Thursday, February 24, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Roll-Up Tote Strap

Need some tote bags that roll up with a handy snappy strap? Here’s how I made mine.

The strap is attached to the bottom outside layer of a reversible tote. You just roll up the tote and wrap the strap around, closing it with a snap.

How to Make a Roll-Up Tote Strap
RollUpStrap1 RollUpStrap2
  • Fabric cut to this size:
    • Outside (two pieces 15x18 inches)
    • Inside (two pieces 15x18 inches)
    • Tote Strap (two pieces 4x22 inches)
    • Roll-Up Strap (one piece 3x13 inches)
      • Note: In picture above, I’ve already pressed the straps.
  • Stuff you use to cut fabric, such as a ruler/straight-edge, rotary cutter and self-healing mat or scissors.
  • Two sets of snaps for Roll-Up Strap.
    • I used KAMSnaps that I used before for a product review, but you could also use any other type of snap, or use velcro. Make sure the snaps would fit on the strap (the finished strap here is 3/4 inches wide and the snaps I’m using are about 1/2 inch in diameter).
    • Any other accessories to apply snaps (I use an awl and pliers that came with my KAMSnaps).
  • Not pictured: Iron and ironing board, sewing machine and thread.

Take your Roll-Up Strap fabric and fold it lengthwise and press to create a crease and open up again. Then fold in each edge to meet at the center crease and press. Then fold again in half and press again.
RollUpStrap3 RollUpStrap4

Then fold in one end about 1/8 an inch and fold in another 1/2 inch and press. This finishes the ends and is where you’ll place your snap. Repeat this fold on the other end.

Topstitch the strap along the sides and around the folded ends, making sure the 1/8 inch fold at the edges are tucked in as you sew.

Now we’ll apply the snaps. These are directions on how to use KAMSnaps, so if you’re using different snaps then these exact directions may not apply. First, poke a hole with the awl in the center of the 1/2 inch fold at one end.
Insert the top of the snap through the hole, and then apply the snap part on the other side and press using the pliers.

Repeat on the other end, but you’ll flip the strap over so that the opposite is showing on each side. So when you snap them together, it will overlap like so creating a circle. That’s how you want it to snap together when you roll up the tote.

Now we’ll start sewing the outside layer of the tote, where the roll-up strap will be attached. Pin right sides of the outside layer together along three edges, leaving one of the 15-inch edges open. Then at the bottom 15-inch edge, fold your tote in half lengthwise to determine the center of the bottom edge and mark. Determine what will be the midpoint between your seam and this center mark. So you’ll need to take into consideration your seam allowance (1/2 inch for me) plus you’ll be squaring the tote (see my Patchwork Pocket Tote tutorial on how I squared the bottom). So for my tote, I determined the midpoint after sewing all of that would be 2.5 inches from the center mark. Doesn’t have to be exactly exact!

Fold the Roll-Up Strap in half and insert in between your two outside tote fabrics. Place it at this 2.5-inch mark, with the fold even with the raw edge of the tote fabrics and pin in place. Sew as usual along the three edges, backstitching over the strap a few times to reinforce and continue sewing the tote layers together as usual.

Turn inside out…here’s the strap sticking out of the outside of the tote.

There are lots of tote tutorials out there…the rest will follow how I made my Patchwork Pocket Tote Bag. So next stitch up the lining fabrics, and square the bottom of the tote. Take the bottom seam in one hand and one of the side seams in the other. Flatten it so that the two seams lay on top of one another (line them up as best as you can…it will be by feeling. Then when it’s all flattened and lined up, draw a line about 2 inches from the top tip of the seam. Then just sew right across on the line. Repeat on the other side, and on the outside layer as well.rollupstrap13 rollupstrap14

Take the tote straps you have pressed and topstitch along both edges.

Keep one tote body inside out and one right side out. Insert the one that’s right side out inside the other so that right sides are facing. Pin at the side seams. Then you’ll insert the straps. Curve the strap so it’s not twisted and slide it in between.

So it looks like this.

Pin the straps in between the tote outside and lining about 2 inches from each side seam. I also mark a gap for turning.

Starting at one of the marks, sew everything together along the top edge. You can backstitch over the straps a few times to make it more secure.

Pull everything out the turning hole. Shove the lining inside and press the seam flat.

Finally, topstitch along the top, closing the turning hole. Make sure your straps aren’t wrapped around the free arm of your sewing machine, or you’ll have to stop sewing, unwrap it and pick up where you left off. Not that I’ve ever done that.

And you’re done!

You could also add a Roll-Up Strap to an existing tote by opening the bottom seams and restitching it closed. It would be really easy to do with an unlined bag.

Sorry I didn’t get a picture of this particular bag rolled up! But here is another one I made for myself.



  1. Love those bags! When I look at what you've been making I'm thinking about learning how to sew! :-) thank you for the inspirations!

  2. Love these bags and thank you for the tutorial. I also love your fabric choices. Can you tell me what fabric line you used to make these?

  3. @shescrafty: They are such lovely fabrics aren't they? I'm sad now that I'm almost out of them! Off the top of my head:

    The orange fabric and the brown/aqua used in the tutorial are Amy Butler (coriander, which is out of print but you can find on Etsy).

    The zig zag is Jay McCarroll for Westminster (Woodland Friends or something like that), which is the same as my banner's zig zag fabric.

    The green w/polka dots is Michael Miller

    Let me know if you'd like more info. Thanks so much for your kind comment!


  4. I made 5 of these tonight leaving off the roll up strap. My 2 boys will be giving them to their pre-school teachers tomorrow for teacher appreciation day! Thank you for the tutorial. It was very easy to follow and the bags look great :)

    PS. I found you on Tip Junkie!

  5. Thank you for the great tutorial. I made this bag last night for my sons teacher. I am going to be doing a blog post about it and link it up back here.

  6. This is the link to the blog post that I did about my tote fallowing your tutorial.

  7. And you know how to sew-another skill on my wish list-will be looking to you for inspiration :)

  8. Great project and tutorial. I will need to make one of these this summer for all the things I will be taking with me for picnics with the kids, etc. I am a new follower of your blog and added your button to my blog. I would love it if you considered sharing this tutorial at my linky party this week: Thanks!

  9. I've been looking for a little project to make for a friend's birthday and I think this will be perfect! Thanks for the great tutorial!


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