Today I have another AWESOME guest post by Karen to share with you! Over to you Karen!


 Do you like to crossbody or prefer to shoulder?

Love clutching your bag or prefer gripping a handle?

Or are you a wrist dangler?

Whatever your preference, or needs, you can make your bag meet them!

Did you know there is a Museum of Bags?  It is the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam, and it has a huge collection of bags from the past to the present.  According to their “History” Bags were originally common to men and women because of the lack of pockets, but once pockets were introduced for men (yes, sexist) they became exclusive to women.  They were normally attached to a belt or girdle, but with the introduction of the classic lines and thin fabric of Regency fashion in the 18th century, they were replaced by the ‘reticule’.  This was still a drawstring bag but was worn over the arm or held by the strings.


The 19th century saw new materials and designs.  Lightweight luggage for the rail traveller was the precursor to the modern handbag.  The 20th century saw women’s emancipation leading them into all sorts of employment, and bags evolved to suit their needs, and today we have a huge selection to choose from that can be worn in a variety of ways.


One Strap?

Let’s look at the shoulder strap to start with.  This can be a single strap, or a pair.  Christine’s “Emma” has a single fixed length shoulder strap for instance.

Emma - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern

A single strap can make your bag slump in the middle which is great if you want the slouchy hobo look, like the “Snazzy Slouch” or a “Sling” Bag.  Otherwise you will need good support and possibly a reinforced base to avoid this.  Ellen’s Esplanade in vinyl gives a structured bag and slouchy top.

Ellen's Esplanade - A ChrisW Designs PDF Sewing Pattern

Two Straps?

A pair of straps hold the bag shape better, but can slip off your shoulder.  One may be looser than the other and they can be bulky.  An example of a well balanced pair is the “Stow It All” I am modelling here!

Ursula's spotty Stow it All - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bar Pattern

However, either can be fixed or removeable and therefore interchangeable.  Also they can be used on a FRAME purse with fixing rings or attached with STRAP CONNECTORS like the Daryl’s Drive.


If you like to wear your bag on your hip, or tuck it under your arm against your waist you just need a different length strap.  However if you also need to hold it in your hand it will be too long and drag on the floor.  You can solve all these issues if you make it ADJUSTABLE, like the one on “Fiona’s Freeway“.

Fiona's Freeway in use - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern


Then there are backpack straps, designed so you can wear your bag on your back comfortably.  They can also be slung over one shoulder in the ‘Sling’ style of course, and often have a grab handle too.  Some can be converted from backpack to shoulder strap.

Dawn to Dusk Backpack by Nancy - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern

Dawn to Dusk” backpack by Nancy


The crossbody has the advantage of not slipping off your shoulder, with the possible disadvantage of messing up your hair (and catching on your glasses).  They  are usually adjustable as we are all different sizes!  Here is the Genevieve Messenger style bag with a crossbody strap I made for a tall friend!

Karen's Genevieve - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern


A pair of handles that can be held or hang on the arm is the real “handbag” look, and here are some lovely models demonstrating this with their “Bodacious Bowler” bags.

Bodacious Bowler Bags - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern in 3 sizes!

If you don’t fancy making your own strap there is a huge selection of leather and faux leather handles in every colour of the rainbow with chrome or brass fittings for you to choose from.  These also lend themselves to FRAME bags and purses with rings to attach them.  If you want to be able to fit them on your shoulder too, look for a bag with a cut out in the top to fit around your arm and you will have the best of both worlds.


This loop is a way to dangle a small bag on your wrist and free up your hands.  It will swing about and you need to remember to hold it to put your arm down a sleeve.  You can make this optional with a clip attachment.  Here is a really pretty “Brandt’s Boulevard” with a wristlet strap by Maria.

Maria's Brandt's Boulevard


I mention this as a useful option on the top of a bag, like the Gizmo Garage or a Satchel.  It is an easy option to have in addition to other straps to make your bag more adaptable.

The Gizmo Garage


Last but not least, the clutch has be be held in the hand as it has no strap or handle as shown by my hand embroidered “Eve Clutch” below.

Eve Clutch by Karen - A ChrisW Designs PDF Sewing Pattern

Of course this can be awkward if you need to hold a glass and plate too unless, of course, you give yourself the option to clip on a wristlet, grab handle or shoulder strap!  Again FRAME purses have optional fixing rings and a chain strap is popular for evening bags.  Remember though, chain can be cold on a bare shoulder!

Nowadays you can get a bag that converts from one wearing style to another, as Christine’s latest addition to her Easy Street range “Gabbie’s Grove” which can be held in the hand, on the arm, on the back, crossbody or as a clutch!

Gabbie's Grove - A ChrisW Designs PDF Bag Sewing Pattern

Hope that makes you see that you can make your bag hang exactly how you want it, and here is some further help on how;

*Make a closed end strap – see Christine’s tutorial here – then attach your chosen clip.

*Make it more professional looking by adding a rivet or two – see tutorial here.

*Make a statement with Jazzy Straps – see this tutorial by Ellen.


Thank you for an awesome post Karen! I had no idea the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses even existed so am now having a fun time exploring the website! Gosh how COOL would it be to actually visit there in person some day! Its now on my bucket list! LOL! Have YOU been there? If so, please share in the comments below!

You can read more of Karen’s posts over at Sew What’s New HERE and visit Karen on Instagram – @auntystitches You can find all the above sewing patterns HERE!

Happy Sewing! 🙂


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