Today we're going to talk about elastic! There are a variety of types, widths, and uses for elastic and it's helpful to be familiar with all of them so you can choose the perfect one for the job. For example, you might want non-roll elastic for a waistband, clear elastic for knit seams, and braided elastic for faux shirring. (We will talk more about those in a bit!) The good news is that the packages are usually clearly labeled so you know exactly what you're getting. Many of the types of elastic can be found in your local shops, but I also thought it would be helpful to provide links to an online store I find reliable. Nancy's Notions is one of our blog sponsors and I love how easy their website is to find what I'm looking for! All of today's pictures come from their website, and I will link to the listings to give them credit and also to help you read more details about each one that you're interested in. Some of these elastics are super cute too! Let's get started!
Braided Elastic is the type most commonly used in our patterns. It is lightweight and comes in a variety of sizes, from 1/8" up to 1" or more. It is great for inserting into casings, faux shirring, or even sewing directly onto the fabric to gather. Braided elastic is strong, easy to sew with, and inexpensive. You can buy it in small packages or by the roll, usually in either white or black since it is usually not visible on the outside of the garment.
Non-Roll Elastic is similar in use and specially designed to keep from rolling or twisting on waistbands or legbands that are a little wider, at 1/2" or 1". It generally costs a bit more than plain braided elastic, but it can make a big difference if you are use lightweight fabrics that allow regular elastic to twist. That twisting can be really annoying after you've worked so hard to make a cute outfit! (Here are more tips we have to keep elastic from rolling.) I always prefer non-roll elastic when possible!
Knit Elastic is great to use when your elastic is going to be visible on the outside of the project. It comes in a variety of colors and it's also great because it doesn't thin when stretched. It's also really cute for headbands and other projects that touch the skin. It is softer than braided elastic.
And while we're at it, there are many other types of Decorative Elastic as well! Again, these work great on the outside of clothing any time you want stretch. Aren't they so super cute? Be sure to look at the link above, because there are other fun ones like animal prints and glitter elastic. So fun!
Fold Over Elastic is another fairly common type of elastic, often abbreviated as FOE elastic. It is designed to fold easily over the edges of cloth diapers and diaper covers, and then stitched into place to allow easy stretch. Plu,s it is usually cute just like the decorative elastic! Many of our free tutorials also use FOE elastic anytime we want a softer, more stretchy elastic than braided, such as our Retro Headband and our Tablet Cover.
Non-Slip Elastic is exactly what it sounds like! On the center back of the elastic, there is a non-slip gripping surface that keeps the elastic from sliding. This works great for elastic that is sewn directly on the underside of camis, strapless tops, etc. It also works great for headbands if you want a non-slip surface.
Swimwear Elastic is essential for swimwear. It is designed to stand up to the stress of salt water, chlorine, and suntan oil. (Regular elastic will not! It breaks down quickly and loses its stretch.) Swimwear elastic is generally made of a cotton/rubber blend, and can be applied either inside casings or sewn directly onto the fabric for waistbands and legbands. I use it inside the straps of my swimsuits too, to help the knit keep from stretching out.
Clear Elastic is chlorine safe as well, although it is much more stretchy than swimwear elastic, so it doesn't work as well in straps. It does work great on leg bands and armbands though, and anywhere else you want a nice clear finish on clothing. It matches everything! Clear elastic is also a really great way to make the seams sturdy on the inside of knit clothing. Just stretch it out to loosen it up, and then sew it directly to the knit seams. It will help the clothing keep its shape over time while still allowing stretch.
Elastic Thread is the thinnest/smallest type of elastic and it is used for shirring in many of our CKC patterns. The elastic thread goes onto your bobbin to be sewn on the underside of clothing, while using your regular thread on top. The elastic thread gently gathers the fabric, creating a neat shirred stretch to the fabric. If you'd like to see elastic thread in action, you can watch our Shirring 101 video on YouTube.
Cord Elastic is small and round, although not as small as elastic thread. Cord elastic can be used on small projects, such as doll clothes or baby clothes; or in places like the button loop on Blanche's dress. You can also use it to make center loops or bridal loops for a center closure on Charles' jacket, if you want it to look just like the movie. Because cord elastic is so small, you need to be extra careful to make sure it is attaches securely and won't pull out of your project.
Lingerie Elastic is not often used in our CKC patterns, but I always have a hard time finding it when I want it, so I thought you'd might like to see it too. (You might not run into it in the store!) Lingerie elastic is comfy and cute when you add it to the edge of slips and other underclothing. It allows the clothes to stay in place with gentle stretch, without being bulky.
Last, but definitely not least, is Buttonhole Elastic. I love buttonhole elastic because it allows kids' waistbands to grow as they do. It is often used in maternity clothes as well. This type of elastic has non-fray buttonholes spaced evenly along the entire length of the elastic. You can insert it into the back and/or sides of waistband casings, and then use a button to secure each end. There should be excess elastic length so it can be "let out" as needed, using the buttons.
That should cover all the basic types of elastic! Now you're all set for even more fun projects using elastic!
While I was looking up links for this post, I also found a couple related items that can be very useful for working with elastic:
First, this Wide Bodkin can be used to pull elastic through the casing. I have always used a large safety pin to pull the elastic through (which works great). But this looks even better because it can hold the elastic flat rather than half-twisted! I'm going to have to try it out!
Then there's this long Ballpoint Bodkin, which also helps insert elastic. It is more of a large needle-type tool that threads the elastic through. This one is 6" long. It is much quicker to slide through than a safety pin, and for only a couple dollars. Pretty neat!
And one final goody that looks pretty interesting, is this 18-page book by Nancy that covers much more about elastic than our blog post today. It includes techniques that I haven't tried yet. I love learning new skills!
I hope this blog post was helpful for you. Be sure to pin it for later and share with your friends! And if you have any questions, feel free to ask in our patterns group on Facebook. We love to help.
Let's Create! ~ Kristen