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The Good Times Skirt | waistband tutorial

THE GOOD TIMES SKIRT | waistband tutorial

We’re really excited to share with you our new pattern The Good Times Skirt!

I really love the contrast waistband detail. The zip finishes right at the top of the band giving a crisp, clean look and also means we have no buttonhole to deal with! And while this tutorial is meant for The Good Times Skirt, you may well find some useful tips for any waistband!


WS: wrong side | RST: right side together | RSU: right side up | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance | WB: waistband


You should have completed up to STEP 17 of your instructions and are now ready to pop on the waistband.


I designed The Good Times Skirt to use the WRONG SIDE of the denim as the FACE SIDE (the RS of the cloth, AKA the side on show to the world) for a contrast waistband. Therefore, the interfacing will be fused onto the darker side (normally RS) of the cloth. You can, of course, use either side of the fabric. It’s up to you if you want a contrast waistband or not – it’s your skirt after all! I’m going to refer to the finished (seen by the world) face side of the waistband as RS or RSU, no matter which side of the fabric you’ve decided to use.

I’ve used slotted waistband interfacing (a) because I had it, (b) it’s easy to get hold of and (c) because it showed well in photographs. It is quite a stiff interfacing but it’s been OK to wear especially after washing – I’ve actually been wearing this skirt for over a year. Depending on your denim and how you like the waistband to feel you may prefer to use something softer, I’d suggest a medium weight fusible interfacing. Test out different interfacings on a scrap of your fabric first and then block fuse your waistband. Jeans are often done without any interfacing, if that’s your preference, but the waistband may stretch!

STAYSTITCH | I don’t mention this in the instructions, but you may like to staystitch the waist of the skirt before you start to prevent it from stretching. Denim is quite a stable cloth so I didn’t do this step and, with the exception of very fluid fabrics, I rarely staystitch anything if the truth be told. If you prefer to staystitch or will be trying your skirt on a lot as you make it and are concerned the waist may stretch staystitching will be a good option.

TO STAYSTITCH THE WAIST | In the seam allowance stitch with your normal stitch length from the side seam to the centre of the waist. Repeat from the other side seam back to the centre again.


Once your waistband is interfaced, one of the long edges needs to be neatened. You could overlock (serge) or zigzag stitch in a matching or a contrasting colour, or finish with Hong Kong binding. Press in half to give you a centre fold line (that’ll be handy later when it’s time to pop the zip in).

Next pin WB and skirt with RST with edges aligned, match notches with seams and be sure to make sure the WB SA extends 1.5cm beyond the skirt at the zip opening.

The skirt eases very slightly onto the waistband to help fitting over tummies! 

Wrap the 1.5cm SA around to the WS of the skirt and pin.

Stitch the waist seam closed with a 1cm SA. It’s a good idea to check now your waist seam lines up on either side of the zip opening and fix it if necessary.

The corner of the waistband is going to be bulky so clip the corner and grade the waist seam. To grade the seam, carefully trim the SA on the skirt by half. Press the waist seam flat.

This is the Instagram worthy picture…

TIP | If this corner is still a little bulky and thick (depending on your choice of denim, it may be) my tip is to hit it with a hammer. 

…this is the reality!

Yep, a hammer – oh, what fun! Now, you don’t want to damage the skirt, so protect your garment by laying it on an offcut of denim and cover the area with a double layer of denim and gently whack with a hammer to flatten. Press the area with your iron again. Gently repeat if necessary! This is an incredibly useful tip for hemming Jeans too. Also, very therapeutic – enjoy!

The last step! Turn the waistband to RS and press waistband and SA upwards, away from skirt body.

TIP | Check again that your waist seam is level and not staggered – the zip opening should be exactly the same length on each side. If it’s not even now it’s easy enough to go back and restitch one side so they do line up, don’t wait until you’re putting the zip in to find out!

So that’s the waistband done, next stop…the zip!

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The Good Times Skirt | zip tutorial

The Good Times Skirt | a zip tutorial

There is a very specific order of making The Good Times Skirt.

Usually, with a centre back zip, I would advise inserting it before the side seams are closed so the skirt is as flat as possible. However, some bright spark (me) decided that she wanted the zip to go straight into the waistband, and have huge pockets that sit on top of the side seam. So, therefore, we have to make the skirt and attach the waistband first before tackling the zip. And I also complicate things slightly with a reversed seam detail.


