A couple of years ago I spent a week making panties from my knit scraps. I was on a real knit kick, making everything from dresses, to tanks, to pajamas. I ended up with a huge pile of knit scraps. I was dedicated to the making the most of these unused pieces of fabric. I ordered several yards of plush-back picot elastic.
This is the type of lingerie elastic I was most familiar with, and thus seemed like the obvious choice.I set to work, drafting patterns and planning fabric combinations, by the time my elastic arrived I was more than ready to get started.
In one afternoon I whipped through 4 pairs of underwear. That is when tragedy struck. I was out of elastic. I drove to the nearest fabric store only to find no picot elastic. This wasn’t going to stop me. I grabbed several yards of fold over elastic and 1/4″ braided elastic.
This happy accident led me to experiment with different elastic applications that I would have otherwise not used. I still like to make use of my scrap pieces of knit fabric by making pretty under-things. These are the three elastic techniques that I use regularly.
Picot Edge Elastic
This is the most widely used lingerie elastic, and with good reason. It is so cute! Picot elastic comes in a variety of scalloped and decorative edges. It is also incredibly easy to use.
1) Pin elastic to edge of fabric right sides together, aligning plain edge of elastic with raw edge of fabric.
2) Sew 1/8 away from the decorative edge using a zigzag stitch set at length 2 width 3.
3) Trim excess fabric using small trimming scissors.
4) Fold elastic towards the wrong side of the garment. Topstitch using a 3-step zigzag with a length of 1 and width of 4.
The results of this technique are both pretty and comfortable to wear. I love using bright colored elastic to liven up a more neutral self fabric. The popularity of fold-over elastic in crafts has made this notion especially easy to get your hands on in recent years.
1) Place fabric and fold over elastic wrong sides together, lining up edge of elastic with the edge of the fabric.
2) Use a zigzag stitch to baste along the innermost edge of the elastic.
3) Trim back any excess fabric on the right side.
4) Fold the elastic along the fold-line towards the right side of garment. Top stitch using a zigzag stitch.
1/4″ Knit Elastic
This is easily the most accessible technique, given the wide availability of woven and braided elastic, but beware, not all elastic is created equally! Check to make sure elastic is not rigid and stiff before purchasing. My local fabric shop carries swimwear elastic that has a high cotton content. This makes the elastic plush and perfectly suited to more delicate purposes.
1) Pin elastic to wrong side of fabric, lining the edge of the elastic up with the raw edge of the fabric. Pin along the length of the elastic for extra control.
2) Baste elastic to the wrong side of fabric using a zigzag stitch.
3) Fold elastic under, towards the wrong side if garment.
4) Topstitch using a zigzag stitch.
I like that now I have a broader arsenal of lingerie elastic techniques. If I hadn’t run out of elastic that fateful day, I would probably have never experimented with different options. Do you have any sewing crutches? Have you ever learned a valuable sewing lesson when you reached passed your comfort zone?