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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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