How to Add Straps to a Dress

By Chris Ciolli
How to Add Straps to a Dress
Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Whether you're simply uncomfortable wearing strapless or you want to change the look of a dress you've had for years, adding straps to a dress is a fairly simple way to add visual interest to a dress or to simply make it more wearable. Never fear, there is a strap solution for even the most reluctant of seamstresses.

Adding permanent straps

Step 1

a fabric, your dress, half a yard, fabric
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Find a fabric that matches or goes well with your dress. By half a yard of fabric to play with, just in case you make mistakes.

Step 2

straps, a fabric, your straps
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For straps that hold up better, buy a fabric with some give, or consider lining your straps with elastic.

Step 3

the length, you, the straps, A good way
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Measure the length you want the straps. A good way to do this is to have someone measure the distance over each shoulder from the point on the front of your dress where you want the strap to begin to the point on the back.

Step 4

you, the straps, Thin straps, your dress
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Decide how wide or narrow you want the straps to be. Thin straps are more difficult to construct, but if your dress is a fairly common color and you want thin straps, a good option could be buying ribbon with already-finished edges that you don't have to hem.

Step 5

your fabric, your desired length, width, a few inches
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Cut your fabric to your desired length and width, leaving a few inches on either side as a margin for error.

Step 6

Hem, the straps, a running or flat stitch lengthwise, no unfinished edge
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Hem the straps with a running or flat stitch lengthwise so that no unfinished edge will show, preferably with a sewing machine.

Step 7

a tube, the fabric, the width
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If using elastic, create a tube with the fabric about the width of your elastic.

Step 8

the tube, it, the tube, a running stitch
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Put the elastic in the tube and secure it in the tube with a running stitch on both ends, making sure that it is a little stretched and not completely loose.

Step 9

Try on your dress again.
Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Try on your dress again.

Step 10

a friend, the straps, place
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Have a friend pin the straps in place.

Step 11

your dress, it, the straps, place
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Take off your dress, turn it inside out and then glue the straps in place with fabric glue. Let dry.

Step 12

the pins, a sewing machine, the straps, place
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Remove the pins. With a sewing machine, sew the straps in place in the front and back with a thread similar in color to the fabric of the dress, sewing the straps into existing seams whenever possible for a more subtle effect.

Step 13

you, halter straps, the straps, the front
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If you prefer halter straps, sew the straps in the front of the garment and not in the back, but be sure to finish the edges of the straps so they won't fray.

Removable Straps

Step 1

removable straps, your dress, you, the appearance
Adrián González de la Peña/Demand Media

Add removable straps to your dress if you simply want to change the appearance of your dress and might want to wear it strapless sometimes or change into different straps.

Step 2

the length, fabric, ribbon, you
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Measure the length of fabric or ribbon that you prefer for your dress.

Step 3

the hook side, peel-and-stick Velcro, the outside ends, each strap
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Attach the hook side of peel-and-stick Velcro to the outside ends of each strap and the loop side of the Velcro to inside of the dress.

Step 4

the Velcro, fabric glue, it, place
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If the Velcro doesn't stick, use fabric glue or stitch it in place around the edges.

Step 5

your dress, straps, they, the Velcro
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Try on your dress with straps. If they are loose or wrinkled, try adjusting the Velcro.

About the Author

Based in Barcelona, Spain, Chris Ciolli has been writing professionally since 2003. Ciolli's work has been featured in "The Tipton Times," "The Joplin Independent" and LaVanguardia.es. She received Bright Flight and Curator's scholarships in 2001 and was a Fulbright finalist in 2005. Ciolli holds a dual bachelor's degree in communications and Spanish with a minor in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia.