We have all been there, staring blankly in the notions aisle trying to determine what kind of elastic to use. Sure, your pattern calls for 1/2” elastic, but should you use knit, braided, woven, or sparkly? The choices can seem endless and daunting.
Fortunately, I have got you covered with the scoop on how different types of elastic behave and the best uses for each variety.
This category is reserved for your workhorse elastics. Typically these elastics are not decorative, but come in a wide variety of widths and often can be purchased in either black or white.
Braided elastic has parallel ribs that run the length of the elastic. This type of elastic becomes more narrow as it stretches and loses stretch when it is sewn or pierced with needles and pins. For these reasons, braided elastic is ideal for using in casings, such as waistlines, sleeve hems, or necklines.
Knit elastic has a smooth appearance and is soft against the skin. Knit elastic does not become more narrow as it stretches and does not lose resiliency when sewn. Knit elastic can be used for many purposes and is best for lightweight and medium-weight fabrics.
Woven elastic—or “no roll”—is the strongest garment elastic. This elastic is easily identified by its horizontal and vertical ribs. This variety of elastic does not become more narrow as it stretches and does not lose resiliency when sewn. Woven elastic is ideal for projects that use heavyweight fabrics, such as outerwear.
This category of elastic includes all of the fancy elastics that are used for specific applications. Many of the elastics included in this category are derivative of braided, knit, or woven elastic.
Clear elastic is a transparent and lightweight type of elastic. Clear elastic can be stretchy, but beware, cheaper varieties of this elastic can easily break or be too firm. This variety of elastic becomes more narrow as it stretches but does not lose resiliency when sewn. Clear elastic is ideal for stabilizing and gathering lightweight and medium-weight knits.
Swim elastic is a variety of braided elastic that can withstand salt and chlorinated water. The quality that differentiates swim elastic from regular braided elastic is its fiber content. Swim elastic is typically made of a combination of cotton and rubber. Like braided elastic, swim elastic becomes more narrow as it stretches and loses stretch when it is sewn or pierced with needles and pins.