Sewing Patterns, Pattern Review, Sewing Classes, Sewing Machines and Sewing Machine Reviews!
Platinum Sponsor: Stylish Fabric
Over 20,000 of high quality reorderable fabric

[SIGNUP - FREE Membership & 1 FREE Sewing Lesson ]
[Sewing Classes|Shopping Bag Your Shopping Bag|Login|Help]
Sewing Review and Pattern Reviews Sewing Knowledge Base Sewing Patterns Sewing Classes & Sewing Lessons Sewing Machine & Embroidery Machinery Sewing Message Boards Sewing merchants Blog Help/FAQ About Pattern Review


Advanced Search
Tags
New to PR?
Find a member
MY Stuff
Friends of PR Benefits
My Pattern Reviews
My Account
Edit Profile
My Page
Widget
Photo Album
Favorites
Wish List
Pattern Catalog
Notifications
Calendar
Deal Corner
Sewing Machines
Sewing Machine Central
Compare Sewing Machines
Sewing Machine & Serger Reviews
Embroidery Machines
Sewing Reviews
Sewing Patterns
Review Gallery
Sewing Books
Sewing Supplies
Sewing Websites
Sewing Stores
Sewing Class Reviews
Sewing Expo Reviews
Sewing Tips & Techniques
Sewing Podcasts
Fabric Glossary
Sewing Review Requests
Read All Review Requests
Add a Review Request
Live Chats
Chat Room
Chat Schedule
Chat Transcripts
Sewing Classifieds
See all Classifieds
Add a Classified
Sewing Contests
all contests
contest gallery
Favorite Links
reviews with comments
merchant gallery
article archive
newsletter archive
Craft Resources
contact info
shipping rates
returns & refunds
testimonials
Platinum Sponsor - Stylish Fabric
Stylish Fabric
Perfect swimsuit and underwear leg elastic. (Tip/Technique)
Viewed 9227 times
Review rated Helpful by 7 people   Very Helpful by 52 people   
Posted by: BrianSews
photo
About BrianSews starstarstar
MA USA
Member since: 2/16/08
Reviews written: 30
Sewing skills:Advanced
Favored by: 84 people
tips added: 5
Bio: more...
Report a problem with this review
Posted on: 3/17/09 7:47 PM
Featured in the PR book!
The function of elastic on a swimsuit is to hold the garment edges to your body while you move, hopefully without cutting into your skin.


In sewing swimsuits and underwear I used to do the technique where you measure your leg and subtract a few inches for your elastic length. Then sew the elastic into a loop and pin it in quarters onto the inside of the leg opening. This worked for getting the elastic on the leg evenly but actually failed to function properly at holding my swimsuit in place and looking nice.


Elastic actually only need to be tight in the lower crotch area, between your legs. This is the spot where you want full security and no gaping when you move, sit, squat, climb stairs, play volleyball or whatever. Tight elastic on your butt or thigh cuts in to the flesh making your suit look too small or you look too big no matter what size you are. Plus your suit will lay so much nicer if the fabric isn't being gathered by elastic in those areas. Think nice smooth curves!


I've found a better way. Like most techniques it requires a little practice but it really pays off. It's all about redistributing the stretch of the leg openings to where you need it. To attach elastic you can use a serger or zigzag. I prefer zigzag for easier control and serger for speed. I always remember to exercise my elastic before I use it, stretching it out at least three or four times. I mark on my suit about two inches on either side of the bottom crotch seam, you will need to experiment to determine how much to mark since we're all different sizes.

Start sewing your elastic outside this area stretching it just slightly as you sew. If you leave a small lip of fabric on the edge of the elastic the stitching will tend to curl that fabric up over the edge creating a very nice finished look when you turn it under and top stitch. When you approach your mark give it some good stretch. I usually stretch it to the maximum so this area really cinches in. Resume light tension when the other mark is reached. When I meet up with the other end of elastic I cut off so that the raw ends match up with NO overlap. I then zigzag the ends together which creates a flat transition and no lump on the outside.

If you practice you'll notice that even though you don't measure the same length of elastic for each leg both legs will match. Turn your elastic under and top stitch while stretching as necessary. I like to stitch from the back so I can sew exactly on the edge of the elastic.


Try it, you'll like it!
Merchants on PR
Victoria Jones Collection
Timeless Hawaiian styles
Web site
So Vintage Patterns
Thank You for Joining!
Deals!
Fitz Like a Glove Ironing Board Cover
Made In Australia
Deals!

