU wrapped edge (underneath my thumbnail) is 3mm (1/8") beyond the wrapped flexi-tube long edge. Aim for the same and make the mark where the PU edge falls onto the wrong side PU. You can see in my pic this point is 3.5cm (1 7/8") in from the long edge (see pic below).
10. With the PU length cut, now is the time to cut the width. Referring to mark we made in the previous step (mine is 3.5cm in from the right-hand side). To get our PU width measurement we need to double this measurement and add 0.5cm. Referring to my handle, 2 x 3.5cm + 0.5cm = 7.5cm. So, I need to cut my PU strip 7.5cm (3") wide. Cut the PU strip to size and draw the long edge centre line on the PU wrong side.
11. Fold both PU long edges to the wrong side centre line. If you like, you can keep the folds in place using wash away quilters tape along the PU wrong side long edges. I was happy to just hold the folds in place with my fingers. When you have folded the long edges into the centre, use a seam roller to flatten the folds. Fold the whole thing in half long edges together as shown below. Use sewing clips to keep the folds in place. As you fold everything in half, ensure the original folds do not come undone (this is important for appearance and maintaining a snug fit for the tube).
12. Stitch the PU long edge shut. Leaving long thread tails at both ends of your stitches, start and end your stitches 5cm (2.5") from the start and end of the PU strap. If you hare having plain ends, begin and end your stitches 6.5cm 2 9/16") from the start and end of the strap. Stitch with a 3.5 length, stitch 3mm (1/8") from the edge and do not stitch any securing stitches. I find a seam guide makes this so much easier.
13. At the stitching ends, use an awl to pull the sewing thread to the handle wrong side (both sides look the same so choose a wrong side now). Carefully tie the thread ends into a secure triple/quadruple knot and trim the threads. You have just stitched a double-layer PU tube/sleeve for the covered flexi-tube. Nice! :)
14. Insert the covered flexi-tube into the PU sleeve. This will take a little cajoling and coaxing, it's meant to be a snug fit, so this should come as no surprise. Match the flex-tube seam to the PU sleeve seam. Be patient and push the tube and or jiggle as needs be, the flexi-tube will go through. Keep going until the tube head-end reaches the start of your handle stitches. You need to ensure both flexi-tube ends do not extend beyond the stitching on the PU handle. Try to get it so that the flexi-tube ends fall a bit short of the PU handle stitching (in other words the flexi-tube should be tad shorter than the PU stitching as this will make the next few steps easier). If you find the flexi-tube will not go through the PU tube, try removing the flexi-tube and threading a long piece of embroidery thread into the plastic tube (poke a hole in the plastic with a fat and sharp needle). Then use a bodkin to pull the thread though the PU tube. This trick works a charm!
15. Take one of the PU handle free ends and fold the PU fabric as shown below. If you are having hook/ring ends read on. If you are having plain ends skip to step 23. Realign the folds to the centre and then...
Fold the whole strap end into thirds (ensuring everything is nice and central). Notice how there is hole forming below the folds? We need that hole to eventually tuck the strap end into. So, you need to fold the end into thirds and at the same create the tuck-in hole (sounds kinda funny!). This will take a bit of folding and adjusting. Take your time...
16. This is how the handle should look at the head-end. The end is folded tightly into thirds and you can clearly see the hole into which the strap end will later be tucked into (there is too much flexi-tube visible for my liking. I will push the flexi-tube further into the handle, later on).
17. Slip the hook/ring onto the strap end.
18. Now fold the end over the hook/ring and tuck the end into the hole below the hook/ring. Push the strap end into the hole as far as it will go. We are aiming for the raw strap end to be completely concealed inside the hole. If it helps, you can further push the flexi-tube up inside into the handle to give you more room in which to conceal that unsightly handle end. You can use your awl to firmly push the strap end as high up into the hole as possible.
19. Holding everything tightly in place with your fingers (for dear life!) Turn the handle over and make a rivet hole mark. Make the mark in the right centre, 1cm (3/8") up from the handle end bottom edge. Then use an awl to make a starter hole for the hole punch. Push the awl to make the hole through all layers.
20. Use a hole punch to make the screw/rivet hole through all layers. I'm using my Prym Vario punch. l love it!
21. Whilst you get yourself ready to use the rivet/Chicago screw, use the awl to keep the punch hole layers aligned.
22. Hammer/press or screw your rivet in place. In the pic below I am using a Chicago Screw (I prefer them to rivets). To make it easier for me to insert the female half of the screw I am pushing on one layer of the handle end at a time. Repeat steps for the other end of the handle. Ta dah! One very posh looking piped handle! Very swish!
23. Or if you are having plain ends, read on. Take one of the handle head end and fold the layers into thirds as shown (please ignore the punch holes, pretend they're not there!). As you fold the layers into thirds, tilt the outer corners down so you are forming a slight diamond shaped head at the handle end.
24. Fold the raw end to the handle wrong side by 2cm (3/4") (or more if you prefer). Stitch the handle end to your bag in a rectangle formation (or whichever shape your prefer) for strength.