Sport Elastic, 3 Ways of Installing

I love the “finished” look of sport elastic (aka multi-channel elastic) applied to appropriate clothing!  One just needs to be mindful of a few things.

Where it works:  Children’s playwear, adult and kids’ pajama pants, boxers or lounge pants, loose, wide leg flowy women’s pants. If they’re dressy, I hide the waistband with an untucked top.

Where it does not work:  Jeans, formal or business trousers and skirts, high waist pants and skirts, knit pants with a snug, tailored elastic waist (the kind where the waistband hugs the body evenly and looks like a smooth tailored waistband. As in Vogue 1411.)


Anatomy of a sport elastic:  This one is manufactured by Dritz and is available in one width only, 1.25 inches – that I am aware of.  There are 4 horizontal “channels” in this elastic, evenly spaced from each other by ¼”. The channels look a little more loosely woven than the rest of it. This is where you will sew through the elastic in all 4 channels. Once you start working with sport elastic, you can feel the sew-through channels with your fingers – kinda.


Preparing the elastic:  Cut a length of elastic 4” less than your waist. Don’t panic. When sewn, sport elastic stretches with sewing. Steam it after sewing and it will recover somewhat and fit you very comfortably. Do not include overlap when cutting; to join the ends, butt the cut edges together, place a small piece of cotton in the back and zigzag-stitch back and forth. I find this less bulky. Divide the elastic evenly in four and mark each point with tailor’s chalk.


Preparing the pajama (or pant) pieces:  Make sure your elastic casing allowance in the waistband is at least 3.5” (just in case) down from the foldline (where the casing is folded down). Turn casing over at this fold line and press. Proceed with one of the following methods:

Option #1: Visible elastic

Mark ½” down from the pressed edge on the inside of the casing. Cut along this line to leave a ½ inch folded edge. Pin elastic on the inside of waist and about ¼” below the fold, pinning the 4 chalk marks to the 4 seams.  Add more pins with the fabric divided evenly between pins.

Start stitching with fabric side on the bottom, in the first “channel” at the top; stretch as you go, in a straight stitch length 4. Then stitch the bottom channel, stretching the elastic evenly with the fabric.  Continue the installation by sewing the middle two channels from the right side 1/4″ away from previous stitching. To finish, bring loose threads to the inside, knot and cut the excess thread.



Give the waistband a good steaming. You’ll notice that it will shrink slightly and will seem to fall into place.


Option #2: Elastic enclosed in casing

Fold & press casing at foldline; press down ½” under on bottom edge of casing allowance. Insert prepared elastic inside the folded casing, evenly divided as in option 1. Make sure the bottom of the elastic is inside the bottom fold. Pin as above, except this time you can’t see the marks, but you do know where they are. Place more pins in the channels so they can be your guide – remember they are ¼” apart. Use a removable marking pen to indicate sewing lines if you wish. Or, sew 1/4″ away from previous stitching, stretching as you go.


You’ll also be able to feel the difference with your fingers between the sewing channels and the rest of the elastic. Even the pins go in a tad more easily in the channel.  As above, sew the top line first, then the bottom, then the middle two. Finish as above, by steaming well. The photo above shows the inside of the waistband and my chalkmarks.


Option #3: Make a separate waistband

It’s  assembled before attaching to the pants by enclosing the elastic in the waistband and sewing the same way as above. I made this one for my planned 3rd pair of pjs in 2 weeks, and will attach when the pants are complete.

Have you used sport elastic? And where? What do you think of it – too much work or worth the extra time?

Are you sewing up a spring storm? If not, why not?



6 thoughts on “Sport Elastic, 3 Ways of Installing

  1. I had never heard of sport elastic, but I’ve seen garments with several sewn lines across an elastic waistband, so now I know what that is. The uncovered elastic I’ve seen in men’s wear. It looks like a comfortable elastic, and I would try it. Great tutorial!

    Liked by 1 person

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