Swimwear Sewalong ~ Attaching Swim Elastic

Helen Cloke boylston bikini swimwear elastic Swimwear sewalong

Day 13 and I feel like I'm over the mountain and on the home stretch.  Exciting!

I've been working on both the top and bottom of my bikini, overlocking on the elastic for the first pass and stitching it down with a triple zig-zag for the second pass.

Applying Elastic:

Unlike regular lingerie elastic where you generally apply it to the right side of the garment - swimwear elastic gets applied to the wrong side.  As we discussed in the pattern adjustments post, the seam allowance should be the same width as the elastic used so that it can be turned over on itself once.

(Please don't go hating on me for the condition of my overlocker - a clean and maintenance session is on my to do list, I promise!)

I place my garment wrong side up and line up the outer edge of the elastic with the outer edge of the garment (bottom band of the bikini is shown here.)  You don't want to trim any of the seam allowance or cut into your elastic so you can disengage the cutter if you wish.  I tend to keep mine on as a guide to run the fabric past.

I hold the elastic firmly to give it a slight bit of tension but not stretch it exactly.

Here is the swimwear elastic all overlocked in place on the inside of the bottom band.

Repeat the same method with the underarm elastic.  Be sure to keep the underwire casing out of the way and also make sure the seam allowance where the cups meet the frame are folded to the frame side.


The elastic is now attached to both the bottom band and the underarm edges.  Time to turn it under!

I don't pin at this stage either.  I find the fabric folds under quite naturally and I just take it slow to make sure nothing is getting twisted or stretched out.

To secure the second pass of elastic, I personally like using a triple zig-zag stitch, width of 5 and length of 1 (although for the band here I experimented with a length of 2 and don't like it as much)


Also good to note is that I'm still using the small 70/10 microtex needle as this coped perfectly with no skipped stitches. 

Before completing the underarm elastic with a second pass, the underwire casing needs to be finished off.

I marked where I wanted the casing to finish, making sure it could fit under the elastic when it gets turned over.  Using a straight stitch I sewed over this marking to seal the casing closed.  You could also use a bar tack.  The free end of the casing gets trimmed off.

The ideal outcome is that this cut and sealed end of the casing gets hidden under the elastic.  I ALWAYS FORGET TO DO THIS! So now as a reminder while I'm sewing, I use a quilters clip to pre-clip the casing under the elastic.  Then when I get up to sewing that point it makes me stop and check that the casing is where I want it to be before carrying on.

The underarm elastic I sew using the same triple zig-zag as I did for the band elastic.

Phew!  I feel like I have completed a lot these past few days.  It is really taking shape!  While I'm all set up for overlocking and triple zig-zagging I'm going to finish off the bikini bottoms and make a decision on straps!

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