What’s the Project? When you’re sewing a project and you need to know how to insert elastic (for example into a waistband), here’s a simple tutorial that will walk you through it.
Hello, my sewing friends! It’s that time of the week again-a new sewing lesson for the Learn to Sew series! It’s week 4 and this week I am teaching you how to sew a casing for elastic and then how to insert elastic. Perfect for making things like pajamas and kids clothes. And it’s not too hard. In fact, if you have completed weeks 1-3, you have learned the most foundational skills for sewing. Everything from here on out is just the fancy stuff. So congrats on completing that!
Now let’s add elastic!
Lesson #4: How to Insert Elastic:
What I am teaching you today will help you so that you can sew things like pajama pants or little skirts or anything that you want to add elastic to. It’s a very easy way to add elastic and really only involves a hem and a straight stitch. Can you handle that? I know you can.
To create what we call a casing for your elastic, you will start out by folding down your fabric almost as if you were going to hem it. So, you’ll fold the fabric so that wrong sides are together. Fold it down about an inch or so:
And then again one more time:
Press that seam or pin it in place (or both):
Now you will sew a straight line along the bottom of that fold. See how my presser foot is lined up to the bottom edge of the fold? Then sew straight along there:
It will look like this when you are done:
Now, grab your elastic (you can get any size as long as it is smaller in width than your casing. I typically use about 1/2 inch width on kids clothes) and a large safety pin and attach the safety pin to one end of your elastic:
Now slide the head of your safety pin into the opening at the end of your casing you just made:
And pull it through using the safety pin to pull on and guide the elastic. BUT, make sure you don’t let the other end of the elastic pull through the end you started on. You can pin it in place or just hold onto it, just don’t let it follow through the hole.
Pull till your safety pin comes out the other side:
And your fabric will now be gathered:
OK, so those are the basics of how to do it. But, generally you aren’t going to be doing it on a flat piece of fabric like that. Usually you are going to be inserting it into a waist band, so your fabric is already going to be in a loop.
Let’s imagine you are doing pajamas (one of the project options for this week). You’ve already sewn the pajamas together, now you just need to create the elastic waistband.
You will follow the same steps, just at the top of the pajamas. So, fold your fabric over once about an inch so that wrong sides are together and then again about an inch. Pin it and/or press it to hold it in place. Then sew all the way around BUT-this is important-leave a couple inches of opening:
That’s where you are going to insert your elastic. So, do that. First, measure how much elastic you need for this project (depends on your instructions or the size of the waist you are making it for). Then, grab your elastic and your safety pin and insert it in there:
Pull it all the way around the waist:
And out the hole again making sure that your other end is still outside the hole too (pin it in place if you need to):
Make sure that your elastic did not get twisted up inside. Then sew those two ends of the elastic together. Either use a zigzag stitch to do it or just go over and over and over it about 10 times to make sure it is sewn tight.
Now you just need to close that opening that you had. Stretch out the elastic and sew it shut (making sure not to sew on the elastic, just on the fabric):
Sew something with elastic! Anything you want! Then move on to Lesson #5: How to Sew Ruffles
One of the best options for this is pajama pants! You can do them for yourself or a kid or anyone you want. I have a tutorial on how to create your own pajama pants without a pattern. If that’s too scary, try Pinterest for patterns or grab a real pattern from the store:
Or here is a simple little skirt that uses elastic: