If you are looking for professional custom alterations, design, sewing, or embroidery; check out
Donna Trumble's Sewing Studio.

Alterations by Donna Trumble

Donna Trumble
has been a sewing professional for over thirty years.  She has operated a custom sewing center out of her home in Georgetown, Texas since 1992.
She is also an owner of the Temple Sewing And Supply Inc chain of Sew And Quilt Stores.

Contact Her
If you need alterations, custom sewing, embroidery, or design.  You can check out her personal website at














Donna Trumble


 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.

        For 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.

        The 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.

       First, lay 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.

       Second, 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 itself.

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 gathers appropriately. 

     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.

    There are many different types of elastic designed for use in waistbands.

    One type 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.

    Another 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.

    A third 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 finished.

        The 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 waistband.

        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.

    Second, 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 inserted.

    Third, 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.

      Fourth, anchor 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 elastic?

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


Site Search

Top Ten Sewing Answers
Sign Up Now!
Get Your
Free Ebook
"Top Ten
how to sew button
Click Here!

 Little Fingers Needlework

 School Needlework

 Needle Arts
 Irish Crochet
 Book Of Needlework
 History of Lace Making


David and Donna How To Sew
David & Donna Trumble
Sewing Pros & Authors.

 Secrets of Sewing
 My Magnificent Sewing Machine, Secrets Of Sewing Machine Repair
 Rotary Cutting
 My Sewing Dictionary
 Words Of Americana
 7 Steps To Peak Performance For Your Sewing Machine
 Top Ten Sewing Answers