Sewing elastic in an elastic waistband, neck or cuffs is a really quick and easy way to make simple garments. You can attach elastic either attaching the elastic to the edge or creating a casing and threading it through. Gentle gathers are better suited to the attachment method and fuller gathers are better created with elastic threaded through a casing.
Further reading: Types of Elastic
Sewing Elastic – Attach the elastic waistband to the fabric
This method of sewing elastic in an elastic waistband is perfect for wider elastics where a gentle gather is required. This method is also commonly used in leotard patterns where elastic needs to be attached to the neck or legs.
Step 1: Fold your elastic into a loop and overlap the ends by 1/2 inch (12mm). Stitch the ends together. I like to use 2 rows to hold the ends flat.
Step 2: Divide your elastic into quarters.
Step 3: Divide the edge of the waistband or cuff into quarters.
Step 4: Pin the elastic on the wrong side to the edge of the waistband, matching the quarter marks. Notice how the elastic is smaller than the waistband edge.
Step 6: Stretch out the elastic between each mark and stitch along the edge with either a wide zig-zag or serger. If you use a serger, there is no need to cut the edge as this can weaken the elastic.
Step 7: On the inside of the waist, fold the elastic down by its width and pin it in place. You will need to stretch the elastic out.
Step 8: On the edge of the elastic waistband, stitch it in place stretching it flat as you go. You can use a zig-zag stitch or a straight stitch. If you are sewing this elastic waistband on a stretch garment then a zig-zag or twin needle is your best option.
And there you have it – a beautiful, gathered elastic waistband that won’t twist.
Sewing Elastic – Create a Casing
This method of sewing elastic in an elastic waistband is great for thin or thick elastic where fuller gathers are desired. As well as waistbands, it is commonly used in the neck of peasant dress patterns. I have referred to creating a casing on a waistband but this method works equally well on necks, sleeves and ankles.
Step 1: Press the top raw edge of your waistband over by 1/4 inch (6mm) on the wrong side of the fabric.
Step 2: Press the top edge over again by the width of the fabric plus 1/4 inch. For example:
- If your elastic is 1/2 inch (12mm) (then press over the casing by 3/4 inch (2cm).
- If your elastic is 1 inch (2.5cm) then press it over 1 1/4 inches (3.2cm)
Step 3: Stitch around the bottom edge of the casing leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) gap somewhere that is not noticeable. This is generally either the side or the back of the waistband. Backstitch either side of the gap.
Step 4: Put a safety pin through the end of your elastic and thread it all the way around the casing and through the other side.
Step 5: Overlap the ends of the elastic by 1/2 inch (12mm) and stitch.
Step 6: Push the elastic back in the casing and then stitch the gap closed.
All finished! You just need to arrange the gathers evenly.
How to Stop Elastic in a CasingTwisting:
If you have already stitched your elastic into the casing before you realized that it is twisting, there is something you can do to fix it.
WIDE ELASTIC – Distribute the gathers evenly around the waist and put pins at the quarter marks. Put your skirt back in your machine, the right way up and stitch through the center of the elastic. You will need to stretch the elastic flat between the pins so you don’t get any puckers or gathers.
THIN ELASTIC – Ensure the gathers are distributed evenly and mark the center back and sides with a pin. Simply put a vertical row of stitching at the center back and sides. Depending on the style you could put a row at the front as well.