Fringe décor

How to make and add a fringe to a handbag

Fringe trim makes any handbag to stand out. It adds a lot of hippie or western look, or it can be grungy too. It’s a lot of fun to make and quite easy too. Lets take a look how to make and add a fringe trim to handmade bag.

How to make a fringe trim

There are tons of fringe trims sold in craft shops, surely they are pretty and loads to choose from. But sometimes a handmade one looks as good or even better! So let’s DIY with this free tutorial.

DIY fringe bag

Working out the size

According to the size of bag decide the shape and the size for the fringe. It should fit within the body panel of the bag width wise. The width of the fringe – is the width of the bag.

Other than that no further requirements – just your own judgement and availability of fabric. The fringe can be short or very long hanging lower than the bag, it can be straight, curved or pointy.

Talking about the availability of fabric, I have to mention that depending on the fabric texture, sometimes the strands appear to look better when cut diagonally rather than straight. See further for details.

If you are planning to make a fringe levelled with the bag’s bottom and there are darts which will form the bottom of the bag – make the fringe end just above those darts.

Hippie bags with handmade fringe
Sewing pattern for these bags is here >>>

How to make

Fringe is very easy to make, especially if you have a cutting mat and a rotary cutter. If you do it with scissors, it will also work, but takes longer and you have be super accurate.

Mark a line at the top to be your guide where you should not cut. Simply cut along aligning a ruler with the grid on the cutting board. For leather a good width would be 0.7cm (1/4″), for other fabrics it is better be slightly wider – 1cm (3/8″).

Cutting the fringe from leather

Try different fabrics and directions

After doing a few experiments, the best fringe trim seems to be the one made from real leather (and some types of faux leather). It’s soft and easy to cut, strong and doesn’t fray. However this option is not always available or preferred, also you can’t wash leather. So let’s see which other fabrics can work.

Handmade bag with leather fringe
Faux leather long fringe

For instance, jersey is quite good, it’s not fraying. Funny enough, different jersey fabrics work differently. On one of them strands roll into tubes after wetting, and on the other they don’t.

Fringes made from jersey
Jersey was cut straight, not diagonally

Some fabrics are better cut straight and some – diagonally. Also some fabric fringes (like denim or corduroy) are needing a wet toss to achieve it’s best look. It is always good to experiment on a small piece before making a full thing.

Fringe made from corduroy
Fringe made from diagonally cut corduroy works quite well

It’s quite a good idea to toss the sample fringe in water and dry to see what it looks like before attaching it to a bag. A handbag will be washed one day and you better know in advance how this will affect the fringe.

Handmade denim purse with fringe décor

Fringe made from jeans

The fringe made from old jeans can not be any size, but what fits into the jeans pieces we have. I have tried to make a denim fringe cutting the strands in three different directions. I don’t exactly like both the straight cuts on denim, I think it looks untidy.

Two fringes made by cutting denim

The DIAGONAL cut is my favourite and works the best but it is most limited on size! The top line of the fringe have to be diagonally cut within the denim piece and then the rest of the fringe will be triangle. Not much choice or space.

Diagonally cut denim fringe trim

To achieve the twisted look toss the cut fringe in water and hang to dry in a neat way, letting the strand hang down just as they wood later on a bag. The fringe will stretch a bit after that, so cut the sides off as described below.

Sewing the fringe in

First of all work out and mark the horizontal line for the fringe to be placed.

If you are not planning to add a trim to cover the top of the handmade fringe, keep the fringe the same width as the bag, including seam allowances and cut off a couple of strands so that they don’t get in the way later when sewing the sides of the bag:

Trimming the fringe to insert into bag

If you are planning to add a trim, the fringe can be smaller width wise than the bag:

Trimming the fringe to fit the purse

Adding more décor

Of course the bag with just a fringe will look good, but how about adding some more stuff? This is the fun part!

You will surely need a decorative ribbon or lace to add at the top of the handmade fringe (the top edge is very likely not looking as good as bought one). And think about some beads for the ends of the draw string at sides. And how about using the same beads and the same string to add more colour and charm as individual strands?

You can also make two fringes of different sizes and overlay them.

Prepare everything at once. Handle strap, draw string, beads, ribbon. That way you can match everything for the best result!

Sew on the fringe with all the additional bead strands.

Gather all décor elements to add

Did you know that if the string’s end is frayed and doesn’t want to fit through the hole in a bead (even though you see the size is right), you can dunk that end into melted wax, press it to make a tidy end which will easily go in 😉

Once you have done with all the decoration additions, sew the trim on top to cover up all the disarray and the body panel is ready to be sewn into the bag!

Sew the beads and the pretty ribbon

I think that was fun 🙂 Great décor element for a summer bag. By the way the full pattern for a bag like this is here >>>

Young hippie girl wearing fringes purse
Sewing e-pattern of this bag in three sizes is here >>>
DIY hippie bag

Now you know how to make and add a fringe trim to your handmade bag, give it a go and share it on Instagram, tagging me @makeitindenim, so that I don’t miss it! I would be happy to include your creation in the Student’s Gallery too!

More fun lessons can be found here >>>

2 thoughts on “Fringe décor

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