Learn how to sew lingerie elastic. Lingerie, or picot elastic, has a fancy looped edge at the top. This makes it attractive and functional for holding up petticoats and panties. If you are brave enough to make a bra you can use picot elastic there too. This tutorial will show you some simple techniques for sewing elastic on lingerie.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic Tutorial
What is Picot Elastic?
What is Picot refers to the small loops that decorate the edge of the elastic and add a feminine feature to a practical sewing accessory. The picot is the part that shows after the elastic has been attached. Picot elastic comes in different sizes from ¼”, ⅜”, ½”, and ¾” depending on your choice. There are different colors to choose from and different decorative edges. The most popular is simply the looped edge.
History of Picot
Picot is derived from a French word pic meaning small point or peak. The picot edge dates back to the 17th century. Picot has been used to decorate different edges including necklines, cardigans, and borders of fabric.
When picot edging is a part of elastic it is often associated with underwear and lingerie. It would be quite natural to expect French underwear to be decorative and have the perfect feminine touch! Here you can see lingerie or picot elastic with different sized edging.
It is possible to sew picot lingerie elastic with your normal machine or a serger or a combination of the two machines.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic - Tips
Here are some tips to consider before you start sewing the lingerie elastic.
- SIDES - Picot elastics have two sides. Get to know which one is which. The ‘plush’ side is the wrong side and it is made like this so it will feel soft against the skin. The right side of the elastic is like normal elastic and would feel rough on the skin.
- ELASTICITY - Check the elasticity of the picot elastic. If it is too stiff it will not be able to stretch and fit the body correctly. If it is too soft or thin it will stretch too much and fall down instead of holding its grip on the body.
- CUTTING LENGTHS - Match the stretch of the elastic with the amount required for the part of the body. Do not stretch the fabric only the elastic during this time. The elastic you use should always be smaller in width than the edge is being applied to.
- DIVIDE - To apply the elastic accurately and evenly, always quarter the elastic and mark the four quarter points.
Now you have your beautiful picot elastic and you want to sew it onto the panties you have made. Here is a step-by-step process of how to sew elastic on lingerie using three different methods.
Shop for Panties Patterns
The Treasurie pattern shop has several panties patterns you can purchase to sew.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic with a Normal Machine
Prior to sewing on the elastic, assemble your article to the point where there is just a side seam open on one side. It is easiest to stitch in the elastic while the garment can be laid open. Stitch the other side closed after the elastic is inserted. If you are making panties, for example, sew one side seam up and leave the other open. Or leave both side seams open.
Step 1 - Set the Machine
Quarter the space you will fit the elastic into. Match the quarters marked on the elastic and the garment. Pull or ease the elastic between these points.
Step 2 - Zig-Zag
Place the elastic on the right side of the fabric with the decorative edge facing the inwards. Set your machine on a zigzag stitch or a three-step zigzag setting.
Begin to sew with your zigzag stitch and gently pull on the elastic as you stitch onto it. Make sure your stitching is running as close to the decorative edge as possible. It must be close, but not going over the edge.
Step 3 - Trim
Turn your fabric over to the wrong side. Trim back any extra fabric that stands out beyond the stitching line.
Step 4 - Turn and Stitch
Turn the elastic under and use the zigzag stitch again to stitch down the elastic. The elastic will now be lying on the wrong side with the picot edging showing up as the decorative edge. Remember to pull the elastic as you stitch again to maintain elasticity.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic with a Serger
Here is how to sew lingerie elastic using both a serger and a sewing machine. This is a quick and easy method if you have a serger machine. It is the same as above except you use the serger for the first line of stitching and the sewing machine for the final stitching.
- Place the elastic on the right side of the fabric. Make sure the picot edge is pointing inwards like in the first photo above.
- Use your serger to attach the elastic instead of a zig-zag stitch. Pull carefully on the elastic and stitch it in place. While you are stitching make sure the serger blade does not cut into your elastic.
- Turn the elastic and the fabric to the wrong side.
- Use your sewing machine and the zigzag setting to stitch down the elastic on the right side. Remember to pull and ease the elastic as you sew.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic Shortcut Method
Use a sewing machine to prepare for this quick method:
- Prepare everything as you have done for the previous methods.
- Sew the elastic onto the right side of the fabric with the picot edge facing outwards as you sew. (Previous methods had it facing inwards. The elastic picot edge faces outwards in this instance because you are not going to turn it over. It will remain on the right side of the fabric.)
- Use your zigzag again and stitch the elastic onto the fabric.
- Trim away any excess fabric on the wrong side and leave the elastic exposed to the front of the garment.
- The elastic is not turned over and stitched a second time. This is a cheat sheet method but does not look as professional in the end.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic in the Round
If you prefer to sew your elastic in the round and want to sew up the side seams first, this is the method to use. This would the best method for panties.
- Sew your panties and stitch the side seams.
- Measure three pieces of elastic. One for the waist and two for the leg holes. Measure and cut the elastic 2” shorter than the size of the panties leg or top area.
- Stitch the elastic together by overlapping the ends and sewing back and forth several times to secure the elastic. Now you should have three circles of elastic.
- Measure the panties opening into quarters and mark the quarters. Measure the elastic into quarters and mark those quarters.
- Pin the elastic into the openings matching the quarters of the elastic and the panties. Place the pins facing down into the elastic not across. This makes the easing of the elastic less awkward. You can pull the elastic and ease it into the opening without having the pins in the way.
- Put the join at a position in the opening that will not chafe or cause irritation when you wear the panties. The side seam is a good placing for example.
- Ease the elastic between each of the four points as you sew with your zigzag stitch in the same manner as method #1.
- Trim, fold, and zig-zag again in the same manner as method #1.
How to Sew Lingerie Elastic - In Conclusion
Making your own underwear, and using lingerie or picot elastic, is a very rewarding sewing project. It will enable you to design and fit the lingerie to your own body shape. Now that you have read this tutorial on how to sew lingerie elastic you will see that it is really not difficult. Practice on a few scraps just to manage the right amount of pulling on the elastic to get it to be evenly spaced and comfortable to wear. Using lingerie elastic will make beautiful lingerie and you will have to say to yourself – c’est si bon – it is so good!
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