Want to sew a pair of bibs but don’t feel like figuring out how to sew the traditional overalls buckles, strap adjusters, and buttons?
This was how I felt as I prepared to sew my Stitch Sisters dungarees (aka, bib overalls). I thought knotted straps would look too bulky in midweight denim. But, I wanted something different from the “expected” bibs hardware.
My overalls hardware solution turned out to be D-rings. D-rings are intuitive to sew and easy to secure.
Keep reading for a full tutorial (with illustrations!) on how to sew D-ring straps for overalls.
What is a D-Ring Closure?
D-rings are a way to join fabric with hardware that’s not a zipper, snap, hook and eye, or eyelet.
With a D-ring closure, the ends of two straps are connected by weaving one strap end through two D-shaped rings. The matching rings have one straight side and one curved side — like a capital “D.”
Common Uses for D-Ring Straps
D-rings come in many sizes and usually are metal. D-rings, because they’re metal, work well with mid- to heavyweight fabrics.
The first thing that comes to my mind when you say “D-ring straps” is a webbing or ribbon belt with D-rings. D-rings also appear on straps that close pockets and on adjustable neck straps for aprons.
Beyond fashion, though, D-rings often are used in yoga straps (See “Where Can I Learn More?” below) and utility tie down straps. This humble hardware is used to hard work and can take abuse.
The D-rings’ tough pedigree is why I thought they’d look cool on bib overalls — a quintessential workers garment.
Supplies for Sewing D-Ring Straps
Have the following sewing supplies on hand as you sew D-ring straps:
Related: Favorite Sewing Supplies: An Epic List from an Advanced Sewist
How to Sew D-Ring Straps for Overalls
These instructions tell you how to sew two-strap (one front strap and one back strap over each shoulder) dungarees, with the D-rings on the front straps.
With my Stitch Sisters dungarees, I made the front straps long enough so that the D-rings flipped over my shoulders. I wanted gravity to flip the back straps (the straps pulled through the D-rings) down my back vs. hanging down the front of my body.
Feel encouraged to experiment with your own straps and D-ring locations! Be thoughtful, though, about which direction the straps will flop.
The illustrations are not to scale.
1.) Determine front strap length by measuring over your shoulder with a fabric measuring tape. Add seam allowance to length. Add 1-inch turn to length for securing D-rings.
2.) Determine strap width; it is the same for the front and back straps. To pass smoothly through the D-rings, the straps should be ⅛-¼ inch narrower than the rings.
3.) Determine back strap length. If you’re putting the D-rings on the front straps, the back straps can be generous in length, and you can trim off the excess. (I cut the front and back straps the same length; I like long straps.)
4.) Using the length and width measurements for the front and back straps, cut two front and two back. When cutting, place the long sides of the straps on the grain (selvage). Create a pattern piece for the straps or draw cutting lines on the fabric.
5.) Finish the short edges of all straps. I serged my short ends.
6.) Sew the long sides of each strap, right sides together.
7.) Turn the straps right side out.
8.) Shift the seam so it sits in the middle of one side of the strap (vs. on the side/edge). The strap side with the seam is the strap’s bottom — the surface of the strap that will touch your body.
9.) To neaten the unattached short edges of the back straps (the ends that pass through the D-rings), turn about ½ inch of the short edges to the inside of the strap tube, wrong sides touching the wrong side of the tube. The fold at the end of the strap should be straight across and square (as possible) at the corners; it will be topstitched.
10.) Press the straps to set the shifted long seams and folded short edges. This is the place to use a clapper for crisp edges.
11.) Topstitch the straps from the strap top. Remember: The surface with the long seam is the bottom of the strap. An edgestitch foot here is helpful.
12.) Press one short edge of the front straps 1 inch to the strap bottom. This will become the loop that holds the D-rings. ILLUSTRATION
13.) Slide two D-rings into each (yet-to-be-closed) loop.
14.) Slowly stitch down loops from the strap top. (A skinny zipper foot might make sewing these stitches easier vs. a wider foot.) I stitched over the same line of stitching three times for extra strength. Some of my stitches skipped; stitching over the line three times also helped hide skipped stitches. It’s a lot of fabric layers, and machines may struggle with this task.
15.) On the front and back bibs units, turn the top edge to the inside (wrong sides together) the length of the seam allowance. Press and topstitch.
16.) Turn the front bibs unit wrong side up. Place the D-ring-free short edges of the front straps along the upper folded edge of the front unit, near the “corners.” The strap top touches the right side of the folded edge. The short edge of the straps aligns with the edge of the bibs that’s folded to the inside.
17.) Sew the front straps to the front unit from the right side. Align the strap topstitching with the topstitching on the folded edge of the front unit.
18.) Turn the back bibs unit wrong side up. Place the unturned-and-stitched short edges of the back straps along the upper folded edge of the back unit, near the “corners.” The strap top touches the right side of the folded edge. The short edge of the straps aligns with the edge of the bibs that’s folded to the inside.
19.) Sew the back straps to the back unit from the right side. Align the strap topstitching with the topstitching on the folded edge of the back unit.
20.) Celebrate! You sewed D-ring straps to your dungarees!
21.) Secure the back strap to the front strap, slip on those bibs, and take on the world.
Alternate Method: Sew an “X”-Box
For extra strength, sew a box to secure the D-ring loops and front and back straps. This stitched “X”-box is especially functional on garments that see a lot of wear and tear, particularly on kids’ clothes.
a.) Add extra length (½-1 inch) to both ends of the front straps and to one end of the back straps.
b.) When attaching the straps to the front and back units of the overalls, place the strap top against the folded top edge of the front/back unit. The strap should be about 1¼ inches below the topstitched and folded overalls edge.
c.) From the right side of the front/back, stitch a box on the 1¼ inch piece of strap. Next, stitch an “X” in the box.
d.) On the front straps, press the unattached short ends 1¼ inches to the strap bottom. These will become D-ring loops.
e.) Slide two D-rings into each loop.
f.) As completed in Step C, stitch a box with an “X” to secure the D-rings in the loops.
Where Can I Learn More?
Here are some tutorials and inspiration for using D-rings in sewing projects:
- Easy Sew D-Ring Belts Tutorial: Fiskars (yes, the orange handle scissors brand) had a fully photographed tute on how to stitch a custom D-ring belt.
- DIY Yoga Strap and Mat Sling Tutorial (Video): This vid shows how to use cork fabric or laminated cotton.
- Burberry D-Ring Skinny Silk Scarf: This is similar to a D-ring belt, except instead of wearing the scarf at your waist or hip, you loop it around your neck or collar.
- 1-inch Rainbow Metal Welded D-Rings, 5 Pack: Didja know you can get D-rings in all kinds of sizes and finishes, including iridescent rainbow, on Etsy?
- The Original Stitch Sisters Dungarees Tutorial (Video): And, for good measure, here’s the tutorial I followed to sew my pictured gray bibs.
Final Thoughts About D-Ring Straps
D-rings are a fun way to add the “toughness” of hardware to a handmade garment. Making a D-ring strap is a pretty common sense sewing project.
My No. 1 tip when sewing D-ring straps is to think about HOW the D-rings and opposite strap end are going to come together. Ask: Which way is the strap end going to fall, and is that OK?
Over to you, gentle sewist:
- What steps did I leave out or breeze over?
- Have you tried sewing D-ring straps before? If yes, how did it go?
- If you haven’t tried, why not?