Tutorial : How to Sew Woven Adjustable Straps (and Shoulder Ties!)

Hello lovely sewing people! Now that the sun has finally arrived here in the UK my thoughts more naturally turn to sewing all the sundresses – this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge theme! (Click HERE for the full deets). I think we can all agree, one of the things that can be tricky with sewing a sundress, or a strappy top of any kind, is getting the length of the straps right. One way to avoid this hassle is to switch out fixed straps for adjustable ones, or replacing them all together with ties.

So that’s what todays’ blog post is all about; written by my lovely friend and #sewtogetherforsummer co-Host Suzy, aka @sewing_in_Spain. Over to you Suzy…

“The Sew Together for Summer challenge that Sarah, Monika and I, Suzy, have been running for the last 5 years is all about getting people, regardless of skill level, to sew. I’m sure you’ll agree, the practice of sewing is inextricably linked to our emotions: working with fabric and thread can calm us, distract us or even make us feel more optimistic. After a difficult year, this years’ sundress theme aims for ‘bright and happy’.  However, as with all of our #sewtogetherforsummer challenges, we also want sewists to take on new skills, so we like to include a few tips and tricks to encourage participants to try something new!

The classic sundress has straps of one type or another and these can be crafty little things to sew when you want a truly professional finish. Besides, you don’t need to slavishly follow your pattern – you can introduce your own touch! First I show, step-by-step, how to sew woven adjustable straps, with a discussion and signposts to other techniques, including how to turn out and press spaghetti straps, sew shoulder ties and create elastic adjustable straps!

STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL : How to do make adjustable straps – Woven Fabrics

To take your straps up another level you could add sliders to make adjustable straps; it’s very simple – here is our own tutorial on how to do it!

First, make your ‘pattern’.  You will need to make a pattern piece for the strap and one for the strap loop.  The Strap piece is 4 cm wide and mine is 52 cm long for a UK size 10, grade up or down by one centimetre for every size up or down.

Note : The strap loop is 4 cm by 6 cm for all sizes.

Cut out a pair of straps and a pair of strap loops in your fabric.  You will also need bra sliders and rings, available from haberdashery sites.  I cut them off old bras and swimsuits for when I need them.

Sew your straps and strap loops with a 1 cm seam allowance and trim the seams as you don´t want bulky straps.  Turn the strap and strap loop to the right side.  Press the straps so the seam is in the middle of the back (Sarah loves these Clover Pressing Bars to get your straps pressed nice and evenly!)

NB – If you really don’t like turning out thin staps, we show how to do simple topstitched straps at the end of this post 😉

Thread your strap loop through the ring and sew the ends together, make sure the seam is on the inside.

With the strap seam side up, thread it through the slider so the middle bar is visible.  Press the end in by about 5 mm.

Now fold back 2cm and stitch down enclosing the slider. 

Keeping your seam to the inside, thread the strap through the ring and then pass it back through the slider so it looks like this.  Do the same with the second strap.

Now just attach the strap to your dress in the normal way, making sure the rings are at the back. 

You can make a wider strap, but you will need wider sliders and rings.

Topstitched straps

You could also make simple straps without the need to turn them out. This works well for more stable fabrics like linen, twill, denim or whenever you want a sturdier strap.  

Decide on the width you want your finished strap to be.  For example, if you want a 2cm finished strap, you double that measurement and add on 1cm seam allowance.  

2cm x 2 = 4 + 1 = 5cm.

Cut your straps according to your calculated width and the necessary length. 

Press the sides in by 5 mm, then fold in half with the right side outermost. 

Next, edge stitch your strap, first on the open side and then on the folded side.  I use an edging foot which makes this more accurate.

That’s it – a simple and strong way to make your shoulder straps.

Adjustable straps – Elastic

There are quite a few tutorials on how sew adjustable straps with lingerie elastic, I really like this one from Colette.

Tie Straps

You may wish to turn your straps into cute ties, which also makes the straps easy to adjust for yourself or if you’re sewing for someone else. Look how gorgeous Ambers’ (@soisewedthis) Ogden Cami dress hack turned out! She made the straps wider and longer so as to be able to tie at the shoulder. True Bias, the designer of the Ogden, has a fabulous tutorial on the website explaining how to do this (see HERE).

If your dress has straps which are cut as part of the bodice you can still add ties. Here is how to do it on the Kim dress, a design of By Hand London, which would work on lots of other patterns – see their full tutorial HERE.

Spaghetti Straps

Thin ‘spaghetti straps’ always look gorgeous – just look at this Sicily Slip Dress by Sewing Patterns by Masin – but they can be fiddly to sew and turn out. Grainline Studio have written a full tutorial that takes you through the sewing and turning out process step by step (see HERE).

I hope that helps when deciding what straps you would like.  What is your favourite way to sew straps?”

Thank you Suzy!

Until next time (when I hope to showcase my own sundress!) happy sewing!

Disclaimer : Not a sponsored post. Post contains an affiliate link for the Clover Pressing Bars. Sarah x

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