In many of today's fashions, bra straps are visible and acceptably so, a marked change from years past. Even so, plain straps are less appealing than those that sparkle and glitter. Bra straps come in two forms: those that are permanently attached to the bra and those that are removable. This article focuses on creating removable (and, therefore, more versatile) straps but includes notes on how to replace fixed (attached) straps. With either method, the straps will not be adjustable once they are finished.
Get a pair of removable straps. You can use the removable straps that come with your convertible bra, or you can buy a pair of removable bra straps. The clear plastic ones are popular and cheap—a good choice, because you will be destroying the strap and wanting only the hook ends. Removable bra straps can be found at most fabric stores, online, and in large retail stores.
Note: A convertible bra is designed with removable straps and can usually be worn with or without the straps. The straps can be worn over the shoulder or halter style, and so forth.
Cut off the bra straps from the end hooks. All you want is the hooks. For two straps, you will have four hooks.
Note: The hooks are the pieces that connect removable bra straps to a convertible bra. Your convertible bra that you will wear your beaded straps with will already have fabric loops for attaching removable bra straps.
Cut out two strips of the sturdy fabric that are approximately 1 1/8 inches wide and the length at which you wear your bra strap, plus 1 1/2 inches. Use whatever color fabric you want. If you want the fabric to show, use whatever will best match what you plan to wear the straps with. You might also consider using a flesh-tone fabric so the beading is the focus of the design.
Hint: If you want to use a pretty yet delicate fabric, you will cut out four strips: two of the pretty fabric that will show and two more of sturdier fabric to go under the pretty fabric. Sew the pretty fabric strips directly on top of the sturdy fabric strips all the way around, close to the edge. Treat each layered piece as a single strip.
Fold a strip in half lengthwise, with the right (front) side of the fabric on the inside, and sew the long side together with a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Repeat for the second strap.
Turn the strap inside out. It should be 3/8-inch wide and long enough to go across your shoulder with 1 1/2 inches to spare.
Turn under both ends, pushing just enough fabric inside the tube so you can sew the ends closed and have two neat, finished ends. You should still have some spare length. Repeat for the second strap.
Thread the ends of each strap through the hooks until the length of the strap is exactly the measurement needed to go across your shoulder, then attach the strap ends to the hooks by sewing. Now you have basic, sturdy bra straps ready for beading.
Alternatively, if you prefer fixed, plain bra straps, cut off the straps from a nonconvertible (regular) bra, then sew these new straps onto the bra directly, replacing its original straps.
Use the beading needle and thread that matches the fabric to sew on the bugle beads crosswise. Choose beads that are approximately 3/8 inch long. Sew each bead across the width of the strap, placing the beads as close as possible to one another.This technique will completely cover the bra strap.
Alternatively, sew the beads with gaps between them if you want the fabric underneath to show through. This might be especially true if you are using a sparkly or metallic fabric.
You can also sew on a variety of beads to create designs.
Once you have your sturdy bra straps made, a much easier solution is to buy beaded trim and sew the trim onto the straps. Nice beaded trim is not cheap, but it usually takes less than a yard to go across both shoulders.