Bag making series – part two: closures and handles

Hi peeps, I hope that you’re all doing well. 😊


There are a few ways to close your bag. Here are a few suggestions:

Button: either on its own with a buttonhole or add a piece of elastic for the button to go around to make a simple closure, this way is useful if you want a tighter closure.

Zip: an easy and common way to close your bag while keeping personal items secure. There are many ways to use zips, from traditional ways to more decorative ways. Experiment to see which style suits your own bag.

Flap: this usually covers the width of the bag and is attached to the outside using a double row of stitches for extra strength.

Tab: is different to a flap, usually because it’s shorter and only covers part of the opening. This can be added when constructing the bag and installed in the lining so it sits in between the main fabric and the lining fabric, or it can be added once the bag is finished and stitched to the outside of the bag. A good way to fasten a tab is by adding a magnetic flap.

Drawstring: again, there are a few ways to make a drawstring. You may want to use the same fabric as your bag, you could use piping cord although I find this to be a bit flimsy. Regular cord is a good choice, long laces, rope – if it’s a large enough bag, twill tape, ribbon. You have a few options here.

Combination: Maybe you’d like a drawstring opening with a flap, then secure the flap down with a magnetic snap? This is what I’ll be doing with my denim rucksack once it’s finished. Experiment and have fun trying out different ideas.

Snap fastener, Velcro, or magnetic snap: these are easy to install, and it gives your bag a simple, yet stylish look.

Lobster clasp/swivel hook: these are great hardware to have lying around as they give a bag a more shop bought look to them and make your handmade items look more professional as well as being practical.


Do you want long or short handles? A single handle or two? Do you want it to be adjustable? It’s quite easy to make an adjustable strap, all you need is a tri slider and that’s it. 😊 Then you attach your handle.

If you wanted to make a sturdy handbag out of leather, for example, then you may want to buy handles and attach them with a D-ring, or a square ring.

I like using canvas webbing to make my straps/handles with as it’s easy to use and sturdy, it comes in a variety of widths and can be purchased online. The only downside, I find, is that there is a limited colour choice. I have considered, although I haven’t tried it yet, of buying a white strap and dyeing it myself.

For my Christmas gift bags I used some twill tape (this is the stuff used to make apron straps) to make the handles with as it’s both strong and makes the bag look more professional.

Of course, there are many options about all these aspects of bag making. A good idea would be to study shop made bags on the high street next time you’re out and about to see how they made theirs, then take the best ideas and add them to your own bags.

I will be reviewing a great book at the end of this series where you can see pictures of different closures and it details how to make your own bags.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share,

Sarah. 😊

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