How to Sew Elastic Directly to Fabric: 2 Best Ways

The worse sewing disaster with elastic is when both ends fail the equal distribution to the fabric. This error truly questions my patience after working on the textile project for hours.

How to Sew Elastic Directly to Fabric

If you face a similar dilemma where the elastic feels too loose or extremely inaccurate, I welcome thee to this major breakthrough of a guideline. It will tell you how to sew elastic directly to fabric without losing your mind this time.

You can choose manual or machine sewing for this mission. Pin the elastic to the fabric section you want to attach it to with respective gaps. Then sew the fabric while keeping the elastic stretched to match the ends. If it is for the waistband, you must stitch the elastic ends together multiple times first.

That seems not so hard now, does it? Let me enlighten your days by explaining the details further!

Is It Hard to Sew Elastic?

It is definitely challenging work for a novice seamstress, a dressmaker, or someone who wants to learn DIY quick tips.

However, do not sadden your heart with the news, for you will eventually grasp the alteration technique after a few blunders.

Perhaps practicing with old, unwanted fabric and elastics should be your main priority. This will ensure you do not repeat the mistake on the original hemming project.

Can You Sew Elastic Directly to Fabric?

There are evolutions of fashions over the years that have opened up all the possibilities. As a result, you can try many unique styles in the sewing department without getting scrutinized.

Therefore, attaching the elastic directly to the fabric is likewise a common task in garment factories. If they can make it happen, why not you?

You do not have to be an exclusive tailor to venture in this direction. Yes, you can opt for direct sewing operation to the elastic and fabric. Nonetheless, one must learn which side the stretchy material should go to.

If you sew it on the right side (the side visible to our eyes after wearing the clothing), then, alas, you have a long way to go. It is not a lost cause but a mere miscalculation.

So grab your kit and be ready to try again!

Do I Need a Special Needle to Sew Elastic?

Before I give you the straight answer to this question, do you want to see how many types of needles there are? Each plays a significant role in making the sewing technique more efficient.

Prepare to feel overwhelmed with the distinguished needle set:

  • Universal
  • Sharp
  • Ball Point
  • Stretch
  • Jeans
  • Quilting
  • Metafil
  • Leather
  • Embroidery
  • Twin and Triple
  • Top Stitch
  • Wing

Now which needle type wins your favor for sewing elastic? Stretch needles are your candid solution that deals with elasticized fabric.

Hence, it can handle anything stretchy, silky, synthetic, or spandex clothing items without damaging the seam lines.

As a newbie, all needles looked the same to me except the curved ones. However, the time has been kind to me for discerning most of them instantly.

The stretch needle comprises a smaller eye, a deep scarf, and a uniquely flat shank. This design helps maneuver the point to glide through the rubbery material effortlessly.

Similarly, hand-sewing needles also have versatile options:

  • Crewel
  • Tapestry
  • Chenille
  • Beading
  • Felting
  • Bodkins
  • Darning, etc.

While bodkins are considered ideal for sewing elastics, you can choose a needle you are more comfortable with.

Can You Sew Elastic with a Sewing Machine?

Honestly, head for the sewing machine instead of manually laboring over the stretchy material. Do you have the equipment gathering dust at home? It is time to make grand use of it.

There are basic instructions you must get acquainted with first. Sewing machines are not always a textbook picture, especially for a beginner.

So, practice the simple stitching techniques before tackling the elasticized garments. One wrong move can jam the machine for a prolonged time.

What Stitch Is Best for Sewing Elastic?

I urge a round of claps to zigzag stitch for being the best method for rubbery clothes. It means it is ideal for those elastic bands too.

While it is a simple procedure with a sewing machine, you might find it very daunting with your hands.

The seam lining can have uneven stitches if your hands waver or you lose track of the position. Nevertheless, I believe that you can accomplish the challenge without much trouble.

Some may wonder why zigzag of all stitch types. Aside from being a decorative style, it allows the fabric attached to the elastic also move freely. Plus, the design permits more room for the band to stretch well too.

How to Sew Elastic Directly to Fabric: 2 Ways & Step-by-Step Guide

The main action begins from here. Remember that you can attach the elastic to the fabric on the edge or make a casing to form a band.

It is better if you start from the midpoint, outward of the fabric, for even elastic distribution.

If the plan is to attach it to the circular frame (waistlines, sleeves, bottom hems of a pant, etc.), always stitch both ends together before securing it to the fabric. Make sure to seal the ends with multiple rounds of backstitch sewing.

Method 1: Sewing Elastic Directly to the Fabric by Hand

Your first job is not to feel nervous due to the complex work you are about to do. Not everyone owns an adorable little sewing machine to mend a patch within minutes.

Besides, some extraordinary embroidery-making enthusiasts love stitching everything with hand needles.

Even my mother relies on her years of experience with hands than sitting by the sewing machine. So long you are at ease, go for this method and enjoy every bit.

Things You’ll Need

Your kit will include some pins to hold the materials in place. The more, the merrier, in my case, as I mysteriously lose them all the time.

Next, grab the needle with the right point for the garment and the elastic.

Get a pair of scissors because why not? You may have to cut through stuff during the project.

