Sewing lingerie with fold over elastic

I’ve been wanting to have a go at sewing knickers for a while now and follow some talented ladies on Instagram who post beautiful inspirational images of lingerie online. Last week I noticed Evie La Luve had a free pdf pattern available for high waisted knickers called the Maxine Panties! Now since that’s my name, I decided now was the perfect time to make myself a pair of #maxinepanties. 

knickers foe

Here’s a link to the Maxine Panties. This is the kind of pdf pattern I like, only 5 pages, so quick and easy to put together and only 3 pattern pieces to cut out.  I went for a size S at the waist and graded down to an XS at the hips, these sizings were perfect for me. The only problem was the crotch piece which was one size only and this came up too wide at the front of the crotch, so I would reduce this by 1cm either side at the front only, the back crotch seam was okay.  I also cut off around 2.5″ from the top as although they are supposed to be high waisted I prefer hipster style.

free knickers pdf

I used a black stretch lace that I had in my stash and the pattern called for either fold over elastic (FOE) or knicker elastic.  I’d not heard of FOE before so was curious as to what it was and after a quick search online I ordered 3 different colours from eBay at just 99p for 3m.  It seemed to come in a standard width of 15mm and you have a choice of using either the shiny or matt side on the outside of your knickers.  It has a fold line in the middle and it’s a bit like a stretchy bias binding.

The pattern is fairly straightforward and beautifully presented, although I did watch the You Tube tutorials by Evie La Luve as I didn’t quite understand the instructions regarding the crotch attachment from the photos.  It is so much more obvious when you see what you need to do!  The tutorials are fantastic and a must if you are planning any kind of lingerie making.

It was all going lovely until it was time to attach the FOE and I’ve only literally just noticed when writing this post that it’s called foe and for me it certainly was my enemy!  You attach the FOE by matching the wrong side of elastic (the side you don’t want showing on outside) to wrong side of panties, aligning the edge of fabric with the fold line in the elastic and then sew with a medium zigzag stitch stretching the elastic slightly as you go.  This stage wasn’t too bad although I didn’t quite keep the fabric close to the elastic fold but I didn’t have any sewing machine issues.  I used a stretch needle 75/11 and lowered my pressure foot to 2.

fold over elastic

It was the next stage that I struggled with, you fold the elastic over to the right side, then zigzag stitch again.  It went all over the place, I couldn’t keep the edge of the elastic from bunching up under the presser foot and had to keep stopping and lifting the presser foot to tuck it back under.  My machine had a tendency to get stuck and sew several stitches on top of each other.  I hadn’t changed any settings so I don’t know why it didn’t like sewing the elastic once folded over.  As you can see, it’s all a bit of a mess on the inside!  You’ll see one row of zigzags on the outside but two inside, I should’ve used a matching thread and my awful stitching wouldn’t have been so noticeable.  After sewing the elastic it all seemed stretched out but I gave it a good steam press and it solved that issue at least.

fold over elastic

So my first attempt at knickers wasn’t very successful and while I was staging my photo I found that candle in my daughter’s room and “neither is sewing knickers” was my first thought!  I have tried experimenting with different sizes of zigzag stitching, adjusting the pressure foot, tension etc, my machine just doesn’t like sewing the elastic once folded over.  One tip I’ve read is to use a bias binding foot and then you can attach the FOE in the one go, maybe this is a solution? I don’t have one but may consider investing in one as I don’t like attaching bias binding either! I may try using knicker elastic next time to see if that is easier to sew, or it could be that the elastic is poor quality.  If anyone has any tips, please do let me know.  On the plus side though, they’re a pretty perfect fit but there’ll be no photographic evidence of that!


One thought on “Sewing lingerie with fold over elastic

  1. Helen

    May 24, 2017 at 8:44pm

    Hi Maxine, this was really interesting for me as I’ve seen a few pairs of knickers but not with FOE – I may continue to avoid it!! I like lingerie elastic or stretch lace for the finishes – until now it was because I thought FOE looked quite rigid and might be uncomfortable, but reading your post I think maybe there are other reasons to prefer them!! Hope you enjoy wearing your pretty new Maxine knickers anyway 😀

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author


      May 25, 2017 at 9:20am

      Thanks Helen, I will try again with FOE as I don’t like to be beaten by a technique! All the tutorials I watched made it seem so easy, but I guess they’re not filming their very first attempts at it, now that would made good viewing,!!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required.