Thursday, April 9, 2015

how to sew fabric tote hadles {a tutorial}

I think it's pretty obvious by now I enjoy making all kinds of bags and totes. Today I'd like to share my most favorite way of making fabric handles.

A few notes before we start:

- I use a combination of quilting cotton fabric (or linen/ cotton blend) and SF101 interfacing (you can use other medium weight fusible interfacing if preferred) to make my handles.

- Use walking foot if you have one - it insures all fabric layers are fed through the machine evenly.

- Lengthen your stitch -  adjust stitch on your sewing machine ( I usually use 2.5 stitch on my Juki, I set it to 3 when making fabric handles).

- Use thicker thread if you have one - your stitches will be more visible which will add to the appeal of your handles. I like to use 30 wt thread.


Let's start, shall we?

1. Decide how wide you want your finished handles to be (I like 1.25" wide handles for most of my totes), multiply this number by 4 
(1.25 x 4= 5) so my fabric needs to be 5" wide.

2. Decide how long you want your handles to be (mine are 15" long).

3. Cut two 5" x 15" rectangles out of quilting cotton and two 5" x 15" rectangles out of medium weight fusible interfacing.

4. Follow manufacturer's directions to adhere fusible interfacing to the wrong side of both 5” x 15” fabric rectangles.

5. Fold handle in half lengthwise, press. Open the handle, use the middle seam as a guide and press  long raw edges towards the middle.

6. Fold in half again – long raw edges are hidden inside, press and pin (or use Wonder clips) to prevent layers from shifting.

7. Bring your handle to sewing machine, hold both top and bobbin thread in your fingers (picture below) as you start topstitching - this will prevent any knots from forming on the underside of your handle.

8. Topstitch along the open long edge first using 1/8" seam allowance taking pins/ clips out as you go. Topstitch along the other long side as well. You can leave your handle with just one line of topstitching along each long edge, I personally prefer doing another set of topstitching 1/4" from the first line.

9.  Make a second handle following the same directions. Trim the threads.

10. Congratulations!!! Your handles are now finished and ready to be used.

 I hope you find this tutorial useful. 

Have a lovely day. Svetlana


  1. thanks so much for this tutorial! Great end results.

  2. Great tutorial! So simple, and they look really polished 9and strong!)

  3. Awesome No turning inside out I love this!

  4. Great tutorial. Agree they look so strong and they are SO easy. THANKS!

  5. Those are perfect! Thank you!

  6. Great idea folding in all the way to the a great weight handle without using batting and so nice and smooth. I now want to go and crank out a bunch of handles to have at the ready when I want to make a bag!:)

  7. Thanks! Great to learn from someone who has made many of them.

  8. Svetlanko, dalsi super navod! Já místo zažehlovací výztuhy používám "pasovku". Nevim, jak se to spravne jmenuje, ale pouziva se to do zpevneni pasu u sukynek nebo kalhot.
    Mej se moc krasne!!! U nas je konecne opet jaro :) Pa pa, Jola

  9. Yay! This is how I make handles as well! Makes for a nice sturdy handle!

  10. I do it this way too. Thanks for the tip about lengthening the stitch and increasing the thread weight for topstitching. I'm making handles today so this is timely!

  11. Nice tutorial. Hadn't thought of using thicker thread or lengthening my stitch. What size needle do you usually use? I have a hard time threading mine with 30.

  12. Thanks for the great tutorial…appreciate your tips on using a thicker thread and longer stitch length :)

  13. This is how I make mine. I love the 5" wide x whatever length that works for the bag I am making. Thanks for a great pictorial tute!

  14. That's a great tip to use thicker thread so it's more visible! I'll keep that in mind next time I make handles.

  15. Thanks for the mini quick tutorial. It is a great idea to add the stitching to the handles..very practical! I am not a tote-girl, but I could see using this to make a tote for real. Thank you for inspiring me! ;-)


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