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Tips & Techniques > Using Clear Elastic to Stablize Necklines

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Posted by: Deepika
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Posted on: 6/14/04 7:14 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 9 people   Very Helpful by 164 people   
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So many of us use clear elastic in our knit tops but I didnt find a tip for it so here you go.

What is Clear Elastic: Clear Elastic is a "clear rubbery" sort of elastic. Look at the Photo to see an example. In Joann fabrics you will find it next to the other types of elastic.

When to use it?: KNITS!!! When you are making things out of knits with no lycra in them, you can be sure that the bias and curved edges like necklines, armholes and shoulder seams will stretch out. So to stabilize these areas, use clear elastic. We use CE instead of cotton tapes so these areas dont loose their elasticity.

How to use it: VERY IMPORTANT, before cutting out the CE, stretch it a few times to loosen it, otherwise you'll find that its too long when you sew it.

Measure the area where you want to stabilize (measure from the paper pattern not the fabric just in case the fabric has already stretched out). Measure the stitching line not the cutting line. Cut the elastic the same length as the measurement.

Tip: Using a teflon foot on your sewing machine ( I found mine on eBay cheap) prevents the CE from sticking to the foot.

Now place the elastic on the Wrong Side of the fabric on the Stitching line and sew it in place. This stitching will be permanent so use a matching thread.

For Shoulders you can sew it while sewing the two edges together on your serger even. so you'll have two layers of fabric and CE on top (or bottom).

For necklines, after sewing the CE to the stitching line, fold under the hem allowance and topstitch with a zig zag or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. This is the Turn under and topstitch method.

For necklines where the pattern has a separate binding piece for finishing the neckline and you still want to use CE, do this. Place the fabric with right side up, place the binding piece on top of it (right side down) matching the edges of the fabric. Then place the CE on top of it. Stitch on serger or SM. Then Turn the binding inside and topstitch. Always remember to sew CE to the Wrong side of fabric.

That's it, this may seem a long procedure but trust me, when you get used to using this stuff you'll be putting it everywhere. This is especially helpful in low v necks and wrap tops. Helps "hug" the neckline close to the body.

Tip on using CE with your Serger: When using the CE on my serger I like to put it next to the serger bed instead of putting it on top. When you start sewing, leave extra CE before starting so the elastic doesnt get trapped in the serger when you start. Line up the fabric and elastic close to the edge of the serger bed and serge. It works. Try it a few times just to practice.

