Our Laminaria Swimsuit was designed with spaghetti straps. One of the questions we get, particularly from those with larger busts looking for more support, is if it is possible to sew the Laminaria Swimsuit with wide straps. Yes! Below, we describe 3 different ways to sew wide swimsuit straps that can be substituted on the Laminaria Swimsuit or any other swimsuit with narrow straps that you want to increase the width. The 3 different methods are from fabric, from fabric covered elastic, and from decorative elastic. (Shown above is our Laminaria Swimsuit with contrast covered edges, wide decorative elastic straps (described below), hidden elastic join (tutorial coming soon), and raised leg (tutorial coming soon)).
A simple way to increase the width of your straps is to sew fabric tubes. Cut four strips of fabric your desired length and 1/2″ wider than your desired width. Sew the fabric right sides together using a 1/4″ seam allowance and then turn the strips right side out.
For an extra bit of added support you can sew 1/4″ swimsuit elastic into the seam allowance of the strap. This gives the fabric a bit more resistance to stretch and hence a bit more support. You can also sew a layer or two of power mesh inside of the strap for the same effect.
Fabric tubes add a bit of extra support and are less likely to dig into you because of their width. They are the least supportive option and are best suited for styles like a halter neck (pictured here in our Nautilus Swimsuit) or a lace back where you can’t use the following methods because the strap has tight twists and turns.
Fabric Straps with Elastic
If your straps are going straight down or crossing in the back, you can sew them around wide elastic, like you would around narrow elastic for a narrow strap. (Pop over to the narrow elastic blog post and give it a read as it has some more details that will help you here). Note that if your swimsuit will encounter chlorine you’ll want to use elastic without spandex in it as chlorine degrades spandex. Start by cutting a strip of fabric that is about 4 x the width of your elastic and align your elastic with one edge. Sew the elastic to the fabric using a wide zig-zag. In this example I sewed straight down the middle but I recommend sewing it close to the edge of the fabric/elastic to make the next step easier. To prevent any shifting, you can also sew near both sides of the elastic in this step.
Fold your elastic over and then fold it over again. Sew the elastic to the fabric close to the edge of the elastic but at lease a 1/8″ from the edge.
Trim away the excess fabric from the wrong side.
If you want symmetry, you can run another line of stitching along the other edge.
A really simple way to substitute wide elastic on your swimsuit is to use a decorative elastic. This example is a heavy elastic with a plush back meant for the top of garments like underwear or athletic shorts. This is a super easy solution and the assortment of decorative elastics available makes it easy to add a fun decorative detail. Like the previous option, it’s important to note that if your swimsuit will encounter chlorine you’ll want to use elastic without spandex in it as chlorine degrades spandex. If you don’t know the content of your elastic, reserve the suit for sunbathing (or hiding under a big umbrella if your skin is like mine) or ocean splashing and keep out of pools and hot tubs.