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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > RTW swimsuit alteration ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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RTW swimsuit alteration
"too long & much too stretchy" straps
hazelnut
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hazelnut  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/19/09 4:48 PM

I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right forum but my question is about RTW swimsuit alterations.

I've purchased several swimsuits online and one fits pretty well, except for having "too long & much too stretchy" straps. This suit (Suit #1) has detachable straps with buttons & buttonholes. I figured a couple new buttonholes could take up the slack in the bust (I know the suit will hang even worse when wet). I haven't sewn a buttonhole in 35 years and have an old mechanical SM with straight & zigzag stitch. Do I need to use a particular type needle, particular thread or a special stitch so that I don't pop threads or, worse yet, ruin the thin (single layer) stretch straps? The straps are an inch wide so the center is very (unusually) thin - I'm afraid it might get sucked in my machine or tear. Could I also possibly add some sort of "less stretchy" reinforcement to the straps that wouldn't irritate the skin?

Suit #2 has attached straps (also too long) and is a little loose on top. I think the bust could probably be adjusted enough in the straps to fit ok except I'm not sure which would be the best way - the "proper" way (which may open up a can of worms for me) or cutting a piece out and then overlapping and stitching, or just doubling over and stitching (and having it look bad). Suit #3 is just too long and I'm sending it back - not sure if Suit #2 should accompany it on it's journey or I should attempt to alter.

I have never sewn on stretchy material and even though this SM is like the one I owned for many years I cannot adjust it as well, so I'm extremely limited on the stitches. I think I can get my zigzag tight enough to create the buttonholes on Suit #1 but I'm afraid the swimsuit fabric might get sucked into my machine and ruined. Any suggestions or advice for a returning, forgot-what-she-knew-from-over-35years-ago sewer? Thanks in advance :)

PS Swimsuits are an absolute nightmare for my shape and these are about as good a fit as I'll get.


diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/19/09 5:43 PM

Ideas for suit #1
By criss crossing the straps in the back when you button them, it will make them shorter.
You can also make a tuck in the strap so the original buttonholes are still usable.
If the straps aren't too wide, you could use swimsuit hooks for the straps. You thread the strap through the hook and stitch across. You can use the excess strap or some grosgrain for a small loop in the back.
To stabilize the straps, sew some grosgrain to the straps, either by hand or machine. That's a trick used in belly dance costumes to keep the bra from being jiggly.

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

tourist
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tourist  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
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Date: 3/19/09 7:06 PM

For #1, I would probably take it to someone to do new buttonholes if crossing the straps doesn't work. Since you can't test stitch as you have no scraps, you could make a mess, I agree. Or switch fastening systems as previously posted. I am assuming you can't move the buttons, which would be the easiest way to go, if you could.

#2 - You just need to shorten the straps? I usually do a fold and pin (or baste) and wear the garment that way at least once. If I feel it is conspicuous, then I go back and cut and rejoin. Often I find it doesn't look or feel bad and end up leaving it that way. The reinforcement idea sounds good. I was going to suggest twill tape - same idea.

------
http://bgballroom.wordpress.com to follow the progress on my next ballgown.

hazelnut
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hazelnut  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/19/09 8:27 PM

Diane S - I will definitely try the crossed-straps first I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know (or couldn't remember) what grosgrain was Would grosgrain ribbon allow some stretch? Could hem binding work as well? The only pic I found when I goggled was suit coat lining or ribbon and the lining material didn't seem easy to find - I'm sure I would have to order it. Sounds like it would be nice to have on hand though. I think I would want a tiny bit of stretch if I lined the entire strap, don't you? I don't fully understand the hook placement idea - can't quite picture it - but I will try these suggestions first.

tourist - I'm glad you brought up the material thing - I do have my old stretched-out swimsuit I could practice some buttonholes on. Your are correct in assuming that buttons can't be added - they are unfortunately on the suit not the straps. I will try suite #2 on again to be sure it's worth fooling around with and then do a tuck first before cutting as suggested.

I still have the question of do I need a special needle, thread etc. If not then I'm good to start practicing!

Thank you both for your prompt replies and good advice I'm glad I joined this site! I hope to eventually purchase a computerized machine so many things will be easier to sew. Never knew what a serger was 'till I came here but it sounds like the machine to have for knits & stretchies. I have many SM questions but I will save them for a different forum. Thanks again!

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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Kansas USA
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Date: 3/20/09 7:31 PM

I would probably eliminate the button holes altogether, shorten the straps appropriately, and then sew the buttons on so that they're permanently affixed.

------
~Gem in the prairie

diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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In reply to hazelnut


Date: 3/20/09 10:16 PM

Quote: hazelnut
Diane S - I will definitely try the crossed-straps first I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know (or couldn't remember) what grosgrain was Would grosgrain ribbon allow some stretch?

Grograin ribbon is the ribbon found in the ribbon section that has tiny ribs, instead of being smooth and shiny like the satin ribbon. It is very stable , with no stretch.
There is also a grosgrain made of rayon that is used in hatbands and waistbands, but it's more of a specialty item.

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

hazelnut
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hazelnut  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/21/09 5:15 AM

diane s -
Thanks for the explanation on grosgrain - I will have to check it out the next time I get into town.

Criss-crossing the straps in suit #1 works fine but it needs the ultimate test it in the pool to see how it literally 'holds up' The soft cup bras inside the suits are really too small to fit properly - I'm hoping to someday be able to sew my own. Suit #2 fits well enough to try shortening the straps and they are not as stretchy so it should work out ok - I hope.

Do I need a stretch needle or can a universal 15 x 1 work well? So far I've only purchased some Schmetz universal 10 thru 14's and jeans needles to start out with and poly & cotton thread. Should I maybe be asking these questions in the Beginners forum instead of here?

Thanks again for your help!

hazelnut
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Date: 3/21/09 5:28 AM

stirwatersblue

Each strap has 2 buttonhole adjustments at each end and a permanent button sewn on the suit to affix them to. If I understand correctly you are saying to not make more buttonholes for adjusting, but just shorten the straps to fit the existing buttons & buttonholes, right? That probably would be easier Thanks for the suggestion!

glenj

glenj
AUSTRALIA
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In reply to hazelnut


Date: 3/24/09 7:52 PM

A stretch needle or ballpoint needle should do the trick.

hazelnut
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hazelnut  Friend of PR
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Date: 3/24/09 11:29 PM

Thanks glenj :)

I will get both! When I did some sewing many years ago I don't remember such a choice of needles - maybe they were around, but I never noticed - too young, too inexperienced and probably too broke Lots to learn...

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