Next up on our list of hacks for Opal is the drawstring waistband hack! Drawstrings are such a simple way to add a little extra detail to your waistband and also mean you get to play around with fun things like different types of tapes, cords, ties, and even toggles and tassels if you like! Whether you want to add a functional drawstring to your Opals or just get the look of one with a sneaky faux drawstring, I’ve got you covered in this tutorial. I’m working with the standard elastic waistband of Opal today, but don’t forget, this drawstring hack could just as easily be done on the paper bag waistband too! Everything we go through below will be the same, with the only difference being the paper bag waistband has a couple of extra steps compared to the standard waistband. You can check out the paper bag waistband tutorial here for help with those!
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
Mark the centre of one of your waistband pieces, this will be the front.
Mark the positions of the buttonholes 1″ (2.5cm) either side of the waistband centre point. I’ve used a fabric marker to make my markings, but you can also use tailor’s chalk, tailors tacks, or your own preferred method.
The buttonholes should start 3/4″ (2cm) in from the raw edge, so make two horizontal markings at the ends of your buttonhole lines that are wide enough to be visible from underneath your presser foot.
The length of your buttonholes is dependant on how wide your drawstring ties will be. You want the ties to be able to fit through and slide easily through the holes, but you don’t want them so big that they gape open. I am using 3/8″ (1cm) wide cotton tape for my drawstrings, so I’ve marked my buttonhole length to be 1/2″ (1.3cm). Now that you know where your buttonholes will be, on the wrong side of your fabric attach a small rectangle of interfacing to reinforce the area. The interfacing should cover where the buttonhole area is, with some border – approximately 4″ (10cm) by 1 1/2″ (4cm) is a reasonable size. Centre it relative to your buttonhole markings, but a little further away from the raw edge end of the markings, so less/none of it will be included in the seam allowances where it could add bulk.
I forgot to take a photo of this until later – but at this stage, it is a good idea to add a small strip of fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your waistband where the buttonholes will be sewn to add stability.
Using the buttonhole stitch function and buttonhole foot on your sewing machine, stitch your buttonholes with your markings as a guide. If you don’t sew a lot of buttonholes, are using a fabric you haven’t sewn a buttonhole in before, or want to test which size buttonhole is appropriate for your drawstring, it’s always a good idea to do a test first on a scrap. If you have an automatic buttonhole function where you can set the length, you can also program the right length on your test sample.
Using a buttonhole cutter, open your buttonholes being careful not to cut through any of the stitching. If you don’t have a buttonhole cutter, you can also snip them open, cut them with a scalpel, or use a seam ripper starting at one end of the hole, ripping to the middle, and then ripping from the opposite end to the middle again.
Now we’ve finished the buttonholes, you can take your other waistband piece back out, and place it right sides together with your front waistband. Stitch the side seams with a seam allowance of 5/8″ (1.5cm) and press the seam allowances open. Next, fold in 5/8” (1.5cm) along the edge of the waistband further away from the buttonholes, towards the wrong side of the waistband, and press.
It’s now time to attach the waistband to the pants! Place the waistband over the waist of your garment with right sides together, buttonholes to the front, side seams matched and the waistband notches aligned with the centre front and centre back seams of the pant. Pin in place and stitch 3/8″ (1.5cm) from the raw edge around the whole waist. You can now press the waistband and seam allowances upward and away from the garment, before folding the top edge down to the inside of the garment and pinning in place. This step and the next are the same as the normal construction of the waistband, so if you need a little more detail and some extra photos to help you through, check out the standard waistband sewalong tutorial here!
Topstitch or stitch in the ditch to secure your waistband, making sure you catch the folded edge on the inside of the waistband. If you are including elastic in your waistband, leave a gap in your topstitching and thread your elastic through, before joining the elastic ends and closing the gap. If you are only using a drawstring though, you can simply topstitch the whole waist in one go.
Next, we need to create the drawstring channel. This will be two rows of stitching, running along the top and bottom of the buttonholes. Beginning at the side seam to keep the stitching start/finish discrete, stitch these two rows, stretching the elastic as you sew and using the top of the waistband to align yourself and keep your rows nice and even.
Now it’s time to thread your drawstring! The length of your drawstring needs to be the size of your waist, plus a generous enough amount to be able to tie your ties. You also need to make sure that when you stretch your pants to get them on, that the drawstring doesn’t get sucked back through the buttonholes, never to be seen again. If possible, simply start with a nice long piece that you can trim later when you try your pants or shorts on and can tell exactly how much you need.
With a safety pin attached to the end, thread the drawstring through the buttonhole and around your waistband. This step can be a bit fiddly and might take you a while, but be patient and you’ll get there!
When you’ve reached all the way around, bring your drawstring out through the other buttonhole and even out your ties. You can now finish the ends of your drawstring, to stop fraying and also help prevent them from being able to slip back through the buttonholes. A simple knotted end or a couple of little turns and some hand stitches works well, or you can take it to the next level with a toggle!
// The Easy Option: A Faux Drawstring //
Now, if you love the look of a drawstring, but aren’t keen on actually sewing one, there is another option! You can always sew our favourite option, a faux tie and it’s super easy! Cut a length of tape or drawstring that is long enough to tie the size bow you would like, plus enough to finish the tie ends by your preferred method. Simply find the middle of it, and pin it to the centre front of your waistband. Sew a couple of stitches back and forth to secure the tie to the pants or shorts, either using a machine or by hand with a needle and thread.
And that’s it! Such a quick and easy way to add some extra detail to your garment, and to get the drawstring look without any actual structural changes!
// 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)
- Paperbag Waistband (A & C)
- Bonus Hack – Cargo Side Pockets
- Bonus Hack – Drawstring Waistband (this post!)
- Bonus Hack – Elastic Hem Joggers
- Opal Hack Ideas
Don’t have the Opal sewing pattern yet?! Order Opal today! We absolutely love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to tag your creations with #MNopal and @megannielsenpatterns when sharing on social media, and check out what everyone else is up to!