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How to Narrow Wide Webbing to Fit Smaller Hardware

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The stars do not always align. The square peg does not fit the round hole. Sometimes the perfect webbing or strapping you’ve selected for a shoulder bag or similar project is simply too dang wide for the D-ring or Swivel Hook you really want/need to use. Try this quick trick to bring your wide webbing down to size.

By folding your too-wide strap into a pretty point then wrapping that fold with a thinner ribbon or webbing, you get a double benefit: 1) your webbing has been reduced and will now work with the ring or hook you want to use, and 2) you’ve added a great accent to an otherwise plain and boring ol’ length of webbing.

Bear in mind that this clever trick works only on straps that are cut to length. It won’t work for an adjustable strap since you need one raw end of the strap to run through both a ring and a slider – so that raw end must be the same width as the opening of the ring and slider. For more about making an adjustable strap, check out our full step-by-step tutorial. 

We show you the easy narrowing steps for both cotton and poly webbing. The only difference is how you need to finish the raw ends.

Polyester webbing

  1. Poly webbing is a bit easier to work with because the raw ends can simply be melted to finish them. There’s no need for any additional anti-raveling steps.
  2. In addition to your main webbing, which should be cut to the finished length you want, you also need a short length of accent webbing in a width that will fit your hardware. In our sample, our main webbing is 1½” wide and our accent webbing is ½”.
  3. For the most interesting look, choose an accent webbing that best coordinates with your overall project. We like the dramatic look of the black accent webbing against our silver main webbing. You could also go super bright with a neon webbing or bring down the contrast with a tone-on-tone pairing. The finished look is completely up to you.
  4. The exact length of the accent webbing is also up to your “eye.” We used a 7” length, which allowed a 3½” accent stripe on either side.
  5. With a lighter or match, carefully pass each raw end of the main webbing through the flame. You don’t need any pyrotechnics; just lightly melt the ends to keep them securely finished.
  6. Fold down the corners of one raw end so they meet in the middle, creating a point. Pin or clip in place.

  7. With the clip still in place, thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the webbing. Whip stitch the two folded ends together down the center where they come together.

  8. Once you’ve taken a couple stitches you can unclip and finish the securing hand stitches all the way up to the point of the fold.

  9. Find the accent webbing. Determine your best length and cut to that length. We used 7”.
  10. As an option, you can clip the corners at both ends of this accent webbing.

  11. Melt the clipped ends, which turns the clipped angles into rounded ends.

  12. Wrap the accent webbing around the end, covering where the folded corners meet in the middle.
  13. Start by placing the webbing along one side.

  14. Thread the raw end through your D-Ring or Swivel Hook.

  15. Wrap the webbing over the point and down the opposite side of the webbing. Make sure the webbing extends the same length on both sides and is sitting in the exact middle of the webbing on both sides. Adjust as needed so the hardware is as close to the point of the webbing as possible. You need just enough room to run a small horizontal line of stitching. Pin or clip in place.

  16. Thread your machine with thread to best match the accent webbing in the top and bobbin or use a transparent thread, which was our choice.
  17. Make sure you have a new, sharp needle. An 80/12 denim needle is a good choice.
  18. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  19. Attach a Zipper foot to allow you to stitch right along the edge.
  20. Stitch along both sides of the accent webbing through all the layers. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching both sides of the accent webbing in one pass.
  21. Stitch across the top, running this seam as close as possible to the folded point of the webbing.
  22. Stitch down the opposite side.

  23. Stitch across the bottom.
  24. Repeat on the opposite end of the strap.
  25. We consider the folded side to be the “back” of the strap, but the narrowed webbing really looks great from both sides.

Cotton webbing with ribbon

  1. As mentioned above, the steps of the technique are same as above, but you need a few extra steps to combat the raveling inherent in cotton webbing and most ribbon. For this sample, we used a 1½” wide natural cotton webbing and a ⅜” wide ribbon.
  2. Cut the main webbing to the finished length you want.
  3. Run a small line of seam sealant along each cut end. We like Dritz Fray Check. Allow it to dry thoroughly.

  4. Thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing in the top and bobbin. Set up the machine for a tight zig zag stitch, using a standard presser foot.
  5. Stitch across the raw ends. Your zig zag should wrap the raw edge of the webbing.

  6. As above, fold in the corners to create a point with the overcast ends meeting In the middle. Pin or clip in place.

  7. Hand stitch the folded-in edges to secure.

  8. For this sample, we used a pretty ribbon as our accent wrap. It is an 8” length, which gives a 4” reveal on either side less just a tiny bit to finish each end of the ribbon.
  9. If your ribbon has a tendency to ravel, you may want to run a line of seam sealant along each end.
  10. Slip the ribbon through the D-Ring or Swivel Hook you want to use.

  11. As above, place, pin and wrap the ribbon from one side around to the other. Remember to double check that the ribbon is centered and even on both sides.

  12. Tuck under each ribbon end about ⅛” to create a clean finish.

  13. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the ribbon in the top and bobbin or use an invisible thread as we did. Atach a Zipper foot.
  14. Re-set for a slightly lengthened straight stitch.
  15. Stitch the ribbon in place as above, going along both sides...

  16. ... and across the bottom and top.
  17. Repeat to fold and wrap the opposite end of the strap.
  18. With the thinner, more flexible ribbon option, you could run the ribbon the entire length of the webbing for an added accent. Simply cut enough ribbon to fit the finished length of the strap plus enough to wrap around either end.

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Comments (6)

RustyL said:
RustyL's picture

Thanks so much for this clever idea. I've used webbing so many times and when I don't have the correct size hardware (often) I usually just sew the webbing directly to the project, even though hardware would look better.  I appreciate all the posts you put up.  Keep up the great work!

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

@RustyL - Thank you for such a lovely compliment. We're glad you found the tip helpful!

Momo said:

Face palm!  This is one of those "Why didn't I think of that!" moments!  Pure genius.  Thank you

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

@Momo - Ha! Isn't it the truth. The simple things can often be the most elusive. You are so welcome. 

thehobbit said:
thehobbit's picture

Can't believe that this is exactly the dilemma I had this weekend. Was meant to add a wristlet strap to a small pouch but realised that the clip on ring I had was too small for the strap, so decided to leave it off. Now you have fixed my problem and I will have another go!! Thank you sew4home.

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

@thehobbit - You are welcome... we're glad to know that, once again, great minds have thought alike and the info you needed has arrived just in time!