What kind of elastic will do the job?
July 3, 2012 7:48 AM   Subscribe

AskMe sewers! That's as in ("sewing," not as in sewage). I found a piece of fabric I'd like to make a simple tube-style dress out of, sewing in a back seam to join the fabric and then sewing in elastic above the bust. I have two kinds of elastic on hand. Should I use the flat 3/4 inch specifically "non-roll" kind, which seems kind of wide and bulky, or the flat 3/8" braided one?

I'd like to use the narrower size because it seems less bulky, but I'm afraid it won't do the job adequately and will roll up because it doesn't specifically say non-roll. If it helps, I am a narrow person with small boobs, though since the elastic is going above the bust I'm not quite sure how that would fit into the calculus.

I greatly appreciate any advice you have to offer.
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you ought to try to use the thinner elastic. I am not sure what you mean by braided, though, I am sorry. If you use the thinner one, I would do more than one row of elastic, it will work better. I assume you mean to sew the elastic onto the fabric. Unless you are thinking of sewing the fabric around the elastic (cocooning the elastic in the fabric) then I would use just one, but then you may have more of a slip factor. I hope that helps!
posted by Yellow at 7:59 AM on July 3, 2012

Yes, I was going to cocoon the elastic in the fabric, making the elastic about two inches shorter than the total size of the fabric around the bust.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:07 AM on July 3, 2012

Non-roll elastic is for waistbands. I think it would be too bulky above your bust. The 3/8" should work fine.

I found this maxi dress tutorial that may help.
posted by apricot at 8:12 AM on July 3, 2012

Are you going to put the elastic inside a casing at the top of the tube? Definitely use the narrower stuff, then. The wider stuff will look kind of thick and horsey (it's good for elastic waists, mostly).
posted by peachfuzz at 8:12 AM on July 3, 2012

Okay, if you are doing that, use the narrower one but make sure you make it a comfortable tightness around your bust before cutting it. Enjoy your new dress!!
posted by Yellow at 8:15 AM on July 3, 2012

Thanks for all these tips!
Peachfuzz, what do you mean by a casing?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 8:16 AM on July 3, 2012

Here's a decent description of casings.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 8:31 AM on July 3, 2012

Yeah, the 'non-roll' is to roll around itself. For a top of a dress or a sleeve it is really just being elastic to stay around the circumference of the body part involved, so it doesn't matter what type you use.

A casing is a tube for the elastic - like you sew a narrow seam at the edge of the fabric, thread the elastic in (with a firm piece of wire or a pin or whatever - you can sew around the elastic but it can be a bother if you don't want it to catch). It's like what the strings in a hoodie sweatshirt are in, or in drawstring pants.

You could sew the elastic directly to the fabric - this is done in some women's clothing in the sleeves, for example - but you need to sew it differently if you do that, and you have to consider the visual difference in the two looks, you have elastic directly on your skin, it's not really replaceable...but no loose ends at the back seam.

Either way, consider how you're going to hide the ends of the elastic. A casing hides most of it but not the part at the very end, but sewing it directly means you just sew it down and don't have loose ends.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:36 AM on July 3, 2012

Hmmm. I'd done a pair of pajama pants where all I did was cocoon the elastic in a sewn roll of fabric around it (like sewing a seam at the top, except leaving a few inches open to pull the elastic through with a safety in, sewing the elastic's edges together, and then closing the seam) without sewing the elastic down to the fabric, and figured it would work for the dress as well. Do I have that wrong? Do I need to be sewing it on the fabric?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:01 AM on July 3, 2012

It sounds like what you are calling "cocooning" is pretty much a casing. The link Nimmie Amee sent does not involve sewing the elastic to the fabric, and I don't think you would want to/need to do so.
posted by freezer cake at 9:21 AM on July 3, 2012

Seconding the advice to use the narrower elastic and to construct a casing. You may want to turn over enough fabric at the top to construct several casings--say two or three. Just stitch parallel lines through the two layers of fabric and run elastic through each tunnel. This will make for a flatter dress above the bust, where the casings will sit, but the fullness from the gathering will be the same. Good luck!
posted by Jenna Brown at 11:15 AM on July 3, 2012

I don't know, if you're relying on the elastic to hold the dress up, I'd use the wider stuff. Unless there's a lot of stretch (and a lot of tightness) around your torso, to where the dress would stay up without any elastic, use the stronger kind.

3/4 of an inch still isn't much.
posted by itesser at 1:02 PM on July 3, 2012

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