How to Shorten Tank Top Straps – Step by Step Tutorial

How to Shorten Tank Top Straps – Step by Step Tutorial

How to fix tank top straps if they’re too long – adjust tank top straps using this DIY tutorial with clear video, pictures and instructions.

How to fix a strap that's too long and shorten it

Hey y’all, today I’m going to show you how to fix tank top straps that are too long. I’m short – not quite 5’3″ – so this is an issue I have every time I buy a tank top at the store. When the straps are too low, the necklines are too low for me, so these are alterations I do often. Luckily this is one of the easiest garment adjustments to make. And once you’re done, you’ll have the perfect fit for your top.

This technique works well on tank tops with straps that are wider than a bra strap. It’s not the best method for thin straps, for those I prefer to shorten at the back of the tank.

Supplies to Fix Tank Top Straps

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You don’t need many supplies to shorten your straps. Here’s what I used:

  • Straight pins (affiliate link) or safety pin
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine – if you don’t have a sewing machine you can hand sew this. See this post for hand sewing stitches and use a running stitch and whipstitch and hand sewing needle.

There are a few simple steps to make the armholes on a sleeveless shirt smaller, which you can see in the video below or on YouTube here. Or scroll below the video for written instructions.

Step 1: Pin the Shoulder Straps

Start by pulling the shirt up at the shoulder seam until the strap is the desired length. Pin at the shoulder. Do this on both sides. Pin the strap. Note that this may not be an equal amount taken from each side of the existing seam. For example, if you have forward shoulders, you may be taking more from the front than from the back of the shirt. Check the armpits and neckline to make sure you haven’t shortened the straps too much.

Pin a strap that's too long

Step 2: Cut

Make sure the straps are the same width at the pinned area. Then cut the excess fabric off of each strap, making sure to leave fabric above your pin for a seam allowance. I left 1/2 inch.

Cutting a too long strap on a tank top

Flip the shortened strap so that the pieces are right side together. You may want to pin them this way.

Sew strap with right sides together

Step 3: Sew

Stitch across the strap where the pin was. If the tank if made from stretch fabric like mine, you don’t need to worry too much about using a stretch stitch here. This part of the tank likely won’t need to stretch much. You also don’t need to worry about fraying with a knit fabric tank, but if your tank is made from woven fabric you may want to add fray check to the raw edges.

Step 4: Topstitch

The last step is to open seam and press the seams allowances flat to the sides of the seam. Then you’ll topstitch those in place.

Sewing to shorten a strap

Again, since this is a small area, a zigzag stitch, serger or other stretch stitch isn’t necessary. On my tank top there were three lines of stitching on the binding from a triple cover stitch, so I sewed along the outermost line and innermost line of stitching.

Pressed open seam on a tank top strap stitched down

And that’s it – now you can wear your tank top without the straps falling off or your neckline being too low.

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Shirring Without Elastic Thread | So Sew Easy

Shirring Without Elastic Thread | So Sew Easy

shirring without elastic threadSo what is shirring anyway?

In preparation for a new project this week, I want to introduce you to a technique called shirring (which is sometimes known as smocking) with a simple practice tutorial.  According to Wikipedia, “shirring is two or more rows of gathers that are used to decorate parts of garments, usually sleeves, bodice or yoke.”  With shirring, the gathers can be both decorative as well as functional since elastic can be used to draw in the gathers giving the garment more give to accommodate different sizes.

Most techniques you’ll see around will show you how to do shirring with elastic thread.  Personally, I think that technique has some significant limitations, so I’m going to show you how you can do shirring without elastic thread and using normal elastic.  When you use elastic thread, this thread can irritate wearers with sensitive skin.  Also, to use elastic thread you need to wind the thread onto the bobbin of your sewing machine and it can sometimes cause problems with the machine because the thread stretches.  Finding correct thread tension can be a challenge.

Lighter fabrics work best for shirring.  You’ll need to use really strong elastic if you’re planning to try to gather thick and heavy fabric like denim.  For more Tips for Sewing Denim, please review this tutorial.

Shirring without elastic thread

Shirring without elastic thread is a technique that calls for a bit of patience, but the payoff is fantastic!  This technique is best used on garments that will be close to the skin like pajama pants, children’s clothing or corset-inspired tops where the person that wears the garment has sensitive skin and is bothered by elastic rubbing against the skin.  Shirring without elastic thread allows for a bit of movement and room to breath, while also making the garment last much longer than when using elastic thread.  For best results, it is better to use 1/4″ or 3/8″ elastic.  You can use thinner, of course, but that will depend on your fabric and the design you have in mind.

