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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Swimsuit Straps/Strings w/ Elastic? ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Swimsuit Straps/Strings w/ Elastic?
Let's put our thinking caps on...
Mrs.Moos
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Mrs.Moos  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/27/09 1:52 AM

I am in swimsuit making mode. I completed a suit today and will review as soon as it gets laundered. As soon as I was done with it, i put it on and jumped in the pool!It was 103 on my patio today
Anyway, I am trying to brainstorm a technique to make the straps/strings since the top was a "string bikini". I have looked at RTW and picked apart a strap from a RTW suit here but for the life of me, I can't figure out how the factories make the strings. They look like they are sewn and turned--not like they were ran through a binder or belt loop maker. There is no stitching on the outside.
Now I made my strings by 1.) Cutting strips and folding right sides together them serging 1/4" or 3/8" elastic just catching it in the seam then turning. It was a PITA. Plus it laid a lot of thread in there so it made the string bulkier than I wanted. So then I tried 2.) Same thing, right sides together but wooly nylon in bobbin for stretchability and using an "almost straight" zigzag stitch, stitched the seam, again catching the elastic and turning. This method, even with the wooly in the bobbin made for some popped stitches when I tightened the string.
SO does anyone have any ideas on how the factories make these strings/ straps? I know they don't fiddle around like I did! I was tempted to attach one of my CS binders and just run the fabric through it and try to insert elastic in the middle as I go along but I dont want stitching on the outside.
I know those dang RTW factories have some sort of technique or attachment/machine. But what is it?
Makes me want to infiltrate a swimwear factory but I would probably have to go overseas for that, huh?

tourist
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tourist  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/27/09 11:01 AM

Yep, I'll bet they have something that actually turns as it sews.

I don't think they go as far as pulling it to see if stitches will break. They just leave them as sewed and let us break the stitches the first time we wear something.

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LouisaP
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Date: 7/27/09 12:10 PM

I don't know how to make the teeny spaghetti straps like they do on RTW string bikinis, but I do have a technique for making narrow straps with elastic.

I cut 2" wide strips of lycra on the crossgrain.

I typically use 3/8 inch wide elastic. Cut a LONG piece of elastic, longer than the finished length I need by about 6 inches. (I make my straps all in one long length, and chop off the pieces I need).

On my serger, I stitch the long edge of the elastic to the long edge of one of my lycra strips, using a 3-thread wide overlock stitch, wooly nylon in both loopers. (When I first started, I needed to zig-zag the elastic to the lycra to baste it, then I serged it, cutting off the tiniest bit of fabric as I serged...I've gotten more adept over the years).

Try not to stretch the elastic as you serge it to your fabric, you want it to be as flat as possible. But a little rippling isn't a problem.

Thread your sewing machine with a 6.0mm double needle (for knits, if you can find it), and wooly nylon in the bobbin. Set your stitch length to a medium-long length.

I don't use pins for this step: wrap the lycra around the elastic, covering the serging and pull it taut. You'll be able to hold the excess fabric on the right side of your elastic strip as you stitch, so you can keep wrapping it and stretching it as you go.

Stitch slowly down the length of your elastic, keeping your double line of stitching in the center of the elastic.

When you've top-stitched the whole thing, use an applique scissors to carefully cut away the excess lycra on the back side (it won't ravel). You'll have a neatly topstitched piece of elasticized strap, and the back side will mimic a cover stitch.

If you need a 1/4" strap, you'll need to use a narrower twin needle, something like a 4.0mm.

goodworks1
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Date: 7/27/09 1:14 PM

Could you use a Fasturn tube turner?

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Janie Viers
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Date: 7/27/09 4:50 PM

put the filler on the right side of the fabric and leave hanging out loose at the end at least as much filler as you have inside. Sew across the end where the filler and fabric begin going toward the end of the filler with fabric and down next to the filler on the fabric, trim and pull so that you are pulling on the filler originally inside the fabric and pushing the tube over the formerly loose filler. I have made really tiny cords that way.

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JanieV

JTink
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JTink
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In reply to Mrs.Moos


Date: 7/27/09 6:34 PM

I've just finished my third suit from the OOP McCall 6579. I made one from View B. The little straps on that were just done, right sides together, straight stitched and then I stitched again about 1/8 inch from the original stitching and turned inside out. I haven't had anything Pop yet. I've been making my own bathing suits(from bikinis to one pieces) for about 30 years. I expect to have some popping threads when I wear my suits, especially pulling them up and down over my hips. But double stitching usually saves the day

koo104
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Date: 7/27/09 10:36 PM

Does your sewing machine have a lightning stitch? It is a side slanting zigzag that looks like straight stitch. It is very stretchy and you can sew a narrow none bulk seam for your spagetti straps. Works really well.

You can also insert clear elastic tape which is much thinner than elastic.
-- Edited on 7/28/09 9:24 AM --

SheBear0320
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Date: 7/28/09 3:49 PM

I sew a lot of string bikinis for female bodybuilders -- some like the elastic in the strings and others don't. It's a matter of personal preference.

I'm sure I read this technique somewhere but it is the one I use regardless of whether the strap is 1/4" wide or 1" wide (or wider). I like the way it looks -- there is no visible stitching and it is strong and secure and endures a lot of stretching.

First cut your fabric the length of the strap you want plus seam allowances -- the width should be the width of the elastic x 2 plus 1/2 inch.

Cut the elastic the length of the fabric strip plus 3 inches.

Fold the strap in half lengthwise right sides together and lay elastic over the top of the strap at the long open edge. Sometimes I have to run a quick zig-zag stitch down the length of the fabric before doing the elastic (really depends on the fabric and the fabric finish). I use the serger to sew the lengthwise strip to the elastic. I don't use wooly nylon -- just regular old serger thread. There will be a 3 inch tail of elastic sticking out. DO NOT STRETCH THE ELASTIC AS YOU ARE SERGING.

Once the strip is sewn, I attach a pin to the elastic tail and insert it into the tube and feed it through to turn the tube and elastic right side out.

Once turned you have a nice strap with the seam on the underside and no visible stitching on the right side.

I find this works really well on lycras and knits and it is easy to turn because of the stretchy fabric. It also works on wovens but you need to cut the fabric longer and stretch the elastic as you sew. I've done as narrow as 1/4" and as wide as 1.25". I haven't tried 1/8" elastic yet but maybe at some point I'll give it a try.

I've experimented with a lot of techniques for elastic straps and this is by far my favourite.

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Sheila
"sewing very slowly to fill an empty closet"

2014 Stash Busting Sew-Along:
56.0 yards sewn (as of 08/13/14)
113.125 yards purchased (as of 08/13/14)

M.S.
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M.S.
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In reply to SheBear0320


Date: 8/4/09 6:24 PM

SheBear, you are a genious! Thanks for this tip! OP, thanks for the question!

Sherril Miller
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In reply to SheBear0320


Date: 8/4/09 7:07 PM

Next time you do this could you take photos and do a tutorial? I'm not quite getting it. Maybe I need a nap.

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and if it's worth sewing well, it's worth FITTING FIRST! - TSL

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