Introduction: ITY Stretch Cord
This Instructables shows how to take ITY knit fabric and turn it into cording. I have made a variety of projects with the cording and I'll show you how to use it to create hair accessories, jewelry, and everyday items.
ITY stands for Interlock Twist Knit. It is super soft and has a fabulous stretch and recovery. It is inexpensive, easy to source, and easy to sew. It is made to be softer and have more elasticity than its knit fabric siblings. Unlike t-shirt jersey, it lays flat and doesn't curl.
I discovered ITY by accident with an online fabric order gone wrong. I mistakenly got someone elses order and when I inquired about what to do, I was told to just keep it. The slinky fabric had an interesting print, but I knew I would never use it for clothing. It wasn't until I read about Instructable's 2020 Rope and String Challenge that I thought of a way to use it. I wondered if it was possible to use it to make thin pieces of cording. The multi-colored panel might look nice cut into strips and sewn into tubes. I am always on the lookout of new ways to knot or braid. Use stretchy fabric cording for macrame? Why not?
I began to experiment and quickly confirmed that it was easy to sew. When cut into 1 1/2 inch strips and used with a 1/4 inch seam allowance it was not as difficult to turn inside out as anticipated. I was impressed with its stretch and recovery and I decided to see if it could be used as a substitute for elastic. I made an infant headband for my new granddaughter and no elastic was required. I continued my creative surge and made a braided headband, a knotted headband, a stretch bracelet, a soft eyeglass necklace, and a knotted decoration for luggage. With scraps of tubing left, I played with the possibility of taking advantage of its elasticity to hold items. I now have a new way to keep my electronic cords tidy. 2 of the remaining lengths of cording were used to lace my shoes. What else can you make with with the cording? You tell me.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
Here's what you'll need
- Stretchy knit fabric. For best results, use something with a bit of Spandex or Lycra for stretch and recovery.
- Rotary Cutter
- Quilting Ruler. Any ruler that has marked measurements will work. I used a strip ruler that has slots that fit a rotary cutter every 1/2 inch.
- Serger or sewing machine that can sew a stretch stitch
- Tube Turner
- Fray check seam sealant
Step 2: Cut Fabric Into Strips
Use a rotary cutter to cut one or more strips of fabric 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) wide.
Fold the fabric in half (selvage to selvage). Fold it in half again. Continue this process until the width is slightly smaller than your ruler. Use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut your strips.
Most knit fabrics are at least 50 inches wide. This will give you a long strip to work with.
This is a good opportunity to reuse old clothing. When cutting a garment, make sure you cut the length of your strip along the stretchy part. Experiment with different widths. A 2 inch strip is easier to turn. A 1 inch strip is a bit harder to turn, but it makes a nice round cord.
Step 3: Sew the Strips
Use a serger, or your favorite sewing machine stretch stitch to do this step. Fold your strip in half crosswise right sides together. Sew using a 1/4 inch seam along the raw edges with the fold to the left. Taper the end of the seam to a point as shown in the picture. This is necessary so the tube turner has an ending by which to turn inside out. If using a serger, weave in the thread. If using a sewing machine, don't forget to backstitch to keep the ends secure.
For a rounder cord, experiment using a wider seam allowance.
If you don't want a raw edge on the ends, you can sew from the center to each of the ends. With this method, you will need to turn from the middle for each end.
Step 4: Complete the Cord
This is the fun part. Use a tube turner to turn the strips inside out.
The tube turner has two parts. A part that resembles a straw, and a metal or wood dowel. The tube turning kit has 3 different sizes. Use the smallest size.
Take the straw part and feed it into your sewn tube all the way to the end. From the outside of the fabric, take the dowel and feed it into the straw. Carefully move the fabric from the straw to the dowel and pull as you go to turn the seam side in and the right side of the fabric out.. Continue for the full length of your sewn tube. The dowel will now be on the inside of the tube. Pull it out and admire your cool cord.
If desired, use fray check to seal the ends.
Step 5: Make Something Cool
Now that the cord is made, it's time to use it. One of my objectives was to make cording to practice knots and macrame. The picture shows one of my practice samples. It is my attempt at using two of my wider cords to make a Carrick Bend knot.
After some trial and error, I found an assortment of uses for the cord. For details, details, check out the remaining steps below.
Step 6: Hair Accessories
ITY cording is perfect for hair accessories because it is super soft and has fabulous stretch recovery. Hairbands can be simple or complex. Here are some ideas.
- Start with a cord 14 inches long. Overlap the ends 1/2 inches and use a needle and thread to neatly sew together.
- Take another length of cord 6 inches long. Start with the end and turn to make a scroll. Use a needle and thread to make a small stitch for each layer of the scroll to keep the scroll together.
- Hand sew it to the band made in step 1.
- Make a length of cord 19 inches long using the closed end method described in the notes in step 3.
- Use a simple knot to tie together
Woven Headband (or bun band)
- Cut 2 lengths of cord to the desired size.
