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ScrapBusters: Shoulder Strap Pad

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When you’re carrying a heavy load in a bag, tote or brief, is there often more slip than grip in your shoulder strap? A strap pad helps keeps your shoulder strap in place, balanced over your shoulder. It also more evenly distributes the weight, making the bag easier to carry. Final benefit: when you make it yourself, it can be super pretty! 

We dove into our scrap stash for a bit of thin faux leather for the main layers, which is a good choice to provide the above-mentioned “grippiness” factor. Two pieces, with some lightweight interfacing in between, gives you a flexible base. You could certainly add a layer or two of batting for extra padding – just be aware that the width of your binding might need to be adjusted.

The overlapping flaps are standard quilting cotton. We chose a gorgeous floral from the Color Bridgade collection by Jennifer Paganelli for FreeSprit Fabrics. Go with your favorite print or choose a solid color for a more subtle combination.

Three heavy-duty snaps close the overlapping flaps. This allows you to wrap the pad around straps that are secured in place on a bag as well as removable straps. If you’re new to the technique, you’ll find a link below to our step-by-step tutorial on inserting metal snaps. One key to making your snap insertion as smooth and easy as possible is to work on a solid, very hard surface. We like to use a small chunk of granite countertop

If snaps just aren’t your thing, you could substitute Velcro®. However, it’s not our first choice in this situation because as you open and close the strap, or sometimes just as it sits there on your shoulder, the Velcro® has a tendency to snag on clothing.

There are free patterns offered below for both the base oval as well as the flap. This allows you to end up with smooth matching curves on all your pieces.

Our strap pad finishes at approximately 3½” wide x 8½” long and can accommodate straps up to 3” in width.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Scraps or ⅛ yard of 44”+ wide faux leather or similar for the base; we used a metallic faux leather from our S4H stash
    NOTE: As mentioned above, we recommend a “grippy” substrate for the base, such as faux leather, so the pad will stay put on your shoulder.
  • Scraps or ⅛ yard of 44”+ wide quilting cotton for the flaps; we used a gorgeous floral from the Color Brigade collection by Jennifer Paganelli from our S4H stash
  • Scrap or ¾ yard of ½” wide bias binding or fold-over elastic; we used fold over elastic
  • Scraps or ¼ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
  • THREE heavy duty snaps and setting tools; we used Dritz Heavy Duty Snaps in Gunmetal along with the matching Snap Tools
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric and binding
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins or clips
  • Small hammer for setting snaps

Pattern Downloads

  • Download and print out our one Shoulder Strap Pad pattern sheet, which contains the patters for both the base and the flap. 
    IMPORTANT: This pattern sheet is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page to confirm your print out is to size.
  • Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid lines.

Getting Started

  1. From the base fabric, use the pattern to cut TWO.
  2. From the flap fabric, use the pattern to cut FOUR. Remember that you’ll need a right pair and a left pair. You’ll need to use the pattern right side up to cut two, then flip it over to cut two more. Or cut from the right side of the fabric for two, then from the wrong side of the fabric for two.
  3. We took the time to fussy cut our flap pieces, centering some of the beautiful Color Brigade motifs. 
  4. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    Using the base pattern, cut ONE
    Using the flap pattern, cut TWO

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Layer all the elements for the base and flaps

  1. Find the two fabric base pieces and the one base interfacing piece. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of one base piece. When working with faux leather, remember to lower your iron’s temperature setting and/or use a pressing cloth.
  2. Place the two base pieces wrong sides together and set aside.
  3. Find the four fabric flap pieces and the two flap interfacing pieces. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse an interfacing piece to the wrong side of two of the fabric pieces. The interfacing and fabric are flush on all sides.
  4. Place an interfaced flap right sides together with a plain flap. Pin around the outer curve.
  5. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around the outer curve of the first pair. The inner straight edge remains unsewn.
  6. Repeat to stitch together the remaining flap pair.
  7. Clip the curves.
  8. Turn both flaps right side out through the open straight edge.
  9. Use a long, blunt tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner to gently smooth the curve.
  10. Press the flaps well, making sure the seam sits right along the curved edge.
  11. Lengthen the stitch slightly and edgestitch along the outer curve on each flap.
  12. Find the layered base panels. Place them flat on your work surface. Remember, they should be wrong sides together.
  13. Place the flaps into position on top of the base panel: layering the left flap first then overlapping with the right flap. The flaps should be centered vertically on the base panel. They should sit approximately 1” in from either end.
  14. Pin or clip in place through all layers.

    NOTE: We used pins since and kept them very close to the edge so any holes would be covered by the binding. Using clips removes the worry of the holes that pins can leave in faux leather.
  15. Machine baste the flaps in place along each raw edge.
  16. Keep your basting very close to the edge. You want to make sure it will be covered by the binding.

Bind and insert the snaps

  1. Starting at one end, wrap the binding around the entire perimeter and pin or clip in place.
  2. If necessarym re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Keep a slightly lengthened stitch. Edgestitch the binding in place through all the layers.
  3. The fold over elastic we used doesn’t ravel, so we used a simple overlap to join the ends. You can choose this option or your favorite method. If using a fabric binding, you will need to finish the end. If you’re new to working with bias binding, check our our full tutorial.
    NOTE: Going around a small curved item can be tricky. Go slowly and stop as needed, with your needle in the down position, to adjust the presser foot. You could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot for additional control.
  4. Find the original paper flap pattern piece and trim along the dotted seam allowance line.
  5. Use this trimmed pattern to mark the position for the snaps on both flaps.
  6. After you’ve marked both sides, overlap the flaps into their final position and double check that your marked points line up.
  7. Following the package directions or our own handy tutorial on Metal Snaps, insert the top half of the snaps on the right flap.
  8. Place the cap into position from front to back through the hole at your marked point. Snap the back into position.
  9. Position between the anvil and post, and hammer to set.
  10. As mentioned above, we always recommend setting snaps on a very hard surface for the best results
  11. Overlap the flaps once more to triple-check the snap positions for the opposite halves.
  12. Insert the second half of each snap in the same manner.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas   
Sample Creation and Instructions: Leah Wand

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