Guest post: Book strap tutorial | How About Orange

June 13, 2011

Guest post: Book strap tutorial

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to share a guest tutorial today from Lorraine (LiEr) Teigland of Ikat Bag. She's a former physics teacher, which speaks volumes about the smart projects her creative mind concocts. (Her pig and chicken patterns kill me.)

Today's project is a book strap. I must admit I sheepishly had to ask Lorraine how to use this fancy item: does one grab the long end of the strap and use it like a handle, so the book stack dangles from it like a dog on a leash? Or does one cradle the books in the crook of the elbow with the strap hanging free? Lorraine replied that both techniques are acceptable and suggests the dog-leash method can be "useful for fending off would-be assailants. Just swing and smash." Most excellent. For a book strap in use, look here. And with that, here's Lorraine.

Hello all! I am thrilled to be here on Jess's blog today to share a tutorial on making book straps. Book straps were very popular back in the 80s when I was in school in Singapore. Ours were all plastic and multicolored webbing, but we were teens and lurid was cool. And they kept our books from spilling all over the bus floor because we were staring at boys and tripped over our own feet. Years later, these are still cool but not as widely used here as in Asia and Europe. So I thought I'd start an old trend and teach you to make the grown-up faux-leather version with vinyl and Jess's incredible Outside Oslo fabric.

This is a simple and quick project but if you are unfamiliar with working with vinyl, I've included some tips at the end of the tutorial. Some dimensions are left unstated because they depend on the print of your fabric and the size of your metal loops. And now, let's get started!

First, make the strap, using your favorite strap-making method and whatever width works with the print of your fabric and the hardware you have. My finished strap was 60" long and 2" wide. Add as much (or no) interfacing as you like. I used craft-weight fusible interfacing without seam allowances,

sewing along one long edge and around both ends, leaving most of the second long edge open to turn them right side out.

Then top-stitch all around to complete the strap.

Next, make the buckle. You will need:
• The pattern (click here to download)
• A piece of vinyl cut to the shape of the pattern
• Another piece of vinyl cut a little bigger than the pattern
• A piece of plastic canvas cut a little smaller than the pattern
• Three loops that will fit your strap
• Smaller pieces of vinyl to fold over the metal loops

Transfer the welt (the narrow slot) outline to the wrong side of the vinyl piece that is the same size as the pattern. Place this on the slightly bigger vinyl piece, right sides together. Do not use pins because they leave permanent holes—use paper clips if you must.

Sew all around the welt outline and cut a slit down the middle of the welt, snipping at the curved ends.

Push one of the vinyl pieces through the hole

so that the right sides are now facing out.

Top-stitch around the edge of the welt.

Lay the piece of plastic canvas on top of the vinyl ensemble. Trim the edges and the welt of the plastic canvas piece so that there is a border of about 1/8" of vinyl visible around them. This is to avoid stitching the plastic canvas itself when you are sewing the two vinyl layers together later. You may need to trim the welt further in the next step so that everything sits flat without bunching.

Pull the top layer of vinyl up through the welt in the plastic canvas so that the plastic canvas is now sandwiched between the two layers of vinyl. Set this aside.

Make vinyl loops to attach the metal loops. You can do this the simple way without edging:

or cut the vinyl pieces a little wider than the metal loop, fold in the sides and top-stitch them.

Fold these vinyl pieces over to secure the metal loops (one metal loop on top and two metal loops at the side) and insert them between the layers of vinyl in the main buckle. These should be centered on either side of the midpoints X and Y (see template). Hold them in place and top-stitch all around the edge to secure them in position. A layer of tissue paper between the vinyl and the throat plate of the sewing machine prevents the vinyl from dragging as you sew.

Carefully trim away the excess vinyl from the bigger piece (and tear away the tissue paper). The buckle is finished!

Wrap one end of the completed strap around the single metal loop.

Sew a rectangle to secure it.

Ta-da! Finished!

Ready to corral some books? Here's how to use it:

Did you know you can make them right-handed:

or left-handed? Never lose a book again!

Tips to help you work with vinyl:

• Vinyl won't fray, but poorer-quality vinyl gets thready around the edges if they are not cut straight. Use a rotary cutter wherever possible. And buy upholstery-grade vinyl.

• Pins will leave permanent holes in vinyl, so either hold the pieces together by hand or use paperclips.

• Use a denim/jeans needle if you can, especially through many layers of vinyl. The denim needles are sharper and stronger than the universal ones.

• Use a non-stick (Teflon) or roller foot if you have one. I don't, so I use a layer of tissue paper between the vinyl and the throat plate of the sewing machine to prevent sticking and dragging.

• Use regular sewing thread, or top-stitching thread on top and regular sewing thread in the bobbin. If you are using top-stitching thread, use a top-stitching needle which has a longer eye to accommodate the thicker thread and prevent skipped stitches.

• If you have a walking foot, use it because it helps feed both layers of vinyl evenly together under the presser foot.

• If your sewing machine is having a bad day and your stitches are skipping, oil your machine, particularly the moving parts around the bobbin case.

• If your sewing machine is having a particularly bad day, sew by hand. It's easier than it sounds. Completely unthread your sewing machine and sew, threadless, to make holes in your vinyl. Then sew alternating running stitches by hand with two needles—the holes will give you evenly-spaced stitches. If you can do lacing cards, you can sew vinyl by hand!

