cssa: attaching the waistband

I’ll discuss two methods for attaching your skirt waistband today. The first will be using a modern fusible interfacing and the second is for sew-in interfacings (such as organza or hair canvas).

Fusible Method

For this method you’ll need your fabric waistband piece, fusible interfacing that works with the weight of your material (see the supply post for suggestions), an iron, and press cloth. (Note: You may want to first “shrink” your fusible interfacing if you so desire. There are various methods for doing this from soaking the interfacing in warm water to steaming the piece prior to fusing. I suggest trying a couple methods and seeing what suits you best!)

Begin by cutting a strip of your sew-in interfacing the length of your waistband and 1/2 the width. Fold the waistband in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press. (If your fabric doesn’t hold a good crease, thread trace this center line.)

With the wrong side of the fabric waistband up, place one long edge of the interfacing along the stitched traced/foldline down the center length of the waistband (about 5/8” from the bottom edge). The fusible side of the interfacing strip should be facing the fabric.

Place the press cloth over your waistband. With your iron set to the appropriate settings for your interfacing and fabric, fuse the interfacing to the waistband. Remove the press cloth, let the fabric cool and check that the interfacing has properly fused.

Sew-In Method

For this method you’ll need your fabric waistband piece, a sew-in interfacing fabric (see the supply post for suggestions), and silk thread in addition to your other sewing supplies.

Begin by cutting a strip of your sew-in interfacing the length of your waistband and 1/2 the width. Thread a single strand of silk thread on a needle. Fold the waistband in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press. (If your fabric doesn’t hold a good crease, thread trace this center line.)

With the wrong side of the fabric waistband up, place one long edge of the interfacing along the traced line/foldline down the center length of the waistband. Secure with a few pins. Baste the long edge along the foldline with long basting stitches (these will be removed later).

Using the silk thread, tack at one end with a few backstitches. Catchstitch the short sides and bottom of the interfacing. Only catch the interfacing (not the waistband underneath), and then in the seam allowances of the waistband.

Now we’re ready to sew the waistband to the skirt! First, make sure that the top stop of your zipper clears the seam allowance area. I generally like to make sure this is about 3/4” below the cut edge of the waistline (my 5/8” seam allowance, plus 1/8”). Either way, make sure you sew carefully around this area as we sew through all the layers!

Attaching the Waistband – Method #1

Stay stitch along the waistline edge of the skirt, about 1/2” from the edge.

Fold the seam allowance of the long waistband edge without the interfacing to the wrong side. Press.

Fold the waistband right sides together, and stitch across the short edge, from the center foldline to the folded seam allowance (on the side without interfacing). Repeat on the other short edge.

Clip the corners and turn right side out; press. Give those corners a good press (use a blunt tool—like a large knitting needle—to gently poke the corners out if needed). I like using my clapper to get a good, flat edge after steaming the fabric.

Pin the interfaced side of the waistband, right sides together, along the waist of the skirt. On the front edge, line up the short edge evenly with the zipper/side seam. On the back there will be excess waistband (approximately 1”) that will form an underlap tab.

Baste if your fabric is slippery. Stitch using a regular stitch length.

Now is a good time to check that there are no puckers along the waistline seam as above. If there are, rip out that section of stitches, smooth out the excess ease and re-stitch! Press the seam allowances towards the waistband. Give the waistband a good press from the right side too.

Pin down the loose inside edge of the waistband to the waistline of the skirt. If your fabric is slippery, I recommend basting this edge.

Using a needle and single strand of thread, slipstitch the waistband to the waistline. I usually try to do this along the original waistband stitching line, or even in the seam allowance.

Finish by adding a skirt hook and eye to the overlap/underlap edges of the waistband. Alternatively you can add a machine-worked buttonhole and small button, or a series of smaller hooks and eyes (or even snaps).

Attaching the Waistband – Method #2

This method is identical to the one above, except for the following:

Fold the seam allowance of the long waistband edge without the interfacing to the wrong side, 1/8” shy of the actual seam allowance. (So if you have a 5/8” seam allowance, fold 1/2”) Press.

Follow waistband construction as above, up until the inside of the waistband is pinned for enclosing the seams.

Pin down the loose inside edge of the waistband to the waistline of the skirt. This will cover the original waistline seam by about 1/8”. Baste in place by hand or machine.

On the right side of your skirt, carefully “stitch in the ditch”. This means you should stitch in the original seam line, so your stitches virtually “disappear” into the seam from the right side.

Press the waistband. The back of your waistband will look like the above image.

Finish as indicated above for waistband version #1.

