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Scrapbook It: What is Elastic?

Before the temperatures got cold and before the sun set at 4:30 p.m., I published a weekend post that centered around engagement. Going through my old posts to see what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what could be improved, I realized that although the design of my posts were killer, my posts lacked engagement. The post was published a couple of months after Me-Made May and right after Oona’s Promaballoona. Those amazing seamstresses connected and engaged with their readers and I wanted to do the same – ME and You. And that’s what I did.

I bought a notebook, a pretty one from Anthropologie, and I wrote about what’s on my sewing plate right now – elastic (for lingergie – are you surprised?). I taped, glued, and decorated one page that reflected my aesthetic  (it has lace) while still informing about what elastic is. Now it’s your turn. Who wants to decorate and inform the next page? US, Europe, or Australia, it don’t matt-ah (that is grammatically correct), I’ll mail it to you. The conditions are that you decorate it any way you please and when your finished, take pictures/scan it, and post about it (I will post an update as well) what you’ve made.

So who’s in? Who wants the scrapbook next? I don’t care if there is 100 of you or 2; all I need it 1.

To turn this into an informative sewing post, here’s was elastic is:

Technically defined, elastic is a series of rubber or spandex cores that are bound or wrapped in polyester, cotton, nylon, or a blended thread that are then braided, woven, or knitted together to create elastic. Said more briefly, elastic is thread and rubber strings that are interlacing in varying ways. The way the elastic is constructed – braided, woven, or knitted – is what classifies them.


BRAIDED: braided elastics narrows when stretched and is not high quality. Because it loses elasticity when sewn, it is used mostly in casings (i.e. waistbands on pajama pants)

KNITTED: knitted elastic is soft, strong, and the preferred choice for most garments. It doesn’t narrow when stretched and is great on lightweight fabrics. Because it doesn’t lose elasticity when sewn, it can be applied directly to a garment (not inserted in a casing)

WOVEN: woven elastic is strong, thick, and often referred as “no roll” elastic. It has a basket weave pattern (horizontal and vertical ribs) and doesn’t narrow when stretched. Because of its thickness, it is used mostly on heavy weight fabrics such as upholstery and canvas.

POLYURETHANE/CLEAR: polyurethane/clear elastic is rubber free, transparent, and stretches 3-4 times its length with complete recovery to size and shape. It can be sewn directly to fabric or is inserted in side seams to help maintain shape. It is also used in lace lingerie where the elastic does not want to be visible.  A downside of polyurethane/clear elastic is that it deteriorates quickly.



PICOT: one or both sides that have a series of small loops that create a decorative edging

PLUSH: one side is brush or felted for comfort

STRAP: usually satin and are most often used on bras

VELVET: a nonconventional and couture choice that can be used in place of regular elastic

STRETCH SATIN RIBBON: another nonconventional and couture choice that can be used in place of regular elastic

RUFFLE EDGE: one or both sides have a ruffle attached


-Tension must be adjusted when sewing elastic

-Because elastic stretches when sewing, cut ½” shorter than desired relaxed length (Example: if the waist on a pair of undies is to measure 15” RELAXED (waist measurement  taken flat), elastic length before sewing should be 14 ½”)

-Stretch elastic numerous times before sewing to reduce the amount elastic will stretch during sewing

-When attaching elastic, align elastic join seam with a seam for a clean finish

-When attaching elastic to garment, stretch elastic only (do not stretch fabric)

-Always attach elastic in the round. Example: if sewing a pair of undies, do not attach elastic at front waist, back waist, front leg, and back leg, and then sew side seam.  This is a production friendly way to sew a pair of undies because elastic is quicker to sew and easier to handle in this order of operations. For the home sewer though, it takes more time because aligning the elastics when sewing the side seams is very difficult and time consuming.

-Apply elastic evenly to leg opening. There is a theory that easing fabric more on the backside of an undie will prevent it from riding up. I do not believe this theory because pulling fabric from the side of the undie towards the bottom of the undie will cause the pattern to be off balance and will result in drag lines. To eliminate undies from riding up, length should be added.

-If leg opening is pulling when worn, elastic was not applied evenly (see previous point)


  1. Reply

    Sarah Welsch

    I wish I would have seen this yesterday! I wasn’t sewing clothing, but I was making lace headbands, and was trying to figure out what kind of elastic to buy while in the sewing aisle. You should have seen me staring at all of the options haha. I ended up buying the woven kind, and it worked well for what I needed. You could definitely tell I wasn’t a sewer if you saw me at the store, haha.



  2. Reply


    I’d be happy to create a page in your pretty notebook 🙂

  3. Reply


    I will be referencing this frequently, because I knew basically nothing about elastic before now. Also I love the aesthetic of your decorated elastic page, it’s a look I’ve always wanted to capture in something.

  4. Reply


    i’m in whenever it makes sense to be in! are you going to make a traveling list, or does the bearer just send it to the next person with their hand up?

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I thought about sending what I used to create the my page (i.e. glue, markers, glitter, etc) but I think the less direction I give, the more creative and diverse the notebook will become. So with that said, send it to whoever has their hand up.

  5. Reply


    This is very helpful. Thank you!

  6. Reply


    I’m in! Although I’m a bit paranoid that I’ll ruin the super pretty look you’ve got going on… but regardless! Put my name on the list.

  7. Reply


    I’m definitely in, even though I share Sallie’s concern. I’m scared that I might mess up the delicate and beautiful scrapbook that you have begun. But I love the idea and I’ll do my absolute best.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      The messier, the better!

      • Reply

        Natasha Estrada

        Also you can also do the page separately and then mount it in.

        • Reply


          That’s a great idea!

  8. Reply

    Erin Currie

    I’m in! What a sweet first page. Can’t wait to see what others contribute!

  9. Reply


    This is such a beautiful page! I would love to contribute but I am not sure I understand what one is supposed to write inside that beautiful notebook. But count me in, I will eventually figure it out (I hope).

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Pauline – this explains the story behind my scrapbook idea as well as provides more details. Let me know if after reading, it still doesn’t make sense

  10. Reply


    Yes, I would love to contribute, your elastic page is fab! Thank you for the great tips on sewing elastic!

  11. Reply

    Stacie Chadwick

    I’d love to create a page in the book. What a lovely idea!

  12. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    I’m game. I’d love to write a page on hand stitching or the perfect welt pocket.

  13. Reply

    Meg the Grand

    Your elastic page is fabulous! I can’t wait to see how this fabulous idea develops!

  14. Reply

    Amanda Adams

    Me and my crazy love of prints are in 🙂

  15. Reply

    Kazzthe Spazz

    Oh I’m in, send her down under.

  16. Reply

    Becky Stets

    I totally forgot to comment back when you posted this and your notebook post reminded me!!! I would love to do something for your scrap book! Let me know if it’s still going around!

  17. Reply


    Great detail, thanks for that, I’m more enlightened now!

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