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Guitar Strap – The Trendy Bag Accessory: Janome America

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The name is due to its similarity to the wide, ornate straps musicians have always used to hold their guitars. By changing how the ends attach, they are now one of the trendiest accessories and a fun way to update any bag that uses a removable strap. We created ours to show off the decorative stitch package on our Janome Skyline S7. We love pretty stitching, and are always on the lookout for reasons to show it off. At a full 40” in length, this strap provides the perfect long, straight platform. To amp up the texture, we stitched with Aurifil 28wt 100% cotton thread in two solid colors and one variegated. The heavier weight of this gorgeous thread really makes the stitches pop and it worked great in both the top and bobbin, flowing through without a hitch. 

Many of the most popular guitar straps we spotted on line and in stores feature dimensional embellishment. We took this cue as the basis for our fun die cut, double layer flowers that are riveted along the length of the strap. 

Do an internet search for “guitar straps for bags,” and you’ll quickly find versions listed for $95, $200, even $1,000 and up! We spotted one at Nordstrom by designer Fendi for $3,700! You can make your own custom strap from just tiny cuts of fabric; you may even have almost everything you need in your scrap stash. We used canvas from our recent Weekender Duffle along with scraps of patent leather and sparkly vinyl.

Bold decorative stitching is key to our trendy look. We are a bit biased being a Janome exclusive studio, but comparing stitch to stitch, we can always spot the Janome stitch precision. It makes all the difference in the professional finish of a project, and it’s certainly a secret to our beautiful samples.

You get to hit stuff with a hammer for this project – always a great way to alleviate stress. We chose Dritz® Double Cap Rivets and their accompanying Rivet Tool Set, which includes both setting tools and insertion tools. For the best results, make sure you work on a hard surface. We did our hammering against a metal jewelry-making block. A chunk of granite or even a super hard block of wood would also work. If clean or covered with a protective layer, you could even take things outside and work on a concrete sidewalk or driveway.

We used a die-cutting machine to create our embellishments, but you could certainly cut your own shapes with scissors. Remember that the thicker vinyls often reveal a white edge when cut. This is easy to touch up with a permanent marker.

If you’re worried about stitching on the vinyl when attaching the end caps, take a look at our tutorial on Sewing with Sticky Stuff. We used the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7, which powered through with no problem, but this article gives you tips on alternatives to try for the best stitching results.

A thicker thread, such as the gorgeous Aurifil 28wt we used, is recommended for the decorative stitching. We provide details below on the exact colors and stitch patterns we used, but as we always suggest, test first to confirm! You can vary the stitch motif itself and well the stitch length and width, and of course, the color options are nearly endless. Aurifil offers the 28wt in 270 colors.

Experiment with whatever you like to create your embellishments, but stick with something that has enough inate heft to hold its shape or stabilize a lighter weight substrate to provide a stiffer finish. You don’t want anything that will hang limp against the strap or might fold or wrinkle with everyday wear and tear. 

For more information about the Janome machines we use in the Sew4Home studios, visit your local Janome dealer, browse online, and follow the Janome America blog for fun project ideas.

Our strap finishes at approximately 2⅜” wide x 40” end to end, approximately 46” long when you add in each end tab and its hook. This length is based on the most common lengths we found with the ready-made straps, and it works well both over the shoulder or cross body. You could certainly cut yours shorter or longer, but keep the width the same in order to use the free pattern offered below. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ¼ yard of 45"+ wide mid-weight canvas, denim or similar in a solid color; we used 60" 9.3oz 100% Cotton Duck Canvas in Cherry Red
  • Scraps of heavy faux leather or vinyl for the end caps as well as for the die-cut embellishments – the largest piece you need is for the end caps for which an 8” x 8” square is sufficient; we used scraps of black patent leather and white sparkle vinyl
  • TWO 1” clip hooks; we used the Dritz® 1” Large Hook & D-Ring sets in gunmetal
    NOTE: You will end up with two large D-Rings leftover. Keep them handy in your stash; D-Rings are one of the most flexible pieces of hardware for all kinds of straps, handles, and more.
  • TEN rivets; we used Dritz® Double Cap Rivets in gunmetal along with their cutting and setting tools
  • Die-cutting machine or similar; we used a die-cutting machine, but you could also cut out the pocket accent shapes by hand; we used the Sizzix Big Shot die-cutter, the Sizzix Big Shot Die-Circles, Scallop 2 for the large floral shape, and the Sizzix Originals Die Set, Circles #4 for the small center dots
  • Mid-weight thread in multiple colors for the decorative stitching; we used the amazing Aurifil 28wt cotton thread in Black #2692, Gold Yellow #5015 and Marrakesh Variegated #3817
  • All purpose thread to match fabric for construction
  • ⅓ yard of 20”+ wide flexible lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape-Flex
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Clips for working with the vinyl; we used Wonder Clips
  • Seam sealant; we used Dritz® Fray Check
  • Awl or similar as an option to create holes in the embellishment prices
  • Small hammer to set rivets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
  • Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface
  • Permanent marker in a color to match the end cap vinyl; we used a black Sharpie®

Pattern Downloads

  • Download and print the End Cap Pattern and the Flower Position Template, which have been bundled together into one Guitar Strap Patterns PDF to make the download easier. 
    IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of TWO 8½" x 11" sheets. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each sheet to confirm your printout it to scale. 
  • Cut out the pattern and template along the solid lines.
  • The template is two pieces. Butt together (do not overlap) the pieces at the double arrows printed on the pattern and tape together.