September 23, 2011 · 39 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing · tags: , ,

the fabled needle (jen) September 23, 2011 at 18:27

i have all of my circle skirt materials ready but not the time to get started, argh! but these posts are helpful; i always wondered how to place a zipper in a slash opening! hopefully this weekend i can get started! :)

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Ari September 23, 2011 at 19:23

One of my favorite techniques for sew in interfacing in waistbands, especially shaped ones: Cut your waistband piece out of canvas, no seam allowance. Then, flat baste it (hand or machine) to a piece of organza and cut the piece again, adding seam allowance on the organza. This way, you get the sturdiness of the canvas but can still anchor the interfacing into the seams without adding any bulk :-)

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Casey September 25, 2011 at 08:25

What a great idea, Ari! Thanks so much for sharing that tip! :)

♥ Casey

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Rachel W. September 24, 2011 at 00:22

Hooray! I just finished up my waistband, thanks to these great instructions. I really wish I could beam all this back to my one-year-ago self, as I was struggling with a Simplicity skirt pattern and its obtuse directions: these are much more lucid!

Thank you, as ever, for taking the time and effort to put all this together, Casey.

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Casey September 25, 2011 at 08:26

I’m so excited these worked out well for you, Rachel! :) I’m always a bit worried when I write instructions that they aren’t clear enough and only make sense to me… hehe!

♥ Casey

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Olivia September 24, 2011 at 08:52

Your waist band looks so crisp, neat, and professional! :) I wish the one on my skirt was that way. It isn’t nearly as good as yours

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Nathalie September 24, 2011 at 09:54

I’m kind of on the fence with fusible interfacing in the waistband. It gives a nice stiffness and solidity to the fabric when it’s just been ironed, but I’ve found that when wearing it, it crumples around the waist just the same, even with double layers of the extra stiff stuff. Unless I use a belt (which covers it up anyway), I find I can’t keep the waistband looking neat and crisp. Does anyone else have that problem? I’ve not yet tried hair canvas as a substitute (or grosgrain maybe?), but otherwise I get the feeling that only whaleboning will get me around that problem.

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KatyDidStitches September 24, 2011 at 10:49

Nathalie…

I’ve tried many different methods of reinforcing waistbands…and I have NEVER found one that doesn’t fold up with wearing. I’ve come to the conclusion that my body type (short-waisted)…combined with the fact that I carry my extra weight around the middle…doesn’t work well with a traditional straight waistband. I used a contoured waistband on my circle skirt. It sits a bit lower on my hips…and is much more comfortable to wear.

That said…grosgrain ribbon is a great bulk-free way to face a waistband…but it still crumples. On me, anyway.

Kathy

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Nathalie September 24, 2011 at 15:43

Thanks Kathy, that’s worth knowing! Belts or contoured waistbands it is then…

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Casey September 25, 2011 at 08:28

Just a thought about waistbands… (Though this really only works on wider ones.) You can always add boning to a waistband to add some stiffness and retain the shape. It’s a bit of an extra step, but does work wonders! Gertie has instructions here.

♥ Casey

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Laurence September 24, 2011 at 15:58

Seems to be so easy with…. I really cannot understand why I can not sew even an hankerchief…. Must definitively learn!!!!

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Tasha September 25, 2011 at 00:36

I’m reading all the posts eagerly though I’m not following along with the sew-along… however I think these instructions may very well help me with the Wearing History trousers I’m about to start sewing tomorrow (the ones from the 1930s sports tog pattern). I was a little unclear about the underlap portion of the pattern, and I think this might be just what I needed!

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Casey September 25, 2011 at 08:28

Yay! :D So glad these are coming in handy!!!! ;)

♥ Casey

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megannielsen September 25, 2011 at 22:07

hehe well your catchstitches sure are a lot neater than mine generally are! lol

I’m loving this sew along hun – i’ve been feeling so lacking in motivation to make anything for myself recently (aside from mending) – and this has given me the kick to do something! Just need to hem mine and i’ll be done :)

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Casey September 26, 2011 at 08:38

Oh my! I’ve been struggling something fierce with not feeling terribly motivated to sew right now (aside from things I don’t have material for… lol.). I blame life being too crazy right now! haha!

♥ Casey

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Ashley September 25, 2011 at 22:08

Your instructions make putting in a waistband very easy to do, Casey. Let’s hope my waistband goes in as well as yours tomorrow. *fingers crossed* I must confess, I dread waistbands & facings. They never go in right for me. They either come out short, or way too long.

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Casey September 26, 2011 at 08:40

I’m so glad you liked these instructions, Ashley! :) Waistbands and facings used to be my nemesis (right behind sleeves), but I think I’ve finally practiced enough times that I don’t get heart palpitations anymore. ;) hehe! For me it’s always measure not twice, but three or four times to make sure I’ve got everything the right length! ;)

♥ Casey

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KatyDidStitches September 26, 2011 at 08:31

Just a quick “thank you,” Casey, for including a link to the Collete invisible zip tutorial in your zipper post. I always get turned around when I use this type of zipper…and the pictures in this tute were very helpful.

Zipper and waistband are completed!

Kathy

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Casey September 26, 2011 at 08:41

I’m so excited that worked for you! :) It’s one of my favorite tutorials out there on invisible zippers.

♥ Casey

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Rachel September 26, 2011 at 14:16

I’m a beginner sewer, so this is probably a very basic question: what is the purpose of the interfacing and if your fabric has lots of body do you still need it?

