Thursday, April 12, 2012

DIY Purse Handles

I recently finished crocheting a bag that was in need of some handles.   The only handles I could find were rather cheap and junky looking, and I didn’t want to purchase anything online – sight unseen.  I remembered seeing a blurb online somewhere about using plastic tubing – what a great idea!  However, there were no directions, just “Hey, you can use plastic tubing for purse handles!”.  So I put my thinking cap on and figured it out!

First of all, the plastic tubing is a great because you can thread some of your project yarn into it to get a perfectly matched set of handles.  You can actually thread anything through it as long as it fits:  leather cord, a string of beads – the sky’s the limit!   It’s also rather soft, so it makes a nice padded handle.  And lastly, you can make it any length you want – I’m rather finicky about the length of my purse straps:  I like a length whereas I can hoist my bag onto my shoulder using only one arm (meaning the strap needs to be at least as long as my wrist to my elbow).  I don’t understand why all commercially made bags these days have such short straps!  I hate that!     

Here’s what you’ll need:
                Vinyl tubing – I found mine in the plumbing department at Lowe’s (a mere $4 bucks for a whole 20 foot roll – that’s a lot of purse handles!)  I used clear vinyl size 3/8 inch x ¼ inch.

                Book Rings -  Found at Staples, or any office supply store.  I used the silver, but couldn’t resist getting the brightly colored ones too!

                A piece of wire longer than your handle will be – I’m not sure what gauge my wire is, but it needs to be stiff enough to feed through the tube, but flexible enough to bend.

                All purpose scissors & an Awl with a sharp point

I measured the handles on an existing bag, and cut my tubing to this measurement.  My tubing was relatively easy to cut with my regular scissors, but if it were any thicker, I probably would have had to break out the power tools!   Then my husband used the Awl to poke 2 holes in the end of each tube approximately ¼ inch from the cut end.  He knows enough to not let me use sharp pointy tools – hahaha!   I suppose you could also use a drill to do the holes, but again, I should be kept away from power tools.  ;-)

The real challenge was how to feed my yarn through the tube.  You can’t just poke it in there.  My dear husband was the real genius on this one!  I love that I can simply tell him what I want to do, and he finds a way!  Anyhoo, he gave me a long piece of flexible wire with one end bent into a tiny hook.  I fed that baby through the tubing, wrapped my yarn around the hook, and pulled it right through the tube - Voila! I literally squealed with delight (I know, I’m easily amused!)!   Be sure to complete this step before attaching rings.

We then opened up the book rings and put them through to holes – this required much pushing and wiggling since the holes weren’t very big.  Close the book rings and position them where you want – I worked the open & close part so that it was inside of the tubing, leaving the hinge part to be covered by the tabs I crotched onto the bag.  Simply fold the tabs over to encase the ring and sew into place.

And there you have it – a customized set of purse handles!  Pretty cool, huh?