This clever strap/zipper combo is based of a backpack I had in college. What I loved about it was the ability to use it as a single strap to carry over my shoulder, but when it was heavier I could unzip it and use it as a backpack. I’ve yet to find something similar since then, so I decided it was time to make my own!
Want to give it a try? Gather the materials below and sew-along! I have also made this into a downloadable file if you want to give it a try later.
*The strap made in this tutorial measures 1/2″ width (wider at zipper portion). If you want your straps to be wider, make sure to adjust your material list accordingly*
1/2 yd fabric for strap
1/2 yd Pellon SF101 or similar fusible interfacing
1 – 22” closed end zipper, (preferable 4.5/5 size)
2 – 1/2” oval / rectangle / D-rings ( I have two choices in the picture, but you only need 2 total)
2 – 1/2” strap adjusters
zipper tape, thread & fabric glue as needed
From Fabric & Interfacing, Cut:
Zipper Fabric Panels: 2″ x 40″ Cut 2 of fabric, 2 of SF101
D-Ring Tabs: 2″ x 3″ Cut 2 of fabric, 2 of SF101
(optional) Grab Handle 2″ x 10″ Cut 1 of fabric, 1 of Sf101
(optional)Handle Cover 5″ x 7″(on fold) Cut 1 of fabric, 1 of SF101
1 Fuse interfacing according to manufacturer’s instructions. You will be fusing both zipper panels, D- ring tabs, grab handle, and handle cover.
Once your fabric has been fused, take one long zipper panel and fold it in half lengthwise. Press well. Open up flat then fold each long end towards the center of the pressing line you just made. Press again. Finally, fold the piece in half again and press. One end will still be open. It’s basically a piece of double fold bias tape! (See image above left.)
Repeat this again for the other zipper panel, both D-ring tabs and grab handle. Set the 2 main long panels aside, but keep out the D-ring tabs and grab handle and topstitch 1/8” along both long edges to secure.
This zippered strap will have an unfinished top end and a finished bottom end when we’re done. Starting at the bottom closed zipper end, we are going to take the each bottom side and curve it out a bit so they get sewn into the strap. (see image above)
With your fabric glue, but a few dots at the end of the zipper. Gently fold and bend until the glue sets and it starts to look like it does in the image above. Repeat this with the other end. Let dry before you continue so we don’t gunk up our needle.
Now turn your zipper around so the other end is near you. Trim the top end off slightly above the metal zipper stop. A dab of glue or baste stitching over the zipper end to secure is needed here too. (see below)
One item I strongly encourage bag makers to have is zipper tape. It is a lifesaver when you install zippers because it keeps everything in place while you sew. For this step, I put zipper tape along one side of my folded fabric like you see above.
When the tape is on, peel the paper backing off and carefully slide the left side of the long zipper INTO the open sided zipper strap. Pin or clip in place.
*NOTE* The edge of the strap should be close to the zipper NOT touching it.
Using your zipper foot, sew along the long open edge of the strap you just added 1/8″. Turn, then sew along other long end 1/8” to finish. Repeat the above step for the other side of the zipper. Your Bag Strap should now look like this:
All we need to do now is make the straps adjustable and we’re done!
Take out your D-ring tab and slide one ring onto it, folding the tab in half . Stitch along the short edge getting close to the ring if you can. Repeat this for other tab. ( I kept my zipper foot on here too so I could get closer to the ring.)
I made the diagram below to show how to make the bottom part of the Back Straps adjustable. There are a ton of tutorials for this on the net as well, but this is easiest for me. Place your Bag Strap right side up on your work surface with closed zipper strap on your left.
<A> Take the short unfinished end of one strap and feed it through your slider. It will go up and over the center bar coming out the other end.
<B> Continue to thread end through the D-ring/Tab. Make sure the end threads from the top to the back.
<C> To finish, continue with the strap end and thread it back through the slider over the bar. Go from left – over the bar – then right out.
<D> Pull about 1” of the end out like you see above. Pin that small piece you pulled and pin to the strap. Topstitch the end of strap to main strap. Repeat with other strap. (see image above)
Congrats! You now have your own
Zippered Bag Strap!
Now for the optional pieces. The 5″ x 7″ on fold piece you cut out earlier is going to make a strap and handle cover. I’ll get to the finished part in a minute, but for now take this piece and fold it in half lengthwise and right sides together.
Pin then sew along both short edges and long open edge. Make sure you leave a few inches open on the long edge to turn it right side out.
Turn right side out and press. Top stitch 1/4″ around all four sides.
There are many ways to attach this to a bag. The example I made above adds it to an Exterior Back pattern piece. If you want to try this method decide how far up you want the zipper then baste in place. The grab handle can be basted right above the zipper here as well. After that, you just set the handle cover on top of these unfinished edge pieces and stitch into place to secure. I would suggest a horizontal topstitching every 1/2″ or so.
Another option is to eliminate the grab handle and simply sew the top unfinished Bag Strap end into the seam like you do with regular strapping. Either way, you now have an awesome new shoulder strap that can turn into backpack straps!
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and get a lot of use out of it! Please feel to contact me with any questions you may have and I’ll help the best I can.
I’ll be back in a bit to share how I used this Bag Strap on my own new bag. Stay tuned!
Want a PDF file of this tutorial? Click HERE!