As you might have noticed from my patterns-I’m a big fan of faux fabulous leather a.k.a pleather or vinyl. I especially love adding vinyl straps to a primarily fabric bag like I did on the Jackie Satchel below:
You get the look of leather at a lower cost and for those animal lovers out there-cruelty free. Leather can also be intimidating for new sewists-it requires a different set of skills. If you’ve ever sewn anything in fabric-you’ll find sewing in vinyl is a no brainer.
There are a few special considerations when working with vinyl:
- You want to use a Teflon or walking foot on your sewing machine. Vinyl will stick to a traditional metal foot resulting in frustration and uneven or skipped stitches. Save yourself the headache and swap out your metal foot for a Teflon or walking foot.
- Adjust the tension on your sewing machine and use an extended stitch length. It gives that finished leather look as well as eliminating many friction/tension issues.
- Always do a few test stitches on scrap pieces first to make sure you have the right tension and an aesthetically pleasing stitch length. While your seam ripper is definitely your friend during most sewing projects-once you make a mistake on vinyl and have to rip out your stitches those holes are permanent. You also want to test on the same number of layers of vinyl that you’ll be sewing. If you were sewing two layers and you switch to three on a new section of your bag-test that your machine will handle it.
- Tie off your stitching rather than back stitching. I often get a bit of tangling on the underside of my pieces when back stitching on vinyl despite using a Teflon foot due to some amount of sticking. Tying off your stitches rather than backstitching will eliminate this issue.
With the above rules in mind, follow this quick tutorial for making your own vinyl straps.
1) Use your pattern piece or measure from your back, over the shoulder, to the front of your body to get your strap measurement. Then add 1 inch seam allowance. Use this measurement to cut two strap pieces of the desired width plus seam allowance. The strap pictured below is two inches wide which will result in a one inch wide strap. Then cut two 2x3-4 inch tab pieces. You'll also need two one inch wide O-rings and fabric clips.
2) Pull your two o-rings through one strap piece.