Londa's Tips for Using Sport Elastic

How to Use Sport Elastic

Londa’s Tips for Using Sport Elastic 

  • Use 5 to 7” less length of elastic than your waist measures.  The larger the waist, the proportionately smaller the elastic used…. For example:  for a 40+ “ waist, I once used 15” less elastic – stitched through 3 times.   Make a record of  your waist measurement and the length of elastic you use so that you can refer to this again – and adjust the length of elastic up or down, depending on your results.
  • Held in a circle, the length of elastic you use should be VERY tight around the fullest part of your hips…. Realize that when you stitch through this elastic, it will stretch out some.  Your comfort level of tightness comes into play here…
  • This VERY soft elastic, and must be stitched through somehow to ‘work’. 
  • You can have this soft elastic exposed on the inside of a garment – like Boxer shorts, and see where you stitch – through the tunnels of the elastic


  • You can encase this elastic in fabric and then not be stitching through the tunnels – it still ‘works’.    This application is the one for which directions follow:
  •  For width of casing to allow:  figure  twice the width of the elastic plus ¼” ‘scootch’ room, plus 2 times the width of the top ‘ruffle’ plus ½” for finishing.  ‘Finish’ the edge by serging or encasing in Seams Great, or stitching straight along a pinked edge. 
 I like to have a row of stitching about ¼” from the top fold of a casing.  Especially with delicate fabrics, this is very important, as I’ve found that elastic rubbing against a fold of a delicate fabric like silk will quickly wear the fabric into shreds.  Do this stitching first – with a stitch length longer than normal – like 3.5 long, the same length you will be stitching when you stitch through the elastic.
  •  Lay the elastic next to this stitching, and make a judgment as to where to stitch the lowermost row of stitching that creates the tunnel through which the elastic will be fed.  Allow about ¼” extra width here so the elastic isn’t ‘crowded’ in the casing. 
  •  Feed elastic through the tunnel.  Use a bodkin, or if using a large safety pin, weave the pin through the elastic several times, or the end will be destroyed.  As feeding, be very careful not to let the elastic twist. 
  •  Butt the ends of elastic and back with a piece of any lightweight fabric.  Stitch with a straight stitch on each end back and forth repeatedly.  Trim any excess fabric off the back of the elastic.
  •  ‘Snap the turtle’ – meaning...pull on the garment to distribute the fullness of the garment around the elastic.  At center front, back and at each side seam, stitch vertically through all of the casing to distribute and secure the fullness.  You can take these stitching out later, or just ignore them – they won’t actually show. 
  •  Using the longer stitching length, like 3.5, stitch additional horizontal rows through the entire elastic and casing, stretching taut with one hand in back, other in front, at the machine.  I begin and end at the center back for these stitching rows.  Use the Quilting Guide hiding in the machine accessory box to enable straight stitching.  

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