Method Monday, a tutorial on Pleather/Vinyl straps.

I have discovered pleather/vinyl  (P/V) to be a less expensive and greener alternative to leather.   This tutorial will show you how to sew a leather looking strap with a tri-fold method that I developed myself.

Find the right materials that will work for sewing straps.  If the  is P/V semi-easy to fold, and the texture looks like leather, then it will work.  Always buy more than you think you will need.  Keep in mind the kind of pleather that is really thin.  This thin P/V is better suited to making handbag bodies, and not the straps.  Thin pleather/vinyl will simply stretch too much to work for a strap.  


110 needles and Teflon foot
Use a Teflon foot (so the p/v will not stick), and a 110/100 needle (topstitch, leather, or jean). Teflon feet are available for Viking and Pfaff.  Brother, White and Babylock use an Ultra Glide foot (It is a white plastic foot).  I recommend the roller foot for a Bernina machine, the roller foot number is #57.

Scotch Tape on bottom of presser foot
Another option if you do not have a Teflon foot is to stick a piece of matte Scotch tape on the bottom of your presser foot.  Trim off all excess tape not touching the foot.  This option works well when the Teflon or glide foot will not work for patent leather/pleather. 

When cutting p/v, it is necessary to start with a straight cut across the entire width.  I use 2 or 3 rulers lined up end to end to mark this straight line, and then cut off the uneven edge to have a clean start to measure and cut the strap pieces. Use an ink pen to mark your cutting lines as felt tip markers will bleed through some p/v.   Rotary blades work well to cut p/v evenly to ensure an accurate measurement for the straps. 

Measure strap 4.5" wide
Mark right folding line

I cut my straps in measurements of three.  So for a finished strap that is 1.5” wide, you need to cut a 4.5” wide piece.  After I cut the piece, I measure 1/3 of the total width and mark a straight line down the entire length of the p/v with the ink pen on the left side of the strap. (1.5” for a 4.5" wide strap).  This piece is now ready to sew into a strap.

I recommend using 100% cotton quilting thread for sewing on P/V.  It just looks really nice. Wonderfil, YLI, and King Tut thread are awesome to sew P/V with.  Use a bigger stitch too.  Stitching through P/V is thicker, and the strap will look more professional if a little longer stitch is used (3.5-4.0).  Always do sample sewing to get your tension right.  I have found that I sometimes need to tighten my tension a bit to get the stitching right on both sides of the strap. 



First fold of the tri-fold method

With the 1.5" marking on the left side, fold the right edge of the p/v over to the 1.5" line.  It is best not to pin the p/v, as the pin holes will show, so it is necessary to fold and sew.  If you feel like you need to pin it, use Getta Grip Clips instead of pins to hold in place.  I have to say that these clips are the best when it is hard to pin in any kind of sewing!!! 


Sewing the first row of stitches

Start to sew on the folded edge of the p/v with a 1/16” seam allowance (SA) for the first row of stitching.


After the first row of stitching is completed, clip your threads at the bottom of the strap, but do not clip the threads at the top where you are starting to stitch.  Always sew from top to bottom when sewing your straps to minimize the pleather from twisting.  Leaving your threads long at the top so you know which end to start stitching each new row of stitching.  

2ND ROW (& 3rd ROW if desired):
Go back to the top of the strap piece to start the next row.  Consider where you would like your stitch lines, and how far apart they are.  Keep in mind that the second row of stitching must be1/16"- 1/4" away from the first line of stitching so that the edge of the p/v is caught perfectly in the stitching as follows.   
Now, fold the other edge of the p/v up to the first row of stitching then use a 1/16"- 1/4" sa to stitch down and "catch" the other edge of the strap with this second row of stitching for this side of the strap.  Next add a third row of stitching if desired or needed.      

Stitching the 2nd row
2nd row completed

STITCH OTHER SIDE OF STRAP:Next, mimic the two or three rows of stitching on the opposite side of the strap starting with the 2nd row of stitching so that the rows of stitching are stitched in order across the strap. Remebering to start at the top of strap, the strap will be turned to the other side. Complete the 2-3 rows of stitching that mimic the first 2-3 rows. Keep in mind the SA for each row and repeat.

Stitching the other side

Finished strap on an Okashi Bag


Very nicely done, Cheryl! Thank you for the tips and technique!
Christine said…
Yes! Thank you for the tutorial. Sewing this stuff can be tricky!
Thanks Cheryl- VERY easy to follow!

I had never thought of putting the tape on my foot- oh DUH! Will try that the next time!
Tamonster said…
Thanks for this tutorial. I sew vinyl straps all the time and its really hard to work with! I need to get some of those clips.
DC said…
Hi Cheryl. I met you at the Sewing Expo and absolutely loved this Okashi Bag! You told me that you might be able to find the info as to where you purchased the rust colored snake skin vinyl material you used for it. If you find that info, could you email me at Thanks so much! I'm excited about making your bag!
Kristin said…
This is a great tutorial, thanks for posting! I am having a hard time understanding the part where you are stitching the second row.. Where do the raw edges of the P/V wind up once you've sewn the strap?
saraink said…
These are so great! I can see how adding the touch of faux leather really makes a bag look phenomenal! Thank you so much for sharing!
Manoj Singal said…
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Manoj Singal said…
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Unknown said…
I have just found your tutorial. It is very well written and I appreciate you for sharing! :)
Unknown said…
Excellent tutorial!
Unknown said…
Excellent tutorial!
Diane said…
Just came across this great tutorial. FYI, the Bernina roller foot is actually #51 - 57 is their patchwork foot
I love the new hem on the sweatshirt

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