Simple Elastic Waist Band Tutorial

Elastic waist bands are an easy way to finish the waistline of pants/shorts/skirts as it will naturally gather around your waist and is very easy to fit.

Keep in mind that there are multiple techniques and approaches when sewing an elastic waistband (many of which require a serger or cover-stitch machine and secure the elastic to the fabric). This tutorial will solely utilize a straight stitch machine using the method of creating a channel for the elastic and then feeding the elastic through. This technique is applicable for the Third Born Signature Short, Skirt, and Pant


  1. Before doing this step, make sure both side seams, center front, and center back seams are stitched together and raw edges finished (serged/french seam, or bias tape finish). 
  2. Create channel for your 1 1/4'' wide elastic waistband. Utilizing your iron, press top of garment in ward 1/4 inch along entire circumference of garment, and then fold in again pressing with iron 1  3/8'' fold (extra width is factored in for top stitch step securing channel into place, this should allow your elastic waistband to fit perfectly within channel. 
  3. Pin encasing into place. First pin side seams, center front, and center back seams matching points.  Then pin in additional places to maintain consistent encasing width of 1 3/8''. 
  4. Stitch 1/8'' from edge of waist band channel, starting at center back. Do not completely close the channel shut, leave about 3 inches open to allow space to feed elastic through channel. 
  5. Feed elastic through channel, use a large safety pin secured to one end to help you feed the elastic through. 
  6. Once the elastic reaches the end, pull through and start to evenly gather fabric over the elastic until a roughly estimated waist size is achieved (I usually determine measurement ahead of time and then add 2 inches for safe measure). Pin elastic in place to secure for your first fitting.                     
  7. Try on garment, and determine preferred elastic waist band measurement (this is a personal preference, but make sure it is not too tight, or too loose and sits where you want it to sit on your waist). Pin the elastic together  once you find where it sits comfortably. This is where you will stitch the elastic together.
  8. Replace safety pin with regular pin, and stitch elastic together making multiple passes for extra security.
  9. Trim down excess elastic to about 1/2 inch.                                             
  10. Open seam and press flat, zig zag stitch to secure excess flat as depicted in image.  
  11. Stitch opening of waistband channel closed. Make sure not to stitch through the elastic. Utilize pins to secure into place to help avoid elastic. Tips: anchor your needle into your stitch line and stretch elastic waist band to flatten out fabric for removing pins, or adjusting fabric.                             
  12. Once channel fully enclosed, distribute gathers evenly.

OPTIONAL: If you would like to secure your elastic into place, you may do so by stitching along vertical seams (center front, center back, and side seams). When you stitch right in the vertical seams it is called "stitching in the ditch" so stitch lines are not visible. You can do this step if you find the linen gathers are not staying consistent (more likely to happen if channel accidentally ends up too lose).

There you have it! A very simple elastic waistband!



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