<< Previous Next >>

Add Tip/Technique    Read All Tip/Techniques


23 Comments      Login to Add a Comment
Kathy in NM said...
Helpful hint! What type of elastic do you use? Often elastic seems to stay stretched after stitching with a zigzag, and therefore being too large. Does the "exercising" help with this issue?
3/17/09 8:12 PM
BrianSews said...
Good questions! I have found that for legs I like 3/8" polyester elastic. It's cheap, strong, and lasts. You'll see it at Walmart, 6 yards for like $1.25. When I zigzag I allow the needle to zag off the edge so only the left side is catching the elastic. If your elastic is loosing stretch recover then lengthen your stitch and consider a different elastic. This polyester stuff seems to do fine with a lot of stitching and can handle chlorine and the accidental clothes dryer session. Clear swimwear style elastic is not very effective or secure by my standards and is hard to work with, I avoid it. Exercising elastic is essential. You can actually feel and see the difference before and after. Give it a really good abusive pulling for best results.
3/17/09 8:27 PM
christine A said...
I am a visual learner. Could you post a picture of each step? Thanks for the wonderful review.
3/17/09 8:39 PM
SewLil said...
I'm going to try it although I will still use the elastic measurements provided in the pattern. My biggest gripe is that lump that's created where the elastic overlaps as well as trying to sew the overlap! How do you do that with 1/4" elastic!! I agree that clear elastic doesn't work for crap on this type of garment. It makes total sense that you would stretch more where you need it, in my case, the butt. Thanks for your tip. I'm working on leotards as we speak. I only have the legs left to do.
3/17/09 10:04 PM
SewLil said...
Whoops, me too LOL.
3/17/09 10:06 PM
BrianSews said...
Hmm... I think you can still zigzag 1/4" together when you butt it end to end, shorten the stitch length for sure. I might even turn my machine by hand to keep it under control. It's not necessary to have tons of stitching to hold the ends together, infact too many stitches could weaken the ends your joining. Any smaller then 1/4" and I think you'd need to overlap it. I can't profess to lots of experience at smaller then 3/8" however.
3/17/09 10:25 PM
Monique said...
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I would also like to see pictures of your technique.
3/18/09 8:26 AM
mhk3boys said...
Thanks for the advice, I will try this also.
3/18/09 9:07 AM
BrianSews said...
I promise next time I sew up some leg elastic I will take photos! That could turn into a full fledged tutorial instead of a simple tip and might be worth a rewrite. For those who already apply elastic in leg openings the the idea is to think about where more cinching/tightness is wanted, and where it's not.
3/18/09 9:28 AM
Sewjourner2134 said...
Thanks!! I always have trouble with the elastic on bathing suits. I'm working on another one and want to try this method, but will have to wait til I get home cause I'm at work!!
3/18/09 12:30 PM
Rhoda K said...
Your tip definitely makes sense. I read something similar when putting a neck binding on a t-shirt. I'll definitely give this a try. Thanks for sharing.
3/18/09 4:48 PM
DaisyEsq said...
Thank you for your clearly written and informative tip. If at all possible, I would also like to see photos of your next leg elastic project.
3/18/09 4:49 PM
Kathy in NM said...
Thanks for the additional info. I have a suit cut out waiting to be sewn. I'll try your method on the legs, with a bit more stretch to cover the cheeks, and less in front. Along with exercising the elastic, and stitching only partially on the elastic. This seems to make so much more sense than measuring.
3/18/09 9:31 PM
BrianSews said...
One of the advantages of using a zigzag stitch to attach your elastic is that if you need to redo it it's much easier to remove then serger attached. Also, I don't use zigzag to topstitch after I fold the elastic under. If you stretch as you topstitch and make sure your stitches fall on the the folded under elastic the straight stitches will have plenty of give. I think zigzag stitching on the outside of garments look very home made and I do whatever I can to avoid them. Most instructions I've noticed show zigzag topstitching...
3/19/09 9:16 AM
TracyaR said...
Wonderful tip ... I love the idea of only catching the elastic on the zig and not the zag. Hope you do a photo tutorial but your words are very clear. Thanks!
3/19/09 8:23 PM
lady a said...
will try putting elastic on underwear this way. sounds sensible and much easier.
3/19/09 10:30 PM
Mebber said...
Great technique- thanks for sharing. Puts me back in the swimsuit sew...
3/19/09 11:29 PM
Judy Kski said...
I really appreciate that you took the time to write such a great tip to share with everyone. I will definitely use this the next time I sew a pair of underwear. Thanks!
3/23/09 12:52 PM
brrmm said...
Hi RB, what sort of stich do you use for your top stitch? Just interested cause your work always looks very professional. Also when you butt (pardon the pun!) the elastic together does it sort of come apart - whenever I've tried this it does. How do you make sure it stays together?? Cheers!
3/28/09 6:41 PM
Miss Fairchild said...
Great tip! I'll have to try this.
4/1/09 8:41 AM
Silvanahappy said...
Hi, I want to make a swimsuit with more professional look. To make the double sewing I need a serger or I need a coverstitch? thank you so much :-)
6/12/11 8:01 PM
Beryl Koster said...
Thankyou, this is exactly where I am at! And yes, the crotch area can look a bit untidy with overlaped elastic, let alone bulky to sew.
3/17/12 1:11 AM
EcoThreads said...
Thanks so much for this explanation! Ive sewed 3 underwear & a swimsuit for my daughter and was getting so frustrated trying to get the plastic elastic to work (good to know I should've just dumped it and went with regular elastic). I was ending up with stretched out looking leg holes or too tight leg holes. Your method came out much nicer and laid flat. thank ya!
6/14/12 1:13 PM

Copyright © 2014 PatternReview.com® , OSATech, Inc. All rights reserved.
Conditions of Use | Posting Guidelines | Privacy Policy | Contact Us