Bra Making Tutorial: How To Sew Picot Elastic
Sewing lingerie is a whole different genre of me-made. Getting the hang of the fabrics and trims takes time, practice and a lot of error. Believe me, I was bad for a long time. With my students, I see their projects make a leap from somewhat messy to professional when they get the hang of sewing elastic. Many cannot wrap their heads around the fact that elastic is first sewn on the right side, then on the wrong side. So today, I’m doing a quick tutorial on how to sew picot plush elastic. Please note that this tutorial is for picot plush elastic. Elastics such as fold over (FOE) and/or strap elastic are sewn differently.
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First things first, picot plush elastic has a right and a wrong side. The right side is the plush side and should go against your body for comfort as well as to absorb perspiration. Ewww… I know. We all sweat, so get over it! In the first photo above – the plush/right side is in focus. In the second photo – the wrong side is in focus.
Next, elastic is sewn in 2 passes. By that, I mean it’s two step process. For the first pass, lay down so that the wrong side of the elastic is against the right side of the fabric. The picot edge should be facing in towards the garment and the flat edge should be aligned with the flat edge of the fabric. Here’s a question I get a lot. In most cases, the seam allowances of lingerie are ¼” – so what if you have elastic that is 3/8” or 5/8”? Do you have to alter the pattern? I don’t. I adjust my sewing to the width of the elastic. So, if I have ½” elastic, then I extend it past the fabric ¼”. This also saves you from having to trim after the first pass.
Sew the first pass using a zigzag stitch on the picot edge side. Zigzag stitch width and length vary from machine to machine, and there is no right or wrong. However, two things to note about zig zag width/length…
One – the longer the stitch length, the closer it is to a straight stitch, meaning the less stretch it has. On the flip side, the shorter the stitch length (the closer the zig zags are together), the more stretch it has. Be careful with the latter though as it can ‘exhaust’ your elastic. What does that mean? Have you ever sewn elastic and it is wavy even after a good steam? This is because you literally put too many holes in it.
Two – as a general rule of thumb, I like the width of the zigzag stitch to be less than half the width of the elastic. Why? Since elastic is sewn in 2 passes, if it is wider than half the width, then the zig zag stitches will overlap. Technically, this isn’t wrong, but I think it looks cleaner when they don’t.
When sewing the zig zag stitch, get as close to the picot edge as possible. If you think you’re sewing slightly off the elastic, then you’re doing it right.
You don’t have to back stitch zig zag stitches BTW. Try taking a zig zag stitch out. You just answered why.
Okay, so you’ve sewn the first pass. Flip that baby (the elastic) to the wrong side and sew another row of zig zag stitch the same way as you did before but on the opposite, non picot side. Voila!
Let me know if you have any questions about sewing elastic in the comments below.
I get really irritated by the elastic. Is there any way to sew it so it is covered by fabric on both sides and nothing is showing, but you still have the stretch?
If the bra has lining, you can sandwich it between the lining and self. If it doesn’t have a lining, you could do a double turnback. You may want to use a non picot elastic though since the picot will be hidden/not visible if it’s turned back twice and then stitched down. Non picot plush elastic is a little harder to find. I think bramakerssupply.com may sell.
I really like your writing and looking forward to read more of your lingerie blogs.
I’m glad you like!
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Hi! Sometimes when sewing pico my final piece “curls” or gets “wavy” (I think thats a good description!) Any thoughts?? I have played around with my holding tension, and that sometimes helps, but wonder if there are other tips! Thank you!
If you’re giving it a little tension while sewing and it’s still curling up, it could be the quality of the elastic. Better quality doesn’t tend to curl in my opinion.
And thank you for all of the videos and lessons you have provided!!! I have learned so much!!!
That’s great to hear!
Hello, I am sewing picot elastic for the first time and I’m fining that my machine is skipping zigzag stitches. I’m using a microtex size 12 needle. Is this a common problem?
I suggest going up from a size 12 to a size 14. It depends if you’re sewing stretch mesh or power net, but elastic is pretty thick, so err on the side of using a larger needle.
I really like your writing and looking forward to reading more of your lingerie blogs.