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using clear elastic for straps

wlric | Posted in General Discussion on

What is your opinion on making straps for a “strapless” dance costume with clear elastic? The elastic itself seems to be very strong, but any needle holes weaken it at the attachment site. The dancer does not want to use the standard “makeup on regular elastic” trick.


  1. flossie | | #1

    Yes, the point of attachment is always the weak spot with any elastic. Options I have used for my daughters costumes are:

    • Skin coloured bra strap elastic - takes a bit of searching to find the right colour
    • clear bra straps for convertible bras (make loop attachments on costume)
    • two sets of straps in clear elastic eg normal over the sholder and a halter strap using different points of attachment ; that way if one comes loose there is still something holding it up!!!!

    Regards Pauline

  2. User avater
    user-221153 | | #2

    Hi, I just wanted to point out that clear elastic straps are not always invisible in the spotlight, since they are shiny and can reflect a glare. Also, since they weaken where the needle perforates them, they could tear during a performance.

    Another trick to try is to give the illusion of a strapless dress, but finish the top of the dress with a sheer flesh-toned knit. It could jave a jewel neckline, and can be sleevless or have long "invisible" sleeves.  Many figure skating costumes are made this way so that the performer doesn't have to worry about the outfit shifting, or exposing too much skin.

    1. ixs | | #3

      Claire's, the costume jewelry store, sells clear elastic straps with hooks on them; we bought them for the granddaughter's dance costume.  Very inexpensive, as I remember.

  3. user-51823 | | #4

    hot glue is the costumer's friend :-) have you ever tried to pull off something hotglued to fabric? don't depend on it alone, but reinforce over the stitched elastic.
    or sew tough thread loops into inside of costume below edge of top and tie elastic onto loops. reinforce the know with a clear glue like fabri-tac

    good ideas here. i especially like the idea of a backup set of straps. the giveaway shine can be reduced by powdering the upper torso, straps too, before performance.

    Edited 11/11/2006 12:48 am ET by msm-s

  4. wlric | | #5

    Thank you all for your advice. I looked at the clear bra straps and considered them, but this particular style needs to have a stretch strap. And we have used the illusion on several of her other costumes so we know that is not quite the look she wants this time. I love the idea of hot glue! :) In the end, we will most likely color elastic with her makeup. Did I mention that the costume is both strapless and backless? The strap will just go over her shoulder and right back under her arm, attaching to the dart at the bustline. And, I may convince her that adding a halter strap is the right way to go. I will try to post a photo when it gets done.

    1. user-51823 | | #6

      if that's the case, i think the "invisible" nude color nylon bodice extension (don't know what else to call it) would work best... as another poster put it, it's sleeveless with a jewel neck. the advantage is well- distributed support with no visible cuttin-in on the flesh from skinny straps. totally disappears at even close range, if you make it out of a single layer of sliced open hosiery.

    2. wlric | | #8

      The costumes are finished. The designer liked the outcome. They stayed intact even with strenuous partnering. The photos were taken before the straps were colored with makeup.

      1. flossie | | #9

        They look great - I can see why you were concerned about elastic failure though!!! What fabrics are in the costumes?



        1. wlric | | #11

          Thanks, Pauline.
          The designer wanted the look of an extended corset, so the dress is lined with cotton twill, interfaced with light weight knit interfacing. The grey and brown are silk charmeuse. The skirts are lined with tangerine and orange silk batiste. The orange strip at the hems is iridescent silk chiffon. The princess and center seams are boned to the bottom of the ribcage. I dyed nylon spanky pants and attached them to the interior waist.

          1. user-51823 | | #12

            spanky pants? define, please! :-)
            never heard that term-
            great job. i would have guessed that those straps would have wanted to slide forward and pop over the shoulders if not tethered together in back, but you obviously managed without. brava!

          2. wlric | | #13

            Spankys are rtw nylon/lycra panties(knickers). These had low cut leg, full bottom coverage,and no crotch seam. We couldn't find a color that looked good, so bought white and dyed them. The cost works out to be less than if I made them.
            The dancers' broad shoulders and prominent clavicles made the elastics work. The tight stretch mattered, too.

          3. flossie | | #14

            Thanks for info - didn't think they looked like the traditional lycra or stretch satin! 

            My daughters finished dancing a couple of years ago and I do miss making their costumes even though you put so much effort in for sometimes only three minutes on stage. I still sew for the dance school occasionally - sadly many young mums nowadays do not sew and have neither the time or inclination to "have a go".

            Today I am going to start 18 lycra crop tops; the teacher needs them by 12th Dec for dress rehearsal but only gave me material and measurements last night. She also said it would be good if I could have them ready by Saturday for the photos - I don't think so LOL.

            Regards Pauline

          4. Ralphetta | | #15

            By Saturday??? All I can figure, is that you've done such a good job in the past that she doesn't know how much work is involved.  I find that when people are good at something, (not just sewing,) other people often begin to think it takes NO effort and that you know some kind of magic trick.  It doesn't matter how good you are at something...it still takes time and effort, which people just seem to trivialize.

          5. flossie | | #18

            Yes she does think I can work miracles and in the past sometimes I have but not this time, they will be ready for dress rehearsal though.

            If I wasn't so fond of her I wouldn't do it but she was a big part of my daughters' life and helped turn them into the beautiful girls they are today. She is good hearted and generous with her time to everyone and we really are good friends. I just wish she would start planning the costumes earlier in the year.

          6. wlric | | #16

            You are an angel to take on the job. Obviously, you are experienced. Will you at least be able to work on them full time or do you have other committments?
            The dance company that I sew for are very sweet, but tend to design things without considering the consequences. Like when I first saw the design and asked about straps. The answer was, "no straps". Hmmmm, count to 10, wait for it....."oh, I guess they will need straps." Yep.
            Also, one of the dancers comes in from out of town for the performance. She arrived on Monday and the dress rehearsal was Thurs. I did have her measurements and did the first muslin fitting Mon afternoon.
            I shouldn't be surprised at how relaxed I am this week. No worries about deadlines looming. Wishing you good luck.

          7. flossie | | #17

            Unfortunately I work part time and can't devote all my time to sewing these costumes and will have to finish them at the weekend. Discovered yesterday that lycra fabric is embossed and "sticks" to machine so will have to reverse the fabric to do binding and narrow shoulder straps - have let her know they won't be ready for photos and from talking to some of the other sewing mums there won't be many costumes at all for photos! Not to worry, some of the dances are still being finished - it will all be allright on the night but I am not volunteering to work back stage.


      2. jatman | | #10

        Those are SO cute!  Great job!

        Good call on the elastic straps - what a disaster it would have been to have a plastic strap break!


  5. Teaf5 | | #7

    A friend once clued me in to a wonderful "nude" costume bodice trick:  She bought flesh-toned, sheer-to-waist pantihose, cut them off at the ankles, trimmed away the entire crotch area, and put them on over her head, using the legs as sleeves and the now-open crotch area became the neckline.  Then, she could stitch on leaves (for "Eve,") or coconuts  (for a tropical look) or whatever.

    She didn't need to hem the edges, as the sheer knit didn't require it; she was warmly (and decently) covered, and the strategically-placed motifs stayed in place even through long nights of dancing.  Her solution has always fascinated me, and I'm just sad that I learned about it so long after I would ever wear anything that revealing!

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