Making Bag Handles From Twisted Fabric Scraps

making bag handles

Making bag handles and using fabric scraps from your stash is the aim of this tutorial.  To set the scene, it is 3 am and as usual I am working late or is it early? –I really don't know anymore.  I realize that I do not have enough fabric for the bag I am making.  I could sew a few scraps together, but that would make it look “patch-worked.”  And I do not have the interfacing to stabilize it anyway.  I could use a thick chain, but unfortunately I don't have one of those either.  Can't use leather or canvas because yes, you guessed it, I don't have that either.

So I get the idea from the fabric covered beaded necklace that is hanging from the mannequin and the left over cord from the fringed bath mat.  These were both projects recently shared with you here on So Sew Easy.  I thought I would share with you what I was able to make with the left overs I actually did have.  For those of you that sell your bags, I hope you find it useful and a way to set your product apart from the rest.

making bag handles

I've chosen some pretty bright and contrasting colors simply because those were the scraps I had and because they would help illustrate the technique by contrasting the different pieces.  You can, of course, choose better matching fabrics for your own bag handles.

If you're someone that really likes bags, please have a look through this technique because we have a new, free bag pattern coming out tomorrow that will use it. Enjoy!

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  • 2 strips of fabric of 60″ in length by 1  1/2″ wide
  • 2 pieces of cotton cord 60″ in length by  3/8″ to 1/4″ thick.
  • 2 square of fabric  6″ x 6″
  • 2 square  6″x 6″of medium weight  fusible  interfacing
  • waxed cotton 1  1/2 yard approximately

Step One:  Sewing the strips

making bag handles

Here is the perfect opportunity to use your scraps.  The strips need to be 60″ in length by 2″ wide.  This length is enough to make a 22″ bag handle.  You can sew a few scraps together that complement your bag to reach the length required.  I am using 2 different fabrics from my scraps. There is no need for this to be on the bias.

Important Tip: For making bag handles

How wide your strip of fabric will depend on how wide your cord or rope is.   The width of your cord x 6

making bag handles

Sew the edges together at 3/8″.

making bag handles

With the help of a loop turner or a bobbin-pin turn inside out.↓




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42 Responses to Making Bag Handles From Twisted Fabric Scraps

  1. Marilyn Larkin says:

    what a practical and very attractive idea. I am making tote bags for xmas gifts and will definitely try to make some handles for them using this method.

  2. Arenka says:

    Instead of actual cording, could crocheting a length of heavy yarn be a suitable substitute? That would also be a way to reinforce the inside of a pick pocket handle as it would be very strong and able to be done with a variety of materials.

  3. sharonmelville says:

    Is there a PDF pattern for the Making Bag Handles from Twisted Fabric scraps

    • Penny Dudley says:

      if your computer/laptop is like mine I have a suggestion. Up in the right hand corner area, right below the X that you would use to close the page you will see three dots in a row vertically. If you click on those dots a drop down will appear. Click on print and change the printer destination to ‘Save as PDF’. You can then save the page as a pdf file where you would like. Hope this help. Have a save and blessed labor day.

    • Janice L Hildebrand says:

      Did you ever get an answer…I am having trouble with the sewing instruction to print?? Now I dont know whether the PDF for the pattern is even accurate?

      • So Sew Easy says:

        Hi Janice, there’s no PDF required for this one. You can do a simple pattern by hand as per the instructions on the second page of the tutorial. Have fun and happy sewing!

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, there’s no PDF required for this one. You can do a simple pattern by hand as per the instructions on the second page of the tutorial. Have fun and happy sewing!

  4. Sonnia says:

    That’s a very cool idea for a change from the flat handles that I am accustomed too. Thanks for sharing, will be trying it soon.

  5. Sharleen Newland says:

    There is a wonderful tool for turning tubes, it is called the Fasturn. You can add a cord and turn the tube at the same time!

  6. patricia cantwell. says:

    Thank you for the idea of the twisted handles. I’ve made many bags, but never
    thought of making such interesting handles. My Christmas presents will be
    special this year. Many thanks. Patricia

  7. Marti Morgan says:

    I have always had a problem with handles – this will be a great thing for my future bag making. Thank you, And I love the twisted look!

