Difference between Bobbin, Looper and Needle Elastic Threads

This is a guest contribution from Rakesh Kumar.

In an earlier post, Rakesh has explained what elastic thread is. He has also mentioned that the same elastic thread can be used as bobbin elastic, looper elastic and needle elastic threads. But when the elastic thread is called as bobbin elastic, looper elastic and needle elastic?

The differences between these threads are explained here.

Bobbin Elastic

When the elastic thread is used in the bobbin to sew garment components, it is known as bobbin elastic. Stitch formation is being done with normal thread in needle and elastic thread in bobbin. This is used to provide gather look in the garment.

This stitch is being done on lock stitch machine only. Elastic thread can be winded (coiled) in bobbin manually or through bobbin winder. This stitch is helpful to provide better strength to seam due to lock stitch features.

Looper Elastic

When the elastic thread is fed via looper to sew garment components are known as looper elastic. Stitch formation is being done with normal thread in needle while elastic in looper. It gives gather look to the garment. This stitch can be done on multi thread chain stitch machine only. Looper is well designed to pass elastic with minimum tension. 

Needle Elastic

In case of needle elastic, stitch formation is being done with elastic thread in needle only while we can feed up to 3 threads through spreader. Looper forms the chain without thread through electrical movement (a magnetic movement of looper to make loop at inner side of ply). This can be done on multi thread chain stitch only. We need to change gather pressor foot and DVK 25 needle to give a good result. Notable we use blind looper in this stitch. This is design known as smocking.
Sample for needle elastic
Blind looper

Eye looper


A comparative study of usage of elastic thread in 3 different form and equipment requirement are shown in the following table.

Base of comparison
Bobbin Elastic
Looper Elastic
Needle Elastic
Needle Type
DV57(Low Cost)
UO113GS (Both Side thread),
DV 57
DV 57(Low Cost)
Needle Thread, looper/bobbin thread while Elastic through Spreader
Needle thread and looper elastic
Needle elastic only
Sewing machine
Normal, multi thread chain stitch m/c
Normal, multi thread chain stitch m/c
Design machine multi thread chain stitch
Pressor foot
Plain/Gather Foot
Plain/Gather Foot
Gather Foot
Through Spreader and Eye Looper
Eye Looper
Blind Looper
Gauge Set
Minimum 3/16”
Minimum 3/16”
Minimum 3/16”

About Rakesh Kumar
Rakesh Kumar has nine years of work experience in garment manufacturing field. He is currently working as Manager, Re-engineering Team of Management Audit at Shahi Export Pvt. Ltd. Earlier he worked as industrial engineer in garment export house.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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