The Different Types Of Elastic & What They Are Used For

Are you wondering what the different types of elastic are then you are in the right place.

There are a number of different styles, width and colours of elastic on the market and each have a number of uses. Though it isn’t always clear what you need for what project.

With more and more people creating their own home sewn wardrobes there is a greater need for information and clear guides to help those who are just getting started.

What Is Elastic?

First of all what is elastic?

Well elastic is a strip of material that is used in clothing to create a stretch area such as a waistband or cuff.

Elastic is made to expand and retract to its original shape and size after being released.

You can find it in a number of forms suitable for a number of projects and uses on the clothing market.

What To Look For When Buying Fabric

There are a few things you want to keep in mind when you are shopping for your elastic.

Keep these things in mind when you are partnering up your elastic with your project.

Elastic Width

Depending on what you are making and using the elastic for wil determine what width of elastic you buy.

For heavyweight fabrics, you may want to use a wider elastic that gives the garment more support. Where are small dainty projects like underwear and bras will require thin and delicate elastics such as the lace lingerie elastic?.

If you are working from a pattern, check the details for the width and length required.

Fibre Content

Generally elastic is made from polyester and rubber. This is most commonly used and popular is many projects and garments.

They are suitable for most projects other than swimwear. The material, unfortunately, cannot handle the overuse of chlorine, suncream etc. Clear elastic or cotton elastic is much better suited to swimwear.

The Type Of Project

If are you looking to buy elastic for a specific project you might want to do a little research on the most suitable first.

If you are looking to encase the elastic in a band for a waistband or cuff then you most likely want to use woven elastic, braided elastic or knitted elastic.

If you are wanted to use it on the exterior of your project or it will be seen you might want to look at using clear elastic, fold over elastic or lace lingerie elastic as they are more decorative or easily disguised.

What Are the Different Types Of Elastic

As I have mentioned above there are a number of different types of elastic you can find on the market and many of them can be used for a number of things and some are a little more specialised.

Tip: If you are following a sewing pattern it should state what size and style of elastic you should be using on the reverse with the other materials.

If not, if you are making general clothing it will be mostly braided elastic or knitted elastic. If you are making underwear it will require lace lingerie elastic.

Some of these elastics you can find in a small pack in supermarkets and some may require you to buy online or head to a haberdashery.

Braided Elastic

Braided elastic is made up of parrallel ridges that run lengthwise down the elastic. These ridges make the elastic band stronger and give the overall elastic more grip.

The downside to this style of elastic is that when stretched the elastic tends to narrow and doesn’t keep its shape.

The elastic also can lose shape if it is sewn through. It also has a tendency to roll when stretched so it isn’t always viable for using in waistbands.

This elastic is more commonly used for use in casings and not for sewing straight onto the fabric.

Plush Backed Elastic

Plush backed elastic is typically used with underwear projects.

It is a style of knitted elastic and has a plush soft backing that makes it perfect for use against the skin.

Woven Elastic

Woven elastic is also known as non-roll elastic and is the firmest of the main three basic elastics.

When stretched it keeps its shape and is suitable to use as an outer elastic or used in casings.

As the elastic is quite firm it is suitable for use with heavy weight fabrics.

Lace Lingerie Elastic

As you might guess this style is decorative and mostly used in underwear projects.

The elastic is small, dainty and has a pretty finish which is suitable to be seen on the outside.

Knitted Elastic

As you might already guess there is an element of knitting within this elastic and it is due to the fibers being knitted together. It is a softer texture and feel compared to braided or woven elastics.

The best thing about this elastic is that it is keeps its shape and width even when stretched. The elastic is easily used with needles and doesn’t fall apart or isn’t affected which makes it perfect for sew on projects.

The downside to this style of elastic is that it tends to roll a little more than woven fabric but still less than the braided style elastics.

Knitted elastics are softer on the skin and to touch making them perfect for using on lightweight fabrics and even some midweight.

Fold Over Elastic

Fold Over elastic is made to fold over a raw edge to enable it to finish the edge.

This type of elastic is suitable for using on both outer clothing and underwear such as knickers and boxers.

This style is also very popular for headbands, hair ties and jewellery projects.

Button Hole Elastic

Button hole elastic is generally what you would expect it to be. It is a strip of elastic with premade hemmed hole which you can sew into a garment to use.

The most common use for this style is within waistabands. You may have seen it used in childrens clothing with the adjsutable waists.

The elastic can change from tightest point to the last loop to create a relaxed elastic band. You would require to have a button to enable the buttonhole to fasten on to.

Clear Elastic

Clear elastic is obviously clear which makes it great for hiding elastic within a garment.

You will know the type if you have every bought clear bra straps – not the most comfortable but useful. It is often used in clothing such as underwear and swimwear.

It is also great for keeping gathers in place to help stabilize the structure. The clear elastic is also great for keeping items in place on the body. It can be stitched in place.

I hope you have found this guide on the different types of elastic helpful and has helped you decide which elastic you need and want to use on your next projects.

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