Where to use shirring without elastic thread?

This type of shirring does not give you a lot of elasticity if you use a thick fabric like damask or brocade, but it will give you the support needed for evening gowns, crop tops, and soft corset tops that do not require a lot of boning.  With cotton lawn fabric and 1/4″ elastic, you can make a very soft and glorious pair of pants perfect for a Sunday morning.  But I guess my favorite place to use this technique is on self-lined crop tops.


  • elastic
  • quilting cotton, cotton pique, rayon, challis linen, or silk dupioni.  (You’ll need a couple of rectangles of the same size for this practice.  Roughly a square foot should be enough.)
  • thread to match your fabric
  • a loop turner or safety pins
  • pins

Shirring without elastic thread tutorial

I am using a scrap of fabric with a dark thread so you can see the stitches better.  To begin our shirring practice project, take the two pieces you will be working on right sides facing in,

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shirring with out elastic thread

sew the top at 5/8″.  Open the 2 pieces and iron the seams to one side.  Topstitch on the seam allowance. 

shirring without elstic thread

Trim the seam allowance to half.

shirring without elastic thread

Turn your work right-sides facing out and iron again.  Pin the sides so that the fabric doesn’t move and the edge becomes distorted.  Start by making a row of stitches a little wider than the elastic you are using.  I am using a 1/4″ elastic, so my rows are 3/8″ wide starting from the edge.  Sew the first row.  Since half of my foot is 1/4″ wide, I will be using my foot as a rough guide.  If you are planning to make this row larger, I suggest you use a ruler to mark the rows otherwise is very hard to eyeball it and keep the rows straight and consistent.

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Sew the entire piece, but stop when you have a bit more than 5/8″ at the bottom.  This seam allowance is indispensable to finish the hem of the garment or the waistband if you are making pants or a skirt.

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Finishing the shirring without elastic thread

Cut the elastic pieces to 1/2 to 3/4 of the length of your pattern and measurement requirements.  For example, the piece without being stretched should match your body measurements.   How many pieces of elastic will depend upon how many rows you have sewn.

Attach a safety pin at one end of the elastic.  The safety pin will help the elastic stay outside of the fabric as you draw the elastic through the rows.

Shirring without elastic thread
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Use your loop turner to pull the elastic to the other side.  If you do not have a loop turner simply attach another safety pin and thread the elastic through the rows.

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Secure the elastics that have been drawn through the rows with a safety pin or pins.

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Leave the last row empty because this is what you are going to need to integrate the shirring into and finish the garment. 

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Sew along each edge of the piece where the pins are to permanently hold everything in place.  And there you have it.  You can use this piece as a beautiful and functional part of your new project.
In my case, I am making this crop top for a party dress.  We’ll share a tutorial for this fun project with you all shortly.  You can see some of it below.

I hope you enjoyed this alternative, and I think a better, way of shirring without using elastic thread.

I know is not the easiest, but when it is applied to the right garment, the effect is very elegant and comfortable to wear.  It will also last a long, long time.

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More Neckline Styles Than You’ll Ever Need

More Neckline Styles Than You’ll Ever Need

neckline styles

Just like the waistline, the neckline style is a defining factor when it comes to the overall look and feel of your outfit.  Your choice of neckline styles defines whether your outfit is formal or casual, feminine and playful or sophisticated and stylish.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right neckline style for your garment; including body shape, bust size, décolleté line, shoulder size, neck length/thickness and face shape.

Conventional wisdom might suggest that large breasted gals opt for higher necklines but this is actually a bad idea…the higher the neckline, the lower set it will make you lovely ladies appear so you should be going for medium cuts. Also, the wider the cut of the neckline, the broader your shoulders will appear –so you can offset a wide hip with the illusion of balance in this way!

Personally, I was surprised by the sheer number of necklines I uncovered which researching this article, the more I searched the more I discovered. Take a look through because there’s a clever choice for every body type and also quite a few unwise choices…you’re bound to get some new wardrobe and project ideas from this lengthy and hopefully very handy list of neckline styles.

I’ve also included some links to various patterns that utilize the several of the neckline styles.  And don’t miss the downloadable summary at the end of the article.

Sweetheart neckline:neckline styles

This neckline is a popular choice for ball and wedding gowns, it’s extremely feminine and flattering on a variety of figures.  The heart-shaped bust line works great on full chested ladies; they can show off or accentuate cleavage without actually revealing too much.

On petite, narrow shouldered women this line will create the illusion of curves and widen the shoulders. Women with hard angled faces will benefit from the feminine balance this soft line provides.  The exposed décolletage balances well with the curves of a broad-hipped woman.  This style could be a standard sweetheart, ending on top of the shoulders, a spaghetti strap version or a strapless sweetheart, there are a number of other variations which we will cover hereafter.

