How to Make Handbag Handles: Add Flair with DIY Embellishments

Ever glanced at a stylish handbag and thought, “I could make that”? Well, you’re in luck! Crafting your own handbag handles is not only doable, it’s a fantastic way to add a personal touch to your accessories. Whether you’re aiming for chic or durable, the right handles can transform a bag from drab to fab.

Understanding the Different Types of Handbag Handles

When venturing into handbag customization, you’ll discover a plethora of handle types to fit various styles and functionality. From the elegance of chain handles that add a touch of glamour to any clutch to the robustness of leather straps that often signal quality and durability, options abound.

Bamboo handles stand out for their exotic and eco-friendly charm. They’re a hit for summer totes and can be sourced from sustainable supplies. If you’re into a more artisanal vibe, consider braided rope or fabric handles that can be color-coordinated with your bag’s material for an integrated look.

For the modern, minimalist designs, metal bars or lucite offer a sleek edge. They’re perfect for bags that double as statement pieces. On the more practical side, webbed nylon provides a sturdy grip and is a mainstay for everyday carryalls and travel bags.

Below are some popular handle types:

  • Chain
  • Leather
  • Bamboo
  • Braided Rope
  • Fabric
  • Metal
  • Lucite
  • Nylon Webbing

Remember, the handle should complement both the bag’s design and its intended use. If your bag will carry heavier items, opt for thicker, sturdier handles like leather or webbed nylon. For lighter, dressier occasions, chains or thin metal handles may be just what you need.

In your handbag handle quest, don’t overlook attachment mechanisms. The right hardware, such as D-rings, lobster clasps, or swivel snaps, not only ensures that your handles stay in place but also can add an extra element of style to your creation.

The type of handle you choose impacts the bag’s overall aesthetic and usability. So, it’s crucial to strike a balance between form and function—whether you’re after a casual look or gearing up for a fashion-forward ensemble.

Choosing the Right Materials for Handbag Handles

When you’re customizing your handbag handles, material choice is crucial. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about durability and functionality. You have to pick materials that can withstand daily wear and tear while still looking chic.

Leather is a classic for good reason. It’s strong, ages well, and comes in a variety of finishes. If you’re going for a timeless look, genuine leather is your go-to. For a vegan option, faux leather offers a similar texture and is surprisingly hardy.

Metal handles offer a sleek edge. Think stainless steel or brass for a modern vibe or antiqued bronze for a vintage feel. Keep in mind metal’s weight – it adds to the bag’s overall heft.

If you’re crafting a summer tote, consider bamboo or rattan. They’re lightweight and have an organic, earthy appeal. However, be aware of their lower load-bearing capacity compared to other materials.

For a sportier look, nylon and polyester webbing are top choices. They’re incredibly strong and come in countless colors. If the bag’s going to see a lot of outdoor use, these materials can take the beating.

Fabric handles can be soft and comfortable, with endless pattern possibilities. Canvas is robust and maintains its shape, while softer fabrics like cotton may require reinforcement.

When choosing materials, always think about the bag’s purpose. Is it for casual outings, work, travel, or elegant events? Match the handle material not just to the bag’s style, but its intended function too.

Remember that attachment method matters. Whether you’re sewing directly to the bag or using hardware like rings and rivets, the material should be compatible with your chosen method.

Material Advantages Best for
Leather Durable, classic look Timeless pieces
Metal Sleek, modern Edgy, contemporary
Bamboo Lightweight, natural Summer bags
Nylon High strength, colorful Outdoor, casual
Fabric Comfortable, customizable Soft, everyday use

Tools and Supplies Needed for Making Handbag Handles

To start crafting handbag handles, you’ll need a collection of specific tools and materials. Each item plays a critical role in the creation process, ensuring precision and quality in your work. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should have on-hand:

  • Heavy-duty scissors or a rotary cutter for slicing through your chosen materials with ease
  • A ruler or measuring tape to ensure accurate handle length and width
  • Leather punch or awl if you’re working with tougher materials like leather
  • Needle and thread or a sewing machine; opt for strength, especially if you’re sewing by hand
  • Adhesives such as contact cement or fabric glue, depending on the material compatibility

For those opting for metal handles, you’ll require:

  • A metal cutter for shaping and resizing pieces
  • Pliers and wire bender for adjustments and fine-tuning

If bamboo is your material of choice:

  • Fine-grit sandpaper for smoothing out rough edges
  • Varnish to seal and protect the bamboo

And when it comes to nylon and fabric handles, make sure to stock up on:

  • Interfacing or padding to provide structure and comfort
  • Fabric protector spray to keep your handles looking new

Keep in mind that your material choice may necessitate additional specialized tools. Always ensure that your workspace is safe and adequately prepped to handle the equipment you’ll be using. Remember, having the right tools and supplies at your disposal is crucial in turning your vision into a tangible, well-crafted product. Therefore, prepare meticulously and your handbag handles will not only look professional but feel sturdy in hand.

Step-by-Step Guide: Making Fabric Handbag Handles

Before diving into the process, choose your fabric. Durable materials like leather, canvas, or upholstery fabric work best. You’ll want something that can handle wear and tear.

Firstly, cut your fabric into strips. The width should be four times the final desired width of the handle because you’ll be folding the fabric. As for length, it depends on your preference. Longer strips make for shoulder straps while shorter ones are perfect for hand-held purse lengths.

