Fold over elastic (also called FOE) comes in almost every color and pattern imaginable. It is a fun way to add contrast to your leotards, swimwear and knit fabric projects and doesn’t take long to apply. Learning how to sew fold over elastic will add fun and sparkle to all your knit sewing projects. Best of all – you can easily sew it on your regular sewing machine.
It is imortant to note that adding fold over elastic to edges is designed for stretch fabrics and not wovens.
What you need to sew fold over elastic:
- Ball point or stretch machine needles. This will help eliminate any skipped stitches. (Read types of sewing machine needles)
- Good quality thread. Try 100% polyester from a good brand (Read types of thread).
- Your fold over elastic. Start with 5/8 inch (1.5cm) widths as they are easiest to find.
TYPES OF FOLD OVER ELASTIC
The most common width is 5/8 inch (1.5cm) but you can use thicker or thinner.
Check it is not scratchy before you attach it to kids clothing. I spent hours making my daughter a glittery princess leotard which she refused to wear because of the scratchy elastic. I don’t want you to make the same mistake!
MEASURING FOR FOLD OVER ELASTIC
Before you start sewing, check your pattern. If you are substituting fold over elastic for regular elastic in leotards and swimwear, you may need to cut down the raw edge of the openings slightly.
Check the pattern to see if it includes the seam allowances. If the pattern includes a seam allowance you will need to cut that away before applying your fold over elastic.
If you are applying fold over elastic to one of my swimwear or leotard patterns in place of regular elastic you will cut away the openings by the width of the regular elastic. For example in leotard sewing pattern #4 below which has 3/8 inch regular elastic around the neck, cut away the seam allowance by 3/8 inch.
If you are not sure how long to cut the fold over elastic, then put it around your body where it will be placed and cut at a length that feels comfortable.
It should be stretched but should not dig in. Don’t forget to add a seam allowance if it will be overlapped.
Some fold over elastics are firmer than others so this is a good way to get a comfortable length.
HOW TO SEW FOLD OVER ELASTIC: VIDEO
Here is a short video I made showing you how to sew fold over elastic. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly sewing and craft videos.
How to Sew Fold Over Elastic: Instructions
The first thing you will notice is that the underside of the elastic has a groove down the center. Normally the underside is matte and has no pattern. This helps you fold it in half to bind the edges of the fabric.
With the fabric right side up and the FOE wrong side up, place the edge of your fabric on top of the FOE so it just covers one-half of it.
With a long straight stitch (length 4) baste the fabric to the FOE. Generally, the FOE will be shorter than the fabric so you will need to stretch the elastic to fit.
Fold the elastic along the center groove and wrap it over the fabric so the raw edge is enclosed. Pin or clip it in place.
Stitch with a zig-zag stitch catching in the edges of the elastic and stretching the fabric as you go. You can use a regular zig-zag stitch or a 3 step zig-zag stitch.
You will find that edge sits flatter if you give it a press. Just make sure your iron is on a cool setting and test a scrap of FOE and fabric first to make sure it doesn’t melt.
TRY THIS TECHNIQUE ON:
More on Sewing Stretch Fabric:
- Sewing spandex and lycra without a serger
- How to choose spandex and Lycra and where to buy
- Working out the stretch factor of spandex
- How to Sew Fold Over Elastic