How to Make Covered Cord Handles for Tote Bags


One of the best things about making your own bags is the variety of options available to make the bag unique. There are countless options for handles, and one of the easiest and strongest options is covering home decor cording with a fabric that matches or complements your bag. Home decor cording is inexpensive and sturdy and will last for a long time. Fabric-covered cord handles are quick and easy to make and can be washed with your bag.

Things You'll Need

  • Handle fabric
  • 1/4" to 1/2" jute home decor cording
  • Thread
  • Zipper foot
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Cut your cording (See References 1 for type of cording). For a standard tote bag you wear over your shoulder, cut two pieces of cording 30 inches long. For a purse-style tote bag you carry in your hand, cut two pieces of cording 22 inches long.

  • Cut your fabric. For a standard-style tote bag, cut two pieces that are each 32 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. For a purse style tote bag, cut two pieces that are each 24 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.

  • Turn down a 1/4-inch seam on all edges of both pieces of fabric. Iron seams in place (See Reference 3, under "Hem Finishes" on the right side of the page). Place fabric on a flat surface in front of you with the right sides down. Center the cord on each piece of fabric.

  • Wrap the long edges of the fabric around the cord so that the edges are even. The fabric should be firmly in place around the cord, so that the cord cannot move easily. Pin the edges together down the entire length of the fabric, being careful to only pin the fabric and not the cord. Pin the short edges after the long edges have been pinned around the cord.

  • Install the zipper foot on your sewing machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Sew the long edges of the fabric with a straight seam, as close to the cord as possible (See References 2 for straight stitches). Backstitch at both ends of the seam.

  • Confirm that the cord is in the center of the fabric with even ends on both sides. Sew along each short edge, directly under the cord on each end, so that the cord will stay stationary and secure. Sew 1/4-inch seam along each short side to close up the edges. Attach to your tote bag.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sew as close to the cord as you can, so it will be nice and snug in the fabric cover.
  • Always prewash your fabric before starting any project.

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  • Photo Credit Sewing Machine Needle image by C Agoncillo from
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