Sewing Swimsuits - Fold Over Elastic

Hi Everyone! In Part 3 we are going to take a closer look at sewing with fold over elastic. This is a super easy way to finish off the hemlines of both cotton knits and swim knits. It may take a little practice to get the hang of it, but once you do, it will open up a new set of possibilities for your sewing projects! Fold Over Elastic, referred to as FOE, can be used as a hemline edge finish, a skirt waistband (flat or folded in half), and to create straps sewn around the entire armscye. 

The videos posted below show a few different ways to sew with the FOE. You can sew it in stages, one side at a time. Using both a standard single needle and a zigzag stitch or with a twin needle and a double row straight stitch. You can also sew it folded over the edge and zigzag through both layers at the same time (shown in the LJ Swimsuit sew along). My best advice is to practice the techniques and figure out which method works best for you and your machine.

One tip that I think is important and super helpful, is to cut the elastic strips about an inch or two longer than what you need, mark the exact measurement on the elastic. The added length gives you a small piece to hold onto as you sew to the end of the fabric and continue to stretch it to fit. You just line up your marked line with the edge of the fabric.

    I'll be demonstrating these methods using several different Liberty Jane designs, as well as some others from the Pixie Faire swimsuit pattern collection, to help illustrate how the basic techniques and methods are used at a smaller scale. Follow along to understand my thought process, hopefully watching me in action will clarify any concerns or issues you may have with these types of techniques.

    I will add, I prefer sewing with knit fabrics. I love the forgiveness the fabric provides and the ability to stretch to fit a variety of "stuffed" doll bodies. If you are not in agreement with me here and still prefer to sew with woven fabrics - or if you are just looking for something different to sew - there are a variety of swimsuit patterns available on Pixie Faire that are designed to be sewn with woven cotton fabric (like quilting cotton). Although you wouldn't generally find swimsuits for people made in woven cotton fabrics, the scale and use of the items makes this a workable design idea and the end result is a super cute swimsuit that is very easy to sew! Be sure to check out the ones we have available in the Swim Shop collection, they are down at the bottom of the page (Sun Bathing Cutie, Spring Bikini, Aloha VIntage Swimsuit, Sophie's "Just For Wovens" Swimsuit AG and WW, and the One-Piece Bathing Suit).


    Watch the tutorial video for sewing with FOE below:

    It is demonstrated on the LJ Slip Dress, which is cut from a two-way stretch crushed velvet. It is the same basic design as the free Swimsuit pattern, along the top and armscyes, so the techniques would be interchangeable. 

    Watch the sew-along video for the Free LJ Swimsuit pattern below:

    Libby and I recorded this together back in 2011! She had not been sewing that much up to this point and was able to jump in and sew many parts of this design. As a side note - she just graduated high school last week and is on her way to college in the fall! Time flies - haha!


    Patterns Used For this Topic: 

    • LJ Free Swimsuit
    • LJ Rashguard & Swim Shorts
    • 123 Mulberry Street Gotchies (will be used for the part 2 sew-along demonstration) 18" size is being updated and 14.5" size will be published prior to the sew along.
    • Patterns found in the Pixie Faire Swim Shop Collection 


    Week Three task:

    • Watch the tutorial videos and practice the different methods for sewing with fold over elastic.
    • Check out the Ultimate Resource Guide for fabric and supply sources. (Find this in the SWC Bonuses section)
    • Jump over the SWC Facebook Group for conversation and project sharing.




    June 29, 2019

    Loved seeing the enthusiasm of Libby. She is a great little seamstress already!

    Pamela Ellliott
    Pamela Ellliott

    June 19, 2019

    Loved both videos! Thanks so much Libby and Cinnamon. FOE is great.

    Pamela W
    Pamela W

    June 18, 2019

    So cute to see the swimsuit tutorial with Libby. I remember seeing other videos she did back then – my daughter is about 2 years younger (she’s got 2 more years to go in high school), so I know well myself how fast the time flies and how precious those memories and moments are. Thanks for both the tutorial and sharing some of that joy of creativity with us!

    Mae Lynn Beck
    Mae Lynn Beck

    June 18, 2019

    So much fun to see Libby in the video. She’s a natural at the sewing machine and in front of the camera.

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