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Sunny_D said... (12/9/15 1:31 AM) Reply
Great tip.
labsrule said... (7/4/15 6:32 AM) Reply
Thank you for the great tips.
Carte said... (3/26/15 12:30 PM) Reply
Thanks for the tip. I am about to make a wrap dress and wasn't sure how to measure and use the CE.
fluffybluetea said... (9/16/14 11:43 AM) Reply
I hope someone is able to answer my question since it's been awhile anyone has commented... Can clear elastic also be used on the inside of the band of strapless bras and the tops of strapless tops to prevent slippage or moving? Many many thanks!
Judy Kski said... (9/6/12 11:34 AM) Reply
I've never used this on a neckline, but have a very delicate pointelle knit that I'm making a cardigan sweater out of. I know I need to stabalize that neckline and this is just the tip I need to do that. Thanks Deepika!
dollsntpartys said... (6/21/12 11:19 PM) Reply
Thank You, I too looked for info on using clear elastic, and I couldn't find one. Just so lucky to have found this one. Thanks for the clear info. Pat
cyndylou said... (5/20/12 9:12 PM) Reply
Just found some clear elastic in the fabric department of Hobby Lobby, 3/8 inch wide x 5 yard pack for $2.29. Thanks for posting this technique, Deepika! :-)
cyndylou said... (5/20/12 7:44 PM) Reply
Just found some clear elastic in the fabric department of Hobby Lobby, 3/8 inch wide x 5 yard pack for $2.29. Thanks for posting this technique, Deepika! :-)
Sandyloo said... (1/9/12 6:26 AM) Reply
It may just save my dress!
sewcreative said... (9/24/11 12:00 PM) Reply
My Joann's no longer carries clear elastic. Becoming hard to find even on internet and shipping is more than cost of elastic unless ordering other items at same time. Wish we could get it back at Joanns.
Suzannah71 said... (3/14/11 3:54 PM) Reply
Thanks Deepika - I'm using it to stabilise the side seams on a Missoni print dress. Bw Suzannah
MissyBelle said... (11/8/10 5:48 PM) Reply
I'm sewing my first knit piece ever. Between the double-needle, synthetic thread and now the transparent elastic, I'm ready! Getting this first project right will qualify me to make all my other knit projects! Thanks much.
mrsgaryc said... (3/19/10 5:22 PM) Reply
thanks for posting this!
caseysgirl23 said... (8/7/09 6:12 PM) Reply
This was really helpful for me. Now if my sewing machine would "act right."
ellea said... (9/20/08 5:40 PM) Reply
I recently spent a lot of time trying on ready made garments for a formal occasion, and most of the outfits have a slinky fabric dress in a solid color with a jacket or slip-over type jacket. Almost all the dresses in those outfits were made like wide shouldered slips with the clear elastic in the neckline and armholes, then the edges were turned inside and cover-stitched down. The dress fabric was the same as swimsuit fabric with the overjackets in a brocade knit with lots of sparkle. Thanks for the tips on using the clear elastic.
AngieC said... (9/10/08 9:38 PM) Reply
How funny... I was just in Joann's and didn't know what to buy to stablize knits! Great tips as usual!
Chrissy777 said... (6/5/08 9:14 AM) Reply
The advice was so good ,I had to print it out.
amycat said... (12/21/07 6:22 PM) Reply
This seems like a really dumb question, but what are the rules on pressing (or not)? I'm trying the CE in the neckline thing, and it just doesn't seem to want to fold under evenly without a press, but I'm afraid of melting it. The stuff I got was by the yard and not prepackaged, so I don't have written directions anywhere. Thanks!
Mama Maddux said... (9/16/07 4:38 PM) Reply
Thank you! I'm sewing 9 skirts out of a knit with glued on sequins for a show and the clear elastic is great for stabilizing the finished edges for the wrapped skirts. This info (especially the serger tip) has helped me and helped me convince people sewing other costumes to use the CE. Now there's going to be a run on it in our local stores-I already bought every bit I could find locally. :) Thanks again!
Jennifer shaw said... (5/16/06 0:11 AM) Reply
I have some clear elastic in my stash of goodies- can it go bad? Some of it ( I do have quite a bit) when I stretched it just completely disintigrated.
SueBh said... (4/16/06 10:42 PM) Reply
Thank you Deepika for very helpful advice on this - I'm planning to making a knit tank top, and have some clear elastic, but not much idea on how to use it, and, seeing as I'm a beginner, any help is very much appreciated!
mompea said... (3/6/06 5:49 PM) Reply
You've answered most of what I just posted as a question about serging using clear elastic-Thanks Deepika!
Deepika said... (11/4/05 4:12 PM) Reply
sewcrazy52, I too prefer twill tape on shoulders and clear elastic on necklines.
sewcrazy52 said... (11/4/05 12:57 PM) Reply
Deepika, I once tried to use clear elastic to stabilize the shoulders - I did not have success, and so went back to using twill tape. What's wrong with doing that?
mamacita said... (9/25/05 10:02 PM) Reply
Thanks! I read your tip on bound neck and armhole edges! I learned to do something like this about 30 years ago (yikes!) from Stretch and Sew classes.. Boy does that date me or what! No clear elastic then and no sergers either. Controlled the stretchy necklines, etc. It is a really classy finish. I use to use it also on simple silk tee tops. thank you for the update...I had forgotten all about that technique and will try it now on a lycra top.!
Deepika said... (9/22/05 7:52 PM) Reply
