How To Shorten Spaghetti Straps

Let me show you how easy it is to shorten the spaghetti straps on your dress.

This is a prom dress whose straps were too long for the customer:

shorten spaghetti straps in a black formal dress

On this dress, there are four straps on each side.

But, the technique is the same whether you have one spaghetti strap or several.

Not only did this dress need the straps shoretened, but they are spread too far apart, so we’ll fix that problem too:

close up of four spaghetti straps

I almost always shorten the straps from the back of the dress.

This is the first time I’ve shortened from the front in a long time.

I like to shorten from the back because it just seems easier to get into that part of the dress.

So, when your customer comes to you, have her try the dress on. On the back of the dress, pin up the excess strap on both the right and left sides. Usually, you just have one strap to deal with, but as I said, this one had four. But the technique is the same. If you pinch up 1/2″, for example, you’ll actually be taking up 1″ total on that strap.

Does that make sense?

You’re adding the entire “pinch” that you just pinned up.

Just so you know, many times, one side of the dress needs taking up more than the other side. It’s common to find that one side needs 1/2″ total and the other side might need 1″ total, for example. Lots of women have one shoulder higher than the other, that might be why.

I don’t leave that pin in the dress because it will fall out easily. I write down the full amount needed to be taken up.

If there are other alterations needed on the dress, I will try to keep the pin in, if it will hold because it is very important to have those straps pinned up if you’re going to hem the dress as well. If those straps won’t stay with a pin, then use tape, a clip or whatever you can to hold it (them) in place.

Ok, now let’s get started.

First, turn the dress over and look at the lining side where the straps are sewn in:

ripping out under stitching on spaghetti strap area, 4 straps, black dress, shortening spag straps

Do you see the stitches that are to the left of the point of the seam ripper?

You don’t need to take these out. They are not in your way of doing this alteration.

But if you did have some of those under stitches where the straps go into the dress (to the right of the seam ripper point in the photo), you’d need to remove them first.

Take out about two or three inches of the under stitches, (about 1 1/2″ on either side of the straps).

If you don’t see any under stitches on the underside, don’t do anything yet.

On this dress, the manufacturer, stitched a few stitches in the dress through all the layers to anchor the front of the dress to the back. On this dress, they are found at the pointed end of the seam ripper in the photo below:

removing stitches that anchor spaghetti straps on black formal dress

If you have some stitches like these, take them out.

Next, turn the dress inside out so you can see what is going on on the inside where the straps meet the dress.

This is the lining side of the inside of the dress:

lining of black formal dress where I need to shorten 4 spaghetti straps

Flip it over and you’ll see the interfacing side, if your dress has interfacing:

Yours may or may not have interfacing.

This interfacing feels alot like paper.

Interfacing is a narrow strip sewn to the top of many dresses to add stability to the dress.

In the photo above, do you see the white areas near my finger?

These are the ends of the straps sticking up. The straps on this dress were made with white cording on the inside of the strap and then covered with black fabric.

I only take out enough stitches so that I can easily pull the straps up to shorten them.

Sometimes, the straps will be sewn a second time to just the dress fabric, like they are in the photo below:

stitching 4 spaghetti straps together, 962

Use your seam ripper or a small pair of scissors to take out just enough stitches.

Gently pull those straps up until you have taken up the full amount of what you need to shorten the straps.

In this case, the customer needed the straps to be 3 1/4″ shorter than they were. That’s alot. Usually, I only have to take up 1-2″ total.

So, I measured the 3 1/4″ from the original seam line on the strap, to the original seamline on the dress.

Do you see how I did that in the photo below?

measuring how much I need to cut off to shorten spaghetti straps

You can see that the straps are sticking out beyond the seam gauge (to the right of the seam gauge). The spot where the blue guide is, is where the seam allowance is on the dress. And you can see that that amount is 3 1/4″.

You may want to pin the strap down in place so it doesn’t slide around while you’re putting the whole thing under your presser foot.

This is the time to move all the straps close together (if you have more than one strap) and make sure there is no gap between them.

Now just stitch over the original seamline, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam:

stitching spaghetti straps in place before I cut off excess

Do you see why I only take out a few stitches to release the straps? It keeps the straps from sliding all over and it makes re-stitching them really easy!

Double check your work by turning the dress right side out and make sure the straps are not caught in the seamline or twisted.

If you have a problem, just take a few stitches out again and adjust the straps and resew the seam.

Once the straps look good, turn the dress inside out again. Stitch a second row of stitches 1/8″ away from your first seam. Do this inside the seam allowance, closer to the raw edge.

This additional seam will anchor those straps in well.

Trim the straps if you need to. (I certainly needed to trim these straps!)

Turn the dress right side out.

See how the straps are much closer together now?

photo of spaghetti straps shortened and moved closer together

You don’t need to under stitch (in fact, It’s almost impossible to do so in such a tiny area and no one sees the under stitching anyway.) Your two seams will hold the strap(s) well.

Be sure to use the sewn in ribbons ties on the inside of your dress to hang your dress with. (This dress has lacy ties). Don’t hang your dress by the spaghetti straps or the straps will stretch out. I am hanging the dress by the straps so you can see them in the photo above.

You’re finished!

Wasn’t that a piece of cake?

dress with spaghetti straps shortened

Now you know how to shorten spaghetti straps!