Next, iron the strips to remove any wrinkles. Fold the fabric lengthwise with the wrong sides together, meeting in the middle. Then, fold it again so that the raw edges are enclosed inside. This step gives you a sturdy, clean edge.

It’s time for stitching. Sew along the open edge, about 1/8 inch from the edge, to secure the folds. You may want to sew another line on the opposite edge for symmetry and added strength.

Add interfacing for extra support if needed. Cut a strip of interfacing slightly narrower than your fabric, insert it into the fold, and iron it in place before sewing.

Reinforce the ends of the handles. You can do this by sewing across the handle ends or attaching hardware, such as metal tabs or rivets. These not only reinforce but also add a professional finish.

Lastly, attach the handles to your handbag. If you’re sewing them, ensure they’re securely stitched. If you’re using hardware like rings or clasps, check that they’re properly attached and can support the weight of the handbag.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Your first few attempts might not be flawless, but with each try, your technique will improve. Keep at it, and soon you’ll be crafting handbag handles like a pro.

Step-by-Step Guide: Making Leather Handbag Handles

When choosing leather for your handbag handles, opt for vegetable-tanned leather as it’s sturdy and ages well. Start with a leather strip at least 28 inches long to allow for loops.

Cut the Strips

  • Measure and mark the desired width on the leather; remember, it’s about strength and comfort.
  • Use a straight edge and a rotary cutter for precise, clean cuts.

Prep for Sewing

  • If your leather is stiff, condition it using a leather conditioner to increase pliability.
  • Punch stitching holes evenly along the edges using an awl or a leather punch. Consistency is key for a professional look.

Stitching the Edges

  • Opt for a saddle stitch technique; it’s durable and works well with leather.
  • Use waxed thread for resilience and a pair of blunt needles for efficiency.

Add Support

  • For extra stability, insert a nylon webbing core within the folded leather strip.
  • Glue the edge down first to keep the webbing in place while stitching.

Attach the Handles

  • Position handles on your bag to balance both aesthetic and functional considerations.
  • Secure them in place using rivets for a strong attachment that can withstand regular use.

Experiment with handle widths and lengths to find the perfect style for your handbag. Remember to test attachment methods on scrap leather before moving onto your final piece. And there you go; before you know it, you’ll have professional-looking, custom leather handbag handles that elevate any design. Keep refining your techniques with each handbag you create.

Tips for Adding Embellishments to Handbag Handles

Embellishing your handbag handles is like adding a dash of personality to an otherwise plain accessory. Choose the right adornments that complement the bag without overwhelming it. Opt for subtlety or boldness depending on the overall style you’re aiming for.

Start with the basics: studs and rivets. They’re not just for attaching handles; they also add a metallic touch. Align them evenly or create patterns. Stick to metals that match your handbag’s hardware for a cohesive look. Try small, flat studs for a minimalist effect or larger ones for a statement.

Consider braiding or weaving techniques with different colored strips of leather. This introduces texture and a handcrafted allure. If you’re going for braiding, keep the braids tight to maintain handle strength.

Embroidery with colored threads can introduce intricate detail. Select thread colors that either stand out or blend in, depending on your desired impact. If you’re new to embroidery, start with simple designs before progressing to more complex patterns.

Inlays or overlays of contrasting leather or fabric add depth and interest. You could inlay a strip of exotic leather for a luxe feel or overlay a patterned fabric for whimsy.

Don’t overlook charms and tassels. These swingy additions bring motion and fun to your design. Clip them on or integrate them into the handle itself.

Painting or stamping your leather can also be considered an embellishment. Use stencils for precision or freehand for an organic feel. Ensure any paint or dye you use is suitable for leather.

Above all, remember less is often more. It’s tempting to go wild with embellishments but resist overdoing it. Your handle should remain functional and comfortable to grip.

When you’ve decided on your embellishments, practice on scrap leather. This gives you a feel for the materials and techniques without risking your actual handles. Experiment with different combinations and placements until you find the perfect balance of flair and functionality.


You’ve now got the know-how to craft your own leather handbag handles and personalize them with a variety of embellishments. Remember, the key is to start simple and then let your creativity run wild. Test out different styles and placements until you find what works best for you and your handbag. With a bit of practice, you’ll be creating handles that are not only sturdy but also truly one-of-a-kind. So grab your tools, your leather, and let’s see what amazing designs you’ll come up with!

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials do I need to make leather handbag handles?

You will need leather strips, a strong adhesive, stitching tools, and any additional decorative elements you wish to include, such as studs or charms.

Can I customize my leather handbag handles?

Yes, customization is possible through various embellishments like braiding, weaving, embroidery, inlays, overlays, charms, tassels, painting, and stamping to add a personal touch.

Are there any special tools required for adding embellishments to leather handles?

Yes, depending on the embellishments you choose, you might need special tools like a leather punch, rivet setter, stamper, paintbrushes, or embroidery needles.

How do I ensure that my handbag handles are durable?

Ensure durability by using high-quality leather, reinforcing the handles with proper stitching or adhesives, and attaching them securely to the handbag with rivets or heavy-duty sewing.

What’s the best way to start making leather handbag handles?

Begin by mastering the basics of cutting and shaping the leather to the desired size and thickness for your handles before adding any embellishments.

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