Thank you, Jess, for having me here!

48 comments:

Kate Von Bush said...

this is brilliant! reminds me of the 'Little House on the Prairie' series which I loved when I was a child! will definitely give this one a try in the nearest future :)

Grandma G said...

They're so cool they almost make me want to go back to school! Almost. ;)

Mum

Deanna said...

fab. u. lous.

{BrianaArlene} said...

love this! I am printing out the tutorial for this coming weekend's project :)

Lindsay said...

awesome! i was just thinking about how to make one of these, and was considering just using one of my hubby's old belts. now i'm definitely making one of these! thanks for the tutorial!

Pam said...

I think I will have to put aside my aversion to sewing for this project. What a great item to have on hand for my daughters, who lug around sketchbooks constantly (and then give them to ME to hold when they get tired of it)!

Tina said...

Luv this! This is a fantastic idea.

Three Birds Jewelry said...

AWESOME! thanks for the tutorial! i am thinking i modify this for a custom camera strap or laptop cover :)

Erin @ Brownie Bites said...

I'm not crafty enough in the sewing dept to attempt this, but I LOVE the idea!! Thanks for sharing!

beautiful square feet said...

What a lovely idea - these look great! I know what all my friends who are academics are going to be getting for Christmas! Thanks for sharing!

Care said...

Fannnnntastic!! And such beautiful fabrics, too! I want one!! :o)

agnes szucs said...

what a great idea! and they are so nicely made!

Poppyprint said...

This is totally genius! Thanks for sharing your design.

hello. said...

this is spectacular!! i'm going to definitely make this guy! thanks so much for sharing this.

Ellen - SkoMomma said...

I want one but sewing is not my thing. I don't suppose you want to make some up and sell them on etsy????

KJ@letsgoflyakite said...

Like Kate's comment, I am totally channeling LHP right now. So great to see LiEr over here. I love what she has been creating with your lovely fabrics.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! Thank you both for sharing.

Mi (なおみ) said...

cool tutorial ... I used to wear a book strap when I was school

thank you for sharing ... :)

Margo said...

Friday June 10 on the Sartorialist (he doesn't allow links to specific posts)
http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com

a bookstrap in action too!

I MUST make one of these.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but if I didn't know any better I would think you came up with this post: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/orange-delight-furniture-in-bold-citrus-hues-148901

CaLynn said...

OMGosh this is by far one of the cleverest tutorials I have ever seen. Perhaps I am so swoon with it because using bookstraps is not something I've ever encountered, but this is amazing!! Thank you so much Lorraine for sharing (and I love your humor:), and to you Jessica for introducing us! :D

Cynthia Schelzig said...

wow, what a project...they look great too....!!!

Barbichounette said...

Bravo !
C'est super !
Merci pour le tuto qui est très clair.
Biz
Barbichounette

Mariejo said...

wow, that is a great idea. you should have it licensed.
thanks

NativeMadridian said...

Dont you love it when two of your favorite bloggers join forces? I know I do! Thanks for sharing, ladies--this project looks fantastic--from the pattern to the fabric!

casserole said...

Awesome!! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-make-a-book-strap/2011/06/14/

--Anne

CBH said...

Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 4 post on Jun. 14, 2011. Thanks again.

Juleah Kaliski said...

I found your blog from a tweet Craft tweeted.
I love reading and books and I have always wondered how book straps were made. Thank you for this wonderful post. This tutorial was very helpful. Now I'll have to make a book strap for myself. :)

GabiSv said...

Oh my God it is amazing idea. Thank you very much ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this pattern. Each year it is a struggle to come up with a unique gift for the ladies who work the front desk at our library. This will be ideal.

Niki said...

lovely, very cool!

Sarah said...

This is fabulous! I hope you don't mind I shared the link to it in a post on my blog!! If you want to come check it out! Fantastic!

elke said...

This is great- I'm ready to scrap the kindle & get a pile of books!

April Moore Skelton said...

I'm going back to school and I'm totally going to make myself one of these! Excellent!!

Cristina said...

Love it!

Kristen said...

Fabulous! I think it's so interesting what catches on/is trendy from one country to the next. I think you may have started something here. (;

Natalie said...

LOVE this on so many levels. I wonder if my children would be willing to ditch their book bags and go with the book strap?

Wendys Hat said...

I love bookstraps and this is a nice tutorial. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

Seriously clever! Definitely want to make one!

Nicole said...

OH my gosh! I want six of these to tidy the bundles of sheet sets in my linen closet. Another project for the to-do list ... sigh.

Juschev said...

Singaporean checking in. Love ur blog:)

Anonymous said...

thanks pour le tuto. Génial pour porter les livres.Erima

AnneH said...

OMG...this is so Anne of Green Gables!

мамаДаника said...

Супер идея!

GRÄNNI SEW said...

its an big idea!

handmadebyclairebear.com said...

I love this book strap and I featured it in my blog http://handmadebyclairebear.com/2012/05/13/take-one-or-two-boring-shopping-bags/
love your blog
ClaireBear

Anonymous said...

What a great way to reuse vinyl samples! I will share this with my 4-H Line & Design Group!

Thanks for a well written, easy to follow tutorial! Love, love, love the pictures!

Anonymous said...

Thank you soooo much! was looking for it all evening.
Greetings from Germany!

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