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Decorative Stitch Webbing: Instant Embellishment for Bag Straps, Belts & More

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We like webbing… not necessarily like the monster from the black lagoon’s hands, but the cool cotton kind for bags and such. However, it can be hard to find in other than the most basic colors of white, natural, navy, and black. Bust out your decorative stitches and some colorful thread! This fast and easy embellishment can inject a little WOW into your webbing. 

The hardest part of this technique will likely be deciding which stitch or stitches to use. Today’s sewing machines usually have a huge selection from which to choose, and I think most of us are guilty of not experimenting with very many of the options. Now’s your chance to play!

Webbing is great for bags and totes – one of our specialties here at Sew4Home. A few of our favorite options that include webbing handles which could be pre-embellished are the: Air Mail Shoulder Sling, Stylin’ Damask & Canvas Duffle, and WordPlay Messenger Bag.

Embellished webbing would also be a fun solution for apron waist and neck straps, like on our Double Sided Cook’s Apron and the Half Apron in Toweling.

It’s even pretty enough on its own to become a fashionable belt, using the Dritz® Slide Buckle Sets.

As you can see in the sample images here, the back side of the stitching is subtle and non-distracting against the webbing. We used thread in the bobbin to best match the webbing and colorful thread only in the top, which contributed to this subtle effect. For a stronger contrast on the back, you could use the same thread in the bobbin as you do in the top. Or, consider a fabric strip overlay in a solid cotton fabric to completely mask the back side of the stitching. We often use this “fabric strip accent” technique on the front of bag handles; the steps would be the same for masking the back. Our Mesh Beach Bags feature this technique if you need a step-by-step.

Getting Started

We started with four lengths of cotton webbing in both 1” and 1½” widths. You could certainly use a poly webbing, just switch up to a denim needle in your machine for the best penetration power.

Take plenty of time to test the stitches you want to use on a scrap of your actual webbing, adjusting width and length and determining placement. Placement is especially important to figure out if you’re planning more than one line of stitching.

Below are some of the tests we did to determine the look of our yellow-on-white sample. Our final settings were 9mm in width and 1.5mm in length.

Once you have your stitch and placement tested and determined, you can draw in a guide line(s) to follow with a marking pen or pencil. 

Or, simply use the markings on your machine’s throat plate and/or the edges of your presser foot to keep a nice straight line.

We triple-checked our placement on the machine by sliding a ruler under the presser foot to confirm the center needle drop.

Stitching

We recommend a clear view foot with a wide front opening for most applications. We used the Janome Open Toe Satin Stitch foot.

Go slowly and evenly, guiding with a very light touch. If your machine has a Start/Stop function, this is a great time to use it as that will help guarantee an even stitch.

Stitch the entire length of your webbing.

If the ends of your webbing will be hemmed or sewn into a seam, you can simply stitch right off the end. If your webbing is going to be left raw to fray (shabby chic) or if you are wanting to use this technique to embellish a finished/purchased handle or strap, pay attention to the formation of your stitch to get a neat ending. This should be done when you are practicing/testing at the beginning. Watch the stitch forming to understand where it stops/starts so you can slow down and stop at the correct point. Some machines, like many of our cool Janome studio models, have a lock stitch function. When this function is employed, the decorative stitch will complete itself and auto-stop. Even with this function, you’ll still want to practice your stop point for the very best look.

As mentioned above, when planning multiple lines of stitching, placement is very important. For the three lines of stitching on our 1½” webbing sample, we chose to draw in the center line with a marking pen. Remember to choose a marking tool that will easily wipe away or vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron. You can see in the beauty shots above that the blue pen we used wiped away nicely.

We switched to a standard Janome Satin Stitch foot for this wider webbing. The arrow at the front of this foot made it super easy to follow along the drawn line.

We added a simple utility triple stitch along each side of the webbing, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide.

Many decorative stitch packages come with built-in lettering stitches, like the Handmade wording we selected for our navy webbing. If your machine has a full alphabet function, you could even program in your own message.

We experimented with both a matte polyester thread as well as a shiny rayon thread for this sample. Both worked well.

For our final black webbing sample, we tested a very intricate decorative stitch in a shiny rayon thread.

It created a striking result!

That’s all there is to it!

We’d love to see how you use the technique. If you follow us in social media, share a picture or two so we can all be inspired. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram.

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Comments (4)

huntjoy said:

What a great idea and finishing detail. I can't wait to try this on my next bag. 

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

@huntjoy - Thank you so much! Let us now how yours turns out!

scootertn said:
scootertn's picture

I see a tote for the teacher at the end of the school year with her name, or the school name.  Such a fun punch to a project!

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

@scootertn - Thank you so much! So quick and easy, right?!?