Summer Strips

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.

tanktop1 Summer Strips

The prototype. The thing that bugs me about it is that the inside isn’t finished properly. It’s a good start but I can do better!

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!)

tanktop2 Summer Strips

Strips sewn with a single seam and pressed up at either end.

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.

tanktop3 Summer Strips

Back of sewn and pressed strips

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.

tanktop4 Summer Strips

Interfacing gives body, structure and now those folded, pressed ends aren’t going anywhere.

Turn the strips right side out.

tanktop5 Summer Strips

A safety pin gives something to hold onto for turning the strip.

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!

tanktop6 Summer Strips

1 1/2″ wide. I can make my cut just above that. Pin the top together to make sure both sides are cut the same.

The cut straps of the shirt can be inserted into the prepared strips and stitched down.

tanktop7 Summer Strips

I stitched two rows to secure everything nicely.

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.

tanktop8 Summer Strips

Make sure they’re the right length before you cut the rest of the strap off!

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.

tanktop9 Summer Strips

Measured, inserted and ready to stitch down.

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.

tanktop10 Summer Strips

Side seams on the strips. One strip has interfacing fused on it already.

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.

tanktop11 Summer Strips

These have a single seam on the attached strips.

tanktop12 Summer Strips

These all have strips with side seams, so the inside fabric is different from the outside fabric. This method allows for fun fussy cut straps.

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.

tanktop13 Summer Strips

Here’s how the new top looks on!

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!

About Gigi Khalsa

Associate Editor at Quilters Newsletter
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2 Responses to Summer Strips

  1. Evelyn says:

    Makes the tops much nicer. I am trying to finish some pillows for
    My outdoor chairs. Back pillows out of outdoor fabric
    Doing cording out of a different fabric.

  2. Lori says:

    Love this idea Gigi……I like the way you made pointed ends on the green shirt. And I must say if you are going to use two different fabrics for front and back of the straps just skip the turning and press the side seams over the fusible and press the points or hems and place them together and just topstitch, matching color thread or using a fancy stitch on your machine. Cannot wait to get hold of my granddaughters T’s as they are long enough, but the straps are too short…….

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