Have you ever wondered how the hell do lingerie designers sew fold over elastic? I know I did once, well more like 3 years ago. Now, I use fold over elastic all the fucking time - seriously! It’s affordable, easy to use, soft against the body and gives your hems a clean finish. Whether or not you’re an experienced lingerie seamstress like I am or just need an excuse to browse my newest dreamy but creepy lingerie lookbook, here’s how to sew fold over elastic…
WHAT IS FOLD OVER ELASTIC?
Fold over elastic also known as FOE is basically the stretchy version of bias type. FOE comes in lots of shapes, sizes, colors and prints. From 1/2” to 2” and frosted glitters to tie dyes, there is every kind of FOE you can think of - no joke! You can seriously use FOE whenever and wherever the fuck you want but for this tutorial, I am going to show you how to use FOE for lingerie purposes. You can thank me later!
CHOOSING YOUR FOE
When picking your FOE you obviously want to pick a FOE that compliments your garment. For my example, I am using a black FOE with baby pink stretch velvet and a black power mesh. I could have easily gone with a baby pink FOE but I love how the black accents the baby pink stretch velvet.
For the size of the FOE elastic, I am using a 7/8” width. There are various widths when it comes to FOE but from my experience - the wider the width, the easier to sew!
PREPARING YOUR PATTERN
Most lingerie sewing patterns include seam allowances. If the lingerie sewing pattern you’re using includes a seam allowance, you’re going to want to cut off the seam allowance. Since the FOE doesn’t need to be turned in like most lingerie elastics, the seam allowance isn’t necessary. Please cut off your seam allowance before proceeding.
CF Cup of the Velvet Longline Bralette being pinned.
PREPARING YOUR FOE
Now that you cut off your seam allowance, you have the option to pin or clip your FOE to the garment hems. If you’re a beginner lingerie seamstress, I would highly recommend pinning your FOE throughout the garment. There are typically two sides of the FOE; one side is shiny and the other side is matte. For my example, I am using the shiny side of the FOE as the right side because I want my FOE hems to compliment the shiny bra strap elastic I use for the garment. With that being said, there is no right or wrong way of the FOE. Feel free to use the matte side if it suits your garment.
When pinning your FOE you want to sandwich the fabric in-between the FOE. This will help ensure you catch both the FOE and fabric when sewing.
CHOOSING YOUR STITCH
When sewing FOE, I highly recommend using a 3-step zig-zag stitch. Most sewing machines by default come with both; a regular zig-zag stitch and a 3-step or multi-step zig zag stitch. Although the regular zig-zag stitch is a great alternative, it limits the stretch of the finished seams, may cause the fabric to bunch or tunnel and if stretched too much, the zig-zag stitch itself may break.
The 3-step zig-zag stitch is composed of 6 small stitches; 3 to the left and 3 to the right. These 6 small stitches will keep the fabric flat while sewing, prevent tunneling and stretch with the finished seams. The 3-step zig-zag stitch is best used for sewing garments with stretch including but not limited to lingerie and swimwear or attaching elastic.
HOW TO SEW FOE
1. Before turning on your sewing machine, I would recommend lifting the presser foot and placing your garment with the FOE pinned under the presser foot.
2. Now drop down your presser foot and you’re ready to sew!
3. Turn on your sewing machine and double check your stitch length and width.
4. As you start sewing your FOE to the hem of your garment, you want to make sure your fabric stays sandwiched in between the FOE. You also want to slightly pull the FOE towards you while sewing. Pulling the FOE towards you prevents warped hems.
5. As you reach the end of your hem you will need to close your seam. You have the two options; backstitch or lift up the pressor foot, cut your thread and use a bar tack. Since my sewing machine doesn’t allow me to use a backstitch in the 3-step zig-zag option, I am going to close my seam with a bar tack.
6. Lastly, I ALWAYS check my seams. When sewing FOE, it’s really important that you make sure your fabric was caught in-between the FOE. To check this, you want to slightly pull on the fabric where you stitched it. If you didn’t catch your fabric, you will see holes. I would also highly recommend checking your seams for for skipped stitches. If there are skipped stitches, I would suggest replacing your sewing machine needle.
Having trouble sewing your FOE? Have a warped hem? Did your fabric not catch in-between the FOE? These are all common mistakes almost every lingerie seamstress makes whether or not you have years of experience. If you have a warped hem, you will need to pull the FOE towards you a bit more while sewing. If your fabric didn’t catch in-between the FOE, you will want to unpick your stitching where the fabric didn’t catch and try again. I would suggest sewing slower and making your fabric is in-between the FOE while sewing. If you have to sew and stop every 2” to make sure you’re catching the fabric, that’s totally okay!
If you’re still having trouble sewing your FOE please leave me a comment below and I’d be more than happy to help!
FOE is a great alternative to most lingerie elastics. It’s a kind of two-for-one stitch and will save you a lot of time especially in production. There are various ways to use FOE so never limit yourself or your ideas and experience with techniques, FOE placement and stitch settings. If you loved this lingerie tutorial and are eager to learn more, be sure to follow How to sew Lingerie over on the Alexandrea Anissa Pinterest. This board is updated daily, and includes everything you need to know about how to sew lingerie.
Leave a comment on the bottom of post, and let me know what you will be sewing with FOE. Be sure to tag your posts with #alexandreanissa or #cheekythrills so I can check out your amazing garments.