How to Use Foldover Elastic


Fold over elastic (F.O.E.), or lingerie elastic, is a type of elastic band used to finish the raw edges of a garment when you do not want the added bulk of a hem. It is particularly common on undergarments and the neckline of camisoles, but it can also be used to gather the material in a slight ruffle for "puff" sleeves or skirt waistbands. Fold over elastic comes in a variety of colors, widths and finishes, so you can find one just right for your project.

Things You'll Need

  • Fold over elastic
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Lay the elastic finished side down on the work surface.

  • Align the unfinished edge of the garment with the middle of the elastic so that half of the elastic is under the garment.

  • Fold the other half of the elastic over the garment so that the elastic is surrounding the unfinished edge.

  • Pin the start of the elastic in place, ensuring that you have secured all three layers.

  • Stretch the elastic for the gathered effect, if desired. For a straight flat hem, do not stretch the elastic. For a rounded flat hem, minimal stretching is required so the elastic lays flat.

  • Pin the elastic every few inches until you have reached the end of the edge or circled back to the start of the elastic.

  • Sew with a sewing machine, removing pins as you go. Use a zigzag stitch in a medium length. The width should stay in the meat of the elastic so as not to miss the edge of the fabric.

  • Finish sewing by either reaching the end of the edge and backstitching or, if the edge is round, overlapping the first 1/2 inch of elastic.

  • Trim threads and elastic.

  • Check for any places the stitch may have missed the fabric between the elastic.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is prudent to backstitch over the first and last inch of material to ensure a stronger attachment.
  • Straight stitches do not stretch, so they may only be used for straight flat edges.
  • Heed all manufacturer's warnings for the sewing machine.


  • Photo Credit Sewing Machine Needle image by C Agoncillo from
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