I almost forgot the most crucial item – the thread. Although I opt for polyester threads, you can select a different version. Just ensure it does not ruin the clothing and glides through smoothly.

Keeping a measuring tape around is also important!

Sew Step by Step

You can complete the sewing process via the steps below. Just remember to keep everything aligned for a better picture.

Take Measurements of the Individual

First, measure the body where the band is to be utilized. Suppose it is the waist, then measure it to find how much elastic you require. For instance, if the waist is 30 inches, you must cut the elastic to the same length, as that is what will fit you.

Take Measurments of the Garment

Measure the fabric section where you will join the elastic. The fabric line will be larger, a reason why you are attempting to shrink its bagginess by attaching the rubber.

Adjust the Size

Now you subtract 2- or 4-inch (5.1 or 10cm) from the 30-inch elastic using scissors. It is to allow a snug fit. You can ignore this step if the fabric is a top that does not need a loop.

However, you will have to overlap the elastic ends together by a tiny fraction for a waistband. Use repeated backstitch (a sewing technique) to prevent detachment.

Attach Elastic to Fabric

Now, pin the elastic to the fabric. Slide it to the wrong side of the garment, where you will attach the rubber line.

Use a few pins, preferably four to five, at equal intervals to attach elastic to the fabric. Make sure the garment does not bunch up.

Begin Stitching

You can start sewing them both. Keep a constant pull/tug at the elastic so it is at a similar length to the fabric.

Remove the pins one by one once you reach their intervening location. You can leave them until you finish sewing the whole thing if that makes it more convenient.

Inspect the Finished Work

Stretch the area a little to check the precision of your work. That is all!

If it is a waistband for trousers, jeans, etc., you have to cover the elastic with the additional fabric remaining over. Simply fold it on top of the band inward and stitch the bottom line.

Read Also: How to Cover Fluorescent Lights with Fabric

Method 2: Sew Elastic to Fabric with a Sewing Machine

If you are more of a machine person or bought sewing equipment recently, here is your stop. Always ensure the right components are lubricated for smooth operation.

There are many kinds of sewing machines available. I will assume that you do not own a manual or industrial one.

Manual ones comprise a balance wheel on one side of the body and a pressure bar under the table. You adjust the sewing speed by using the bar. And I remember it creating a very soothing sound when running, almost methodical.

An industrial model is heavy-duty and usually computerized. They are used in large textile factories for mass production.

What you probably have is a mechanical model where the sound imitates a humming engine. It is useful, budget-friendly, and easy to learn!

Things You’ll Need

Sewing usually requires basically the same things all the time – a measuring tape, fabric-cutting scissors, suitable threads, needles, pins, etc.

Make sure you set the stretch needle to the needle bar and gather lots of pins for the sake of easing things a bit.

Sew Step by Step

The steps are basically similar to the ones stated in the hand-sewing technique.

Measure Everything Accordingly

Measure everything according to the instructions previously. Make sure that if the fabric is 30 inches, the elastic should be a few inches shorter, say 28 inches.

Attach Fabric and Elastic Together

Now place the elastic on top of the fabric (on the wrong side). Pin it by starting from the middle if you plan to sew along a straight edge; it makes stretching the elastic to meet each interval balanced.

The other two pins should attach each end of the elastic to the ends of the fabric.

Start Sewing

Now sew it in the machine, starting from the mid-pin. Keep a constant pull at the elastic so it is stitched to the fabric at an equivalent length. Once you finish one side, you can rotate the fabric to stitch the other section.

Follow these steps even when working with a circular garment (waistband, sleeves, etc.).

Make a Hem for Casing

If you want a casing design, create a hem to the area first.

Measure the elastic width so that the hemming leaves enough space for the rubber to enter.

Create One or Dual Openings

Keep a small section(s) unstitched to form an opening where you insert the elastic using a safety pin at one end.

Insert the Elastic into the Hem

Weave it into the hem till the pinned edge comes out of the other opening or the same one after a loop.

How Can You Sew Elastic to Gather Fabric?

What if you prefer the gathered style or the bunched-up décor? Simply follow the instructions above; the method is the same.

There is only one piece of advice you have to keep in mind. Remember how elastic trimming tends to have a little deduction than the actual fabric edge?

This time you clip the rubber more. If the fabric length is 30 inches, for example, make the elastic 5 or 6 inches shorter.

The more you cut, the more gathered the fabric will be after sewing.

What Should You Do to Sew Elastic to Stretch Fabric?

On the contrary, you want to add the elastic but keep the stretchiness to a minimum. What do you do? Well, it is the exact opposite of the bunch-up technique!

Measure the elastic carefully to match the fabric edge length or the area where you wish to attach it.

Suppose the fabric length is 30 inches. Perhaps reduce only one or a couple of inches from the elastic to prevent puckering as you stitch.

Final Words:

Learning how to sew elastic to fabric is quite handy, whether you use the machine or the manual method. Maybe you wish to tweak the style of a plain and boring garment. Or the clothing item needs altering since there is no return policy.

Reasons will mound, but a single needlework trick to the material will most certainly save your budget substantially.

So I wish you all the best in achieving the best sewing tactics in the simplest form! Good luck.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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