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Tips & Techniques > Sport Elastic Application

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Posted by: Londa Rohlfing

About Londa Rohlfing star
Member since: 11/30/03
Reviews: 49 (tips: 4)
Skill level:Intermediate
Favored by: 26 people
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Posted on: 5/19/04 7:50 AM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 6 people   
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Londa's Tips for Using Sport Elastic

another picture:

Use 5 to 7" less length of elastic than your waist measures.The larger the waist, the proportionately smaller the elastic used.... For example:for a 40" waist, I once used 15" less elastic - stitched through 3 times. Make a record ofyour waist measurement and the length of elastic you use so that you can refer to this again - and adjust the length of elastic up or down, depending on your results.
Held in a circle, the length of elastic you use should be VERY tight around the fullest part of your hips.... Realize that when you stitch through this elastic, it will stretch out some.Your comfort level of tightness comes into play here...
This VERY soft elastic, and must be stitched through some how to 'work'.
You can have this soft elastic exposed on the inside of a garment - like Boxer shorts, and see where you stitch - through the tunnels of the elastic

You can encase this elastic in fabric and then not be stitching through the tunnels - it still 'works'.This application is the one for which directions follow:

For width of casing to allow:figuretwice the width of the elastic plus 1/4" 'scootch' room, plus 2 times the width of the top 'ruffle' plus 1/2" for finishing.'Finish' the edge by serging or encasing in Seams Great, or stitching straight along a pinked edge.

I like to have a row of stitching about 1/4" from the top fold of a casing.Especially with delicate fabrics, this is very important, as I've found that elastic rubbing against a fold of a delicate fabric like silk will quickly wear the fabric into shreds.Do this stitching first - with a stitch length longer than normal - like 3.5 long, the same length you will be stitching when you stitch through the elastic.

Lay the elastic next to this stitching, and make a judgment as to where to stitch the lowermost row of stitching that creates the tunnel through which the elastic will be fed.Allow about 1/4" extra width here so the elastic isn't 'crowded' in the casing.

Feed elastic through the tunnel.Use a bodkin, or if using a large safety pin, weave the pin through the elastic several times, or the end will be destroyed.As feeding, be very careful not to let the elastic twist.

Butt the ends of elastic and back with a piece of any lightweight fabric.Stitch with a straight stitch on each end back and forth repeatedly.Trim any excess fabric off the back of the elastic.

'Snap the turtle' - meaning, pull on the garment to distribute the fullness of the garment around the elastic.At center front, back and at each side seam, stitch vertically through all of the casing to distribute and secure the fullness.You can take these stitchings out later, or just ignore them - they won't actually show.

Stitching directions:

Right side down at the machine (because the feed dogs will feed in the fullness most evenly and as you stitch, you will get some'folds' in front of the presser foot as you go)
If you have this feature on your machine, put theNeedle Down feature 'on' so the needle will stop in the 'down' position every time you stop sewing to re-position your hands and put stretch into the garment in front and behind the machine.If you don't have this feature, and have a person who can help, have them stand at the right hand of the machine ready to turn the hand wheel forwards to put the needle down into the work when you say to.
Use a quilt guide or piece of tape or post note on the right on the bed of the machine along which to guide the edge of the fabric as you go.This is the only way to have straight stitching.
To establish where the stitching lines will be, I 'divide the cookie into 3 equal sections' by playing with pins until the spacing looks right (I'm not a mathematician).Once decided, adjust the guide at the right hand side.As you stitch, your eye will be kept on the guide, keeping the top edge of the garment along the guide rather than on the needle!
Remember, you are using a longer than normal stitch length (I use a 3.5 stitch length).
I also generally use a Stretch Needle because of the elastic inside - regardless of the outer fabric.Note I said Stretch, not Ballpoint needle.
The garment must be pulled in front and behind the needle equally as you let the machine feed the fabric through.
Once around, stitch over where you started for 1/4" or so.
o For the last row of stitching, you will be visually dividing the remainder in half.Use the guide if you want to.

After stitching is complete, it is imperative that you go to a good steam iron, let the garment be at rest, and hold a good steam above the garment and 'let it roll'.You are not touching the steam iron to the garment.Then, let it rest and cool - do NOT pick it up and stretch it.ONLY after doing this steaming, will you find the application to 'work'.The garment will look like it has an extremely small waist - just smile!

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Diana M said... (4/8/05 3:48 PM) Reply
This is my next elastic application to try -- THANKS!
AnneM said... (5/20/04 7:01 AM) Reply
Thanks for the directions, Londa. I always end up making the elastic too loose; I guess I'm afraid of making it too tight & I overcompensate. I haven't yet tried this type of application, but it is on my to-do list.
PVA said... (5/19/04 9:54 AM) Reply
Londa, this is a great tip/technique! I thank you so much! I do the first part of this -- all the way thru the "Snap the turtle" step. I just needed the rest of this! I can't wait to get a pair of pants started so I can do the rest! Thanks again, keep these great reviews coming!
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