  8. Shirley Roeder says:

    Your timing is unreal! I was JUST looking for a tutorial on making twisted bag handles! Thank you Thank you Thank you !!!!

  9. Magpie says:

    Great idea! I love the cord wrapped end!

  10. Mea Cadwell says:

    I found a way to make these without the inner cording. Dampen natural fabric (scraps from an old cotton sheet is what I used). Twist the scraps tightly in one direction (clockwise for example) then twist those twists around each other the other direction, makeing sure to keep the original twists tight. Use a hair dryer to dry them and they stay in the twisted shape.

    I had wanted to use this actual tutuorial but didn’t have any available cording. I tried doing it dry but it didn’t keep it’s shape. It’s the wetting/heating that made it work.

    Then I used it on a tote bag that I gave to a friend.

    Thank you for all the tutorials you have for us. They are very much appreciated!

  11. Donna Hawley says:

    thank you so very much for everything you give to your fans

  12. Marlene Walker says:


    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Nope girl still burning the candle at night, find it blissful to sit and work when the house is quiet πŸ™‚

  13. Carl D'Agostino says:

    top notch for sure

  14. mary says:

    hat is waxed cotton where do I get it?

  15. FLOR says:

    Preciosos todos los trabajos, bendiciones

  16. Carol says:

    Thanks Suzan for sharing your method of turning fabric tubes. I always hated pulling the cord through the fabric. it often twisted and took so much time to do. I will definitely give your method a try.

  17. Kathy Mason Bankston says:

    Having lived in Italy for a couple of years, I can sympathize with the fact that the greatest majority of folks are good, honorable people. Sadly, there’s still the chance of becoming a “pickpocket target” virtually wherever we go. One trick popular among purse thieves is to slash handles of purses and take the whole bag on the fly. My question (finally) is: Instead of the cord, would you consider using picture hanging wire, chain, any strong but small diameter metal center support system? It could not be cut, adding to the security of your bag.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kathy, we’ve actually been working on something like that for a future design. Please stay tuned!

      • Judy Manville says:

        I have not done it (yet), but it occurs to me that using nylon-coated jewellery threading wire (like Beadalon flexible wire) might be a good move alongside the cord – flexible yet almost impossible to cut. Looking forward to making this bag. Thank you for yet another fab pattern. Judy M

        • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

          Please when you do make it load it in my projects folder at Craftsy, so others can benefit from your idea. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Margaret L says:

    So here’s another question: Wonder what happens when the pickpocket hits your bag? How fast can you punch him?!!! I had a friend who formerly lived in New York City who had her salary grabbed from the inside of a book in her purse as she exited a check cashing booth! She didn’t discover it until she got back to her apartment! While telling her friends, they all sympathized but said it had happened to “everyone” who lived in NYC at some time or another… That’s what scares a little girl from Artesia, New Mexico…

  19. Judy says:

    Just a question to suzannprincess, if you’re sewing the whole piece of cording in your fabric tube, don’t you pull it out of the fabric tube while turning the fabric tube right side out? OR… are you only putting a small length inside of fabric, sewing then turning? I’m having a hard time visualizing this. May have to go try it.

  20. kmacdigi2015 says:

    is there a pdf of this tutorial? I would like to print it as I don’t have internet where I sew… am I missing it somewhere? thank you in advance!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, there will be a pdf in a week or so. We usually don’t have time to do both the site and the PDF for the initial launch. When it is ready, we’ll post to Craftsy. If you put the pattern in your Craftsy account now, I think it will notify you if there is an update which will happen when we post the PDF.

  21. suzanprincess says:

    I’ve learned another method that makes turning fabric tubes easier for me. Allow an extra 1/2″ of fabric length and enough extra cord to hang on to while pulling on it. When sewing your tube together place the cord inside, tucked tight to the fold; sew a 1/4″ seam across the end to attach the cord; sew the side seam being sure to not stitch into the cord. Now just pull the cord through the tube, trim 1/4″ off the sewn end to get rid of the bulk, and there’s your filled tube! If you want an unfilled, flat tube, just remove the cord entirely. I’ve even made spaghetti straps this way, when a safety pin big enough to hand on to would be too large to pass through the tube.

  22. bcwestblog says:

    I really enjoyed this article and they turned out great! I can think of another use. A custom dog leash and collar. Can’t wait for the bag.

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