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Jan 7, 2013

Yoga/Pilates Mat Shoulder Strap

I have decided, 2013 will be my year to pursue new craft skills! I am creative and crafty enough, but it's time to finally build some skills. That being said, I am committing myself to completing a craft-related project every week. It can be anything, really, as long as it requires me to explore and learn something new. This will be an adventure and I'll try to keep it as varied and fun as possible! If you find yourself inspired to try some of these projects with me, please do and let me know how it goes!

So, my craft adventure is beginning with something practical that I have been in need of for a long time: a strap for my yoga/pilates mat. After going through several rubber bands (I know, I'm frugal) that snapped on my fingers every time, it is time for a more permanent and pretty solution. Here we go!

Week 1

Project: Yoga/Pilates Mat Shoulder Strap (see also Personalize Your Mat Strap!)
Source: Pins & Needles NYC, with special thanks to Rachel for her patient tips and awesome fabric selection!
Skills: Sewing
Time: Approx. 3 hours (I'm sure it will go faster if you have some previous sewing experience)
Cost: $9
  - 1/4 yard fabric (light/medium weight cotton) - choose something fun!
  - 1/4 yard fusible interfacing (light/medium weight)
  - 32'' X 1'' webbing  
  - Thread - something that blends with the color of your fabric... or not!
  - Sewing machine with buttonhole foot - or you can sew the hole by hand.

On one of my trips home, to Brazil, my mum insisted on giving me her old sewing machine and I was insane enough to carry it all the way back here. But I am very glad I did. Once back in NYC, I decided that if I was going to have this heavy machine cluttering my small one bedroom apartment, I had better put it to good use! Also, I don't think my mum has ever sewed more than 2 days in her life, so I would finally be fulfilling the machine's destiny. =P

I bought a Groupon for a 2 hour beginners sewing class and learned the basics, enabling me to sew straight pieces together, which is really all I needed for this project. As a result, if you are just starting out, I totally recommend taking a face-to-face class to build some confidence. 

1 - To start building the strap, first cut the pieces you will need: 2 pieces of 30"x3.75" fabric; 2 pieces of 30"x3.75" interfacing (the interfacing I had available was not quite enough, so I adjusted by making it narrower and it worked fine, as seen on the picture below). We'll be working with a 1/4" seam allowance.

2 - Iron the interfacing to your fabric. Rough side of the interfacing is placed on the wrong side of your fabric. It should attach pretty easily with the use of a regular hot iron.

3 - Sew both strips of fabric together making one long, skinny strip. Remember to sew it from the wrong side of the fabric. Then iron the seam flat.

4 - Close the strip on all three ends to create a tube, but leave a 3" - 4" opening in the middle, so that you can turn it inside out. Again, sew it from the wrong side of your fabric! Sorry if I am being redundant, but I have made this mistake a few times and it's such a bucket of cold water!

5 - Use a long stick, or in my case a paint brush, to turn the "tube" inside out through the hole you left in the middle. I tried other techniques, but this worked the best. Iron the "tube" flat to prepare it for the next step!

6 - Now we'll be working on the RIGHT side of the fabric! Center the webbing (relative to the length and width of the strap) and pin it in place. The ends of the webbing should be turned under and pinned as well. Sew all 4 sides of the webbing onto the strap and do it carefully to prevent the webbing from moving around. As you sew the webbing in place, it is very important to also sew the hole you initially left open in the middle of the strap. ATTENTION: If you want to embroider something on the webbing, do it before you sew it to the strap. Check out my post on how to Personalize Your Mat Strap with stem stitch!

7 - Lastly, the buttonholes! I ended up doing these by hand because I didn't realize my machine had that feature built in (that's why it's important to know your machine!). So, what I did was, I cut 2" slits approximately 1.75" from each end of the strap. Then, I used the same green thread from the embroidered letters to sew around the slits/buttonhole. This can take a while and will look more "rustic", but I was very pleased with the result. I tried the machine feature later and it also worked well, though I think I need some more practice runs on fabric scraps.

8 - Pass the right end of the strap through the left buttonhole and the left end through the right buttonhole. Your Yoga/Pilates Mat Shoulder Strap is ready and personalized! Now go show it off as you follow through on that longstanding New Year's resolution to work out more. 

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