Properly attached elastic will create a nice fit around a leg opening of a gymnastic suit or swimsuit, a waistband, or other areas where
stretch and flexibility of size is needed. Elastic allows movement, while keeping the garment in place. Elastic can be
"loose", such as when it is pulled through the waistband of pyjamas, or stitched to the edge of the garment, such as the leg opening of a swimsuit or leotard.
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Swimsuit or Leotard Leg Elastic
Use 3/8" swimsuit elastic. Cut a length of elastic according to your pattern instructions. The pattern I use sets a 1:1 size ratio on the front of the leg
and 3/4 the measurement of the back of the leg opening (marked by notches on my patterns). In other words, the elastic length across the front exactly equals the length across the front of the leg opening, but the elastic that stretches
across the back is only 3/4 of the distance across the leg opening on the back. This means that the leg opening will fit flat across the front of the leg and will be
slightly gathered across the back. Your pattern might differ in how it is marked, so follow directions on your pattern.
Cut the elastic to the appropriate length according to your pattern instructions (be sure to allow 1/2" for overlap of elastic ends).
Stitch the ends together to create a circle.
With garment right side out, pin the elastic to the wrong side of the garment's leg opening, matching pins to notches, and lining up elastic with outer, cut edge of opening.
Use one hand to hold the garment, and the other
to stretch the elastic as it is fed through the sewing machine, elastic side up.
Use a zig-zag stitch to stitch the elastic into place. Be sure that the stitch encloses the edge of the elastic (in diagram on right the zig-zag
goes to the outer edge of the elastic).
When the elastic is in place, turn the outer edge under. Pin into place. Stitch the hem
using a zig-zag or straight stitch, stretching firmly as you go.
NOTE: You can use this same method for the arm opening and neckline, depending on the pattern style. Check your pattern instructions.
Waist elastic is used to allow for the difference between the waist measurement and the hip measurement if an opening (such as side or front zipper) is not used. Without it, you could not pull the pants up over your hips.
Waist elastic can be attached in the same way as the leg elastic above. The elastic is wider (usually 3/4" or 1") and a bit stiffer than swimsuit
elastic. Cut the elastic to be equal to the waist measurement. Overlap the ends and stitch them together as shown above.
Divide the elastic into 4 equal parts and mark with pins. Divide the waist of the garment into 4 equal parts and mark with pins. Pin the elastic to the outer edge of the waist, on the wrong side of the garment, matching marker pins.
Stitch the elastic to the garment using a zig-zag stitch. Fold under and topstitch hem into place.
An alternative method is to feed the unstitched length of elastic through a waistband. Cut the elastic to be equal to the waist measurement. Fold over (to the wrong side) the upper edge of the garment a bit more
than the width of the elastic, and stitch all the way around, leaving about 3" unstitched. This creates a waistband. Place a safety pin in one end of the elastic. Going up
through the opening in the waistband, and using the safety pin to pull the elastic, thread the elastic all the way around the waistband, being careful not to lose the loose end
of the elastic. When the elastic is pulled through, stitch the two cut ends of the elastic together. Stitch the opening of the waistband closed.
NOTE: I have found that if I cut the elastic equal to the waist measurement the end result is a comfortable fit. The ends of the elastic are overlapped, but the elastic is stretched a bit
when stitched or pulled. Experiment with the length to find what is comfortable for you.