How To Pick the Best Elastic for Your Sewing Projects

ELASTIC VARIETY

There are a lot of types of sewing elastic out there and knowing how to pick the best elastic for your sewing projects will affect the quality and final results of whatever you are making.

In this post I’m going to go over:

  • different types
  • what each one looks like
  • how to use each one

There are three basic types:

Here are four specialty elastics

All are used in different applications and serve a specific purpose.

They come in all kinds of widths, from 1/4 inch to 3 inches and up. Your pattern will typically specify which width to use, but in general, thinner ones are used for things like swimwear and necklines, while wider ones are used for waistbands for skirts and pants.

TYPES OF ELASTIC GUIDE

Here is a table showing the different types  and when you can use them.

Print this out and display it in your sewing room for a quick reference. 

DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THE PDF

chart
BRAIDED ELASTIC

BRAIDED 

Elastic Description

  • Parallel ribs
  • Narrows when stretched
  • Looses stretch if sewn into
  • Rolls more easily

Uses

Sleeve and Neckline Casings

 

KNIT

Description

  • Cross woven
  • Soft to the touch
  • Does not narrow when stretched

Uses

Waistbands (pajama bottoms, men’s briefs, skirts)

Lightweight-medium fabrics

WOVEN ELASTIC

WOVEN (Non-Roll)

Description

  • Horizontal & vertical ribs
  • Firm
  • Does not narrow when stretched
  • More durable

***Tip: use a stronger needle when sewing into it

Uses

Waistbands of pants and skirts with heavy fabrics, houseware items, outerwear

LINGERIE

Description

  • Decorate loops on the side
  • Soft to the touch

Uses

Underwear, bras

SWIM 

Description

  • Does not rot or perish
  • Heat resistant
  • Chlorine resistant

Uses

Swimwear, leotards

FOLD OVER 

Description

  • folds in half
  • soft against the skin

Uses

Leotard, underwear, headbands, hair ties, DIY watch bands

CLEAR

Description

  • Thin and clear

Uses

Gathering knit fabric, shoulder seam stabilizer

Extra Tips 

 

Picking the Right Type

  • First, consider if you will be sewing through the elastic or placing it in a casing. Remember, the braided and woven elastic doesn’t do as well being sewn through.
  • Knit or braided types are better for lighter fabrics, while woven is better for heavyweight fabrics.
  • Use specialty elastics like lingerie, fold-over elastic, and clear elastic for your projects that have special requirements.

Picking the Best Size Elastic

  • Pick the size based on the size of the casing or insertion area and the location on the garment the elastic will be.
  • Neckline elastic needs to be much thinner than waistband elastic, for instance! Your pattern will most likely recommend the width needed.
  • Don’t cut it lengthwise. You’re much better off just getting one that is the right width.

Cutting the Length

  • Test stretch your elastic to check how much it stretches and if it recovers well.
  • You may need a shorter length of braided elastic to accomplish the same stretch as a knitted elastic.
  • Thinner elastics stretch more than wider ones, so take this into account when cutting your length.
  • Use a safety pin to join elastic and test before cutting.

I hope you foun this helpful.

Please send me a note if you have any questions while choosing the elastic for your projects.

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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