Since its invention in 1845, stretchable material has become a staple in modern life. From the humble rubber band to the incredibly strong and versatile bungee cord, we’ve found so many amazing uses for elastics. In particular, elastic is a must-have material for clothing today. The presence of flexible threads and elastic bands is often the defining factor in comfiness and a good fit.
Quality suppliers such as SheShips carry a wide selection of stretchy strings and straps. But how to choose the best elastic for sewing? Our ultimate guide is here to explain the different varieties of elastic craft supplies and to provide a helpful guide for artists and clothes makers. Whether you’re about to start your first project or your hundredth, knowing which material is best suited for the work is the key to a happy and successful project!
There are many elastics on the market, but only certain types are best applied to sewing crafts—namely, those designed specifically for these types of activities. Sewing elastics are generally unique from common elastic bands due to their integration into cloth. In other words, most clothing elastics are already combined with thread, making them easy to immediately put to use.
How the elastic is worked into the threads of nonflexible cloth is what makes each type unique. The three most common varieties of cloth-making elastic bands are knitted, woven, and braided. Besides this, elastic cords of varying diameters are also readily available, along with clear elastic and other specialty options. Ultimately, which type one needs for a piece depends heavily on the nature of the project.
If you’re looking for something soft and comfortable, a knitted elastic band is your best bet. What makes this variety special is the unique hashmark shape that the intertwining threads create. When stretched, knitted elastic pulls evenly across the gridwork of threads. The result is an even expansion that doesn’t buckle or shrink into a tighter form. Its width remains the same regardless of how much the elastic is pulled.
Knitted elastic is designed for comfort and suitable for direct contact with the skin. For projects that don’t allow for hiding the band inside other materials, knitted elastic is easily the best choice. SheShips offers a wide array of quality ready-to-use knitted elastic bands. It’s one of our specialties—explore our selection today!
Next to knitted, woven elastic is the best option for wearable crafts. It’s not as soft as knitted types, but it’s still comfortable enough—but it’s better used within a piece’s layers of materials. It’s different from knitted elastic in that the elastic is firmly embedded within a patterned strip of close-together threads. The tighter stitch gives it a ribbon shape, which is maintained when the elastic is stretched.
Like knitted elastic, woven elastic bands don’t lose their straight, even shape, even at maximum stretch. The result is a stretching effect that won’t twist or dig into the skin, even when under pressure. It’s also easily stitched directly into the material for a simple and effective application. Finally, woven elastic is much stronger and sturdier than knitted elastic. As such, it’s a great choice for clothes that will see more stressful use as well as for bags and other load-carrying projects.
Braided elastic bands are the cheapest and most common of the sewing craft varieties. Go to any craft section of a store, and you’ll likely see these there. Braided varieties are easy to spot by the parallel lines of the weave along the length of the cord. The material isn’t particularly soft, and when stretched, the band deforms. The width reduction and curling of the edges are unavoidable with this type of elastic band.
As such, it’s best used in areas of clothing with no skin contact and where it won’t be required to stretch much at all. Generally, it works best in areas such as sleeves and collars where it will only stretch just enough and where it can be enclosed in a layer of more comfortable cloth.
With the availability of elastic bands, the stretching lengths of the cord may seem unnecessary. To best achieve a consistent amount of flexibility, many patterns and types of projects utilize elastic cords in place of standard thread. Essentially, elastic cord functions as a normal stitching thread, and it’s easily threaded onto a needle for hand application.
It’s also easily added to a sewing machine using normal bobbins. Generally, it’s used as supplementary material alongside another type of elastic. On its own, it’s also great for creating flexible accessories such as hand-strung flexible bead bracelets.
As the name suggests, this type of elastic is a translucent clear strip. As it lacks the thread weaving of other elastic cords, it’s easily one of the more intimidating-looking varieties. At first glance, it may look like a bit of discarded tape and not at all something useful in creating clothing. However, the humble strip of stretchiness is much easier to use than it seems. It’s easily sewn directly over seams as an auxiliary stabilizer to keep areas from stretching out too much over time. As such, it’s a perfect line of defense for form-fitted sections of clothing and shirt straps. The smooth surface is barely noticeable directly against the skin, so don’t hesitate to apply it anywhere on a piece that will see stress and wear.
The other items mentioned in our ultimate guide to how to choose the best elastic for sewing are the more common choices, but a vast array of specialty items is also available on the market. For instance, a buttonhole elastic band is a great option for pieces that benefit from adjustable sizes in addition to a comfortable stretch. If you need something extra soft for continuous contact with skin, try a plush back band. Along the same lines are lingerie bands, which tend to be the most decorative of the different varieties. If you need a band with built-in size and sturdiness options, we recommend a fold-over variety. It comes stocked with a center stitch, making it easy to double up within a design.
Regardless of what your project is, SheShips is proud to supply crafters across the nation with high-quality elastic supplies. Reach out to us today with any questions about elastic materials, or browse our wide selection online.