How do you add
an Elastic Waistline?
How to add elastic waist band.
How to sew elastic in the
back of a waistband.
How to sew an elastic waist.
How to replace elastic.
comfort and convenience an elastic waistline is
ideal. There are several different ways
to add elastic to the waistline of slacks or
skirt. In this article, I am going
to explain two ways to achieve the same
results. The first is the quick and easy
way that I have developed over years of sewing,
and the second is the traditional “old
fashioned” way you may find in dozens of
other sewing books.
Quick and Easy Way involves folding fabric,
pressing, measuring the elastic, anchoring the
elastic, and sewing the fabric fold closed to
form a casing around the elastic.
your skirt or slacks flat on the ironing
board. Press out any wrinkles or
irregularities so it lies flat. Be sure
you have allowed approximately four inches
above the garment to use for encasing the
elastic. Fold over about one forth of an inch
of fabric all the way around the top of the
fabric wrong sides together. Press this
fold in place leaving a nice crisp edge.
Fold the fabric once again in the same
direction forming a fold that is about one
fourth inch wider than the width of the elastic
you intend to use. Press the fold making
a nice crisp edge. This double folded
fabric forms a casing through which the elastic
will secured forming the waistband for the
skirt of slacks.
take the elastic you have chosen for the
waistband and stretch it around the waistline
for a snug fit and add one inch more. Cut
the elastic and take the waistband to the
sewing machine. Lay the elastic on
the free arm of the sewing machine so that the
ends of the waistband overlap one inch.
Using a medium straight stitch, sew down across
the elastic. Press the reverse button and
sew back up to where you started. Now sew
a diagonally to the opposite corner of the
overlap. Press the reverse button and sew
up across the elastic. Finally, sew back
down the same line. Your final product
which anchors the elastic firmly together looks
like an “N”.
Third, take the
elastic and stretch it onto the outside of the
skirt or pants top. Take the skirt or
pants top with the folded over fabric, and line
it up with the needle on the free arm of the
sewing machine. Fold the elastic under
the fold of the fabric making sure to move it
all the way inside the fold leaving the one
eighth seam allowance with no elastic in
it. Sew a seam along the bottom edge of
this folded fabric with the elastic inside, but
make certain none of the elastic gets caught in
the seam. As you sew, stretch the elastic
and keep the fabric nice an flat at you feed it
into the sewing area. You may notice that
on the back side of the sewing machine, the
fabric bunches up. This is exactly what
you want. Keep sewing all the way around,
stretching elastic, keeping fabric flat as you
feed, and keeping the elastic out of the seam
Once you have sewn all the
way around anchor the seam, and remove the
garment from the sewing machine. Make
sure the elastic moves freely inside its new
casing, and that it easily stretches and
Finally, anchor the elastic in the casing.
Depending on the type of elastic you have
chosen you may need to sew in a ditch, down the
center, or vertically across the
elastic. It is important to
puncture the elastic a little as
possible. Holes in the elastic cut the
elastic reducing its ability to stretch and
bounce back and decreasing its durability.
many different types of elastic designed for
use in waistbands.
has grooves running the length of the elastic
with no elastic in the “ditch” between the
elastic rows. With this type of elastic,
you will need to feel for a ditch and sew along
the ditch all the way around the garment.
type of elastic used for waistbands provides
widely spaced squares between the elastic
threads. In this case, you will need to
increase your stitch length, stretch the
elastic, and sew around the waistband.
type of waistband elastic has vertical grooves
across the elastic at intervals throughout the
length of the elastic. With this type of
waistband, you will need to sew anchoring lines
on each side of the garment, and in front and
back along these grooves.
Once the casing is sewn closed and the elastic
is anchored, you are done. A couple of
fabric folds and a quick seam, and you have
added your elastic waistband. If you
choose, you may add top stitching or other
decorative finish, but you are essentially
Traditional Way is to make a casing and
pull the elastic through with a bodkin (looks
like a giant safety pin). This way
involves overcastting the raw edge with a zig
zag stitch, folding over and pinning the
casing, seaming the casing, inserting the
elastic waistband, and anchoring the
First, make sure you have enough fabric at the
top of the garment to fold over to form the
waistband casing. Finish the edge of the
garment by zig zagging or overcastting the
edge. Fold the fabric over wrong sides
together the width of your waistband plus one
quarter inch. Press the fold to form a nice
crisp edge at the top of the garment.
the side seam needs to be sewn up to the top of
the casing on one side and to the bottom of the
casing fold on the other. Press the side
seam allowance open (good sides together), and
refold the casing. Make sure to leave one
side seam allowance free of stitching to
keep the beginning and ending points of
insertion open. Pin the casing in place
to prevent creeping during sewing. Stitch
the seamline along a one eighth inch seam
allowance leaving space for the elastic to be
measure the elastic around the waistline with a
little stretch but still comfortable plus an
inch or two for anchoring. Insert the
elastic using a bodkin or you can use a
large safety pin on a string. Feed the
elastic from the beginning point until it comes
out the other side. Match the correct
length and stitch the ends together across the
width of the elastic.
the elastic inside the casing by stretching the
elastic while sewing down the center of the
casing and waistband. Use a long stitch
length to reduce the number of penetrations
through the elastic.
Finally, you may top stitch
or edge stitch along the top of the waistband
if desires to finish the waistband.
This and many more details
are revealed in the Top Ten Sewing Answers and
Sewing The World's Greatest Hobbby ebooks. How
do you add an Elastic Waistline? How to
add elastic waist band? How to sew
elastic in the back of a waistband? How
to sew an elastic waist? How to replace
Donna Trumble is a professional designer,
seamstress, author, sewing educator, and sewing
business owner. She leads several
Sewing Show And Tell groups in her stores
guiding participants to shop sewing machines
and learn about sewing and quilting.
David Trumble is a sewing
professional, author, semi-retired minister,
sewing machine technician, and CFO of Temple
Sewing And Supply, Inc.
For more information on sewing show and tell
groups, check out "Sewing, The World's Greatest
Hobby" by Donna and David Trumble. And
check out the local Sew And Quilt Stores in
Killeen, Temple, and Waco, Texas or at