Semi-sweetheart neckline:neckline styles

This style is very similar to the sweetheart style, except that the heart shape doesn’t have that defined point in the center, instead it has a shallower curve.  This will work for the same body types as the standard sweetheart neckline.

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Easy Party Dress from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Pentagonal neckline:neckline styles

This is, in essence, a sweetheart neckline but instead of having a strapless sweetheart or the smooth curve of a standard one, this one combines a square neck with a sweetheart so it will finish on the shoulders.  The overall effect is one of drawing the attention vertically and so you can follow the same body type guidelines as you would for a v-neck.

Straight Across/Tube/Strapless neckline styles:neckline styles

This neckline goes straight from armpit to armpit. This neckline won’t suit narrow-shouldered ladies, only ladies with square proportions and broad or medium, toned shoulders. Try to avoid this unless your arms are toned or slim.  Large busted ladies should definitely avoid this as it will have the effect of making your bust appear low set.

Camisole neckline:neckline styles

This is the same as a Strapless neckline only it includes spaghetti straps for support.

Bateau/Boat neckline:neckline styles

The elegant and sophisticated boatneck neckline has the effect of broadening the shoulders so it’s perfect for pear-shaped ladies, while ladies with broad shoulders should definitely avoid it.  Ladies with attractive collar bones should take advantage of this style.  It also tends to accentuate the bust so it can give the illusion of fullness to a small-busted woman.

V-neck neckline:neckline styles

This angular neckline plunges from the shoulders down to a central point. This is a popular choice among Hollywood stars, because of it’s miraculous lengthening and slimming effects.  Because the v-neck creates a vertical focus: drawing the attention in a vertical line, the effect is definitely one of lengthening and slimming.  This neckline is flattering on any body shape, except

This neckline is flattering on any body shape, except possibly ladies with a very long neck, it accentuates cleavage, lengthens short necks and wide faces while narrowing broad shoulders.  Large busted ladies, keep in mind that a high V-cut will make your chest look lower set.  Ladies with wide hips will benefit from a wider V, as opposed to a plunging one because the exposed skin will create an illusion of balance.

Asymmetric/One-Shoulder neckline:neckline styles

This diagonal neckline will have one shoulder exposed and one strapped. Great on slim ladies with narrow shoulders and toned arms. This is a sexy way to show a bit of collar bone.  This style won’t suit broad-shouldered ladies.

Illusion neckline:neckline styles

This gorgeous effect is created by two necklines, one higher and constructed of a sheer fabric and one lower. The sheer fabric may even feature embroidered detail or sequin work on a ball gown or wedding dress.  As for which body types can wear it, that all depends on the cut of the lower neckline.

Square Neck:neckline styles

This is considered a sophisticated and formal neckline, exposing the attractive décolletage without revealing the cleavage.  This option is best for women with toned neck and chest areas.  This style will also elongate the neck and balance out narrower shoulders.  Because this style broadens the shoulders, it works great for pear-shaped women.  Slim, small chested ladies look great in this style, provided they wear a padded bra to create some curves.  Women with very round faces will benefit here because the square exposure will balance the effect perfectly.

Scoop/Round Neck:neckline styles

This neckline plunges down in a half-moon-shaped curve.  Scoop neck type styles work well for almost every body type but, depending on your proportions, the scoop neck proportions should be the opposite…so narrow shoulders goes with a wide scoop, a narrow scoop goes with wide shoulders.  This style can create the illusion of a large bust on a small-busted woman or it can disguise the bust size on a full-busted woman.

Halter Neck:neckline styles

The halter neck is like an inverted v-neck which comes together behind the neck instead of ending on the shoulders so it will always be sleeveless.  A crossover halter is a combination of this style and the crossover style below.  The halter neck is a popular choice for sportswear, swimsuits, and party dresses because of the support it provides in the bust area, while still being flattering.  This style doesn’t work on women with downsloping shoulders as it will only accentuate the slope. This makes big breasts look a lot bigger and doesn’t really flatter larger ladies. This is ideal for sporty women or slim, small-busted women with slender arms.

Halter Strap:neckline styles

This would be like a strapless cut, often with a sweetheart neckline with straps starting close to the armpits and coming together behind the neck.  This has all the benefits of a sweetheart or strapless cut but with the added support of the halter neck.

High Neck/Funnel/Built-Up:neckline stylesneckline styles

This high neckline is made by cutting the shoulder seams in an upward slant or curve. It will have the effect of shortening the neck and the overall silhouette.  Big busted ladies should avoid this as it will make the breasts look lower set.  This one looks best on square or slender gals with long necks and slim or oval faces.