mamacita, thanks for the lovely note! I am glad that you like Regarding sewing with lycra fabrics, you should give it a try. I tell you, you wont go back to sewing with non-lycra fabrics then. They tend to hold their shape better and have excellent recovery. I dont use CE for lycra fabrics but I also dont like just folding under and topstitching finish. I find that with just a little more time, you can do neckline binding which gives excellent RTW results. Heres my tip on that
mamacita said... (9/22/05 10:57 AM) Reply
Deepika! thank you for this info. I am a newbie to your site and I love it. I am learning so much about new methods, new notions and new fabrics. I have not made garments for about five years and I am now so inspired by this site and all the generous, sharing sewers on it. I am in trouble...spending more time on the site than on my sewing!! I have had fun looking up all my patterns to check out the problems and tips recommended. I keep coming up with this clear elastic stuff and this morning I ordered it frorm Lucy's Fashion Fabrics and Trims. I have several knit tops to make for my daughters coming up and I was so pleased to find this review and the comments that follow. You mention that it is not necessary to use it when the fabric has lycra. Well, I have never sewn with lycra (I can tailor a jacket the old fashioned way but some of this newer fabric stymies me!). I gather that stretching is not an issue with lycra fabrics as they must have excellent recall. It seems that turning under and stitching necklines and armholes on lycra might not need the elastic. What do you recommend?
esmer said... (7/24/05 4:26 PM) Reply
I'm so thankful to you for this wonder tip. I am going to give it a try.
clematis said... (6/6/05 2:14 AM) Reply
Very interesting! Thanks.
Deepika said... (4/4/05 6:54 AM) Reply
GJ, I do it in two steps. I first place it on the neckline seam and then stitch it. Then I fold it over and sew it again. That way it wont shift.
GJ said... (4/3/05 10:59 AM) Reply
Good looking neckline is an issue with me. Are you saying that you place the center of the CE on the neck line seam? It would then be folded as the hem is turned. This works? GJ
jenworks said... (3/7/05 7:42 PM) Reply
Excellent information I'll use.
Tammy S said... (1/30/05 10:48 AM) Reply
Thank you for such detailed instructions. I have never used clear elastic before, and you can be sure I'll be getting some at my next visit to Jo-Anne's!
Lisa Lindsay said... (9/5/04 7:53 AM) Reply
Thanks for the tip off to try it out!!
GNBx3 said... (9/4/04 10:00 AM) Reply
Ah, the kind of tip one can really use. Thanks, Barbara
LSBCATS3 said... (8/10/04 7:19 PM) Reply
Great review!
JDpenelope said... (7/1/04 2:12 PM) Reply
I was going to edit out something I said above that I've learned is not recommended but one can't edit here! Well, if you've read this far.....It's *NOT* a good idea to leave the CE *UNCUT*. After stretching the CE and carefully measuring, you need to cut it, so that you sew the correct length to achieve your purpose: to prevent any stretching of your fabric!. Perhaps one could MARK the measured length with a sharpie, as long as one doesn't violate the measurement!
mugsisme said... (6/29/04 3:59 PM) Reply
One more question Deepika. When you do this, what setting do you put your machine on? I have found that using -2 is not good. It pulls the knits through too fast. Most of the time I just use 1.5, and even just N. (I had the machine serviced a little while back it is not the same as it was before it was done.)
Hilary said... (6/28/04 9:17 AM) Reply
Deepika I LOVE you!! thank you so much for clarifying the many uses of CE for knits! I will definately be using these tips from now on, I am printing this page out right now :o) thanks again!! re
Harriet Rogers said... (6/22/04 2:38 PM) Reply
Thanks, Deepika. This really clears (no pun intended) everything up. Will let you no how I make out on some future project using the CE.
Deepika said... (6/22/04 11:21 AM) Reply
Harriet, no problem at all. There is no such thing as a dense question :) When I use CE on my serger I usually line up the edge of the fabric with the serger bed. But this is assuming that my seam allowance is 1/4" or 3/8". If its more then I leave the fabric hanging and position the CE on the stitching line. Remember, you need to make sure that the CE is under the needles so it gets sewn.
Harriet Rogers said... (6/22/04 10:37 AM) Reply
Deepika: dumb question for the day. So, when you are serging and the knife is in its usual position, are you cutting a little bit off as you serge? Sorry to be so dense about this!
sideseams said... (6/20/04 9:18 PM) Reply
Deepika, I can't wait to try this technique. I make quite a few knit tops so this will really improve my sewing! Thank you!
Danvillegirl said... (6/19/04 7:04 AM) Reply
Good tip and instructions. I have used CE in shoulder seams but for whatever reason not at neck. Will have to try it.
AnneM said... (6/19/04 6:21 AM) Reply
Great tips, Deepika. Thanks. I've used the clear elastic a little, but had some trouble with it sticking. Another tip I had read was using stabilizer to prevent it from sticking; until I get a teflon foot I will try that.
Deepika said... (6/18/04 4:26 PM) Reply
Leah I've edited my tip again to explain how I use CE with my serger. Look at the bottom of the tip.
Harriet when I sew on my serger with 3 thread I don't put the knife away. I think the only time I dont use my knife is when I am threading the serger. Hope this helps. I am so glad that my tip is helpful. This CE is great stuff. It took me a while to realise it but now I wouldnt dream of sewing wide necklines without this. For wovens I use Bias tapes. I have a tip on that too.
Harriet Rogers said... (6/18/04 2:41 PM) Reply
