Sewing Elastic Types: Which One to Use in Your Project

sewing elasticIf you are not sure what elastic to use on your sewing project, we are here to help! Today, we are here to teach you the different types of elastics for sewing and when to use them.

Can you imagine your life as a sewer, sewing your favorite projects without elastics? How about making yoga pants or maternity pants without elastic waistband?  Think about those swimsuits, surgical garments, socks or gowns without an ability to stretch.

Elastic gives us comfort, fantastic fit and provides room for the stretch-ability of our clothes.

What is Elastic?

Elastic is a stretchy and narrow fabric made with a flexible substance. It is manufactured by weaving, knitting or braiding together strands of rubber, latex or other pliable material that can be stretched and return to its original shape. Because of the different types available, it is essential for you to know which type of elastic is right for your project.

The Different Types of Sewing Elastic

Braided Elastic

Braided elastic, the cheapest type of elastic, narrows when stretched and is lightweight. If you think your project will get heavy use, then it is better to use braided elastic because it has a longer life expectancy than other types of elastics. It is mostly used in casings but it is not recommended to be sewn directly to your fabric because it will lose its stretch over time.

Knit Elastic

If you prefer a soft kind of elastic, knit elastic is a perfect choice! Aside from being soft, it is also comfortable to use. Knit elastic is shrink-resistant and does not narrow when stretched. It can be used in a casing or can be sewn directly to the fabric without losing its stretch. It is an excellent choice for your wash-and-wear project. An example for this is your pajama pants.

Woven Elastic

Another type of elastic which is stronger than braided and knit elastic is the woven elastic. It is the thickest kind elastic that does not narrow when stretched, thus, making it an excellent choice when sewing heavy-weight projects. Woven elastic will retain the stretch when sewn directly onto fabric. It is also suitable for casings.

Foldover Elastic

Fold over elastic (also called FOE) is a flat, thin elastic that has a line along the center that makes it easier to be folded in half. It is used to finish edges on stretch fabrics or garments just like the athletic apparel or swimsuits. FOE is typically used for making undies, baby diaper and can be an alternative for finishing necklines. It comes in varieties of colors and unique patterns so you can choose which one is suitable for your desired project. It does not narrow when stretched.

Lingerie Elastic

Lingerie elastic has decorative edges and comes in different textures and colors. Designed for bras and lingerie, it has a plush side for comfort against the skin when used. With your artistic side, you can use it as a design element on the outside of your garment.  (Here's a big roundup of free lingerie patterns if you want to give these a try.)

There are other types of elastic, too, such as swimwear elastic, baby elastic, clear elastic, buttonhole elastic, elastic thread and even drawstring elastic.  We will cover these in a later article but I just wanted to introduce you to the basics now.

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30 Responses to Sewing Elastic Types: Which One to Use in Your Project

  1. Luluru says:

    Thanks for the picture of foldover elastic. After reading about it uses, I looked for it in regular packaged elastics and was unable to find it. It never occurred to me to look for it in another area.

  2. M-E Jinno says:

    Good information to have. I have all sorts of elastic but never quite sure which would work best in a particular situation, unless pattern asked for a specific type. Thanks. Looking forward to part two, where you cover the rest.

  3. Nancy says:

    Very useful information, thank you for posting!

  4. Julie says:

    This is so useful to know, thanks. Pinning

  5. Verskil says:

    Before reading this, I only knew of the braided elastic. Thanks so much, the information here is going to be very useful.

  6. Jean says:

    I have been sewing for 50 years and I learned more today about elastic and which types can be sew on. Love it!

  7. Eli says:

    Very useful information. Thanks, Mayra! Keep updating more about such stuff.

  8. Mrs J Kavanagh says:

    Great info on Elastic Types.

  9. Ann MacDonald says:

    I never knew exactly which elastic was to be used in some projects, and now I have a better understanding of them. Thanks Mayra.

  10. Sew Private says:

    Great information about elastic and I look forward to your next episode. One thing I learned about elastic is that if you don’t have the correct width, if the elastic has ribs you can cut down the length of the elastic along the rib to get your desired size and it doesn’t unravel. Always test a piece first to be sure but this tip has saved me many times eliminating the need to run to the store and waste time making my garment!

  11. Pam says:

    I wish I had internet when I was young. your articles are so helpful and the explanations make it easier to remember the tips. thank you

  12. Marg says:

    Great info…simple too!
    Do you think you think it would be possible to outline attachment methods?
    Many thanks…..

  13. Catherine Wilson says:

    Interesting Article, thank you for sharing your expertise!

  14. Tami Hoenig says:

    Mayra, you have given me a great idea to put together a handout and do a lesson on the different kinds of elastic with my 4-H girls, this is really needed, thank you!

  15. Ellie says:

    Thank you! Great info. Looking forward to the next set too.

  16. Pat says:

    Starting a file folder just for stuff from your website. Info is always so helpful and I love your patterns

  17. Oksana says:

    I love your style of explainations- and with pics- yahoo

  18. David says:

    Finally, a good explanation of elastic for this beginner!

  19. Lisa Sweet says:

    Thank you. Elastic has been mysterious to me. I look forward to the next episode.

  20. Very helpful information, Mayra. Thanks!

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