Whether adding an elastic waistband, stabilizing a shoulder seam, or finishing a bra's edge, the key to success is choosing the correct sewing elastic. With a plethora of options at your disposal, navigating the world of sewing elastics requires a nuanced understanding of each type. In this guide, we will help you understand how to select the appropriate sewing elastic for your project, ensuring that your creations are beautiful and long-lasting while also providing comfort. Let's dive into the art of choosing the perfect sewing elastic for your project!
Sewing Elastic Applications:
Sewing elastics are used in various parts of garments to provide stretch, support, and shape. You'll find them in waistbands, cuffs, hems, sleeve casings, necklines, shoulder seams, bra straps, lingerie, swimwear, underwear, and maternity wear.
Different widths of sewing elastics are available, ranging from 1/4 inch to 3 inches and beyond. The instructions in your pattern will usually state which width to use. Generally, use narrower elastics for swimwear, lingerie, cuffs and necklines, and wider ones for waistbands of skirts and pants.
The Three Basic Types of Sewing Elastics:
Let's kick off our sewing elastic adventure with the three essentials: braided, woven (no roll), and knitted. It's all about the yarn arrangement with each method adding its own special touch to the elastic game.
Braided elastic has distinctive parallel ribs running along its length, which gives it a textured appearance. When stretched, the elastic narrows and loses some of its resiliency when sewn, making it an ideal choice for casings where the elastic is not directly sewn into the garment. Braided elastic is versatile and comes in various widths, usually available in black or white. Use it in projects where the elastic is encased, such as in waistbands, cuff or neckline casings, providing flexibility and comfortable stretch.
Unlike braided elastic, knitted elastic has a smooth appearance and does not become more narrow when stretched. It maintains its resiliency even when pierced with a needle, making it suitable for both casings and situations where the elastic is sewn directly into the garment. Knit elastic is lightweight, making it ideal for light to midweight fabrics. It is a versatile elastic that works well in a variety of sewing applications, providing comfort and flexibility in underwear, waistbands, and other clothing items.
No-roll Woven Elastic
No-roll woven elastic is characterized by its horizontal and vertical ribs, which resemble little rectangles arranged side by side. It maintains its width when stretched and remains resilient even when pierced with a needle. Because of its heavyweight nature, no-roll woven elastic is ideal for projects such as outerwear or pants. It is widely recognized for its durability. Use it for fitted waistbands, where its no-roll characteristics help prevent the elastic from rolling down during wear.
The Special Types of Sewing Elastics:
Swim elastic like our Natural Rubber Swim Elastic is a specialized type of elastic designed for swimwear. It is crafted to resist saltwater and chlorinated environments and ensures lasting support despite repeated exposure to water.
Fold-over elastic (FOE) like the one included in our Fold-over Lingerie Kit is a type of elastic that can be folded in half, which makes it ideal for binding raw edges on various knit garments and lingerie. It is perfect for providing a neat and finished look to the edges. Use FOE in projects where both decorative and functional edge finish is desired, such as lingerie, bodysuits, and other stretchy apparel items.
Find these lingerie elastics in our handy Plush Back Elastic Lingerie Kit:
- Bra Strap Elastic: Bra strap elastic is a narrow and sturdy elastic designed specifically for crafting the durable and adjustable straps of bras. It plays a crucial role in ensuring the comfort, support, and longevity of the bra.
- Plush Back + Plush Back Band Elastics: Plush back elastic is known for its soft and plush backing, making it comfortable against the skin. It is commonly used in lingerie for added comfort in garments like bras and bralettes. Use plush back band elastic in the band area of bras and other undergarments.
Clear elastic is lightweight and transparent. It becomes narrower as you stretch it but maintains resiliency when sewn. Clear elastic is particularly helpful for creating gathers at the waistline or stabilizing areas prone to stretching, such as necklines or shoulder seams.
Choosing the Right Elastic:
Use this handy tool to guide you through the sewing elastic world and help you pick the perfect elastic for your next sewing project.
|Type Of Sewing Elastic
|What It Looks Like
|Parallel ribs, narrows when stretched
|Casings, avoid direct sewing into garments
|Sleeve cuff of the Nicks Blouse & Dress
|Smooth appearance, no narrowing when stretched
|Casings and direct sewing, versatile
|Elastic waist of the Plateau Joggers
|No-Roll Woven Elastic
|Horizontal and vertical ribs
|Sturdy, heavyweight; ideal for outerwear and pants
|Elastic waist of the Pietra Pants & Shorts
|Lightweight and transparent
|Stabilizing and gathering knits
|Shoulder of the Ebony T-shirt & Knit Dress
|Braided elastic designed for swimwear
|Resistant to salt and chlorinated water
|Lingerie Elastic (bras strap, plush back elastic, etc)
|Specialty elastic for lingerie projects
|Comfortable, varied colours, finishes, and widths
|Decorative elastic, ridge for easy folding
|Finishing raw edges on knits and lingerie
How To Care For Sewing Elastics:
Washing sewing elastic depends on the elastic type and fabric it's attached to. Here are some general guidelines to preserve the longevity of the elastic :
- Machine Washing: If the garment is machine washable, use a gentle cycle with cold water. Place the garment in a mesh laundry bag to protect the elastic.
- Temperature: Avoid using hot water, which can damage elastic fibres over time. Cold or lukewarm water is generally safer for both fabric and elastic.
- Drying: Air-dry the garment whenever possible. Hanging it to dry or laying it flat helps preserve the elasticity of the material. Avoid using a clothes dryer, especially on high heat, as it can cause the elastic to degrade.
- Ironing: If ironing is necessary, use a low heat setting or place a pressing cloth between the iron and the elastic to prevent direct contact.
- Lifespan: The lifespan of elastic can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the elastic, frequency of use, and storage conditions. Generally, elastic has a shelf life, and it may lose its elasticity and resilience over time. Exposure to sunlight, heat, and humidity can also impact its longevity.
To Sum Up:
Choosing the right sewing elastic for your project is like discovering the perfect spice for your dish—essential for a delightful outcome. After demystifying the elastic world, exploring braided, woven, knitted types, and specialty elastics like clear, swim, and lingerie, it's time to sew! Whether completing an elastic waist, stabilizing a shoulder seam, or perfecting a bra's edge, let's get the elastics in and enjoy your beautiful memades!