A few months ago, I made the sassy Red Queen quilted duffel bag using Sew4Home’s patterns and Tula Pink fabric. It turned out super well despite it being my first time using piping and modifying a pattern to fit a fabric. Coming up in a few short weeks, this bag is going on its first trip. But as I was pulling it out of storage, I realized that it was missing something. It didn’t have a shoulder strap pad! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have strapping digging into my shoulder as I metro to the airport, weave through airport security, and bop around my destination. Alas, there is a quick and easy fix–make one! Here’s my simple pattern for making a duffel shoulder strap pad.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 pieces of 9″ x 3″ fabric for the bottom of the pad (for the pad I made, I used a piece that was 8″ x 3″ and felt this was smaller than I would have liked but was still good enough to work. I recommend using a length between 8″ – 10″. See my finished pic above to to help judge what size you’d like to use.)
- 2 pieces of 9″ x 3″ (or the same size you chose above) batting for the bottom of the pad.
- 2 pieces of 7″ x 3″ fabric for the top of the pad (the length should be 2 inches smaller than the size you used for the bottom piece — For example, if you choose a bottom piece 10″ long, the top piece should be 8″; bottom piece 8″, top piece should be 6″)
- 1 piece of 7″ x 3″ (or the same size you chose above) batting for the top of the pad.
- ~40″ of 2″ bias binding pressed in half
***This makes a shoulder strap pad for a strap that is 1″. If you strap is larger, I would recommend making the width of your top and bottom pieces to be 1.5″ – 2″ larger than the width of your strapping.***
Step 1. Cut out the pieces
Cut out all your pieces with your preferred method. It would be simple to use a rotary cutter and mat, but I chose to make a paper template and trace out the pieces on my fabric. I chose this, because I was working with a large pattern in my fabric that I wanted to get centered perfectly on my shoulder strap pad.
If you don’t buy your binding, make sure you cut your binding on the bias (diagonal). Yes, this annoying because it ‘ruins’ a large chunk of fabric. But cutting on the bias gives your fabric a little stretch that will be vital when you go to sew it on your shoulder strap pad.
Step 2. Sew the top of the pad
After cutting your pieces, you’re going to first make the top of the should strap pad.
Align a piece of the top of the pad fabric to the top and the bottom of the applicable batting so the wrong sides of the fabric are touching the batting.
Pin or clip everything into place and then quilt as desired.
Finally, bind a piece of binding to both of the short ends as desired. I used a hand sewing technique, where you lay the bias binding that you have already pressed in half on the quilted top piece so that the raw edges align with the raw edge of the top piece. Sew in place with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Fold the binding over the edge of the piece and sew in place with a slip stitch. Repeat binding on the other short end.**DO NOT bind the long edges**
Step 3. Sew the bottom of the pad
Next, you’re going to take your bottom pad fabric and batting. Layer two pieces of batting together. The two pieces of batting give the should strap pad more cushion. You can get by with 1 piece, but 2 is much more comfortable.
Then, layer a piece of fabric on the top and bottom of your batting pile. Make sure the wrong sides of the fabric are touching the batting.
Pin or clip everything into place and then quilt as desired.
Step 4. Sew the top of the pad to the bottom of the pad
Center the top pad piece on to the bottom pad piece. Then sew both long edges to the bottom pad with a 3/8″ seam allowance. (The seam allowance doesn’t have to be exact, just less than 1/4″.)
Step 5. Sew the bias binding around the outside
Alright, steady yourself. This step has the hardest part of the project, but you can do it! I know you can!
First, you’re going to round the corners of the bottom pad. You can either free hand, or find an object with a 2 – 3″ diameter (I used a little pin container), to help trace nice, smooth corners. This rounded corners will make it easier to sew on your binding.
Then, similar to how I explained sewing on the binding bias in step 2, lay your binding along one long edge of your shoulder pad, aligning the raw edges of your folded binding to the raw edges of your shoulder pad. Even though the binding is laid along the entire long edge, you’ll start sewing ~1/2″ before going into a curve (about where the clip is in the picture below). This leaves a nice long tail to neatly finish the project.
As I states, you’ll start sewing ~1/2″ before going into a curve. Sew slowly through the curve. Stop ever 2-4 stitches to adjust the bias binding. You want the edge of the binding to lay smooth around the edge of the shoulder pad. Don’t worry about the waves that happen to the folded edge of the binding. They’ll straighten out when you finish.
Continue sewing around the curve, through the long side, and around the second curve, but stop ~1/2″ outside the curve and remove your shoulder pad from the sewing machine.
At this point, you will have two long tails of binding that you need join them with a diagonal seam. Starting at minute 9:15, the Missouri Star Quilt Company has a great video that taught me how to do this years ago. Remember, your bias is only 2″, not the 2.5″ in the video!
Once the ends are combined, you can finish sewing the binding on.
Lastly, flip the folded edge of the bias around the raw edge of the should strap pad. Then sew it into place, either by hand (my preferred method) or by machine. If you can’t get the binding all the way around the edge of the pad, trim off some of the pad. No one will notice!
The finished product
That’s it! With just an hour or two of work, you can have your own custom shoulder pad that will spice up a homemade or store bought duffel. The extra batting used in the bottom portion of the pad gives a lot of added comfort I was very pleased with. I highly recommend this project. Sewing bias binding around curves can be a bit tricky to learn. But his is a great learner project that you can fix with a little trim of the batting. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!