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how to do the elastic bodice

lauriebond | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I am hoping that someone will know how to duplicate the elastic bodice now featured in fabric stores.  I have tried the elastic thread on the bobbin without going through the tension, long stitch.  This only works if I DO incorporate the tension on the bobbin and place my finger directly behind the foot building pressure as the fabric comes after the stitch.  This will gather the fabric but does not duplicate the elasticity of the purchased gathered fabric.  Anyone know more about how the industry does this and how to capture the same outcome?


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    I imagine that the industry gathers the fabrics with a specialized machine that inserts all the rows of elastic at once, resulting in that very consistent gather.

    Decades ago, I duplicated that using elasticized thread in the bobbin as you did, being careful to stretch the fabric flat with each pass, but more recent elastic thread doesn't seem to be as springy. A recent thread on replacing the elastic in a bodice had some interesting comments on this problem.

    Maybe using a few strips of a very wide, very soft elastic band and stitching it every 1/2" or so would give you the effect you want. I'm thinking that pajama waistline elastic might be very comfortable and give the effect of overall gathering.

    1. sewfar | | #2

      Wasn't there a special elastic in the "olden days"  (maybe the 1970s ) that had little squares and you sewed over the lines and pulled the appropriate threads and voila elastized cuffs or what ever.  I think I kept a tiny piece for reference.  Or is my memory of the blouse I made failing me?

      1. NovaSkills | | #6

        Yes, and that pull-to-gather stuff is still out there. You sew rows, then grab the elastic threads of the tape between the sewn rows to gather it. Might be available at a chain store, or might not. I've not bought it recently.

        Edited 6/11/2007 11:16 am ET by NovaSkills

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #3

    You will need to do some trial pieces to determine which elastic cord gives the desired effect, but the technique is the same...

    On the wrong side of the cloth mark the lines you wish to gather with either a pencil (if it won't show through), or a water soluble marker (test on your cloth first!)

    tie a knot in the end of your elastic cord and measure the desired finished width and mark your cord at this distance from the knot but DO NOT cut the cord.

    On the wrong side of your cloth lay the cord along the line and zigzag over it being careful not to catch the cord at all. I start with the knot behind the foot and adjust the cord after stitching, start at the seam line and stop at the seam line so your seam allowances are not gathered. Now tie an end knot at your mark, cut cord leaving a small tail. Adjust the gathers.

    Repeat for each line keeping the previous rows stretched out so you can see your line straight!

    Elastics to try... round cord, beading cord, baby flat (1/8 inch).

    Try different stitch lengths... I use something fairly long.

    Try different threads in the bobbin, they will show on the right side, use this to your advantage.

    Try different spacing between the rows of gathers

    I know this is not exactly like the manufactured gathers, but it is an option.

    Hope this helps,


    1. MaryinColorado | | #4

      Great advice, Becky!  This would be much more effective than the elastic thread and have greater longevity in the wash. 

    2. sewverne76 | | #5

      Thanks for your advise on sewing elastic to fabric to create the "new" look showing up in stores.  I previously wrote-in regarding replacing the elastic that died on my daughter's dress and I think I will use your approach.

      I was even considering using ribbon trim on the bodice front at various levels and inserting elastic, perhaps corded or very narrow 1/8 -1/4 flat, to replace what I removed. 

       Now, all I need is some time to "play" with these ideas.



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