One of the most confusing things when you start bag-making is the myriad of different types of tools and hardware that can be involved, so this series is aimed at identifying them and explaining their purpose.

When I made my first bag back when I was a student in the early noughties there were very few types of hardware that were readily available to the end maker, however these days with the rise of internet shopping and the fact that you can get things from all corners of the globe, there are a huge number of options that now appear on websites and in patterns. I’ll be breaking down the more commonly found items into groups over the next few weeks, starting with straps and handles.

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In the photo above we have the following:

A. Fixed Bar Sliders – these are used to make adjustable straps. The centre bar is fixed.
B. Locking Bar Sliders – these are used to make adjustable straps. The centre bar can move to allow for a slightly easier feed of the strap through the slider when adjusting the length.
C. Plastic Sliders – these are used to make adjustable straps, especially for use with nylon/polyester webbing as the ridges can grip the strap better than the smooth metal options. The centre bar is fixed.
D. Laderloc Sliders – these are used for adjustable straps at the bottom of rucksack straps to ensure that they are tightly locked in place at your chosen length.

E. Solid Rectangular Rings – these can be paired with sliders for adjustable straps, or used on their own for fixed length straps to join the strap to a bag. These co-ordinate better with the fixed bar sliders.
F. Wire Form Rectangular Rings – these can be paired with sliders for adjustable straps, or used on their own for fixed length straps to join the strap to a bag. These co-ordinate better with the locking bar sliders.
G. Triangle Rings – these are used to join detachable straps to a bag.
H. D Rings – these come in a variety of sizes and are usually wire-formed. They are used to join fixed, adjustable or detachable straps to a bag. The straight side of the ring is attached to the bag, and is usually sewn in such a way that the ring cannot slide round.
I. Heavy Duty D Rings – these are used like their smaller counterparts, but are useful for heavy duty use, such as on a suitcase or duffle bag.

J. O Rings – these are used in a similar way to D rings, with the exception that the entire ring can slide around both the strap and bag attachments.
K. Gated O Rings – these are used to create detachable straps.
L. Swivel Snaps – these are used to create detachable straps. They are useful with wider straps, especially adjustable ones. Unlike the O rings, the strap can turn through 360 degrees, so you can’t attach it backwards or twisted.
M. Trigger Clips – these are useful for holding things such as keys to a bag.
N. Key Clips – this is an alternative way to attach things such as keys to a bag

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In the photo above we have the following:

O. Bag Handle Tubing – this is used to create wrapped handles.
P. Cotton Cording – this is used for basic bag handles.
Q. Cotton Webbing – this is used to create both straps and key fobs.
R. Nylon/Polyester Webbing – this is used to create straps and can also be used for bag closures with slide and snap buckles.
S. Purse Chain – this is used to create handles for clutches and small bags.

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In the photo above we have the following:

T. Inset Bag Handles – these are used in clutches an small bags for cut out bag handles.  They are attached via screws or prongs which wrap around from the front of the handle to hold the lining side in place
U. Premade Leather Wrapped Handles – these can be used in bags of all sorts and are usually either clipped onto D Rings attached to the bag or sewn in using prepunched holes at the ends of the handle and heavy duty thread. The best thread for this, to ensure the leather doesn’t adversely react, is polyester, waxed linen or waxed nylon thread (cotton will rot over time).
V. Premade Leather Flat Straps/Handles – these are used in a similar way to the wrapped handles, although you can also find ones which can be attached via rivets rather than sewn in.
W. Handle Loops – these are used to attach your own handles to a bag without having to sew them on.

Note that there are a large number of premade handle options, including ones made of wood, cane and plastic. For the most part these are sewn in, however there are really too many variations to cover here!

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