Different Types of Sewing Elastic


I am always confused over which elastic to buy, so I finally googled “different types of elastic”, and I found some great information at


Sewing Elastic – Does it really make a difference what kind you use?

You tell me….

How about the sewing elastic that bunched up inside that skirt you made, so you never wear it. How about the underwear with the stretched out elastic waistband? And the bathing suit that lasted only a few months because the rubber is popping out of the elastic? So yeah, it does make a difference.

What you don’t know about elastic can ruin a garment you’ve spent hours on….

When a pattern calls for elastic, it usually will state how much you need, and how wide. But rarely does it tell you which package to choose out of all those available on the notions rack. So often, the home sewer will choose the one she always uses, or the one on sale, or not buy any at all because you know you’ve got some at home from the project you made three years ago. And that’s where the problems begin.

Sewing elastic comes in many different types, thicknesses and widths. It is hard to know exactly which one to buy for a specific project. Each type of elastic has specific characteristics and can be used for some projects, but not all sewing projects. For example, not all sewing elastics should be used when making baby diapers or swimsuits, and some elastic can’t be dry-cleaned.

How Sewing Elastic is made

Elastic starts with a core of rubber. Rubber is made from Latex, a naturally stretchy substance in the bark of rubber trees grown in Southeast Asia and Africa. During World War I, rubber was difficult to get, and that’s when synthetic rubber was developed. About three quarters of the rubber used today is synthetic – made from crude oil. To make elastic, the rubber core is bound (knit, woven, or braided) with polyester, nylon, or cotton.

There are many ways that elastic is manufactured. Below is a description of four major ways sewing elastic is made, and the which type you might want to use for your project:

  • Woven Elastics are very strong, and slightly thicker than the other elastics. They also retain their width when stretched, and don’t lose their stretch if they are sewn directly onto a garment. If you have a heavier weight fabric, this is the elastic to use.
  • Braided Elastics get narrower when stretched. If you have a casing to make on your garment, braided elastic would work well.
  • Best not to sew braided elastic directly to the garment though, because it will lose its stretch. Most people use this lighter weight elastic for waistbands, around leg openings and sleeve edges.
  • Non-Roll Elastic is especially appropriate for use in waistbands, because it stays flat when stretched.
  • Knit Elastics are softer than other elastics, and very appropriate if you are going to stitch the elastic directly to the garment, although it can be used in a casing also. Most of your lightweight fabrics will look best with this type of elastic. Some knitted elastics also have sewing guidelines (the sewing line doesn’t have elastic in it, so the elastic is much easier to sew to the garment).
  • Clear Elastic is very light, stretches up to 4 times its length and maintains its original size when not being stretched. It is manufactured polyurethane (does not contain rubber), so it could be used for garments for babies and those allergic to latex. It is used to stabilize lightweight knits and other fabrics – especially in areas that might lose stretch, such as shirt bottoms, shoulder seams and necklines. You wouldn’t want to use it in a casing, because it will roll over on itself easily.

When elastic is manufactured, it is usually combined with polyester, cotton or nylon. Which one is best?

If you’ve got a cotton garment, you might grab the elastic made with cotton, because it can be washed in the same way as the cotton fabric. It will shrink a little when washed, so make sure you wash it if you’ve washed your cotton fabric before sewing (which you should almost always do!). Just don’t use cotton elastic if you are going to dry clean the garment.

Elastic made with Nylon is really made for lingerie, and some swimwear. Most lingerie won’t be washed and dried on high heat, and neither should nylon elastic.

Polyester Elastic is all purpose. It’s an easy choice for most projects, can be washed or dry-cleaned, and can be used in swimwear.

Special garments might need a special elastic, and there are many types available – such as Lingerie Elastic, Buttonhole Elastic,, Drawcord Elastic, or Elastic Sewing Thread.


The original article can be viewed here.


I am working on an adult version tutorial of this skirt. It is just as cute as the mini-me version : )

Musings of a Minister's Wife

This tutorial has been a long time coming.  I hope it makes sense.  If you need clarification, please ask and I’ll try to reword or take additional photos or whatever I need to do to help.

The full instructions are below, but here is the downloadable PDF version–Full Bottom Ruffle Skirt Tutorial 2012.

Let the fun/frustration begin!

My 4 ½ year old daughter’s body measurements

To make this skirt, get the waist measurement and also take a measurement that goes from the waist to an inch above the top of the knee. The second tier will need to start here to allow for optimal leg movement.

I purchased a yard of fabric. This gave me enough to make the headband piece and the flower pin with extra left over for more flowers and a wristlet if I want. The fabric was roughly $6 a yard.

You will need three cuts of fabric:…

View original post 1,122 more words

The Two Pocket Cargo Pants Tote Tutorial

This was a very impromptu project! My husband threw away his favorite pair of pants this morning, due to rips and stains. After he left to go to work and I sat there drinking my coffee, staring at all of that wonderful material, I made a rash decision to make a cargo pants tote for him. I never sew him anything, because I’m always sewing for my girl, so this was a great opportunity to make something for the man I love from something that he loved.

Introducing the two-pocket cargo pants tote tute!

This tote holds three hymnal-sized books easily! Doesn’t everyone have three hymnals lying around?

Here are what the cargo pants looked like before.

Seeing as how this was impromptu, I did not write anything down or take photos, but here are the steps.

1. Cut out the waistband, making a snug cut. You can either capture the loops or cut out the loops. Just depends on your preference. This will be used for the strap.

2. Cut the legs off of the pants. You can salvage the back pockets if you want, but I’m going to use the big pockets for this project.

3. Cut the pants off below the big pockets. Make a good cut, because you are going to use the bottom pieces.

4. Cut the pockets out, leaving no “extra” material. Make a snug cut without getting into the thickness of the pocket.

5. Take the bottom two pieces of your pants leg and cut each of them into two pieces long ways along the seam. Discard the smaller piece of each one. The cargo pocket should fit nicely onto the larger piece, with room for hemming and seaming.

6. You will need to square up the edges of the material, so that you have two rectangles.

7. Lay the two rectangles right sides together. Seam and serge/overlock the bottom. Use 5/8 allowance or less.

8. Open up so that you are looking at the right sides of the material.

9. Place your cargo pockets on your rectangles, one on each side. Line them up. Make sure they are pointing in the right direction or you will have a tote with useless pockets.

10. Stitch the cargo pockets onto the material, one on each side. I just followed around the natural stitch line of the pocket.

11. Fold the tops over on each piece toward the inside (once or twice, depending on how much material you have) and hem them.  This picture is sideways.  The middle blue line is where the two pieces were just sewn together.

12. Place material right sides together again.  The areas you just hemmed will now be at the top, creating your tote opening. Stitch and serge/overlock around the long (side) edges of the bag.

13. Turn the tote right-side-out. Attach the waistband as your strap. One end to the top right of the front and one end to the top left of the back. Make sure that it’s not twisted before you sew it into place. This will give you a tote that you can sling over your torso.

14. Enjoy your tote!