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Tips & Techniques > RTW Elastic waistline

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Posted by: Gigi Louis

About Gigi Louis starstarstarstar
Member since: 4/4/02
Reviews: 77 (tips: 16)
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Posted on: 11/26/02 9:18 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 9 people   Needs More Info by 1 people   Very Helpful by 31 people   
Ever since I started using this technique about ten years ago I haven't used a traditional casing. This method gives a nice bulk-free finish like that found in RTW. You will need to trim off the seam allowance of the casing edge before you begin.

Most important: you will need an elastic that can be stitched through such as Textile Studios elastic, Stretch-Rite Sport Elastic or pajama elastic. Basically, if you stretch the elastic and you can see through it, it will work. It's imperative to know how much shorter than your waist you like your elastic. You can use the same length that you've been using in a casing or just pin some elastic around your waist and wear it around the house for awhile. I generally like the Sport Elastic to be 6" smaller than my waist and the TS elastic about 4".

Stitch the elastic into a circle. I just butt the raw edges and run a 3-step zigzag back and forth until it's secure. The pajama elastic may have to be seamed traditionally as some of them have horizontal elastic threads that may pull out otherwise.

Next, quarter-mark both the elastic and the self-casing on your garment. Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the garment matching the quarter-marks. Next serge the elastic onto the garment using a long stitch length (I use 4) being careful not to cut the elastic and to remove the pins as you get to them. You will be stretching the elastic as you go - good exercise for the arms too.

Before I turn the elastic in, I usually tack a small piece of ribbon at the back to help me when I get dressed. Next, fold the casing over the elastic and pin at the quarter marks once again. You will be doing your first row of stitching from the wrong side. Stitch on the needle line of your serging, stretching the elastic and making sure that it is very taught in the casing. I use my machine's extension table and use my left forearm/elbow to pull the fabric tight as I'm sewing.

Lastly, stitch one or two more rows of topstitching as desired and then lightly steam the elastic.

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shadowsewer said... (4/11/14 7:42 PM) Reply
"Next, fold the casing over the elastic and pin at the quarter marks once again. You will be doing your first row of stitching from the wrong side. Stitch on the needle line of your serging, stretching the elastic and making sure that it is very taught in the casing." A bit unclear to me. A picture would be worth a thousand more words ;)
genjii7 said... (4/8/11 0:10 AM) Reply
"serge the elastic onto the garment...." Where? Once or more times? Is this first step really "just" to position the elastic INSIDE the casing? And I don't have a serger, so would my zig-zag-especially-for-elastic stitch suffice?
TalyQ said... (2/26/09 4:45 PM) Reply
I have tried this several times (without the top-stitching, just tacking at seams), but I have also seen something else in my knit elastic waist and used it also. Let me try to explain: The elastic is marked in quarter and then stitched (I don't have a serger, so I just zig-zag it) to the top edge from the RIGHT side. Then the elastic is turned to the inside and with it a bit of the fabric that has been sewn to it. So, from the inside, you can still see some of the elastic uncovered, but on the top the stitching is covered by a small part of the outer fabric. I hope that is understandable. Then the elastic is tacked to the side (back) seams. I have used this succesfully on knit skirts.
Erin D said... (10/22/08 0:09 AM) Reply
I love this tip! I just tried it out and I immediately can see how much closer it looks to a RTW waistband. Thanks!!
Yvonski said... (1/11/07 2:16 AM) Reply
Haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like great advice.
rose4524 said... (2/11/06 2:36 PM) Reply
Um, silly question...what does it mean to 'quarter-mark'? Thanks!
mimiok said... (2/8/06 10:28 AM) Reply
Do you topstitch the top of the casing and the bottom of the casing? Nancy Zieman recommends this. I haven't tried it, just wondering. Mimi
Oscar said... (9/24/04 5:45 PM) Reply
This is a good idea. Another way that works if you don't have a serger is -- sew the elastic into a circle that fits your waist comfortably, turn the pants or skirt down over the elastic far enough that you have enough room to run a line of stitches. and working the material smoothe as you sew. Stitch all the way around. When done, pull on the waist band a few times to even out the waistband material and then pulling the material so it lays flat , sew a couple of rows of stitches. This will keep the elastic from rolling.
Maggie1 said... (8/22/04 3:26 PM) Reply
love this technique.Just used it for the first time on a pair of pj. bottoms and will use thisfrom now on .
Debbie Spriggs said... (12/3/02 2:16 AM) Reply
I love it--arm excercise while sewing! Just need more sewing tips to excercise the rest of me! lol!
Iris said... (11/28/02 4:12 PM) Reply
Gigi, Thanks for this Technique, it's great ก....No more elastic rolled in my clothes กกก .
LindaP said... (11/27/02 8:33 AM) Reply
Gigi, Thanks for the ribbon tip! I use this method too (but I just had a "Duh" moment when I read your tip about the ribbon, this will save a lot of dressing time). And Georgene, one of my favorite RTW pants has your vertical tacking technique. They are also tacked (actually stiched in the ditch) at the front and back darts. I want to try this with a zipperless, knit pair of Euros.
Georgene said... (11/26/02 3:20 PM) Reply
I love this, as the elastic doesn't roll! This is also a great method for the 'no topstitch' invisible waistband look: turn your waistband in, as if you were going to topstitch, and then just tack vertically at the sideseams about 3/8". This works best for skirts with a centerback seam so you have 3 tacks total. With pants of course, there's not that problem.
comocosews said... (11/26/02 11:37 AM) Reply
I use this method, also. I don't have a serger but I have a serger-like stitch on my sewing machine I use. You can use this method for skirts or pants that have added elastic waistbands also. Just add the total width of the waistband minus the seam allowances to the skirt or pant front and back pcs. when cutting out material. Then proceed in the same way.
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