Next stop on the Opal sewalong journey is the waistband! I don’t know about you, but elasticated waistbands have been a close companion and saving grace for me lately! Opal has two gorgeous elasticated options and today we are going to go through the standard version. If you’ve decided on the paper bag option, you can go right ahead and skip this post, tomorrow’s tutorial will be for you. So, let’s jump in!
Place the standard waistband pieces with right sides together, lining up the short edges.
Sew 5/8″ (1.5cm) from the raw edge along the side seams of the waistband.
Press the seams open. Because they will be enclosed in the waistband, there’s no need to finish the edges.
Fold in 5/8” (1.5cm) along one edge of the waistband, towards the wrong side of the waistband and press.
Now it’s time to join it to your pants or shorts! Have your garment ready, turned out the right way.
Place the waistband over the pants with right sides together, and so that the raw edge of the waistband lines up with the raw edge of the pants. The folded edge of the waistband should be pointing downwards.
Line up the waistband seams with the side seams of your garment. Line up the notches at the centre of the waistband pieces, with the centre front and centre back seams. Pin around the whole garment to hold everything in place.
Now you can sew 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge, around the whole waist, joining the waistband to your pants or shorts. Be careful not to flick your seam allowances the wrong way when sewing over them!
If you have thicker fabric and you are worried about the seam allowances getting in the way of the elastic, now is a good time to trim them back to reduce some of the bulk.
With that done, you can flip the waistband upwards, so the folded edge is now pointing away from the pants. Give it a good press to open up the seam and to push all the seam allowances up towards the waistband, away from the pants.
With your garment inside out, you can now take the remaining folded edge of the waistband and bring it down to meet the waist seam stitch lines. The waistband will be folded in half now, and the raw edges and seam allowances will be enclosed.
As you make your way around, folding the entire waistband into position, pin to hold it all in place.
Sew 1/8” (3mm) from the waistline seam on the right side of the waistband, or stitch in the ditch being careful to catch the folded edge on the inside of the garment. Leave a gap in your sewing around 2” (5cm) long to thread the elastic through. I like to leave my gap at the centre back, but the side seam is another good place, to keep the joins of your stitching discrete.
Now time to cut your elastic! You can simply check the suggested length on the pattern’s fabric requirements chart to get the amount you need, but it’s always a good idea to check the length on your body before you cut it, just to be sure.
If you have a piece of elastic longer than you need, mark the suggested length before holding the elastic around you where the waistband is going to sit. Overlap the end of the elastic with your marking by 1/2″ (1.3cm), and see how it feels. Is it tight enough to keep your pants up? Is it loose enough so as not to dig in and be uncomfortable? If your hips tend to be a larger size than your waist, and you’ve cut out the larger size that aligns with your hip measurement, you can simply use the elastic measurement of your waist size, so the waistband will just be drawn in to be the correct size for you. It’s always important to check in this situation though, that the elastic is going to stretch enough to fit over your bottom – you don’t want to try your pants on for the first time, only to find out you can’t get them up!
Attach an elastic threading tool or even just a safety pin to one end of the elastic, and start to thread it through the gap in your waistband. As you thread and work the elastic through the band, make sure not to lose the other end! One trick is to safety pin the loose end to the garment, so it can’t escape! If your fabric is grippy, it can be a little tricky, and sometimes you can get stuck in the folds of the seam allowances, but take your time and you’ll get there.
When you get all the way around, double-check there aren’t any twists in the elastic before overlapping the ends by 1/2″ (1.3cm), and pinning them together. If you want to check the elastic for comfort again, you can try your pants on for the first time now!
When you’re happy that the elastic is right, you can stitch the ends together. I use a zig-zag stitch, and I go back and forth a couple of times to make sure the join is nice and strong.
It’s time now to close the gap in your waistband casing by sewing 1/8” (3mm) from the waistline seam or stitch in the ditch on the right side of the fabric, again, ensuring that you sew through the folded inside edge of the waistband and that everything gets secured.
Stretch the waistband to its maximum a few times and wiggle things around to evenly distribute the elastic and waistband fabric.
Before you sew the tops of your belt loops down, if you chose to add them, there are a couple of optional methods you can use to do to prevent your elastic from twisting or curling during use. The first option is to do a small line of straight stitches, right into the ditch of the waistband side seams. This won’t affect the stretch, but will just stop the elastic from being able to turn. The other method, which I used, is to secure the elastic even further by stitching through the centre of the waistband, all the way around. To do this, set your stitch length a little longer, and stretch the waistband to its maximum as you sew so that the fabric is laying flat. This is a great way to ensure your pant’s gathers stay evenly distributed at all times and that your elastic can’t even think of twisting!
With all the stretching you just did, give the waistband a little bit of a spray with water and press with an iron or steam iron. This will just neaten the waistband and help the elastic to recover, getting it back into its original shape.
If you chose to add belt loops to your garment, now is the time to flip them up, fold in the top edge by roughly 1/4” (6mm) and align this folded edge with the waistband edge. Pin them in place before topstitching to secure. With all the fabric layers, it can get a little thick, but take your time and use your machine’s handwheel to manually get through if needed. Also, it’s ok if your elastic is caught in this stitching.
And that’s a wrap on the standard waistband! Great work everyone!
// Looking for more Opal posts? //
- Inspiration and Ideas
- Tester Round-Up
- How to Lengthen Or Shorten the Pants
- Inseam Pockets
- Patch Pockets (back pockets and front patch pockets)
- Seams (crotch seam, inseam, side seams)
- Belt Loops and Belt
- Waistband (B & D standard elastic waist) (this post!)
- Paperbag Waistband (A & C)
- Bonus Hack – Cargo Side Pockets
- Bonus Hack – Drawstring Waistband
- Bonus Hack – Elastic Hem Joggers
- Opal Hack Ideas