Elastic for Sewing

Smart Sewing Guide: What’s The Best Way to Use Elastic for Sewing?

What is elastic for sewing and how to choose the right one for your fashion project to be?

Let’s start with the facts. There is no way your sewing kit essentials is complete without at least a couple of elastic strips for sewing. 

In the article below we will tackle the purpose of their use. But not only. We’ll also have a look at the must-know basics about this sewing accessory.

Elastic band for sewing
Photo source: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Experts say that elastic for sewing is one of the most functional sewing notions.

It has a long list of options for use, like, for example:

    • it holds your skirt and pants in place, 
    • it secures the sleeves and leg ends of your athletic wear,
    • it adds finishing touches to children’s clothes, 
    • it adorns your lingerie;

to mention only a few!

Read about various purposes of elastic on CreateForLess

What are their types and history? How can a plain touch of an elastic for sewing transform your basic sewing project into a distinguished piece of fashion design? 

Let’s take a closer look at this innocent-looking sewing gadget and one of the best sewing tips and tricks at once.  

Colorful thread spools
Image source: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What is elastic for sewing and where does it come from?

In AllFreeSewing we read that according to the article “Types of Elastic for Sewing: A Quick Guide” by Beth Galvin:

‘[Elastic for sewing] is a narrow fabric that stretches due to its composition. Rubber or spandex cores are wrapped in fiber such as polyester, nylon, or cotton and then woven, knitted, or braided to create the elastic.’

We now have the privilege to use elastic in mass-produced clothing (after the 1920s) and in-home sewing. More! We can’t imagine an average sewing kit without it. But it wasn’t always that easy…

Thin elastic for sewing
Image source: Syed Ali on Unsplash

A brief look back at a history of elastic for sewing 

Small and seemingly unimportant, also elastic for sewing has its past. 

The English inventor Thomas Hancock invented elastic (read more about it on ThoughtCo). Yet, the story has its curves. Although he patented elastic fastenings for gloves and suspenders in 1820, elastic for sewing of today come a hundred years after. 

We intuitively know the way elastic works and how it helps to keep clothing in place and within a form. Elastic waistbands were a relief (replacing tiring and taking long to fasten buttons) first in the pre-WWI period. 

We know these button-covered clothing solutions from vintage photographs. Just think about the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Find out a few more words of nostalgic rewind on AllForSewing

Colored elasic for sewing
Image source: Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Types of elastic for sewing

Is sewing part of your professional career? Or is it a passion that you take up in your spare time? Check these easy beginner sewing projects, 35 intermediate sewing projects, and advanced sewing techniques. They’ll be an accurate guide through this area of expertise.

Skill levels and reasons for sewing may vary. Yet, the elastic band for sewing will show up in this game sooner or later. 

When you’re done creating your new garment, consider adding to it a custom woven labels, care labels, or hang tags by SuperLabelStore

Pumping your fashion project up with this seemingly minor gadget can do miracles to the professionalism that they exude as a result.

Superlabel color picking

In the past, the choice of sewing supplies elastic was almost non-existent. The home sewer would have a sole optiona white, ordinary elastic for sewing. You could only decide on its sizefrom thin elastic for sewing to wide elastic band sewing. 

Since then, a lot has changed. 

As there is a plenitude of sewing fabric options and other sewing supplies, there are also different types of elastic for sewing on the market. 

Nowadays, it doesn’t surprise anyone to see a colored elastic for sewing or black elastic for sewing. 

Check these blogs by SewingMachineFun or Craftsy to learn about various categories of elastics for sewing.

Colored elastic bands for sewing
Image source: TuesdayStitches

Writing down all the available elastics’ colors would be exhausting, but we can have a look at other features. 

What are their main types? 

In general, there are three categories:

    1. Woven
    2. Knitted
    3. Braided

Woven elastic
Image source: Craftsy

Elastic for sewing―three main types described

Let us crack the topic of the types of elastics for sewing. Below you’ll see the short introduction to it prepared by SewingInsight. Without these basic sewing hacks, you’ll go nowhere in this department. 

Mind that despite there being three main categories, there are also lots of smaller groups within sections. We’ll get to it later.

Types of elastic cord for sewing Description Main advantages

Woven elastic is the one that sewers use most often. It ranges from ½” to 8 inches in width.

Its characteristic is that it maintains its original height. Even if you stretch it, it doesn’t narrow. That’s why it works well with waistbands. 

The woven elastic is very strong. You will recognize it by the distinctive vertical and horizontal ribs. It’s good for mid- to heavy-weight fabrics. It’s durable and can stand needle piercings with ease.

Use it for:

    • casings in garments, 
    • home decor, 
    • bags,  
    • outerwear, and
    • upholstery;

What should we know about woven sewing notions elastic? It’s:

    • easy to work with,
    • not affected by needle piercing, 
    • inexpensive, 
    • durable,
    • if you stretch it, it doesn’t narrow
    • thicker than other types of elastic,

Knitted elastic is lightweight and has more narrow widths. It is great for light- to mid-weight fabrics. It comes in a variety of colors. 

This type is looser than woven one and is usually made from polyester yarn. 

Knitted elastic works best for:

    • the lingerie projects (go to Blog.Spoonflower how to buy the right elastic for your handmade underwear),
    • elasticized necklines,
    • sleeve cuffs in lightweight blouses or dresses, 
    • garments with exposed waistbands, leg or wrist bands,
    • its softness against the skin works great with pajama pants or other garments where the elastic touches the body,
    • and delicate fashion items in general;

This type comes in two models depending on their function and use:

Like woven elastic for sewing, also a knitted one isn’t affected much by needle piercing. You can pierce it with a needle without weakening or distorting the fabric. 

It also doesn’t get narrow when stretched.

You can attach knitted elastic for sewing directly to the fabric or inserted in casings.

Read on Singerco, how to attach elastic to fabric in a few simple steps—on your way from sewing hobby to successful sewing business


When we think ‘elastic for sewing’—we picture a braided elastic. 

It’s available in black and white.

1 4 sewing elastic has typical parallel ribs along its length. 

It does curl and narrow when it’s stretched. For this reason, avoid using it in waistbands. Don’t choose this type for any other fashion design where the shape of an elasticized wrist or leg band can worsen the appearance of the outfit.

Use it for example:

    • inside sleeve hems,
    • in casings (necklines of dresses),
    • in face masks; 

Check this overview of elastics for sewing with pictures on MakeSomething.Dritz

Tremendous for lingerie or other fine fabrics. Makes a base for the most comfortable wrist bands on delicate blouses.

It is:

    • lightweight, 
    • soft,  
    • an excellent complement to any lightweight fabric;

Why is it so important to choose the right type of elastic for sewing for your project? 

Just as you choose from sewing threads types and tips to make your new outfit thrive, you’ll win this round only with the well-adjusted elastic for sewing. 

If you choose an elastic tailored well to the type of fashion construction you’re creating, you’ll make the process easier. Not the mention the final effect fancier! 

To go even deeper into the subject of differences between types, read this MellySews article. 

Otherwise, you run the risk of the wrong investment of your:

    • time, 
    • money, and 
    • energy; 

As simple as that!

Elastic cord for sewing
Image source: BlogSpoonflowe

Let’s tackle the detailed description of the most popular type of colored elastic bands for sewing.

Woven elastic for sewing comes in four different standards:

Woven elastic for sewing types Description

1. Flat-woven non-roll elastic

Can be black or white, in widths varying from ½ inch to an inch and a half. Great for waistbands. Buy sewing elastic online or in most of the stores. 
2. Ribbed woven non-roll elastic More likely to twist or roll. Once, it was the most available type of elastic for sewing. When the flat type (the one above) became popular, this one becomes harder and harder to locate in the stores and within garments. This ribbed woven non-roll elastic comes in wider widths than the first type.
3. Woven fold-over elastic (also known as FOE, read more about it at TuesdayStitches)

Comes in a variety of patterns and colors, available in widths from a quarter-inch to one inch. The best choice for 

    • waistbands when you do not want to use a traditional casing,
    • elastic belts and exposed waistbands on skirts or pants, 
    • elasticized cuffs on pants legs and sleeves;

It’s quite a new idea to use this one at home. This type appeared together with the new sewing techniques. Yet, now people use sergers to attach elastic also at home (especially when working with knits and athletic wear). 

Fold-over elastic is made with flattened ends on the top and bottom. It lets the sewer:

    1. sew through to attach the elastic directly to the edge of a garment 
    2. then fold it over, and 
    3. finish the waistband or leg or sleeve cuff; 
4. Cotton bathing suit elastic 

Recommended for bathing suits. How does it differ from others? Here, the elastic fibers are encased in cotton. In other types, it’s common that the structure is a blend of cotton and polyester or all polyester. As a result, the cotton bathing suit elastic is the softest option but works the same (even when it’s wet).  

Read on SeamWork how to make your dazzling swimsuit.  

Elastic for sewing in use—How to sew casings?

So here we are, having our elastics for sewing reviewed and elastic sizes sewing considered. We know how to sew, yet, we need a quick lesson on working with elastic for sewing. Everyone has to start somewhere! 

We’ve found out where to buy elastic for sewing and have it in front of uson our sewing table (check these sewing room ideas). Fabrics are ready to fit into our craziest and most utopian ideas for future garments. 

In case you still aren’t encouraged enough to start this journey, check these 10 reasons to start sewing clothes

Sewing notions elastic
Image source: Blog.Spoonflower

Consider that sewing doesn’t have to start in the middle of nowhere. There is a simple way to feel braver in front of this challengeupcycling clothes. It gives you the possibility to start with something instead of facing a piece of pure material without form. 

Learn to sew in individual steps, there’s no point to rush as the way to victory is different for everyone. 

When you’re done, your outfit will appreciate different types of woven labels by SuperLabelStore. It’s gonna give them an atmosphere of chic professionalism.

Hangtag paper card design clothing

On DoYouSew, we can read the step-by-step guide on how to sew a casing for elastic. Buy sewing elastic online or in a store and let’s get it rolling!

      1. Select a thread compatible with the fabric.
      2. When it comes to accessories: use a ball-point needle.
      3. Observe the tension of a thread. You’ll need to adjust it when stitching and stretching elastic. The golden rule is that the elastic needs to be balance-snug enough to prevent the fabric from drooping, but loose enough to be comfy.
      4. How to check if the flat sewing elastic or any other type fits you well? Check your comforts by wearing it on! Wrap the elastic around your body, and pin it closed. After a couple of minutes or hours, you’ll know if the length is right. 
      5. Cut you 1 4 inch elastic for sewing to the length that serves you plus 1″ for finishing the ends. In case you sew elastic directly to fabriccut it about 8 % shorter, it will stretch during stitching.
      6. Have a comfortable seat on your sewing chair in front of the machine. Use a long decorative stretch stitch or a zigzag to sew elastic directly to fabric. Read here, what are the best sewing machines for sewing elastics.  
      7. That would be it! What remained of your 1 4 elastic band for sewing is now beautifully sewed to the casing. 

Sewing notions elastic bands
Image source: fran hogan on Unsplash