Welcome back to the blog everyone! In today’s post & video I’m going to be showing you guys how to make swimwear straps. I’ve made straps in most of my tutorials, but I still get a lot of questions so I thought I would do a more in-depth how-to, including the tools I use as well as some solutions to common issues.
If you would prefer to watch the video instead, you can do so below:
There are several essential tools you will need every time you make straps.
Loop turner– this is used to flip straps inside out. I used to use a safety pin, but this tool makes it much easier and quicker
Rubber elastic- unlike some woven elastics, rubber can withstand chlorine and salt water. I use 1/4″ and sometimes 1/2″ elastic.
Wooly nylon thread– ever made a garment and as soon as you stretched it, all the seams broke? This thread has an amazing capability to stretch, making it essential for swimwear, and especially essential for straps.
Wooly nylon looks like it’s thicker thread, but when it stretches it thins out. This ability to stretch easily makes it perfect for swimwear. Even while thin, it feels super tough.
Acrylic ruler– another great time saver, this tool will help you measure your straps to the perfect length and width. A must-have for straps!
Rotary cutter (and mat)– worth every penny. Pinning a pattern and using scissors to cut is simply not as precise as laying down a pattern and using this cutter. It pairs perfectly with the acrylic ruler, so it’s essential for straps
When using rotary tools, line up the blade alongside the ruler where you want to cut. While standing up, apply consistent, downward pressure on the blade and cut to your desired length. The cut is incredibly precise!
Sewing scissors– this is an obvious one. In this tutorial we will be using scissors for trimming, but every sewer needs a good pair of scissors.
Alright moving on!
In this tutorial I am going to be cutting two different widths of straps so I can use both elastics and both machines. For the 1/4″ elastic, I am cutting a 1.25″ wide piece of fabric, and I’ll be using my serger. For the 1/2″ elastic, I am cutting a 1.5″ piece, which I will be sewing using my regular sewing machine.
Method 1: Using a Serger
We’ll start with the serger way and then move onto the sewing way. You’ll notice that the steps themselves are actually exactly the same!
First step is to fold your strap piece in half, matching right sides together. Pin if needed. Using a serger, sew along the open end, creating a tube.
To add elastic, we are going to be simply sewing the same seam over again, this time adding our elastic. I split this into two steps to make sure I can sew the elastic without running into any tension issues. Pin down if you need to, but try not to rely on pins since elastic can be tricky.
No need to change any settings on your sewing machine unless you think its needed. There are tons of issues you can run into while adding the elastic. To prevent any weird bunching, I put my left hand around the back and very gently guide the strap through. With my right hand, I let the elastic naturally run through my fingers, making sure not to pull or push in any way.
If you sewed the elastic correctly, there shouldn’t be any bunching or weird curves. We will finish off the strap at the very end.
Method 2: Using a regular sewing machine
For the regular sewing machine version, we will be repeating the exact same steps, this time using a zig zag stitch instead. Add your elastic as well.
To finish off our straps, we are going to use our loop turner. Put the loop turner through the strap until you reach the other end. Find the little pokey hinged thing, and poke it through ONE layer of the fabric, making sure it is sturdy enough to be pulled through. Close the hinge, and slowly start to move it down into the tube, gently shifting the outside fabric up. Keep doin this until the hook peeks out at the end and you can pull the strap all the way through.
And that’s it!
You’ll notice that the serger strap and sewing strap achieve the exact same look, but that the serger strap (the thinner one) has a better stretch. This is because an overlock stitch is more secure and can withstand more movement than a zig zag can. For that reason I’d of course recommend a serger, but I will be making a video specifically on the topic of machines.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my channel for more DIY videos. To become a part of the newsletter club, sign up here.