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elastic stretches when sewn

blingy | Posted in General Discussion on

Can someone suggest a good 1.5 inch elastic that keeps its original diameter when sewn?  I made a pair of light weight denim pull on pants last night and I put in an elastic band that was 27.5 inches.  This morning I went to finish them and I noticed the band had stretched to 30 inches!  I am not using the casing method, I prefer the kind of waist band that you sew directly to the top of the waist then fold over.  This denim is not very thick and this has happened before.  Can someone suggest a kind of elastic that does not do this?  I have read on the back of one pattern to use the kind of elastic that does not stretch when sewn but none of the elastic I see in the stores says anything about that.  What kind of elastic is good for pull on pants?  Thanks


  1. Crazy K | | #1

    Try steaming it with your steam iron...........that will shrink it back to original size.......at least it works for me.  I do all my elastic waisted pants that same way and always take my finished item to the ironing board and give the waist several good shots of steam...while holding the iron about an inch or so above.  Often you can see the elastic shrink......amazing!

    I should add that I stitch my elastic on with a serger......then turn down and stitch with a straight stitch or slight zig-zag depending on the fabric.  Also after steaming, its good to let the garment lay flat to dry.



    Edited 4/11/2008 6:22 pm ET by Crazy K

    1. durf | | #9

      I have never tried sewing elastic with my surger. I have the foot but the openning is small for the elastic to go through. Maybe I don't know how to do it correctly. The hole seems only big enough to fit the 1/2 in elastic through. I usually use 1 inch.


      1. Crazy K | | #10

        I don't put it through the foot..........just butt the ends and use a piece of lightweight fabric or ribbon to secure and use a wide zig-zag to stitch the ends of the elastic, making a circle.  Divide into quarters and mark.......the line up the butted end with the center back seam and line the edge of the elastic up with the top edge of your garment....stretching the elastic as you serge, so that the next mark lines up with  the side seam, etc. until you complete the circle.  I hope that is clearer than mud!  It works great for me.  I try not to pin and if I must, I remove the pins long before they get to the knife.......running a pin through is a quick way to ruin a serger!  I have used this method for quite a few years after seeing it on Sandra Betzina's show.  Now I can't imagine doing it any other way!

        Hope this has been helpful.


        1. durf | | #11

          I use to watch her on tv. sandra B before Susan K came on Sew Much More. I l.oved that show. I just wish they (network)  had something to replace it that is as use ful as they were. Of course I always watch sewing with Nancy and Sue Hausman on America sews. Oh back to the elastic, Thanks again I will give that a try. Sometimes you CAN teach and old dog a new trick

  2. LadyTaraC | | #2

    I am no expert but I will ask; are you stitching your elastic with a regular straight stitch?  When I  have sewn through elastic I either used a lenghtened zigzag, 3-step zigazag or a lengthened straight stitch.  I do know that a regular length straight stitch will effect the elastics ability to recover once sewn.

  3. Josefly | | #3

    I can't remember at the moment what it's called - oh yes, sports elastic - which has lines meant for sewing along the length of it, in parallel rows about 3/8 or 1/2 inch apart. The lines are visible in the texture of the elastic. It comes in 1.5 and 1.25 widths. I've used it several times and been very satisfied, and though I didn't notice stretching, I haven't actually measured it after sewing to compare before/after lengths. I also used it in a fold-down casing, but it is really meant to be used the way you've described - stitched to the top edge, then folded down to the inside, and stitched along the indicated lines. The edges of the elastic have stitching lines, and then there are two more lines in the body of the elastic.

    If you don't want the multiple rows of stitching, you of course don't have to stitch the extra rows. What's that waistline finish called? - Hollywood waist? Where the elastic is stitched to the top edge, folded down and then only tacked down at the seam lines. So it's invisible.

    The advice you got about the method of stitching is also important. Even a narrow-width zig-zag allows the elastic to "recover" better than straight-stitching, and the longer the stitch, also, the better the recovery.

    Edited 4/11/2008 8:03 pm ET by Josefly

    1. User avater
      blingy | | #4

      Actually I am using the serger to stitch the elastic to the top edge of the garment.  Then I fold it over and use the sewing machine, regular straight stitch to go around the entire edge.  I did try the hot steam iron over the elastic and was amazed how it did shrink back to the original size!  The question now is what size will it be after I wash it.  I have seen the sports elastic with the rows meant to be stitched through but it doesn't seen heavy enough for denim, even what I call a light weight denim.  It looks like the sports elastic is meant for light weight knits.  Like I said before, elastic seems to be a whole other world unto itself!  So many choices, so many feels and not a great deal of information but thank you who answered my question.

      1. Josefly | | #5

        I'm glad you got your elastic to shrink back into shape - that's a nice technique to know about. Also, I agree, elastic is a little bewildering and there doesn't seem to be enough information on how to handle it, and what to use it for, available when you purchase it, whether by the yard or in a package. Also, it seems when I know what to ask for or look for, it's nearly impossible to find - there's not really enough variety offered at the fabric stores. Wonder if Threads has ever done an article on it - I'll check the index.

      2. Crazy K | | #6

        Steaming the elastic seems to shrink it as much as its going to.  I have never had a problem with it shrinking more in the wash.  Hope that answers your question.



      3. MaryinColorado | | #7

        You might try increasing the differential feed on your serger also.  When using elastic, allways stretch it a few times before inserting it to prevent it from "growing" after washing. 

  4. sewpro | | #8

    I would just cut the elastic 2.5 inches smaller before sewing it in. Then when it stretches, it'll be the right size.

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