Thanks for all this information. I'm cutting something out of a knit fabric tonight and will be sure to try the CE on some scraps before I "plunge" in. ONE QUESTION: when you use the 3 thread stitch on the serger, do you turn the knife down before you stitch? I've been meaning to ask this question a million times and always forget. Thanks.
mugsisme said... (6/18/04 11:36 AM) Reply
Deepika, the tip about the teflon foot is a good one. I have tried several times to use it in the shoulders with my serger, but I have had no luck. It always ends up stretching. Any ideas for that? Also, do you think that if you stretch it out a whole bunch of times, and then forget to use it for a couple of weeks, that it will be OK to use it? (I found a UFO recently that I had worked on a while back.)
Deepika said... (6/18/04 6:46 AM) Reply
sewsue, the fabric usually stretches on the seam line which is why I stitch the elastic on the stitching line and not the edge. But you could stitch it to the edge also if you want. I havent tried that, but I suppose that would work also. The CE is very thin so I havent had any problems with bulk. Another thing to note is NOT to iron over the edge containing Clear elastic.
sewsue said... (6/18/04 4:52 AM) Reply
Thanks for the information. I have never used clear elastic other than in swimwear. Do you sew the centre of the elastic to the stitching line, or off centre so that the width of the elastic is contained within the seam allowance? Also, when you fold over the lem allowance, doesn't the elastic make the seam thick and bulky? Thanks.
Deepika said... (6/16/04 10:38 PM) Reply
penelope Type of stitch depends on your knit. I sew mostly with knits and have worked on so many different kinds. Lately i've encountered some difficult ones which are very tightly knit and in those the zigzag does not work. If you have a serger I highly recommend the 3 thread stitch otherwise you can just use the straight stitch while slightly stretching the fabric. Or use a three step zig zag which works wonderfully for tightly knit fabrics.
JDpenelope said... (6/16/04 5:34 PM) Reply
Deepika, Is there a certain stitch that you recommend? I usually zigzag something like 1.5 wide, 2 or 2.5 long, as I recall. I haven't affixed CE with the serger yet, but plan to.
JDpenelope said... (6/16/04 5:27 PM) Reply
Deepika, This is very well-written and complete! I've been using clear elastic on knits quite a bit lately, with SOME good luck, but your instructions are a welcome help! I've been stretching a little, and maybe that's not really necessary--sometimes it crumples too much and must be pressed and/or steamed out. One thing I do, for right or wrong: I use the clear elastic UNCUT until I'm finished sewing-- that way I don't have to measure accurately and it's easier to sew it to the very end. I appreciate also your instructions on the binding: Recently, I installed CE midway through the process (I FORGOT IT)-- as I was folding it over to the wrong side-- and that didn't work as nicely! Thanks again for much needed instructions.
SewVeryTall said... (6/16/04 7:44 AM) Reply
Great tip! I just love this elastic. I keep finding new uses for it. I consider it a 'must have on hand always' notion.
Deepika said... (6/16/04 6:56 AM) Reply
sonovice, this is a turn under and topstitch method on necklines. I'll edit the tip to include a method when the pattern has a bound edge. Kim since the elastic is very very thin it doesnt add any bulk at all. Try it.
kathi s said... (6/15/04 10:23 PM) Reply
Thanks, Deepika, for answering so clearly, a question I was embarrassed to ask!
sonovice said... (6/15/04 6:29 PM) Reply
Hi Deepika: regarding the neck binding, I have a question : "For necklines, after sewing the CE to the stitching line, fold under the hem allowance and stopstitch with a zig zag or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine. " Is this the foldover method of creating a neckline ? If we use a separate binding fabric, do we have to fold over the hem also ?
candyo said... (6/15/04 5:49 PM) Reply
Thank you so much! I'm going to use this from now on- I've been having gaposis problems for years and didn't know what to do!
SandraB said... (6/15/04 11:16 AM) Reply
Thanks for explaining this Deepika. I have always wondered how this clear elastic is used.
gabrielle said... (6/14/04 5:54 PM) Reply
I've also cut it just a little shorter on some gappy necklines, like v-necks or really wide boat necks, and stretched it slightly as I sewed. I don't shorten so much that it gathers, just enough so it kind of cups in a bit.
PixieCat said... (6/14/04 4:15 PM) Reply
Thank you! I'm just starting to sew with knits so this tip will help me get it right from the start.
Georgene said... (6/14/04 2:08 PM) Reply
This stuff is great for adding 'scrunching' or ruching details, like at the center front neck of a tee or camisole.
cynthia w said... (6/14/04 10:38 AM) Reply
thanks for explaining so thoroughly. i've used it on the shoulder seems to stabilize and now i'll be confident to use it on a neckline.
PVA said... (6/14/04 9:56 AM) Reply
Thank you, Deepika, this is clear enough for me to understand! I've certainly seen this tip, but not with the details I needed. Great tip!
Kim Winson said... (6/14/04 8:58 AM) Reply
Thank you, Deepika, for explaining this so clearly. I've been using CE to stabilize shoulder seams so far. How do you handle the bulkiness of the elastic when you fold under the SA of the necklines?
PattyU said... (6/14/04 8:35 AM) Reply
Wow. This is now very clear to me. Thanks. I don't think they carry CE at any of the JoAnn's I shop. I've checked a bunch of times. I'm going to suggest they start esp. since it sounds like some JoAnn's do. I recently ordered CE from Nancy's notions.
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