Getting Started

  1. From the strap fabric (the red canvas in our sample), cut TWO 3½” x 40” strips.
  2. From the lightweight interfacing, cut FOUR 2½” x 20” strips
    NOTE: We are cutting to make the most efficient use the 20” wide Shape-Flex. We will butt together two 20” strips to create our required 40” length. If you use a different type of interfacing, you simply need to end up with two 2½” x 40” strips; cut or piece as works best for you. 
  3. From the fabric for the end caps (black pattern leather in our sample), use the pattern to cut TWO.
    NOTE: Notice the red arrow on the pattern shown below. This is important. Many faux leathers and vinyls have a distinct stretch one way but zero stretch in the opposite direction. If this is the case with your choice, as it was with our black patent leather, make sure the arrow is aligned with the non-stretchy direction. When attached and holding weight, you don't want the end cap to have any stretch. 
  4. Use your die-cutting machine and dies or your scissors and a drawn pattern to cut TEN larger shapes and TEN smaller shapes from the scraps of faux leather/vinyl. We alternated our colors, cutting five large flower shapes from the black patent leather and five large flower shapes from the sparkle vinyl. And, we did the same for the smaller center circles: five in black and five in white. Our strap finishes at approximately 2⅜” wide and so our placement template and die cut sizing is based on this size. You need some air around each of the riveted flowers. Our large flowers are 2” in diameter and the center circles are ⅝” in diameter. 

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Decorative stitching

  1. Center the interfacing on the back of each main strip. The interfacing and fabric will be flush at each end, but there should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing along each 40” side. As mentioned above, we used shorter widths to conserve interfacing, butting together two 20” lengths. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place. 

    NOTE: Canvas doesn’t really have a defined right side and wrong side, but if working with a fabric that does, make sure your interfacing is on the wrong side. 
  2. If you use a lighter weight fabric than what we recommend above, you may need additional stabilizer for the best look to your decorative stitching. Refer to your machine’s manual for tips, and as always: test first on scraps!
  3. Using a fabric pen or pencil, draw in the guidelines for your decorative stitching. The stitching will cover the guidelines, but you still should choose a marking tool that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. 
    NOTE: As mentioned above with the die-cuts, you specific stitch patterns, stitch widths, and thread colors may vary. We’ve provided the detail of what we used. The most important things to keep in mind are even spacing between the lines and leaving enough room along each side to account for both the seam allowance plus a bit extra. You don’t want your outer decorative stitch lines to jam right up against the finished edge – give them some air. We recommend ⅛”, which means the outer edge of your formed stitch should be ⅝” from the raw edge of the strip.
  4. Draw in the center line first. For our 3½” strip that means 1¾” from either edge. 
  5. We recommend cutting some short lengths of 3½” wide strips to practice on first. Determine which stitch patterns you like best and experiment with stitch width and length, as well as with the distance between your lines of stitching. 
  6. Our stitch choices on our Janome Skyline S7 along with the thread colors were as follows:
    Center Line: Satin Stitch 03 at 6mm in width and .35 in length in Aurifil Black #2692
    Lines Two and Four: Decorative Stitch 24 at 6mm in width and 1.80 in length in Aurifil Marrakesh Variegated #3817
    Lines One and Five: Satin Stitch 01 at 6mm in width and .30 in length in Aurifil Gold Yellow #5015
  7. Our lines were spaced ⅜” apart: two to the left of center and two to the right of center. And, as mentioned above, we made sure the outer edges of our first and fifth lines finished at least ⅝” in from the raw edge.
  8. Set up your machine for decorative stitching and attach a Satin Stitch foot or similar. 
  9. Start with the center line, stitching the entire length of the strip. For the most even stitching, if you have the feature, we recommend using a start/stop button rather than the foot control. For super long lines of decorative stitching, you may think you are keeping your foot presser even, but it’s easy to slightly speed up and slow down, which doesn’t always lead to the most perfectly formed stitches. 
  10. Re-thread and stitch lines two and four. 
  11. Re-thread again and stitch lines one and five. 

