When I started sewing skirts and shorts with elastic waistbands for my girls, I was not in love with how the elastic would twist inside the casing.
Sure, it’s easy enough to sew vertically at the side seams on each side, but I knew there was a better way.
If you’re a beginner, go ahead and sew elastic waistbands the “beginner” way, by folding down a casing and inserting the elastic. And if you have a sewn-on waistband, that’s the best way to do it regardless.
But if you’ve been sewing for awhile, this non-twist method is a great way to sew elastic waistbands that I know you’ll love! It’s perfect for skirts, leggings, shorts, underwear…and it works for knits and wovens.
How to sew elastic waistbands that won’t twist
1. First, use knit elastic for the best stretch for knit garments (and I actually use it for my wovens too, with this method). Stretch a length of it a few times to get some of the stiffness out. After measuring the elastic to 1″ (2.5cm) less than the actual waist – or cutting to the length suggested in your pattern, measure and mark 1/2″ (1.3 cm) from both edges of the elastic (shown in photo 1 below).
2. Next, fold the edges together, making a circle with the elastic, and pin on the lines you drew. This represents the back of the elastic band.
3. Now, bring the pinned section to one side, and draw a line on the opposite “corner.” This will line up with the front of your garment (Photo 3 below). Rearrange your elastic so the front and back are together, and mark on the two new “corners.” Remove the pin. You should now have four marks on your elastic.
4. Now, turn your garment right sides together, lining up the front and back. Mark the front and both sides with pins or a water-soluble marking pen close to the edge, on the wrong side of the fabric, so you can see it well.
5. Take the elastic and place one edge at the back seam of the garment, lining up the line you drew with the seam. The elastic should be placed about 1/8″ down from the top of the garment (Photo 2 below).
6. The next part may be done either on a serger or on your sewing machine, with a zigzag stitch. If using a serger, be sure that the blade cuts only the fabric and not the elastic!
7. Start at the end and back stitch (if using a sewing machine). Stretch the elastic only – not the fabric! – so that the second line on the elastic matches with the line you drew on the fabric (or the pin you placed there).
8. Keep stretching the elastic as you sew all the way around, matching the remaining two points and finishing at the end.
9. Now fold down, so the elastic is hidden on the inside (photo 2 below).
10. To make sure your little ones (or you!) know which side is the back, fold a 2″ (5 cm) piece of ribbon in half and insert it into the casing. Tack by hand with a couple of stitches that you’ll remove later.
11. Using your twin needle on your sewing machine, a zigzag, or a cover stitch machine, sew the casing from the right side, making sure that you’re catching the lower edge of the casing. Be sure to stretch both as you sew!
And that’s all! Enjoy your professionally stitched waistband that won’t twist!
Deanna McCool writes for sewmccool.com. If you enjoyed this post, you’ll enjoy How to sew knit binding in the round. To make sure you don’t miss a post, please follow SewMcCool by e-mail (the link is at the top of the right-hand column) or join me on BlogLovin’ – the button is just below the e-mail feed box! 🙂