If you’re traveling this summer, you’ll want to be able to spot your luggage among a sea of lookalikes at the airport. You can either tie a pastry box string around your handle (like my parents did to me when I went away to school – as if I wasn’t a big enough dork!) or you can sew up a DIY Luggage Handle Wrap, including a Bias Tape Tutorial. Use your favorite fabrics to ensure yours is the only one like it at the airport!
Bias Tape Tutorial – DIY Luggage Handle Wraps
Supplies (contains affiliate links, most of which are bias tape making supplies)
- Fabric (a fat quarter or large scrap will make two)
- Fabric for bias tape (a fat quarter or two)
- Fusible fleece
- Washable fabric pen
- 1-inch bias tape maker
- Ruler with 45-degree markings
- Self-healing mat and rotary cutter
- Wonder clips (or pins)
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing machine and thread
- Clear sewing machine foot
- Sew-on Velcro
Before we begin the bias tape tutorial, we’ll prepare the main fabrics. Cut two rectangles of fabric, 5.5×5.75 inches (this should fit your standard luggage handle). I’m using two different fabrics. One of them I used here! Then, cut a piece of fusible fleece in the same measurement. Then, stack all three pieces together, with the fleece in the middle and the wrong sides of the fabric facing the fleece. Fuse together with your iron, following the directions on the fleece’s manufacturer instructions.
Round the corners – I used a mason jar lid and traced the curve on each corner with my washable fabric pen. Cut along the curves with scissors through all three layers.
Bias Tape Tutorial – First, determine how wide you’ll need to make your strips. I am using a 1-inch bias tape maker. The 1-inch refers to how wide the bias tape will be after you’ve made it. But, you’ll be folding it over, resulting in a half inch double-fold bias tape. This should be enough to envelop all three layers of fabric and fleece. So to determine the width of the fabric strip you’ll need to cut, multiply the bias tape maker width by two (so to make a 1-inch bias tape, we’ll need a 2-inch strip). Because it’s a “bias” tape, we’ll need to cut it at a 45 degree angle. So use the markings on your ruler and line up the 45 degree line with the bottom edge of your fabric. You can either start cutting 2-inch marks, or draw the lines with your washable fabric pen, then cut.
Now we’ll sew the strips together to make one long strip. Determine how long your strip needs to be by adding up the sides of the rectangle (for this project, we’ll need 22.5 inches, plus 2 inches of overlap, so 24.5 inches). Here’s how to sew bias strips together – place them right sides together at a right angle. Pin the strips together as shown below. Sew along the direction of the pin with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Trim off the corners and the seam allowance and press the seams open.
Use the bias tape maker and an iron and ironing board to fold edges and form single-fold bias tape. Insert the tip of one end into the bias tape maker. Pull it out the other end and will taper on its own.
Pull out a few inches, then place your iron on top and press down on the folds. Lift up your iron, and pull out more length of the fabric strip through the bias tape maker, and repeat.
Then, fold the strip down the middle. But, you won’t fold it exactly in half. Make sure a teeny bit is sticking out on one side. This will help ensure you catch both sides when you’re sewing both layers of the bias tape around the edge of the rectangle. If you’re not sure what I mean, look at a piece of ready-made bias tape (I always find them at thrift stores). Press the fold down with your iron.
Open up your bias tape and line up one edge (the side with the narrower fold) of the bias tape with the rectangle edge. Pins will work but I love using Wonder Clips for this. When you go along the corners, clip the bias tape along the edges (but don’t clip the fold). Go all the way around. As mentioned, one end should overlap the other by two inches. Don’t clip down the long end just yet.
Before you sew, fold the end over about half an inch. Begin sewing, sewing over that fold. Sew along the fold in your sewing machine. Use a clear foot if you have one so you can really see the fold. Sew all the way around all four curves.
Once you’ve sewn around the last corner, place the end inside the first folded end where you started sewing. Trim down the end to about 3/4 inches or so, and continue sewing it down over the first folded end.
Flip the bias tape around so it envelops the edge of the rectangle. Press it with your iron. The fold you formed at the beginning end will form a clean edge, hiding the other end underneath. Neato!
With the narrow side facing up, sew along the inner fold of the bias tape, through the layers of fabric and fleece, and the other edge of the bias tape underneath. This is why you need to make one fold of the bias tape wider than the other, with the narrow one on top and the wide on the bottom, so you’re sure you’ll catch the wide edge on the bottom while sewing on the narrow edge on top. Go all the way around.
Last step is to add Velcro. Cut two pieces and sew one piece along one 5.5 inch edge. Then, flip it over, and sew the other piece of Velcro to the opposite 5.5 inch edge. You can see the stitching below to show you where I put the Velcro strips.
Wrap it around your luggage. All done! Much better than a pastry box string.
Hope my bias tape tutorial was helpful. Now that you know this technique, you can sew lots of other things with a special touch added along the edges, such as pot holders, coasters, handbags – the list goes on! My DIY luggage handle wraps are a great place to start practicing this technique, resulting in something useful to use for your next vacation!