Stitch together and turn

  1. With your decorative stitching complete, place the front and back layers of the strap right sides together. Both layers should be interfaced. Pin along both sides. 
  2. Re-thread the machine with standard weight thread in the top and bobbin. We used Aurifil 40wt in Paprika #2270.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance stitch along both sides. The ends remain open.
  4. Press open the seam allowances.
  5. Grade the seam, trimming back one side to ¼”.
  6. Turn right side out through the open ends. Flatten so the seams run evenly down each side. Press well, using a pressing cloth to protect the decorative stitching.

Mark and cut holes for the embellishments

  1. Fold the strap in half to find the exact center and mark with a pin.
  2. Find the placement template. Align the edge of the template with the strap’s center point. 
  3. Mark the five center points to the right of center. 
  4. We used pins to transfer the mark from the paper pattern and then used a fabric pencil to fill in each dot.
  5. Flip over the template and repeat to mark the five center points to the left of center. 
  6. Cut a small hole through all the layers of the strap at each marked point.  

    NOTE: We used the Dritz® Double Cap Rivet Tool Set, which contains both setting tools and insertion tools. Two notes that will make your cutting the most successful: 1) Make sure you are working on a hard surface. We used a metal jewelry-making block. A chunk of granite or a super hard block of wood would also work. If clean or covered with a protective layer, you could even take things outside and work on a concrete sidewalk or driveway. 2) See that little opening near the tip of the cutting tool? That is for cleaning out the tip. You are cutting through things, which means those little bits you’re removing are inside the cutting tube. A straightened paper clip or sturdy straight pin is a good thing to use to slip into that opening and push out the debris. The cleaner the end of the tip, the cleaner and easier the cut. 
  7. Now that you have lovely holes in your strap, you need matching holes in the center of your embellishment layers. First find the exact center of each layer. You can measure or simply fold the piece into quarters to find the center. The vinyl will hold the crease lines just long enough to make the hole.
  8. You can use your Rivet Tool as above to cut the center hole, or use an awl.

Rivet the embellishments

  1. Collect all the cut pieces for all ten embellishment points.
  2. Insert the top half of the rivet through all the layers from the front…
  3. … through to the back. This is the point to confirm your rivet is long enough to accommodate your layers. As mentioned, we used the Dritz® Double Cap Rivets, which worked perfected through all four layers: two layers of interfaced canvas and two layers of vinyl.
  4. Set the bottom half of the rivet in position.
  5. Place the top of the rivet onto the concave side of the anvil. 
  6. The setting tool has a matching concave end. Place this over the back half of the rivet. Hammer together the two halves, using smooth and even swings. You don’t need to take out all your frustration on this poor rivet. Just a few solid whacks should do it. 

    NOTE: If you’re brand new to the technique, you can take a look at our full Metal Rivets tutorial prior to starting the project.
  7. Continue in the same manner to attach all the embellishments. 
  8. We worked from the center out to the right end, then went back to and placed the embellishments from the center out to the left end. 
     

Attach the end caps

  1. Find the two end caps cut from your choice of vinyl. 
  2. Trim away any stray threads and run a line of seam sealant across both raw ends of the strap.
  3. Find the two clips. Fold in the wide end of strap and slip it through a hook. The hook should sit at the narrow center of the end cap piece. 
  4. Flip over one end cap so it is wrong side up. Fold the original paper pattern along the dotted line and use this folded pattern to draw in a guideline on the back of the end cap. This line should be right at the point where the angled center transforms into the main box of the cap. 
  5. Place one end of the strap, right side up, along this guideline. 
  6. Wrap the end cap around the end of the strap, making sure the edges of the cap are flush front to back on all sides. Also take a minute to make sure your hook is facing the right direction. The hook likely has a visible break where you squeeze to open it. This opening should be facing the back of the strap and the smooth side of the hook should be right side up with the front of the strap. The end cap will extend beyond the strap to either side about 1/16”. Clip into place. 
  7. Re-thread the machine with standard weight thread in the top and bobbin to best match the end cap vinyl. We used Aurifil 40wt in Black #2692.
  8. Attach a Walking foot or engage your machine’s built-in feeding system, which is what we did, using the AcuFeed™ Flex built-in feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7. If you’re still having trouble, try a Teflon® type foot, such as the Janome Ultra Glide foot or cover the end cap (top and bottom) with parchment or wax paper, tearing away the paper when done stitching. 
  9. Edgestitch around the end cap, pivoting at each corner, to create an approximate 1½” x 2¼” box. 
  10. The raw cut edges of most vinyls reveal a bit of their lighter color backings. Touch this up with a permanent marker.
  11. Use the paper pattern to mark the finished cap for its rivets. 
  12. Set a rivet into each corner, using the same method as described above.
  13. Repeat to attach the remaining end cap at the opposite end. 

Contributors 

Project Design: Alicia Thommas 
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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Comments (2)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Stephanie - Thanks! It is a really fun accessory to plan and make. 

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