I recently bought an exercise mat, which came with a strap. The strap had two elastic loops to keep the mat rolled up when not in use, as shown on the right. Unfortunately, the elastic loops were so loose and stretchy that the mat often slipped out of them while I was carrying the mat around.
So I decided to make a better strap for my mat. First, there are a number of ways to carry an exercise mat, which you may want to consider before deciding which carrying method suits you best. For example, you can make a bag with shoulder straps or with a drawstring. You can even crochet a bag or a strap for your mat! (By the way, did you know that there are important differences between Pilates mats and yoga mats? Here is a helpful link to find out more.)
In the end, I chose to stick to the single-strap-with-two-elastic-loops option (but much improved!). The reason for this is that I prefer something that is not bulky or heavy, and which is quick-and-easy to put on and off the mat. As shown in the image above, my strap is designed so that you can sling your mat from your shoulder, letting it hang vertically against your side.
Below are some easy instructions for making this kind of an exercise mat strap.
Materials and Tools:
Note that the below measurements are suitable for an exercise mat that is 57 cm (22 1/2″) wide and approximately 17.5 cm (6 3/4″) in diameter when rolled up. Please adjust the lengths of the materials to better suit your mat’s size.
- 2 elastic bands, 2.5 cm (1″) wide and 46 cm (18″) long, for the elastic loops
- 1 thin piece of webbing, 2.5 cm (1″) wide and 60 cm (23 1/2″) long, for the strap
- 1 thin piece of webbing, 2.5 cm (1″) wide and 36 cm (14″) long, for the bottom support
- A sewing machine
- Black sewing thread
- 1 needle for your sewing machine that is suitable for sewing stretchy fabric
- A lighter or match.
1. With a lighter or a match, carefully melt the ends of the two elastic bands to prevent fraying. If the webbing straps that you are using are synthetic, I recommend that you do the same with their ends.
2. Make a loop with one of the elastic bands, overlapping 2 cm (3/4″) of its ends.
3. You are about to sew elastic with your sewing machine, which can be a bit tricky. In order to avoid problems such as skipped stitches and tangled thread, I suggest that you use a special needle for stretchy fabric, called a stretch needle. Then, set your machine to a narrow zigzag stitch, with the stitch length of between 1 and 2 mm.
When your sewing machine is ready, sew the overlapped area of the elastic loop from the previous step together. To do so, first sew a box and then sew the diagonals inside it. (The elastic in the first image on the left is white to make it easier for you to see the stitches. Note, I went over the stitches a few times to reinforce them.) The stitches do not look the prettiest, but they are not noticeable when sewn in black thread on black elastic!
When done, you should have one elastic loop just like the one in the second image.
Repeat with the second elastic band.
4. Take the longer piece of webbing (the one for the strap), and make a 2.5-cm (1″) fold at one of its ends, as shown in the first image on the left.
Then, place one of the elastic loops inside that fold. The area where the webbing and the elastic overlap is highlighted in blue in the second image. (Note: When doing so, avoid placing the sewn section of the elastic loop in the webbing’s fold.)
5. As in Step 3, sew the webbing onto the elastic loop, making a box and a cross with the sewing machine.
6. Repeat with the other end of the webbing (the strap), attaching it to the second elastic loop.
Now you should have a strap with two elastic loops attached at either end!
7. Lastly, to prevent the mat from sliding out of the strap while being carried vertically, I decided to add a strip of webbing across the bottom end of the rolled-up mat (as shown with an arrow in the first image on the left). I call this segment the ‘bottom support’.
To make this support, place one of the elastic loops in front of you, with the strap facing away, as shown in the second image on the left.
Now, follow the instructions in Steps 4 through 6 to attach the bottom support to the left and right sides of the elastic loop.
Roll up your exercise mat and put it into your newly-made strap.
Ta-da! You now have a simple but effective shoulder strap for your exercise mat!
Congratulations, you no longer have any excuse for not going to your Pilates or yoga class. 😅 Enjoy!