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The Simone Set | the waistband

Before we start, this isn’t an actual “how to make an elastic waistband” tutorial, that’s all covered in the Simone Maker instructions, but this is a few extra ideas and options that I thought may be useful. And while I’m writing with the Simone pattern in mind, you can apply these ideas to any elasticated waistband.

Getting an elastic waistband to fit can be a bit of trial and error. All elastics will behave slightly differently and we all have a preference as to how we like our garments to fit. And we have the added joy of elastic shrinking and stretching. 

BUT OH MY, they can be so delightfully comfortable!

PRE-SHRINK | 

My first tip is to check if your elastic is pre-shrunk. If not, pre-wash your elastic (check the wash instructions first but I chuck it in the machine with my fabric, start as I mean to go on as it were) or at the very least give it a jolly good steam with the iron to shrink it as much as possible. Polyester will shrink less than cotton covered elastics, some may not shrink at all, but we might as well not deal with the hassle of shrunk elastic after we’ve finished our garment.

FIND YOUR ELASTIC LENGTH |

  • Generally finished elastic measurements are around around 2” smaller than your waist measurement 
  • Start with a piece of elastic longer than you need so you can try it on and adjust to fit if necessary.
  • Mark the elastic with your intended finished waist measurement. 
  • Wrap the elastic around in a loop and safety pin together.
  • Try it on, move and dance about a bit.
  • Adjust if you need to and make sure it’s snug and secure (keep in mind that topstitching the elastic can make it stretch a bit).
  • Allow an extra 2.5cm (1”) as an overlap.
  • Chop off the excess elastic.
  • Don’t overthink it, there is no right or wrong measurement, if it’s comfortable and keeps your trousers up – winner!
  • Remember to make a note of your elastic measurement so you have a reference for next time.

QUICK METHOD TO SECURE THE ELASTIC |  

The Simone waistband has a drawstring and 2 rows of topstitching through it, but sometimes you just want a quick clean finish. This is a good method if you are not adding a drawstring and prefer not to topstitch through the elastic and is a very effective way to prevent the elastic from twisting during washing and wearing.

  • Once you have completed STEP 42 in the Maker Instructions – you will have inserted the elastic into the waistband and stitched the opening closed.
  • Evenly distribute the gathering and elastic by pulling and stretching the waistband flat a few times. 
  • Pin through all the layers at the Centre Back, Centre Front and at each side seam to hold in place and simply stitch vertically through the waistband at these 4 points.

FAUX DRAWSTRING | 

If you use the quick method above to secure the elastic in the waistband you won’t be able to add a functioning drawstring, but you can add a fake one.

  • Cut your chosen drawstring to a length of around 65cm (26”)* You just need to be able to tie it in a bow and leave some tails hanging, so feel free to adjust the length to suit you and use what’s in your stash. 
  • Fold in half to find the mid-point and stitch on the waistband at the centre front of your trousers.
  • Tie in a bow!
  • *This is a suggested length for an adult. If you are sewing for a child the length should be shorter because dangling ties are a HAZARD. You will need to check and comply with the legislation for your area to get an appropriate length.

BUT I’D LIKE TO USE A DIFFERENT WIDTH ELASTIC!

USING A NARROWER ELASTIC AND ADD A FRILL | 

Got a narrower elastic in the old stash? Don’t go out and panic buy more elastic, here’s an easy solution that doesn’t involve altering the pattern.

  • Attach the waistband as described in the instructions and stop once you are at the point of inserting the elastic.
  • Stitch a channel for the narrower elastic. Stitch the channel 3mm (⅛”) deeper than your chosen elastic to allow the elastic to fit inside.
  • So if you have 2.5cm (1″) wide elastic stitch at around 2.8cm (1 ⅛”) above the waist seam.
  • Insert the elastic and close the waistband as in the Maker Instructions.
  • The excess at the top of the waistband will become a frill.
  • Easy peasy!

REDUCE PATTERN WIDTH | 

If you don’t fancy a frill, you’ll need to change the depth of your waistband casing pattern to use a different width of elastic. 

Use this formula to calculate your waistband casing depth (the pattern length will stay the same).

METRIC |  Elastic width x2 + 2cm seam allowance + 1cm ease = WAISTBAND CASING PATTERN DEPTH

INCHES | Elastic width x2 + ½” seam allowance + ⅜” ease = WAISTBAND CASING PATTERN DEPTH

EASE | There is 1cm ( ⅜”) ease allowed in the depth of the pattern to make sure (a) you have some wiggle room and can thread your elastic through the casing easily and (b) there is enough width to make sure the waistband will fold over to the inside of the trouser and cover the waist seam so you can ‘Stitch in the Ditch’ to secure during construction.

OPTIONS TO TOPSTITCH & SECURE A NARROWER ELASTIC | 

Any waistband elastic should be secured by stitching through all the layers as this will help stop it from twisting after washing and during wear. If you are using a narrower elastic than the 4cm width recommended, it’s not a problem, but you might have to use a slightly different method than the one in the Maker Instructions.

  1. Top stitch through the elastic as explained in the instructions. A narrower elastic can still have a drawstring, but you may want to make your buttonholes horizontally instead of vertically and adjust the topstitch placement.
  2. Just topstitch one row through the centre of the elastic and leave out the drawstring and buttonholes.
  3. Stitch vertically through CB, CF and side seams (as described above).

I hope you enjoy these extra ideas to make the most out of your Simone Set pattern!

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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!

ABBREVIATIONS | 

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

METHOD |

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

INTERFACING 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.

NEATEN |

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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