Spaghetti Straps

Summer tops use the least amount of material, yet they have some of the most daunting techniques.  For years I have avoided making simple sundresses and camisoles because I could not create a spaghetti strap. 

Named for the Italian delicacy the spaghetti strap is that little cord that holds up a camisole or sundress.

Camisole from the now out-of-print Butterick 4518.

It is such a little thing.  Yet its construction can cause as much cussing as a sailor denied shore leave after a trip around the world.

I have used a few contraptions and tried several techniques to no avail. 

  1. Sometimes I could not turn the cord all the way.
  2. Other times the cord would come loose from the tool midturn.
  3. Or I would spend scads of time painfully forcing the fabric millimeter by millimeter down the cord length.  

Unending patience not being one of my strong suits, for years I avoided making camisoles because I had been bested by six inches of strap.

This season I am committed to making at least a practice muslin of all of my summer tops and was thereby forced to reconsider the camisole since I had a pattern for one in my stash.  Believing that some human somewhere had this down I did what any frustrated out-of-her-mind person would do – I googled it. 

It’s true. 

There are humans who know how to do this.

The secret lies in an object common to the Victorian maiden, but something we moderns don’t think of as an all-around handy-dandy, good-for-a-lot of things tool.  

The Bobby Pin.

I am going to give the short instructions and a few photos and then provide the link to the site from which I learned the technique.

Make your cord.  

Start and end a little farther out than you want your cord.

Difficult to draw but I hope you get the idea of starting and ending your stitching a bit off the actual desired seamline.

Seam cord and trim excess neatly. 

The seam edge will fill in your cord nicely.  Practice will tell you how much to trim and how much to keep.

The cord before turning.

Cut a small slant about 1 inch from the base going from the edge towards the stitching.  

Slide the small cut portion onto the bobby pin placing the fabric in the middle of the pin.  (Remember ladies who used to hold their hair back this way?)  

See how you place bobby pin around cut portion.

 Now here is where the magic happens. 

Push entire bobby pin, with the small slant part still inserted in the middle, up into the cord.   At first there is a little working it in, but then you just keep turning the tube.   

Push entire bobby pin up into cord and begin turning.

Amazing!  It works!  

Here is the link to the spaghetti strap tutorial from the blog Handmade Things from which I first learned the technique.  It is good to see more than one presentation and the photos are excellent.  If  you currently have problems creating spaghetti straps please do check out her site.

Thank you Jules for posting this tutorial!  You have been the only person able to teach me how to do a creditable spaghetti strap!

Next Post: Thursday, May 6, 2010: Topic – I don’t know yet.  I am going to wing this one!


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sister
    May 04, 2010 @ 22:55:00

    Well now that’s a good idea! I made some straps for a summer shirt recently and used a safety pin to snag the end and then fed the pin through – same principle. Thanks for the tip!


  2. Marie-Noëlle LAFOSSE
    Jun 06, 2010 @ 05:18:27

    Thanks a lot I just need this tutorial for a dress


  3. Marie-Noëlle LAFOSSE
    Jun 18, 2010 @ 11:44:35

    This is a brilliant tip.
    It workssssss !!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  4. Ania
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 04:18:50

    I’m having problems with the beginning. I can’t get the fabric to start folding over underneath. Any tips?



  5. Sewista Fashionista
    Nov 17, 2012 @ 09:29:13

    Sorry for the delay. Some health problems in the family have not allowed me to attend the blog in a few weeks. My only thought is are you starting your seam at the outside on both the top and bottom as in the first diagram? Maybe using the bobby pin to tuck a bit while it is in the cut portion but not yet inserted into the tube. Also you might want to try the tutorial on Handmade Things for another set of photos on the technique as extra visuals can only help. Hope this helps. 🙂


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