Sewing Tutorial: How to Pick the Right Elastic for Your Sewing Projects

A handy tutorial plus a printable download that explains Dritz sewing elastic.

Ah, elastic. It’s one word that represents a huge category of products, and it’s a word that often generates a lot of questions. What are the different kinds of elastic? How do I know which one to use? What is elastic anyway? This blog post will begin to demystify sewing elastic by explaining the main types of elastic that are available, what their general characteristics are, and when you should use each type. Ready?

Understanding Elastics: the different types of Dritz sewing elastic and when to use them

Before we dive into the main types of elastic, let’s define elastic: what is it anyway? Good question! Elastic is a narrow, stretchy fabric that is made from rubber or spandex cores that are wrapped in polyester, nylon or cotton fiber. The fiber-covered cores are braided, knit or woven together to form the elastic fabric. Elastic is primarily used to create an expandable opening in garments – it stretches significantly but then returns to its original size. 

Dritz Braid Elastic for Sewing Projects

Braided elastic is a good basic elastic with parallel ribs running the length of the elastic; it curls and narrows when it is stretched. Braided elastic is lightweight and thinner than woven elastic. It is best used on light- to medium-weight fabrics.

Dritz Braid Elastic. A look at the different widths that are available for sewing projects.

Dritz braided elastic comes in a wide variety of widths, from 1/8″ to 1″, making it ideal for necklines, sleeves and waistbands.

Dritz Braid Elastic: Best Used Inside Casings

Braided elastic is best used inside of casings. 

Dritz Knit Elastic for Sewing Projects

Knit elastic is a soft, lightweight elastic that can be used directly against the skin. It does not narrow when stretched.

Dritz Knit Elastic

Knit elastic can be stitched directly to fabric without affecting stretch quality.

Dritz Knit Elastic. A look at the different widths that are available for sewing projects.

Dritz knit elastic comes in a variety of widths from 1/4″ to 1″, making it ideal for waistbands, lingerie, sportswear and PJs.

Dritz Knit Elastic: Best Used in Casings

Knit elastic is best with light- to medium-weight fabrics, and can be used inside of casings or stitched directly to fabrics.

Dritz Woven Elastic for Sewing Projects

Woven elastic is a strong, firm, twist-resistant elastic. It does not narrow when stretched and can be worn against the skin.

Dritz Woven Elastic: Use for Waistbands

Woven elastic can be stitched directly to fabric without affecting stretch quality.

Dritz Woven Elastic. A look at the different widths that are available for sewing projects.

Dritz woven elastic is available in a variety of widths and styles.

Dritz Woven Elastic: Use it for Waistband Casings

Woven elastic is best for medium- to heavy-weight fabrics, and can also be used in waistband casings. This type of elastic is also good for home decor projects, bags, outerwear and craft projects.

Dritz Elastic Cording and Thread

Elastic cording and thread consist of fiber yarns that are knit or wrapped around a stretchy core. There are several Dritz elastic cords and threads to choose from.

Dritz Elastic Cord: Use it to Make Button Loops

Heavier cords are used for button loops and very narrow casings.

Dritz Elastic Cord: Use it with Beads to Make Jewelry

Thinner cords are used for beading when jewelry making. Thin cord is not recommended for clothing.

Dritz Elastic Thread: Use it to Make Shirring

Elastic thread can be used in the bobbin of your sewing machine to create rows of smock-like gathers. Dritz elastic thread is available in white and black.

Dritz Specialty Elastic: Clear

This specialty elastic is a lightweight, clear elastic that stretches 3 to 4 times its original length. Use it when sewing swimwear and to stabilize knit seams.

Now that you are acquainted with the main types of elastic, ask yourself these questions when you are choosing the elastic for your project:

  • How thick is your fabric?
  • Where/how will the elastic be used (in a waistband, neckline or sleeve?)
  • Will it go against the skin or be encased?
  • If against the skin, what do you want it to feel like?
  • Is it visible once the garment or project is complete? 

You can also use this handy chart for at-a-glance elastic identification. Helpful? We hope so. We also have elastic projects here on our blog, the full range of Dritz elastics on our website, plus a Pinterest board dedicated to all things elastic.

Don’t forget to stay in touch with us daily on Facebook and Instagram – we share all kinds of info there, too.

Happy sewing!

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