Okay, so today, like all days, I traveled for my work, and I had way to much stuff. Usually I just stuff it into one bag, but thanks to some careless, I mean carefree, roller-coaster riding on vacation, I decided to divide and balance on both shoulders. My Tarlov Cyst symptoms did NOT like the coasters! At any rate, having a bag on each shoulder was a total game changer, awakening, for me.

Let me set the stage a bit. I have made more than 100 bags. Some my patterns, some the patterns of other awesome designers. I have sold a significant number of them, but before I sell them, I personally use the first one I make to ensure it is quality. Of my time making bags, I have made handles from the following materials:

– fabric with just SF101 inside

– fabric with SF101 and quilt batting inside

– cork with no stabelizer

– vinyl that is not fabric backed

– vinyl that is fabric backed

– thick 1/2” rope, covered with fabric

That’s a lot of options and experiences.

But today, is when I really put it together that some of those handles “feel” better on the shoulder than others. Significant enough difference that today, when I threw the second bag over my other shoulder, I thought of this blog post.

So what’s better? First let me disclose that this is totally, completely and only, my opinion. I didn’t do a survey and I am not promoting any products for gain or money.

Today’s bag #1 holds the same amount of “stuff” and weight as bag #2. The only difference is that bag #1 is a portrait shape and bag #2 is more of a landscape. Size wise they are the same. They also weighed basically the same today. Both bags also had the same interfacing of SF101 and flex foam in the body of the bag. Both bags are wonderful and both could have had any variety of material used for the handles. I, not the bag designer(s), chose the material.

The true difference in the bags was only in the handles. Bag #1’s handles were from only fabric and SF101. Again, my choice.


Bag #2’s handles are made from fabric backed vinyl.


So what’s better? Of the two there was a definite winner, but of all the handles, what I really want to do is rank them worst to best.

#6. The worst. Non-fabric backed vinyl. It tears. It is sharp. It digs into the shoulder. Ugh. I will never do that again!

#5. The fabric with just SF101, especially a linen with matellic. I LOVE how it looks, but it digs into the shoulder.  It feels rough.

#4. Cork with no interfacing. It isn’t bad but feels thin. It is soft though but not really cushy.

#3. Fabric with SF101 and batting. I like this, especially if the strap is wider. It feels nice and cushy on the shoulder, especially if you stitch down the middle some like quilting.

#2. Believe it or not, it is the fat rope with fabric over the edges. The only pattern I have ever seen use it is a Sew Sweetness pattern, but it felt great over the shoulder. Challenge to make though.

#1. That only leaves the fabric backed vinyl. Today I really felt it. It is soft. It doesn’t dig. But what I felt most today, compared to the fabric straps with just SF101, is that it “gives.”  It moved and molded with my body. It is a clear winner for me!!


So where did I get it. You can get it multiple places. Just Google, “vinyl with fabric backing.”

I would love to hear your thoughts or other good materials for making straps and see your pictures! Comment below, and share this post with a bag maker!

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