Each time I pick up my luggage at the carousel, a little bit of panic sets in. Number one: Did they lose my luggage? And Number two: Did someone else take my suitcase? My parents' solution for the second one was to tie a ribbon around my luggage handle (ok not a ribbon but a reused string from a pastry box!). Practical and good for the environment? Yes. Until you go to the airport and everyone else's parents did the same thing and you're wondering if that pastry string was yours or someone else's. Oh well, at least I wasn't the only one at school with such embarrassing luggage! So for the next time I travel, I made these much cuter Luggage Handle Wraps, to find my luggage among all of the other dark colored suitcases. Plus, I'm including a tutorial on how to make your own bias tape in your favorite fabric, to ensure yours is the ONLY one like it!
DIY Luggage Handle Wraps
Here's What You'll Need to Make Luggage Handle Wraps:
- Fabric for the front and back, cut into 5.5x5.75 inch rectangles (fat quarters or large scraps are great to make two)
- Fabric for bias tape (a fat quarter is plenty for two handles)
- Fusible fleece cut into 5.5x5.75 inch rectangle
- 1-inch Bias Tape Maker
- Ruler with 45 degree angle marking
- Rotary cutter and self-healing mat
- Washable fabric pen
- Pins or Wonder Clips
- Iron and ironing board
- Sewing machine and thread
Let's Get Crafty!
First, cut out your little rectangles. I used a handle wrap from a duffle bag and tested it on my suitcases and got my sizing from that (so you can do that too, but most suitcases are about the same so you can use my measurements). Thank you to my girls for picking the fabrics! You can do both the same color or two different ones. The wrap is reversible so if you can switch it up! Fuse the two fabrics wrong side together with the fleece in between.
Round the corners of the rectangles by tracing something round (I used the inside lid from a mason jar) with a washable fabric pen, and cut away the corner with scissors. Set aside for now.
Now to make the bias tape. First, we're going to cut it out at the correct width, length, and angle. I am using a 1-inch bias tape maker because a 1-inch bias tape is big enough to envelop over all 3 layers of fabric (note: the measurement of the bias tape maker refers to the size of the bias tape after you've made it, as single-fold bias tape. So if you want double-fold bias tape, you would divide that number in half). To determine how wide your bias strips need to be, multiply your bias tape maker measurement by two. So, for a 1-inch bias tape maker, you'll need to cut a 2-inch wide bias strip. Cut the strip at a 45-degree angle, using the degree marker on your ruler as a guide.
Adding up the sides of my rectangle, I'll need 22.5 inches of bias tape. I'm going to add 2 more inches to that to get 24.5 inches for overlap. If you need to connect two strips of bias tape, place them perpendicular to each other like in the picture below, right sides together. When you cut them, the angle of the ends should be facing in the same direction. Sew along the line of the pin with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, then trim off the seam allowance and the two corners poking out, and press the remaining seam allowance open.
Now we'll form the bias tape. Insert the strip into the bias tape maker through the wider end. Scoot it in until you see it poking through the narrower end. The narrow end is where it will start to fold the two sides together. Pull it through so about an inch is sticking out.
Then, place your iron very close to the narrow tip of the bias tape to press the folds down. Start pulling the bias tape maker by the handle with your other hand, and keep moving the iron as you move your bias tape maker. Continue to keep your iron close to the bias tape maker. When you're done, you'll have 1-inch single-fold bias tape.
Next, fold it over to form double-fold bias tape and press (by hand, without the bias tape maker). But as you fold it over, you'll want one side to be narrower than the other, so that you can see the wider side peeking just barely over the edge. If you look at a piece of commercially bought bias tape, you will see this clearly. This is so when you have the narrow side on top of your project, you'll have the wider side on the bottom, and you'll be sure to catch the wider side as you sew on the narrow side as you sew. All done with your bias tape!
Time to sew! Open up your bias tape, and place the narrow end along the edge of your rectangle. Start somewhere in the middle of one side of the rectangle. Fold in the end about 1/2 an inch; this will be for finishing the ends later (not seen in this pic, but you'll see it in the next pic). Use pins or clips. As you go around the corners, you can cut slits in the the bias tape 2-3 times, just don't clip past the fold. Go all the way around until you're at your starting point again. Overlap the other side by about 1 inch and trim if needed. Don't pin/clip down the end just yet.
Start sewing in the fold of your bias tape. Sew over the folded edge at the beginning of the strip as well. Keep going around, stitching slowly. Increase your stitch length to 3.5-4 might be helpful.
When you've rounded the last corner, place the end inside the beginning of the bias tape, matching up the folds. Trim it down so that about 3/4 inch or so overlaps, and sew it down over the fold at the beginning.
Flip the bias tape over to the other side, enveloping the edge and press. Pin or clip to secure.
Top stitch all around, again sewing on the narrow side of the bias tape, to make sure you catch the wider end underneath (if you stop here, you have a nice little coaster!).
Last step! Sew your Velcro. Put one piece of Velcro on one side/end. Then turn it over, and on the opposite end, sew the other piece of Velcro.
All finished! Here's what it looks like, laying flat.
I made one more in the same fabric and will be making more for the whole family's luggage. I think these are a few steps up from pastry box strings, right?
This was a fun way to practice making and sewing on bias tape. As mentioned, omit the Velcro and you've got a cute coaster. Make it a little bit bigger (and use heat-resistant fleece) and you have a potholder! Keep practicing and before you know it, you'll be adding bias binding to garments as well as blankets! Happy Sewing.