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Written by Cath Quinlan on January 30, 2023

Adjustable Bias Foot Vs Fold-Over Elastic

As a sewing machine manufacturer and retailer, we get many questions emailed to us.  Some asking for advice on which machine to buy, and some asking some curly questions that set us on a path of discovery. One such query came through to me the other day.

“Is there a foot that will help me sew 18mm fold-over elastic and get a professional finish?”

Rolls of bias binding

My initial reaction was no, not specifically, however upon further reflection I thought maybe there is. I did what any person does these days and went to google. There were plenty of people sewing fold over elastic, but they were using the standard foot or the open toe foot.  Hmmm, I think we can do better than that!

My first thought was to use the Husqvarna Viking Adjustable Bias Foot. That was designed to sew on bias tape quickly and very easily. The biggest concern was the thickness of the elastic. The width was not a concern because the Adjustable Bias Foot can be adjusted to fit bias tapes in different widths, from ¼” (6 mm) to ¾” (20 mm). However, on close inspection, the foot has a fantastic opening that allows much thicker items to pass through.  A must when folding over elastics.

Out of all the fabrics, threads and accouterments I have, I did not have fold over elastic.  Shocker! That necessitated a quick (quick-ish) trip to my local shop for the item in question.  Fortunately, they stocked said item and I was away to see how this would all turn out.

I decided to use the Husqvarna Viking Opal 650. A fabulous machine with an excellent selection of stitches and functionality.

 Husqvarna Viking machines have an incredible sewing advisor that will change the settings when the fabric type is selected. With the elastic, I set the sewing advisor to Stretch Medium and this set the stitch length, width and advised me of the needle type, the foot pressure to use and a suggested tension setting. I love this feature when I am trying something new, it takes the guesswork out of the equation.

As the machine recommended, I released the foot pressure. This is due to the thickness of the layers traveling underneath the foot. Most machines will have this, refer to your machine manual if unsure about your machine. I took the foot pressure on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 650 down to 4. It normally sits on a setting of 5.

I decided to use a straight stitch to get started. As with any topstitching, I increase the length of my straight stitch to give a more professional look and help the machine to feed through the multiple layers much easier. I used a length of 3mm to get started with. You will notice that the stitch does not look 3mm once stitched out. That is quite normal when sewing on stretch, hence the longer stitch length.

It was very easy to feed the folded elastic through the opening of the foot. Simply adjust the width of the opening by rolling the dial on the front of the foot. Keep the elastic secure but ensure not to over-tighten otherwise the elastic will struggle to feed through as you are sewing. 

Next step is to line up the elastic with the needle. This can be done one of two ways. Move your needle left or right (adjust the stitch width) or loosen the screw on top of the foot and move the bias foot left or right. Either way is perfectly fine.

Then insert your fabric into the foot and keep it as straight as possible. The elastic will feed through because of the guide. Your job is to ensure the main fabric is kept straight and to put tension on the elastic if you are after a gathered finish.

Success!!!  I had never sewn fold-over elastic before and I have to say I was exceedingly impressed with the Adjustable Bias Foot. My stitches were perfect on the top and on the back. The foot guided the elastic through evenly and took away the human error part. Too much on the top and not enough on the bottom and vice versa.

Just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke, I did this many times and tried different stitches. I recommend using any stitch that travels in a forward motion as opposed to decorative stitches that travel forward and back. For example, use the zig zag or 3-step zig zag. The feather stitch is also a good one.

I also used a 20mm standard elastic (no fold line) and had great success with that as well. All in all, I can’t recommend the Husqvarna Viking Adjustable Bias Foot enough to professionally sew your fold-over elastic projects. Perfect for those By Annie patterns!

Article written by Cath Quinlan
Cath Quinlan has been designing and teaching for more than 10 years. Her talents lie in digitising, free-motion quilting, machine embroidery and education. She has co-authored two internationally distributed machine embroidery books, published many projects in Australian craft magazines and digitised and sold numerous embroidery designs and patterns. Her passion remains in education and the ability to share what she knows with anyone willing to listen. Cath’s teaching style is fun and relaxed, and she truly believes that ‘anyone can do it’.

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