It’s officially summer! The days are longer, the weather is warmer and the wardrobe has to accommodate that. Last weekend I started a really fun project – I made quilted strips and used them to replace some of the straps on my sleeveless tops. I had made a prototype a few years ago but I knew it could be improved upon. So over the weekend I went ahead and began an improved version of a custom quilted strap top and I found that I couldn’t stop! I made 5 new-to-me tops that I can enjoy all summer long.
Here’s how I went about making a new and improved version. Start with the strips. I wanted my new straps to finish at 1 1/2″ x 8″. Something helpful to use inside the straps is medium-weight interfacing to give a bit of body and structure. (It also creates a third layer in between the layers of fabric, which make the completed straps, technically, tiny quilts!)
Since these strips were sewn together on the long edges to finish at 1 1/2″ wide, I cut them at 3 1/2″ wide to begin with.
Adding a 1 1/2″-wide (actually I cut this just a bit narrower for a bit of wiggle room) strip of interfacing on top of the pressed ends keeps everything in place.
Turn the strips right side out.
My strips finish at 1 1/2″, so I should find the area on the existing strap the also measures 1 1/2″ for the join to be smooth. I attached the new straps to the back of the top first so that I could try it on and adjust the placement of the straps on the front as needed. It would be way more difficult to have to try and adjust the straps in back for fit while wearing it!
The cut straps of the shirt can be inserted into the prepared strips and stitched down.
Now you can either look for the same 1 1/2″ measurement on the front, or you can try on the shirt and adjust the strips to your preferred length. This is where the custom fitting part comes in, and it may be different for everybody. I tried it on and pinned the strips where I wanted to attach them on the front.
Then join the strips to the front the same way as the back, by inserting the cut straps into the folded ends of the prepared strip, and stitch to secure.
There’s another variation where you can make the straps with 2 side seams instead of a single back seam. The technique to attach them to the top is exactly the same as described above, but the cutting of strips is just a bit different and you also have to cut a lining piece. I used this method when I wanted to have a specific part of the print on the front of the strap.
I got done cutting and sewing a bunch of tank tops over the weekend, and during the evenings this week I tidied up the loose thread tails.
This is a really fun and pretty simple project. Since everybody is different, the specific dimensions of strips might change depending on who the shirt is for. I used strips that finish at 1 1/2″ x 8″. The best way to figure out what dimension will work for you is to use a piece of scrap fabric and safety pin it to the shoulders of a tank top that you have. Once you try that top on with the attached strip you’ll be able to tell if you want your straps to be longer, shorter, wider or narrower.
What makes this technique easy is having your new straps as complete and finished as possible before attaching them to an existing tank top – so you don’t have to worry about sewing wovens to knits – you just insert the cut strap into the folded open end of a prepared strip and stitch it closed. Then you can quilt all the layers together to hold everything in place. It’s a nice way to add some personal flair to inexpensive tops or to give new life to an old garment. Plus you can wear your most favorite scraps if you want to!
Quilting and summer don’t always go together, but they can! What are your favorite summer quilting projects? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website. Stay cool this weekend!