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Robin Bra Sewalong

5 Lessons taught by Haley

567 Seamwork members have watched this class.

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Lesson 4: Picot Edge Elastic

In this lesson, Haley walks you through how to sew picot edge elastic. If you’ve never sewn this type of elastic before, or you want a bit more practice before starting the Robin bra, cut out some scrap fabric and elastic and Haley will show you how.


Sewing the picot elastic on the Robin bra might be the trickiest part of this entire project, but I’m here to break it down and make it extra simple. If you’ve never sewn picot or plush back elastic before, I’m going to invite you to stop right now, go cut a couple of pieces of fabric, cut a couple of lengths of elastic and practice along with me when I show you the basics of sewing picot edge elastic.

So our first step for when we’re sewing picot elastic is we are going to want to find the plain side of our elastic. This refers to the kind of smooth side, not the plush side. And I will refer to this always as the plain side. And then this is the plush side just for your reference. And we are going to put the plain side right sides together with our fabric. And with the bra, and really anything that you’re going to be attaching picot elastic to, typically, the elastic is going to be a shorter length than the length of the fabric. And the elastic adds shape, that’s why it is that way.

So you’re going to want to stretch it to fit to that length. I like to start by taking a clip and clipping one end and then the other end. Then you can take your third clip and give your elastic a little stretch. Take your fingers for a walk, finding that center and then clipping again. Next, we’re going to take this over to our sewing machine, and we’re going to use a zigzag stitch to sew along the picot edge of our elastic, just right to the inside of this little decorative edge.

Okay, so we’re over at our sewing machine, and the first thing we’re going to want to do is make sure that we’re on a zigzag stitch. A zigzag stitch is going to stretch along with our elastic, unlike a straight stitch might. And I want to make sure that my zigzag stitch has a good amount of width to it. The width of your zigzag stitch is what’s going to make it stretchy. So I’m going to be starting at like a 4, and then for my length, I’m at a 1.5, but I might adjust from there. All right. And I’m going to place my fabric and elastic right underneath my presser foot and make sure everything is nice and aligned.

The clips are great, but kind of have to remove them right before you start sewing. So what I’m doing when I’m aligning is I’m making sure that my needle when it’s in the leftmost position is pretty close to that decorative edge, not on it, but really close to it. So I’m just aligning everything, and for my first couple of stitches. I’m going to use the hand knob just so I can make sure that I’m being nice and precise and that everything is lining up just the way I want it.

Okay, that is looking really good, I’m happy with that. So I do want to increase the length. Just a smidge. I’m going to go bump it up to, like a 2.25 and sew a couple more stitches. That looks a lot better. Bumping it up a little bit more. Everything with sewing is trial and error. That’s why we always want to take it nice and slow. I’m happy with where I’m at, so I’m going to do a little back stitching just to secure that really well. And then I can start sewing. So to this point, for this first little half inch, I haven’t been stretching, but now that I’ve backstitched, everything is secure, I want to start stretching a little bit. So I’m going to feed this through the machine just enough so that I can kind of take hold of the back a little bit here, and I’m going to start stretching as I sew. I’m still letting the feed dogs do their work. I’m not pulling it through the sewing machine, I’m just allowing a little bit of counter tension so that my stitches stay nice and even.

If you have this feature on your machine, you can slow down your stitch speed a little bit, that can be really helpful. All right. I’m going to speed it up, though, I’m a speed demon. There we go, and as you approach the end, you’ll want to slow down a little bit, take that last clip out and then backstitch. Really well, at the end there. Let’s take it back to our table and do some trimming.

Okay, so we’ve sewn our first little round of stitches right up next to that picot edge. What we want to do next is a little bit of trimming. Of course, trimming our threads, if you have any, that’s a good habit. And if you turn your sample around to the wrong side,
you’ll see that you have all of this extra fabric below your stitching and you don’t need that. It’s going to add bulk to your project, so you can just trim it right away. And I’m just trimming, I don’t know, 1/8 of an inch or so away from that stitch line. All of this is going to be hidden. So if your trimming isn’t super pretty, don’t sweat it.

All right. Next, what we’re going to do is we are going to turn our elastic towards the wrong side and you can see here from the right side, what this does, I will get nice and close, is that leaves that decorative edge visible, but then on the wrong side, you have the plush side touching your body, which is nice and comfy, and all of that seam allowance is encased underneath your elastic.

We’re going to turn everything towards the wrong side, you can throw a couple of little clips or pins in here if you desire, but you really don’t need to. A lot of the work can really be done by your hands as you are stitching everything together because those zigzag stitches are almost acting as a basting stitch, keeping everything secure. So let’s pop on over to the sewing machine, and we are going to sew with a zigzag stitch right along this edge to secure everything in place.

Okay, so we want to stitch as close to this undecorative edge of our elastic as possible. And by doing that, it’s going to help prevent our elastic from rolling around and buckling quite as much. If you were so like in the center of your elastic, this edge would be hanging kind of free, and that wouldn’t be as comfortable or attractive. So I’m going to position my elastic right underneath my presser foot and use a hand wheel just to kind of make sure it’s positioned where I want. It is, it looks good. Do a little backstitch to secure, and then we can start sewing. Again, I sew kind of flat to start. And then once I have enough fabric that I can kind of hold on to without my finger being crushed by my needle, that would be bad, I am going to start stretching a little bit as I sew, making sure that everything is nice and flat.

Something that can be really helpful when you’re doing this, if your machine has a needle down button, that’s really helpful, because stopping with your needle in the down position is going to give you just, like, a little bit more even spacing when you are stopping and starting, which you’ll have to do when you’re sewing elastic. Again, make sure that you’re not trying to do the work of the feed dogs, pulling your fabric to the machine, you’re just flattening the elastic enough that it’s not bunchy when you sew through it. All right, home stretch and then a little backstitch. All right, let’s take it over to the table and we can look at the finished result.

All right. So here we have our picot elastic finish. So you can see on the right side the only stitching that’s visible is the last row of stitching that we did at the machine. And then we have the pretty decorative edge that’s poking through. And on the wrong side, you have the plush back elastic and the two rows of zigzag stitching. And so the picot elastic is going to add some shaping to your lingerie projects that’s going to make them nice and stable, stick into your body. I’m using a three quarter inch elastic here, but this is going to be all the same regardless of what width of elastic you’re using, you’ll use the exact same order of operations, which to recap is right side of fabric to plain side of elastic, stitching close to the picot edge, trimming, flipping towards the wrong side, and then topstitching with that zigzag stitch as close to the plain edge of the elastic as possible. And that is how you sew picot elastic.

Hopefully, you’re feeling a lot more confident in your elastic sewing skills. Let’s jump in and I will show you how to sew the Robin bra.

Robin Bra Sewalong

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

  • Robin bra pattern

  • Light to medium weight knits with four-way stretch with 50% stretch and good recovery

  • All-purpose polyester sewing thread

  • Ballpoint sewing machine needle

  • Four 1/2” (13 mm) rings and two sliders

  • 1 1/2 yards (1.4 meters) 1/2” (13 mm) of wide bra strapping

  • 1 1/2 yards (1.4 meters) of 3/8” (10 mm) picot elastic

  • 1 yard (.9 meters) of 3/4” picot elastic (20 mm) (sizes 00 - 16) or 1” (2.5 cm) picot elastic (sizes 12 - 26)

  • One hook and eye bra closure. Sizes 00-16: 3 hook closure finishing at 2 1/4” (5.7 cm). Sizes 12-26: 4 hook closure finishing at 3” (10.2 cm).


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