Webbing to Sew Straps on Bags, Totes and Pocketbooks

Two rolls of webbing
Ruth Jenkinson / Getty Images

Many of the free patterns for sewing bags, totes, pocketbooks, and purses call for webbing to make the straps and handles. Having the webbing on hand is not like having an abundance of straight pins or other sewing tools on hand. Only you know how much you are likely to use and how often you are apt to use webbing.

Webbing in many ready-made items may measure less than one inch wide, but one inch is the most common size you will find in most fabric stores. Some areas still have a wide selection of fabric stores but many do not and in those areas if you are replacing webbing that is less than an inch you will probably need to find online webbing sources to order what you need.

Types of Webbing and Cutting

Webbing is commonly found made from cotton, nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. All webbing will unravel if the ends are not secured or finished in some way. When cutting a length of any trim or webbing, it is advisable to wrap the area that will be cut in tape and cut through the tape so that some tape remains on each end.

A natural fiber such as cotton will need to be secured with stitching, such as a zigzag seam finish. Artificial fibers such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene are cut with a hot knife or hot cutter in an industrial setting but in a home setting, you can mimic the results of a hot knife by gently melting the ends with an open flame that is run across the edge of the webbing. The melted material is not sewing machine needle friendly! Be careful to avoid hitting any melted fibers with your sewing machine needle.

Widths and Thickness of Webbing

The most common widths of webbing that you will find in most fabric stores are 1", 1 1/2" and 2". Other sizes can be found at large sewing centers and many online sources. The thickness of the webbing can vary. The thickness does not tell the tale of the quality of the webbing as much as it does the possible uses for the particular webbing.

Webbing is made for heavy-duty straps as well as sewing needs, so some webbing is much more heavy duty than others. The webbing that is used to make the seat belt in your car needs to be heavier duty than the webbing you will use for straps to make a simple tote bag.

Colors, Patterns, and Prints

Webbing comes with different weave patterns, in a variety of colors and you can find webbing with a pattern such as paw prints or stripes woven into the webbing. The larger the selection of webbing, the more choices are usually available.

Webbing Additions

When you are looking at a large supply source, you may find webbing with ribbon additions. These are great for decorative details when you are sewing. Don't tie yourself down to the choices that are available from a supplier. You can make your own. Gross-grain ribbon is a better addition than a satin ribbon due to the durability property differences in the types of ribbons.

To Create Your Own Embellished Webbing

  • Choose a ribbon that is not as wide as the webbing. How much narrower your ribbon is than the webbing is your choice and depends on the look you are hoping to achieve.
  • Center the ribbon on the webbing.
  • Carefully stitch the ribbon in place on both edges of the ribbon. Sew as close to the edge of the ribbon as possible.
  • Using a seam guide on your presser foot, combined with needle position and keeping your eyes on the guide rather than the needle will help you sew straight. Sewing close to the edge of the ribbon will prevent the ribbon from curling.

Sewing Webbing

Webbing is usually sewn to a fabric or to itself. Webbing is woven so a sharp or universal needle is your first choice of sewing machine needles. The needle size depends on the weight of the fabric and the thickness of the webbing. If you are sewing with a fine needle, consider changing the needle to a stronger needle, but in most cases, the same needle that is sewing the project will sew the webbing to the fabric you are sewing.

A quality thread can be used with good results. Some sources will suggest using upholstery thread. If you will be sewing something that will be pulled and tugged on, such as a dog collar, you should consider upholstery thread but for most bags and totes, your regular quality sewing thread will do the job with excellent results. If you will be hand sewing the webbing, consider using button and craft thread.

When you are sewing the webbing, it is advisable to sew both edges of the webbing to the fabric, sewing as close to the edge of the webbing as possible. To keep your stitching straight it is advisable to use a guide on the presser foot and keep your eye on the guide rather than the needle.


The price of webbing can vary immensely depending on the competition in the area and the source. Plan your project and shop around for the best deal possible if you intend to save money by sewing.

Rounded Handle in Webbing Straps

The simple log carrier pattern gives you full details on how to make easy to carry rounded handles in a webbing strap. This simple alteration to the strap makes a comfortable handle.