Thursday, March 28, 2013

Elastic as Stay Tape Tutorial

Have you ever used stay tape?  It is a great little notion that I think when I was a beginner sewist, I just did not understand.  You sew stay tape into your seams in order to give extra strength to your garment and prevent stretching.

I have never done a tutorial of any sort before because there are so many out there that are really fabulous.  And if you want to learn about stay tape, here are two great resources.

  1. Here is a great tutorial from Tasia at Sewaholic.
  2. And great information from Gertie at Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing.

These ladies really can sew and if you want to learn some really quality techniques, I suggest you spend some time on their blogs.

But what if you have a knit that needs some extra strength at the seams?  You can use stay tape for that too, but then it won't stretch.  And isn't that the point of a knit?  So, what I use is clear elastic which is fabulous for swimsuits and other details.

this is the brand I happen to use ... feel free to check out other brands too.

On Monday, I showed you and outfit I made with ruffle knit.  This fabric is quite lightweight and I was really worried about the shoulder seems not being able to handle the weight of not only the bodice, but the hood too.  Thus, I got out my clear elastic and used it on the shoulder seams and on the seam that attached the hood to the neckline.  This should keep the garment from stretching out all funny and relieve some of the stress on the fabric.

I ran out of my clear elastic after this project and I realized that I had been using it a lot lately.  And if I am using it so much, maybe you would like to too?  I decided to put toghether this little tutorial just to get you thinking about clear elastic and see if it is a tool you need to add to your sewing box. 

Here are a couple examples of clear elastic in my recent projects.  The black one on the left is a tank top (about which I will blog at a later date) that is made with a textured tissue knit.  It is soft and comfortable but definitely a knit that would stretch out at the shoulder seams.  The pattern itself called for stay tape, but I used my clear elastic instead.  The example on the right is the hoodie pictured above.  As you can see from these examples, the elastic is right at the raw edge of the fabric.  In both I had used my serger so the threads wrap around and through the elastic.  The concept is exactly the same if you are using a conventional machine.

 In order to show you how to sew your elastic into your garment, I made sample pictures using blue twill tape.  Clear elastic is ... well, clear.  So it is hard to see in photographs.  I hope the blue twill tape makes it easier for you to understand.  First, like any other garment, you place your fabric under the presser foot.  Then, you place your elastic under the foot so that it will be stitched by the needles.  If you are using a serger, you want it clear of the blade but under both needles.

If you are using a conventional machine, you simply place the elastic under your presser foot nice and centered. 

Then sew your seam!  See, this is not really a technique that uses any new skills, it just is simply using a notion that you may walk right by in the aisle not understanding why you should purchase it.

This weekend I was making the Carousel Top, a new Pattern Anthology pattern, and it also called for using stay tape.  That stay tape has two jobs.  1) to strengthen the seam and 2) to stabilize the gathers at the shoulder.  In a case like this I would, and did, use actual stay tape.  I did not think it would be better to use the elastic. 

But if you have a seam on a knit garment that will be under stress, I highly recommend this notion. 

Do you already use clear elastic?  What other cool notions do you love?

P.S.  Check out your RTW t-shirts, I bet some of them have clear elastic in the shoulder seams!


  1. This is a great tip! I haven't used it myself, but I've seen it used in garments. I'll have to remember this :)

    1. I am glad you found it useful. ~Major Moma


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