Smooth waistband finish

Spring will soon be here, so better hurry to finish those pants I bought fabric for in the fall!  After making the standard crotch depth adjustments dictated by my flexible ruler, I sewed two pair along side a student who was making her first pair in black. After our first session, the waistband and hems were all that remained to be done.  I thought I would try something a little bit different.  I chose the waistband labeled “contoured”.  The ends of the rectangles were at a slight angle.  Pattern instructed me to cut four. I sewed each pair into a loop. When sewing the last side seam, I  left an inch long gap in the seam.


Sew from the top edge to an inch past center.  Skip one inch and sew the remainder of the seam.

The loop with the hole will be your lining piece.  Clean finish the longer edge of this one.


The waist band lining is the loop with the gap.  Finish the bottom (longer) edge of that loop.

Sew both loops right sides together at the top edge (the shorter edge).   Measure a length of elastic around your waist, where the top of the pants will go.  Make sure this is tight enough to keep your pants up, but not so tight to be uncomfortable. Sew it in a loop, and mark the half and quarter points.  Mark the half way points between the seams on your waist band.


After the two loops are sewn together (rst) around the top edge, attach the elastic to only the seam allowance with a stretch stitch.  In this photo, I overlapped 1/4 inch and zig zagged.

You can see in the photo above that I used grey serger thread.  In order to keep the lighter thread from showing on the right side, I added a short narrow zig zag in a thread that more closely matches.


Elastic in any width can be used. This is 1 inch wide, and slightly longer than the fabric waistband. This causes a little rippling on the hanger, but is smooth and comfortable when worn.

Fold the elastic towards the lining piece of your waistband and stitch it down to the lining with a wide serpentine stitch.


Elastic needs to be secured to the lining.  In a big understitch fashion, using the widest serpentine stitch, I sewed the elastic to the waist band lining in two rows.  From the inside it looks like this.


From right to left, zig zag stitch that secured the elastic band to the seam allowance, first row of serpentine, second row of serpentine.

Pin or clip your waistband in quarters, attach the right (unfinished side) of the waistband to the right edge of the pants, aligning the side seams.  Divide these sections in half again and pin or clip.  Stitch the waistband to the pants with a stretchy stitch and a half inch seam allowance all around the circle.  I was surprised at how much easing was needed.


With the seam you just made tucked up under the waistband, lay the facing over top with the previously finished edge down towards the pants.  Pin so that the seam allowance is secured and pointing up.


With the seam allowance tucked under the waistband, lay the lining over top, and pin around the circle through the seam allowance.  Flip  the pants over and top stitch along the bottom of the waistband.

9D003221-4E41-4059-BBAD-8106F87877B2 I used a short narrow zig zag and stretched while I sewed.  Remove each pin as you get to it.

About that small gap in the lining side seam we left earlier… if your waistband ends up not quite tight enough, that is an excellent spot to thread another piece of elastic through just enough to snug them up.


Secret area left open to add more elastic later if needed.


Dubious about the gathers while sewing.  I put them on and by magic the gathering went away!

By overlapping the facing, the multiple layers of waistline are dispersed and reduced at the point where waistband meets pants which reduces bulk.  Those small details add up to a nicer garment.

For these pants, I took photos of both the navy and purple Supplex I used.

The pattern used is here.  Another pattern that works would be this one.

These are my affiliate links for patterns.  At no cost to you, the designer may compensate me with a small commission when people use them to purchase a pattern.  Thank you for using these links.

Thanks for reading, and happy sewing! Joan







Bags for ABQ & AUS

Seeing the massive crafting efforts for our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere ignited a spark in me to figure out a way to participate.  I found many instructions for the various types of animal pouches on line, and they were a little overwhelming . So when our school director decided on a school service project, I opted to organize something I was already familiar with.

Re-enter the Boomerang bag.  A trend started in Australia of up cycling fabrics that might otherwise find their way to the landfill, then distributing these to library patrons and encouraging them to bring the bags back with their books for reuse.  I adore that the design is fabric efficient.  Two bags from one yard of fabric, and no waste!

To incorporate this service project into the art class I teach weekly, we shopped local and purchased 10 different prints of fabrics designed by aboriginal artists.

There is quite a bit of prep work before any sewing can happen, and this is how I did it.

With one yard fabric that is 44 inches wide, folded like it is from the shops, cut a seven inch strip parallel to the fold.  From this strip, cross cut an 8 inch piece, then cut this on the fold and you have two 7 x 8 inch pockets.

Fold down 1/4 inch and one inch again and press.  Below, I made one pocket “portrait” and the other “landscape”.  Stitch across both of the folded edges of that one inch to hem the upper edge of your pocket.  After that fold in the other three sides of the pocket 1/4 inch and press.

Fold under the short ends of the larger pieces you have left by 1/4 and again by 1 inch and press.  Set these aside till later.

For the straps, take the remaining 28 x 14 inch piece of fabric and cut it into four 3.5 x 28 inch strips.  These will be your straps.  8CE33159-9A5D-44A9-8E8A-91E0C407890A

Fold each strap in half lengthwise and press to crease. Open that, the fold the raw edges to almost center, press, then fold that in half to form your strap and press again.  Sew the open edge of your strap closed, 1/8 inch away from the edge.  Do the same with the other side.  My Bernina has a #20 foot that is perfect for this!


Pin your pocket on the inside or outside of your bag where you would like it.  I like mine centered and about four inches down from the raw edge of the body of the bag.  With the hemmed edge of the pocket pointing up, sew around all three edges, making sure to reinforce the top edges of the stitching with a short parallel row, so that your pocket is secure.

Each of your bag bodies will have one selvage edge.  Clean finish the other edge.  In the photo below, I used a narrow zig zag stitch.


Next stitch the side seams.  Once those are done, square off the corners of the bag, making marks that create a square from the sewn or folded edge.  The handy tool here is a needle case that is 1.75 inches square.  01002685-1144-4A89-87CB-98467C9D8356

From here, we will box our corners.  With one hand in the bag, open it up, so that all you see is a diagonal line across the corner.  The seam line will match up with the folded edge.  Keep the seam open and stitch across this corner along the lines you have drawn. Do this on both bottom corners of your bag.   D5520D87-26A4-4704-806C-B5AD23314F9B

Mark strap placement.  From the seam line, mark a spot five inches into the bag from each seam on both sides of the bag.  This is where we will insert our straps.


Here, I centered the strap on top of that 5 inch mark and snuggled the raw end up to the inside fold of the top of the bag.  Without twisting the strap bring the other end of the strap up to the other 5 inch mark.


Clip your straps in place, and stitch around the folded edge to secure it down and encase the ends of the straps in your hem.


I like to enclose a 6 inch strip of elastic in the upper hem of the bag across from the pocket.  It enables me to roll up the bag and secure it with the band for storage.


When you have completely circled the bag with a row of stitching to secure the loose end of your hem, bring the straps up out of the bag, and sew the top edge of the bag, including those straps.  You may want to back tack over the straps to secure them further.


I enjoyed sewing these bags with the students at school.  We sold them and have been able to raise $275.00 for the World Wildlife Fund, where we studied about the food drops to the affected areas of Australia.  Thankful to the families that supported this service project, and hope they remember to use their bags here in Albuquerque to reduce the plastic bag issues we have here.

Thank you to Liz at Nob Hill Fabrics, for carrying the aboriginal designed prints.  I feel a special kinship with them.  Also thank you for providing me a space to teach.  $200 in class fees from the bag class held January 25th was donated to help Wildlife Victoria.

My goal was to raise $500 total from both efforts, and we very nearly got there!