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Casey September 26, 2011 at 15:49

Interfacing really helps the fabric keep it’s form and structure over certain areas like waistbands (or collars, lapels, necklines, etc.)–any spot that might get a lot of stress and strain, or crumple easily. Even if you are working with a heavier/stiffer fabric, I do recommend using at least a lightweight interfacing. You’ll be amazed at how much better the waistband retains it’s form with a little extra “help”! ;)

♥ Casey

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Vanessa September 26, 2011 at 19:20

I’m a bit behind – still have to attach my zip and waistband but all instructions have been very clear and easy to understand so far for this beginner. Can’t wait to catch up :)

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Victoria / Justice Pirate September 28, 2011 at 10:16

I love watching and learning on your blog all the time. Now to eventually put it into practice. . .

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NoirGirl September 28, 2011 at 19:37

I’m all caught up! These instructions have been fabulous. Really clear and easy to understand. I’m very happy with how my skirt is turning out!

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anna October 2, 2011 at 17:38

got a question over here! I’ve already attached the waistband to the skirt but it seems to me that the waist curbe is not a very natural one. Maybe it’s because my skirt is all in one piece, maybe it’s because I got a little confused between inches and centimetres and ended up with a generous seam allowance. I’m thinking should I curve clip the seam allowances? I’m making a muslin first, because I wanted to try if I liked the style on me, so no drama. I’m loving the sew along, I feel like I get so much better results following your instructions than when I invent my own, haha. Thank you.

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Casey October 3, 2011 at 06:23

Glad that these instructions are helping a bit, Anna! ;) The waistband will curve a bit when it’s sewn on; don’t clip the seam allowances however. Once you put the skirt on, the natural drape of the skirt itself should straighten out any curving on the waistband. All of the waistbands on my circle skirts look a bit odd until I put the skirt on! ;)

♥ Casey

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Jesslyn October 4, 2011 at 00:30

Help! About an hour ago, I finished pinning the waistband to the skirt, but there’s no overlap! I had my husband help me measure the waistband again and check my math, and it all looks correct. For a 30″ waist, I have a 31.5″ finished waistband. So I SHOULD have a 1.5″ overlap! but I don’t. The edges actually just barely touch. So what do I do now? Could my waistline have stretched during the course of working on the project? Do I cut a new waistband? I don’t really want a bigger skirt.
My other thought was, maybe I took too little of a seam allowance when putting in my zipper. (Kind of looks that way not that I’m examining every tiny detail.) Could I take out the zipper, sew up the L side seam, see if the waistband now fits better, and put a slash zipper in the back?
I can’t believe this is happening. grrrrrrrr :(

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Casey October 4, 2011 at 06:33

There should only be a 3/4″ overlap with the 1 1/2″ additional. Could it be possible your waistline on the skirt stretched a bit? Be sure to measure that before you cut a new (larger) wasitband! To remedy the problem, you could always take a little extra by easing the waistline into the waistband. Just run a couple rows of basting stitches within the seam allowance along the waistline of the skirt, and use those to ease in the excess fullness. The object is not to create gathers, but to smoothly take up the bit of extra that seems to have been worked into the skirt waistline.

Hope that helps!

♥ Casey

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Jesslyn October 5, 2011 at 15:14

Well, I pulled out the zipper, pinned up the L seam as if there were no zipper, pinned in the waistband and I had a 1.5″ overlap! So I put it BACK in and the waistband worked perfectly! I must have been in the bizarro Bermuda Triangle of zippers.

All I need is my horsehair braid to arrive, make the petticoat after you put up the tutorial and I’m good to go! It’s gorgeous! You’re the best, Casey.

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Christie June 5, 2012 at 21:35

Thanks for these instructions – I am making a “wearable muslin” 3/4 circle skirt out of stash fabric, and I might actually wear it TO WORK. Next stop, red plaid wool fabulousness. I am really pleased with how this is turning out. (FWIW, I cut a hem facing based on instructions at the Oliver & S website – pretty great.)

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Jo July 25, 2012 at 22:28

Hmm, you say cut the interfacing to half the width of the waistband? So have you trimmed the seam allowances off on top of that? The photos are showing the interfacing is less than half the width of the waistband. How much do we trim off?
Hmm what am I not getting here….

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Sue September 24, 2012 at 12:37

Hope you can help me on a project; am making a 3/4 circle skirt with waistband, out of a somewhat stiff waterproof fabric. It does not “gather”, and I am at a loss how to attach the straight waistband to the curve of the waist. I may have to do without it entirely!
Can you help me?

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Arantxa October 23, 2012 at 05:20

Thank you for this post, it is the most clear and esay to understand I have found so far, save my project I almost give up triying to attach a waist band.
Great!

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bettina March 4, 2013 at 21:19

i have stayed on this computer looking for a demonstratin of the whole waistband. honestly i wish i found this site earlier. it was a real big help:)

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Mary March 26, 2013 at 13:06

Casey, this tute is as plain as can be expressed, and I am glaaad that I found it. It clears my head on putting on a waistband. However, I am trying to put a waistband on a man’s trouser, and was looking for a tute on getting it done the right way. You ever used waistband curtain or snugtex before? Any help would be appreciated. Mary

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