Easy waistband elastic

November 4th, 2009

Whenever I see instructions for inserting elastic into a waistband they almost always tell you to make the waistband first, leaving an opening and then thread the elastic in. This drives me crazy for 2 reasons, 1) I hate threading elastic, it’s tedious, and 2) I hate it when down the track the elastic starts to twist and then I’m trying my darndest to make it straight again.

I find that problem especially irritating when it comes to making things for Bunny. I just hate to think that she’s wearing something uncomfy. So I came up with a different way of doing elastic waistbands, inspired by the way my mom used to make fitted sheets when I was a kid (Oh mom you’re so clever!!).

  1. Start with whatever pair of pants you are planning to put the elastic in.IMG_0809
  2. Decide what you want the finished waist size to be (keep in mind if you are measuring yourself, or your child’s waist you will need to remove a few inches from the measurement), add half an inch (for overlap) and cut the elastic that length. For example, before getting preggers my waist measurement was 27″, I would then take off 2 inches (to make sure whatever I’m making stays up) then add on half an inch for the elastic overlap, leaving me with 25.5″ of elastic.
  3. Overlap the elastic by 1/4″ on each side, then use a zig zag stitch to attach the two pieces of elastic together.IMG_0812
  4. Mark the elastic in quarters (representing the front, back and 2 sides)IMG_0813
  5. Match up the markers on your elastic with the front seam, back seam and 2 side seams, and so that it is 1/2″ away from the serged edge. Pin in place.IMG_0816
  6. Attach the elastic to the pants using a wide and long zig zag stitch on your machine, stretching the elastic as you go so that it matches up with the fabric.IMG_0818IMG_0819
  7. Fold over the waistband, encasing the elastic.IMG_0820IMG_0822
  8. Stitch 1/4″ from the serged edge, once again stretching as you go so that the fabric lines up properly.IMG_0824IMG_0826
  9. Voila, an elastic waistband that won’t twist :)How to make baby pants

13 Responses

  1. Anitra says:

    I feel exactly the same way about threading elastic–takes forever and the finished results never quite look as professional as I’d like. Thanks so much for this tip!

  2. Nikole says:

    I think we all hate threading elastics too. This is a nice tutorial

  3. […] Megan Nielsen from megannielsen.com shows her method for easy elastic waistbands.  She ditches the casing in favor  of a large zig-zag stitch.  Go to the tutorial to find out how she does it. […]

  4. Anne Weaver says:

    Thank you for posting this! A friend of mine had told me about this method for adding elastic, but I was having a hard time wrapping my head around it until I read your tutorial. I posted a link to your tutorial:



  5. There’s a number of skirts I would like to do this with! I need to get my mom’s sewing machine!

  6. Chantal2628 says:

    Thanks for that tip. I always do my waistband like you except for the zigzag part, (I have an OLDER pattern that shows how to do the waistband)I will give the zigzag a try next time.

  7. Karen says:

    Just tried it on a pair of pants for myself – brilliant.
    Once the four pins were in place it took no time at all to sew the elastic on. The elastic itself created a nice crisp top, without having to go back and forth to the iron like I usually do.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    • Meg says:

      I’m so glad you all found this helpful, here’s hoping we can all avoid threading elastic as much as possible!!!

  8. Pat says:

    I make designer doll clothes and waistbands of this size drive me crazy. I’ve been making pj’s and doing them this size is, well, whew! I will try this on my next pair of dolly pj’s. Thanks!

  9. Jen says:

    I never understood why they tell you to make a casing first either! The method you describe is the standard way to sew elastic into leotards and swimwear. It is how I sew elastic into all my leotards/costumes and is so much easier!
    PS “Hi!” from a fellow Aussie!

    • Meg says:

      Hi Jen it’s always so nice to meet a fellow Aussie! Meanwhile, I had no idea that’s how you do swimwear! That’s so funny! So I guess if I ever sew some bathers I won’t have to learn a new technique :)

  10. Kathy says:

    You are so awesome! I made a pair of pants recently and I spent over an hour cursing before I got the elastic to stay in place long enough to sew it together. I will definitely be trying this method next time!

  11. […] (especially in my kids clothing as i had them having uncomfy waistbands – anyone remember this tutorial from way back in 2009?). Also, it’s super easy […]