Elastic is a wonderful material used to create give and flexibility in size when sewing clothing or other items. Beyond the function of elastic, when used to gather fabric, it can add a decorative element to enhance any garment. Gathering with elastic is a simple task that only requires basic sewing skills.
Determine the Use and Type of elastic
Elastic can be used for a decorative element, or a practical element. Gathering fabric along a neck line with elastic creates a ruffle effect, while using the elastic around the waist band, is a very practical way to create pants that easily be put on and fit. Determine whether you are using the elastic for a decorative or practical function. If the elastic is purely decorative you can use a thinner piece, while a practical use such as a waistband requires stronger, sturdier elastic.
Measuring the elastic with the fabric is a very important element to make this process work effectively. Determine the size you would like the un-stretched garment to be. Once this is determined, decide how much gather you require for your design. More fabric will result in a more gathered look. Try testing the elastic with the fabric to help determine the look and function you would like.
Stretching and Sewing
Sewing the elastic can be difficult at first. Try a few tests prior to sewing. Stretch the elastic onto flat fabric while sewing with a machine. Once the tension is released, gather with the elastic. It is advisable to indicate the half way mark on both the fabric and elastic so there is even gathering with the elastic.