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Tutorial: How to Use Leather Straps on your Handmade Bags

Tutorial: How to Use Leather Straps on your Handmade Bags

I love how adding leather straps to your handmade bag can really up the ante and make your bag look professional. There are a few ways to attach leather straps to your bag, and it's all about your personal preference and the tools you have available. Here I'm showing how to use the strap kit found in my shop here.

Smithfield Bag - Jen Fox Studios
Smithfield Bag with Leather Straps

I love using rivets to attach my straps, but it does require a set of tools to attach the rivets. Not a deal breaker, but also not terribly practical if you only plan on installing a set or two of straps. There's also the option of using your sewing machine to sew on the straps. If you have a home sewing machine, you might be in luck depending on the thickness of the leather you plan to sew, but sometimes I have a difficult time getting the stitching to be perfect, and once you sew through leather, the needle holes are there to stay.

So, if you plan on using straps just a time or two, I love using Chicago style metal attachments. They have a hollow post with a cap on one side, and a screw on the other. You can use a screwdriver or even a dime to tighten the screw to hold all of your layers together, and it's such a simple and straightforward solution for attaching leather straps.

I handcut leather straps that I have for sale in my shop, and the kit includes either 24" or 30" straps, the metal Chicago screw attachments, and leather spacers.

Leather Strap Kit 
Components of the strap kit in my shop

Here are basic instructions for attaching the leather straps:

1. Each strap has four metal attachments, and two leather spacers. Depending on your purse, the spacer might not be needed. Use the spacer if the thickness of the bag where the strap is attached is thinner than the shank of the metal attachment.

2. Use the pre-punched holes on the strap ends to mark on your bag where the straps will go. Keeping all layers even, make a hole through all layers with a punch or with small sharp scissors.

Leather Strap Kit - Jen Fox Studios
Hint: Use binder clips to keep the strap in position

Leather Strap Kit - Jen Fox Studios
Use a punch or scissors to make a hole. Starting with a smaller hole is better than making one that is too big.

3. Push the rounded end of the metal attachment through the holes in the strap end. If using the spacer, either sandwich it in between the exterior and the lining fabrics, or position it on the interior side. Thread the screw end in from the lining side of the bag. Hand tighten and then use a dime or a screwdriver to tighten. Repeat for all strap ends.

Leather Strap Kit - Jen Fox Studios
Tighten the screw, and you're done!

HINT: sometimes screws can work themselves loose with wear. If your screws become loose, unscrew and put a small amount of super glue inside the attachment. Tighten quickly before glue dries.

Does anyone have any other tips for using leather straps on your handmade bags?

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