Since my area of expertise is designing and sewing bag patterns, I really wanted to incorporate some of the decorative stitches that come with the Janome MC6650 into my work. I used my Daisy Crossbody bag sewing pattern and decided to embellish the crossbody strap.
If you’d like to incorporate some decorative stitching onto your bag straps, it’s incredibly simple to do! (The same or similar decorative stitches are available on MANY of our Janome machines so you can follow along and use this tutorial even if you do not own the Janome MC6650. Ed.)
Before starting, here are some important tips and things to consider:
- You’ll want to decide if you want the decorative stitching to be obvious or subtle. If you want the stitching to stand out, you’ll want to select a thread colour for your decorative stitching that contrasts with the strap fabric. I used a regular weight polyester thread in light pink on black Essex linen for my strap. Before starting, I sewed some tests on a scrap to make sure I would be pleased with the end result.
- Use a new needle for your machine. If you’re uncertain if your needle is fresh, be cautious and replace it with a new one. A dull needle can cause the thread to shred in the middle of stitching or cause threads to pull in your fabric.
- Use a full bobbin. Make sure to start any embellishments with a bobbin that is completely full of thread to avoid running out in the middle of sewing your decorative stitches. It is very difficult to start/stop a decorative stitch and make it look unflawed.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Prepare your strap.
For this tutorial, I am making a crossbody strap that is 54” long by 1.5” wide. An adjustable crossbody strap is usually longer than the width of most fabrics. Therefore, you will need to sew together lengths of fabric until you have the final length desired for the strap. Because a fabric strap is folded in half twice to make it 4 layers thick, you need to cut the fabric strip (4) times the final desired width. Since I wanted a 1.5” adjustable strap, I cut my fabric strap piece 6” wide x 54” long.
I also recommend interfacing the strap fabric to make it more durable and to provide some stability to the fabric for the decorative stitching. I have used my Blue Calla light weight woven interfacing, but you can fuse any lightweight woven fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric.
Step 2: Press your strap.
a) Start by pressing both shorter ends of your strap piece ½” in towards the wrong side.
b) Next, fold your strap in half along the entire length, wrong sides together, and press.
c) Unfold your strap to reveal the center crease. Fold in both halves of the strap along the entire length, wrong sides together, so the raw edges meet at the middle. Press the strap as you are folding.
d) Fold your strap in half again along the original center crease and press again. Your strap should now be 1.5” wide, and the long raw edges will be encased in the middle.
Step 3: Sew your strap.
a) I have chosen to add the decorative stitching using a method that will prevent the bobbin thread from showing on the underside of the strap. To do this, the strap must be unfolded completely, including the shorter ends that were folded in step 2a. The strap will now be divided in (4) sections that are 1.5” wide and separated by fold creases. Draw a mark at one short end of the strap along the raw edge, in the center of the 1.5” section to the right of the center fold crease as shown in the photo above.
b) Select your desired decorative stitch function. I am using Stitch 152 in Mode 2. I also increased the stitch width (9.0) and length (3.0) to the maximum values allowed for this particular stitch. I am using my Zig Zag foot “A”and the regular needle plate (NOT the straight stitch plate!).
c) Place your strap under your foot with the mark you made in step 3a aligned with the opening in your foot. You will start sewing at the raw edge of your strap. This way, when you’re done re-folding your strap at the ½” fold, there will be no loose threads at the end of your strap and your decorative stitching will be more secure.
d) Start sewing, making sure your foot stays in the middle of the 1.5” section to the right of the middle fold. When you get to the opposite end of the strap, continue sewing to the raw edge at the end of the ½” folded section.
e) Refold your strap so it is 1.5” wide and your decorative stitches are along one side. Use clips to hold the strap in place.
f) To complete the sewing of my strap, I switched to my Janome HD9 Professional. Using a 1/8” seam allowance, sew all the way around the entire strap. Leave your needle in the down position when rotating at the corners. (Note that Celine used the Janome Ultra Glide foot for the HD9 for this step. Ed.)
Your strap is now ready to sew to your bag OR have rectangle slide hardware added to make your strap adjustable.