Wednesday, April 17, 2013

French Knickers Sew-Along... Adding Elastic to the Waist.

Hello lovely readers. Today for the French Knickers Sew-Along I'll show you how to add elastic to the waist of your knickers. First though, to my readers in Boston, know that you're in my thoughts and prayers. I have nothing but admiration for how Bostonians, first responders and civilians alike, have helped victims and their families in these last horrible few days.

It may seem silly to talk about sewing in light of how saddened we all are at such senseless violence, but for some of us, sewing is a form of therapy. For those of you who find comfort in the simple, reliable hum of your sewing machine, and the feel of fabric at your fingertips, here is the next step in our Sew-Along.


For my knickers, I have chosen 3/8" picot elastic. It has a plush underside that is quite comfortable against one's skin.

First, follow the instructions in the pattern for measuring the length of elastic you'll need.
Lap one end of the elastic over the other and baste in place with a few stitches.

Before pinning your elastic to the waist, first measure your elastic in halves, and then quarters and mark these points with a pin. Pin these quarter points to the front, back and side seams of the knickers so that your elastic is equally distributed between these four points as you stitch.

Picot elastic, pinned plush side up to the RIGHT side of the fabric, and with the plain edge even with the knickers raw edge.

For picot elastic, first pin the elastic to the OUTSIDE of the knickers, with the plain edge of the elastic even with the raw edges at the waist.

Elastic pinned at the four major seams.

 Stitch close to the picot (ornamental) edge with a narrow zig-zag stitch, stretching the elastic gently as you sew and keeping the plain edge of the elastic even with the knickers raw edge.

Here I am keeping my elastic stretched evenly by gently pulling at the nearest seam until it is straight.

To help distribute the elastic evenly as you sew, pinch the waist and elastic at the nearest seam and gently keep it taught as you stitch.

The knickers waist after the first half of elastic stitching.

Now turn the elastic to the inside and carefully trim any excess fabric that peaks above the elastic edge.

The excess fabric trimmed away from the elastic.

Then fold elastic to the inside and stitch again, on the right side using a 3 step zig-zag stitch, again gently stretching the elastic as you go

The elastic stitched to the INSIDE now with a 3 point zig-zag stitch.

The waist after the elastic has been folded to the inside and stitched.

Pretty, no? In our next post we'll add the cotton crotch insert and then we'll go over more ideas for embellishing the knickers.

Any questions?


  1. Great instructions, just waiting for my elastic to arrive from

  2. First of all - may I say- I am new to sewing and this may be an uninformed quetion-I have a 1930"s? Singer 201-2 sewing maching that sews very well. However, it is a straight stitch machine. What are my options for attaching elastic without a zig zag? thanks for your help-Michelle

    1. Hi Rose,
      Thanks for your question. That's a tough one! I suppose you could try a zig-zag stitch by hand. Or, if you're very patient, you could sew a straight stitch, stopping and turning back and forth to get a zig-zag stitch. Sorry I don't have better advice, I've never had to try that before. maybe with some experimentation, trial and error you might be able to work out a system... I'll ask my Facebook followers and see if they have any advice for you...
      Best of luck!

  3. Elastic is the bain of my existence. I can never get it evenly distributed & it ends up looking terrible when it's not on your body.
    I might give it another try….