9″ metal trouser zip, zipper foot, standard machine presser foot and the usual sewing stuff!

TIP | If you want to use a slightly longer zip that’s ok, just lower the zip drill hole to accommodate the extra zip length, close the CB seam accordingly and you’re good to go!


WSU: wrong side up | WS: wrong side | RSU: right side up | RS: right side | SA: seam allowance | CB: centre back


You will have already closed the centre front with your preferred method, closed and neatened the side seams, stitched on the pockets, closed the CB seam up to the drill hole (marker dot) for the base of the zip and attached the waistband (that is completed all the instructions to step 24).

TIP | Often during construction you would apply a strip of interfacing to a zip area, but I have chosen not to because denim is usually very sturdy and we also have the reverse seam detail. If you are making your skirt in a cloth that would benefit from some interfacing, cut a strip 2cm wide and a bit longer than the opening and apply it to the RIGHT SIDE of the skirt centrally over the CB seam (the stitchline) before closing the CB seam. The interfacing will be hidden inside the reverse seam.

Place the zip |Baste the zip opening closed, by oversewing the edges together with a large-ish stitch and make sure the waist seam nicely aligned and is not staggered. The waistband in the picture shows it finished by overlocking (left) and Hong Kong binding (right). You should have already decided and finished your waistband, I just thought it’d be nice to show how they could look.

With the skirt inside out (WS facing you) place the zip face down centrally on the CB seam.

TIP | One of my lovely testers recommends using a double-sided basting tape to hold the zip in place.

The top stoppers of the zip should sit about 3mm below the centre fold of the waistband. Pin to hold but make sure it stays central. The bottom zip stop should be about 5mm above the end of the stitching for the CB seam. If it is slightly out, don’t worry, just remember that we want to topstitch BELOW that stopper so you don’t break your needle. It’s actually a good idea to mark on the RS of the skirt where the zip stop is, so you can avoid it!

At the top edge, fold back the zip tape at an angle so it will be out of the way of the zip puller.

Tack through the zip tape and ALL the layers, down each side and across the base, keeping that zip central on the CB.

TIP | The zip will be stitched in place from the RS. Mark the stitchline with chalk or fabric pen about 1cm (3/8″) from the CB on each side. (When stitching I use my machine foot width as a guide, it actually came out slightly under 1cm). Mark the base of the stitchline 5mm BELOW the zip stopper.

Stitch the zip | Change to a zip foot

Take out the basting thread holding the CB together.

With RSU and the zip closed, start stitching with a small backstitch on the CB seam (at the base of the opening but below the zip stopper!) and stitch across to your chalk mark guide and pivot* and start to stitch up one side of the zip. Concentrate on keeping your stitching an even distance from the CB seam.

 *TO PIVOT | stitch to the pivot point, leave your machine needle IN your garment, lift your machine foot and turn your work 90° in the direction you want to stitch, drop your foot back down and continue to stitch – makes a nice tidy corner!

You are probably going to have to move the zip puller out of the way at some point because it will be in the way of your zip foot. It’s not a problem, stop stitching about half way (not vital where) but leave your machine needle down and in the skirt. Lift your zip foot and just wiggle the zip puller past your needle so it now sits behind the foot. Drop the zip foot again, and carry on stitching up to the fold line of the waistband. Backstitch to finish and secure.

TIP | When stitching over the waistband seam, you may find due to the thickness that your foot doesn’t lie flat and this makes your stitches uneven. Easy solution, leave your needle in the fabric, slide a bit of folded denim (or card) to lift up the back of the foot so it is level with the front and carry on stitching. (You can buy gadgets for this but I’ve never bothered).

Close the zip, and repeat for the other side.


Waistband | Fold the waistband along the centre covering the waist seam. Pin to hold. With WS facing tuck the waistband in 5mm at the CB, making it a slight angle, so it will give enough room for the zip puller to glide past unimpeded

Stitch | change back to the presser foot.

With RS of the skirt facing you, stitch in the ditch of the waist seam through all the layers to secure the waistband.

Give it a good press and well done you!