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Machine Sewing Elastic

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Machine sewing elastic on a garment can be decorative, help your project keep its shape, and of course make the garment comfortable to wear. Having a specialized machine foot (like the Janome 20033200 ribbon/sequin foot) is helpful but not necessary. With or without a specialty foot, here are 4 points to keep you from getting bent out of shape.

  1. Use the right kind of elastic for your project. This may seem obvious but it can be temping to use whatever you have on hand. Choosing the correct elastic is particularly important if you are sewing something delicate like lingerie.
  2. Measure out the correct length of elastic. Your pattern may have an elastic guide printed among your pattern pieces (look for a long thin strip). If you do not have one, don’t fret. One bonus to sewing is that you can adjust the elastic length according to your preference. Generally, elastic waistbands are cut 1.5 to 3 inches (3.81 to 7.62 cm) smaller than the waist measurement. Re-check for fit before you cut each length of elastic. Elastics brands/styles are unique in their feel and different fabrics may also impact the amount of elastic needed.
  3. Pin the elastic into place. Start by pinning the beginning, end, and then quarter sections of the elastic. Some people, depending on the garment and elastic placement, sew a straight stitch vertically up the elastic (perpendicular to the length) to hold it in place without pins. This can be a great step that helps you attach the elastic evenly once it’s stretched into place.
  4. Gently stretch and sew the elastic into place using a long, wide zigzag stitch. Feeling nervous? Sew a sample first, using extra project fabric and elastic – adjust as needed.

Do you have tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!

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