- Hand sew the ends together to make two rings.
- Use a length of cord 50 inches long to weave the rings together. Lay the two rings on top of each other. With a 6 inch tail, weave over and under the two rings.
- To finish, hand stitch the tails to secure. If desired, weave in the tails.
- Make 3 cords using 2 inch strips.
- Braid the cords together to make the top part of the band.
- Cut fabric 5 x 13 inches. Sew in half crosswise and turn inside out to make a tube 2 1/2 x 13 inches for the bottom part of the band.
- Use a sewing machine to stitch the top potion to the bottom portion right sides together on each side of the band to form a circle. Hand stitch to finish the ends.
Step 7: Jewelry
These projects use basic jewelry making techniques and a bit of macrame.
This project shows how the ITY cord can be used as a covering. In this case, it covers a thick wire formed as a jump ring.
- Cut 2 pieces of aluminum armature wire 3 1/2 inches long. Use a mandrel to shape each piece of wire in the form of a circle.
- Cut 2 pieces of ITY cord 3 1/4 inches long. Use a sealant to seal the edges. Let dry.
- Gather 2 crystal beads, 2 looped end head pins, 2 earring wire findings, 2 closed jump rings slightly larger in diameter than the armature jump ring, and 2 decorative metal tube with a large inner hole.
- Carefully open the armature wire jump ring, being careful to keep its shape.
- Push one of the ends of the open jump ring through the center of the TY cord. Do this for both earrings.
- Feed the closed jump rings and the decorative metal tube through the open jump ring.
- Hand sew the edges of the the cord together to close the fabric portion of the ring. Since the cord is slightly smaller than the ring, this action will stretch the cord to give it a clean and tighter look.
- Position the decorative metal tube over the stitched ends. It should fit snugly over the stitches. If it doesn't, glue it in place, or use thread to add to the dimension until the tube fits snugly.
- Thread a crystal onto the jump ring. Finish with a loop. Add the earring finding.
- Use the closed jump ring to attach the completed covered armature ring to the jump ring loop.
In addition to the ITY cording, beads were used to add bling and stretch jewelry cording was used to minimize the bulk.
- Cut a length of stretch cording twice the size of the wrist plus another 5 inches for finishing.
- Fold the cord in half and pin it to the macrame board as shown.
- Thread the jewelry cord with beads. Add 10 beads to one side and 10 beads to the other side.
- Take the stretch fabric cord and pin to the top of the board as shown.
- Weave the cord under both jewelry cords. The tail of the ITY cord is now on the left.
- Take the tail over the left jewelry cord and under the right. The tail is now on the right.
- Pull up the first bead on the left jewelry cord. Place it directly under the ITY cord.
- Fold the tail over the right cord and under the left. Position in place under the bead.
- Take the top bead on the right jewelry cord and position under the ITY cord.Fold the tail over the left cord and under the right. Position in place under the bead.
- Continue pulling the top bead under the cord and weaving the ITY cord back and forth until you have your desired length.
- Use the macrame board to tie off the unused jewelry cord. Apply a small amount of glue over the knot. Dry and trim.
- Use a needle and thread to create a top and bottom loops on both the top and bottom of the bracelet. Join the loops to finish the bracelet. Trim and weave in the ends.
Step 8: Shoe Laces and Sun Glass Holder Strap
Use 1 yard of cording for each shoelace.
This took a bit of trial and error. I first cut the length to match the 40 inch length of the shoelaces that came with the shoes. Due to the stretch, this was much too long. 36 inches was better. When I serged the strip, I used a 3 thread narrow stitch because I wanted it to be easy to turn the long length of cord. I learned that a stronger 4 thread stitch would be better. The act of tying the shoe put too much stress on the seam and it pulled out a few stitches.
I loved using the multicolored fabric for this project. However, it would also be cool with a less stretchy fabric or strips cut from an old t-shirt.
Sun Glass Holder Strap
This project is super easy. Cut your cord to the desired length to fit around your neck and the arms of your sunglasses. Apply a tiny amount of Fray Check or a similar fabric sealant to the ends of the cord. This will seal the ends and any thread that may be hanging out. When dry, the ends will be slightly stiff. Trim off any excess thread.
Push the cord ends through the arms of your sunglasses. It should fit snugly due to the stretch and recovery of the ITY. The snug fit will ensure the glasses won't fall off when hung around your neck.
Step 9: Other Ideas
Thread ITY cord through the casing of a drawstring bag (or similar item that uses a drawstring). This gives a pop of color as a substitute for an otherwise boring drawstring.
Luggage Zipper Pull
Use ITY cording to help identify your luggage at baggage claim. I used alternating larks head knots to attach it to the zipper pull.
This one is super easy. Cut your strip wider before sewing together. Then cut into smaller segments. Fold under raw edges and tack with needle and thread if desired.
Participated in the
Rope & String Speed Challenge