Off-shoulder/Bardot Neck:neckline styles

Ending on the upper arm instead of on the shoulder, this neckline cuts straight across in a long line, exposing the whole collarbone and shoulders.  Off-the-shoulder/open décolletage styles work best for ladies with a medium bust, toned shoulders and arms, and a long neck, they should be avoided by ladies who are top-heavy set or have a full bust or broad shoulders.  Because of the shoulder broadening effect, this style balances proportions out on a lady with wide hips.

Cowl neckline:neckline styles

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Go to the Cowl Neck Top Pattern

Sew the Cowl Neck Top.  A great wardrobe builder, and versatile with the different sleeve options.  Video tutorial, as well as step by step instructions.

Flattering, comfortable, quick to sew – perfect!

neckline styles

This stylish neckline is feminine and flattering on any body type and it’s a great option for fuller ladies. It includes draping of excess fabric at the neck as a result of a bias cut.

Sabrina neckline:neckline styles

A wide horizontal neckline, in-between a boat neck and an off-shoulder.  This neckline might be fastened at the shoulders.  For body type, follow the same rules as you would for an off-shoulder line.

Keyhole neckline:neckline styles

This high or medium neckline will feature a keyhole-like opening or slit in front, similar to the slit neckline only this one will be fastened shut at the top of the slit. Body type benefits depend on the height of the scoop neckline.

Horseshoe neckline:

This style comes high around the back of the neck and then cuts into a low round curve in front, shaped like a horseshoe.

Turtleneck neckline:neckline styles

Like any high neck garment, the effect will be that of shortening so this is a great option for offsetting a long neck or long thin face.  This is a good option for slender women with a small bust or women with a square shape, provided they wear a padded bra.

Surplice/Crossover neckline:neckline styles

This neckline is common in wrap shirts and dresses, where one side of the v-neck garment is laid over the other. Follow the same body type guidelines as for a v-neck.

Gathered/Peasant/Gypsy neckline:neckline styles

This is a full gathered neckline, in the shape of a scoop which may be low or high, depending. It may be elasticated or fastened at the back.

Drawstring neckline:Boho Chic Tunic

This neckline is exactly like a gathered neckline, only it is gathered with the pull of a drawstring.

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for this Boho Chic Tunic from our account at Payhip.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Florentine neckline:

This is a variation of the square neckline, only it is very wide, exposing the whole collar bone. Body type rules are similar to those for an off-shoulder neckline.neckline styles

Slash/Split/Notch neckline styles:neckline styles

This style combines the round neck with the V-neck effect.  Essentially it’s a scoop neck with a split cut in the middle.  This flattering design is suitable for almost every body shape, provided you follow the rules for choosing your scoop neck cut.  This style is popular for tunics and long sleeve garments and probably works best on petite women, although it can be a great way for larger ladies to show an inch of cleavage without going overboard.  It’s very similar to the keyhole neckline, except with the keyhole, the top of the slit would be closed.

Jewel neckline:neckline styles

This is a very popular neckline, especially for office and formal wear.  It’s high (at the base of the neck), rounded and modest, covering the whole chest and only revealing the neck.  This style is best on a long-necked woman.  As with all high neck styles, it is best avoided by women with a very large bust as it will have the effect of making the breasts appear lower set.

Crew neck neckline:neckline styles

Pretty much the same shape as the jewel neckline, except that this one will be finished with a band of some sort, you are used to seeing this neckline in t-shirts. The same rules apply as for the jewel neckline.

Queen-Anne neckline:neckline styles

Formal, elegant, and sophisticated, this is a sweetheart neckline or an open v-neck with fabric coming up over the shoulders from beneath the arms in diagonal lines so that the back is high and the full décolletage exposed.  The upper part, covering the shoulders will often be made of a different or sheer fabric and this is a style we will see mostly in ballgowns and wedding dresses.  Follow the same rules as you would for the open v-neck or sweetheart line.

Grecian neckline:neckline styles

This stylish and seductive neckline extends from beneath the arms up to the middle chest where a circular strap will support and fasten it behind the neck.  It looks best on women with toned shoulders and slender arms, it will also make broad shoulders appear even broader so beware.

Here’s a summary of the many neckline styles available to you.  Click on the image to see the full-resolution version and right-click to download.

neckline styles

Keep this collection of necklines in mind next time you are looking for a dress to make.  In the comments section, let me know if I missed any necklines.  It would be great to include a picture and description if you have one.

Until next time!

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