One of the most challenging things for new sewers is sewing in elastic to their craft projects and garments. Elastic is a bit tricky, because if you don’t do it correctly it can easily ruin your project by making it look horrible and bunchy. Nothing is worse than sewing a great item and having your elastic turn into a “lettuce edge” looking mess on you.
Because elastic comes in many forms, as do fabrics, it is very important to know your basics about both of them before you attempt to sew elastic. By learning about fabrics and elastics you can ensure that you use the right one of both for your project for the best results.
To sew elastic, the best thing you can do is to use a stretch needle and a longer stitch length than normal while sewing. Generally a long stitch length of three or four is best for most fabrics and most elastic types. The best elastic products to use are Ban-Rol, Stretch and Sew, and Stretch-Rite Sport Elastic. Each of these three products can be found online or at your local sewing or craft store. They are each of good quality, last a long time, and are the easiest to sew with.
To sew in your elastic, start with a strip of elastic about four or five inches smaller than the fabric opening you want to elasticize. Cut the two ends so that they will meet-up with each other and not overlap. One of the best ways to do this is cut them into triangular ends and have them meet up on a diagonal. If you overlap your elastic you will have an unsightly and uncomfortable bump in your finished project, which you definitely do not want.
Take your elastic and zigzag stitch it together by sewing back and forth over it a few times where the two ends of the elastic meet up. The best sewing machine setting to use for this is to use a wide, three-step zigzag. Once you have completed sewing your elastic together, then pull on your elastic circle to ensure that it is secured and will not come apart. Once you are sure that it will not separate, you can then use it in your project and know it will last.
When you put in your elastic, make sure to pin it at even quarters in your project. By dividing the fabric evenly in quarters, and the elastic itself, you can make sure that your final project looks its best and will not bunch up in one area and be loose in another.
The next thing you need to do is to vertically sew in your elastic at each of these four points. Do these before you start sewing and you will not need to deal with popping pins and diagonal pulls as you sew in the elastic.
Again, using a wide, long zigzag stitch, to allow for the elastic to move and shape your project, and stretch your elastic and sew the top of it into place. Continue to sew around the top of the elastic and then move on to sewing the bottom of the elastic.
By using this technique to sew elastic, you should have perfectly elasticized sewing projects which will last and stretch for years to come.