Usually making a belt or a bra band smaller is a simple matter of moving hooks and eyes. Sometimes there’s just too much fabric to do it that way; the overlap of ends is too bulky and slips apart and looks sloppy. In this case you want to chop off the long ends. Here are step by step instructions on how to shorten a beaded strap.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: a seam ripper or embroidery scissors, pins, a beading needle, matching thread, preferrably heavier duty weight. A very small crochet hook may help too. Oh, and a container to keep loose beads from escaping.
1) Determine where you’d like it to end. Sticking a pin at the desired end point is usually good enough, but you can make a chalk mark on the inside or a small pencil mark at the edge where the new corner will be, as well.
2) From a little (1/8th of an inch) before the mark to about a ¼ inch after the mark (that’s on the tail end side), use a seam ripper or small scissors to break the threads holding the beads. Remove the beads, unraveling a clear spot where the new tail end will be. See the next picture in the set.
3) Cut the tail so the cleared spot stays with the garment. In other words, after the cut, you’ll have about a ½ inch of bare fabric at the ends of the bra/belt. Cut through any beaded fringe as well. It’s OK if a strand or two falls off the end.
4) Open the raw ends and look inside. There should be a piece of stiffener that the cloth is wrapped around. You should see the backsides of the stitches holding the beads onto the fabric.
5) Cut the STIFFENER ONLY back about ¼ inch. See the next picture for how it should look at this point.
6) Pull the loose ends of the threads that hold the beads to the inside of the fabric. You’ll probably have to unravel the side seam whipstitching that holds the lining to the beaded front to be able to get at those stitches more conveniently. Not a problem- just don’t leave any loose ends showing on the beaded front. A very tiny crochet hook is useful, but you can do it with the seam ripper too.
7) Wrap the raw end of the front fabric around the stiffening fabric to make a new clean end and pin it down.
8) Restore the beaded pattern on the new end. First reinforce the existing beading by following the existing stitches- they need help because their ends aren’t knotted. Use a fine beading needle and go towards the loose ends so you dont pull unknotted end through to the front again. If you can’t get the needle through the beads, you can skip the small bead and/or couch-stitch the beaded length down. (Put a stitch over the top of the existing bead line to keep it sewn down).
When all the existing beading is reinforced, use the beads you took off earlier to restore the pattern at the edge of the fabric and fill in any bare spots in the beading.
Sewn down any beaded fringe at the appropriate termination point as well. See the next picture in the set.
9) Tuck the edges of the lining under and whip-stitch the lining back down. This covers all the stiffening fabric and the mess of stitches that hold the beading down. Add the hooks if it’s the hook-end of the strap.
10) That’s it! You will have leftover beads and the left-over old ends of the bra or belt. You can embed these as part of cuffs or headbands, depending on how much you have. But keep all the leftovers in case you have to restore beads on the outfit in the future. The first picture in the set shows a completed shortened belt where material was taken from both ends of the belt, front and back.
It sounds like a lot to do, but since you’re working on about 2 square inches, it’s really not. The time goes quickly and a small project like this can be relaxing. I shorten an end in less than an hour.