Do you, like me, sometimes suffer from painfull shoulders when the elastic straps of your bra dig in too deep? Specially in a hot Summer this can become a real problem! Soft padded straps can releave this and I will show you how to make them yourself! You can add them when making your own bra but why not replace the elastic in your store-bought bras as well? Once you find some matching fabric it’s not all that hard to do with the Merckwaerdigh FREE download for padded straps at your side!
The sketches in the picture above are from some of the Merckwaerdigh sewing patterns for lingerie I sell in my online shop at the Etsy platform. Both the printed paper patterns and the digital patterns have full instructions for the padded straps when they are used in a design. When I recently finished the latest digital one with loads of illustrations (that’s the Classic E+ on the left) it seemed only fair to use those illustrations for another FREE download as well, showing you all how to sew your own padded straps you can use in any bra you want, even in a BIKINI top!
The FREE download includes 2 patterns; one for plain padded straps and another one for padded straps using scalloped lace. Because scalloped lace can only be used when one side of the straps is completely straight (since the scallops always are in a straight line). In both cases, first thing to do is to cover the filling. This filling can be padding or batting which will provide the softness and volume. See my earlier blog about lining or the FREE download lining to compare different types of lining and padding. The filling has too much volume to be doubled up at a seam allowance so covering it at both sides is the best solution. That way you can cut the filling without any seam allowance.
First you cut the lining and the lycra with a 0,75cm seam allowance all around. You spread out the lining and place the lycra on top with the WRONG side up. Next cut the padding or batting without any seam allowance and pin this on top. The seam allowance of the fabrics will show all around the filling! Now here’s the tricky part; you stitch with a large straight stitch just at the edge of the filling. NOT in the filling itself because then it will fold when the straps are turned. The edge will be too thick and starts hurting on the shoulder. The sewing machine will flatten the filling during stitching and that way the needle will penetrate the filling just enough to keep it in place. Use the straight stitch a bit larger than usual to overcome the thickness of the filling.
Now turn the lining back over the filling and the filling will be covered at both sides. Lycra and lining can be very slippery so you better keep all layers in place with some pins. Alaways use the pins transverse to the seam allowance, when you pin along with the seam the fabrics will still move a little and cause wrinkles.
When you want to use scalloped lace for the straps you cannot simply replace the lycra with the lace because you will loose all those lovely scallops! Since the lace usually is a bit sheer the best thing is to cover the filling with lining at both sides. When done place the covered filling at the wrong side of the scalloped lace, just at the lowest part of the scallops. Stitch with a stitching (3 steps) zigzag and keep the last stitch just over the edge of the filling. That way you can hardly feel the edge transit from thick filling to thin lace. We just do anything we can to pamper those shoulders!
Padded straps don’t stretch and are always used just over the shoulder, at the back of the bra you will still need a short elastic part to adapt to your movements. In the FREE download are additional instructions how to attach these to the padded straps and to the bra band.
And as mentioned before; you can use them for a BIKINI top as well! In that case cover the filling with lycra at both sides. Don’t use regular elastic straps for the stretching part at the back, this is not seawater or chlorine proof. You can easily make your own stretchy straps yourself with the same lycra as your swimwear! Just cut a strip 3,5cm wide and fold lengthwise. Place clear elastic (the only elastic which is full chlorine and seawater resistant) along the raw edge and stitch with a zigzag stitch along the inner length of the elastic. Turn the channel inside out and there are your swimwear straps!
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