How to add a gathered fabric effect with elastic

Creating clothes is all about working with shapes and effects. A slight gathered effect can make the difference between a rather plain looking top, or a top that has a nice visual effect. This effect can be made by sewing a tunnel, threading the tunnel with cord or elastic and pulling it tighter.

But why would I spend so much time on a complicated tunnel construction if I can create the same effect in just a couple of minutes? In this post I’ll show you how. Let’s start out with a plain top. I made this one from lycra, but all stretch fabrics and knitted fabrics would work for this technique.



I finish the edges, then take a piece of elastic and pin the top to the fabric. I then use the pins to create a guide for the elastic. The elastic is free to move in between the pins, yet remains in place. I prefer starting on the top so that’s where I’ll start sewing.


Taking the top with my I use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch the top 3 mm/ 1/5th” of the elastic into place.


I then pull the elastic towards me and continue sewing. Make sure that the underlying fabric stays smooth. Feeding the fabric and the elastic through the machine, it will look like this from the inside.



When turned inside out, the effect is clearly visible.


This top is part of a skirt and top combination that I made for the student recital in June. The pattern of the skirt can be found here.

student recital 2016

I love to hear from you if you used this technique and liked it! Let me know in the comments below or on facebook. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

I am a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. My biggest passion is teaching and performing bellydance and I intent to continue for quite some time! If you enjoyed this post and like to be kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook.

How to add elastic to non-stretch arm bands

Arm band without and with elastic

Most bellydance costumes come with accesoires, like arm bands, gauntlets or sleeves. The past couple of years I was short on time so instead of making my costumes, I bought a couple and those costumes came with arm bands. Arm bands that, despite the addition of a bit of elastic, wouldn’t stay on my arms.

As this is a common problem, I’ll show you how I add elastic to non-stretch arm bands hoping that it will save you time and frustration with your own costuming endeavours.

What do you need?

The arm band(s)

Matching thread

Elastic, width should fit within your arm band

A couple of pins

A (wine) bottle

You could use any bottle, but it happens that the wine bottle was the first one available.

Red thread and pins
Red thread and pins

Take the wine bottle and place it in front of you. Take the arm band, flip it inside out and put it on top of the wine bottle. Pull it down until it is fully stretched, like so.

Arm band on wine bottle, notice the start of the 'thread casing' of the elastic on the left.
Arm band on wine bottle, notice the start of the ‘thread casing’ of the elastic on the left.

Pin the elastic in place, thread your needle and create a ‘thread casing’ for the elastic by taking the needle across, pushing it through the fabric and emerging a couple of mm to the left of where you entered te fabric. Rinse, repeat. Here’s a drawing in an attempt to better explain what to do, but from a left hand perspective.

Creating a 'thread casing' for elastic
Creating a ‘thread casing’ for elastic

Continue sewing all around the arm band. In the end, pull the elastic taut and sew into place. Put the arm band on your arm before cutting the exces elastic off to make sure it is the right fit. On the outside the armband will look identical, but on the inside it now contains elastic that will keep it secure on your arm.

Arm band without and with elastic
Arm band without and with elastic

That’s it for today, keep on dancing and see you next time!