Skirt Sew-Along Part Two ~ Sewing the Waistband

on June 9 | in Sew-Alongs, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns, Summer Skirt Sew-Along | by | with 56 Comments

Kathie’s back with part two of our Skirt Sew-Along. Part One includes a materials list and instructions for preparing your pattern and cutting the fabric. Today’s instructions include the use of 12-18 inches of 1/2″ elastic, which we missed on our supply list yesterday. We apologize for the oversight! Today you’ll learn how to sew the waistband, including the use of elastic thread to shirr the back waistband. It’s a really fun and satisfying process!

SummerSkirtUnderskirt.jpg title=

Shirred back waistband.

Sewing Waistband Front & Back:
1. Place the two front waistband pieces right sides together, sew along the TOP edge, using a 5/8 seam allowance.
2. Press seam allowance open.

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Front waistband, sewn & pressed.

3. Refold waistband so the right sides are facing out, and press the top sewn seam.

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Back waistband.

4. Repeat the process, sewing the two back waistband pieces together and pressing well.

Shirring Back Waistband:
5. Wind an empty bobbin with elastic thread, making sure not to stretch the elastic thread when you are winding.

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Winding elastic thread on the bobbin.

6. Place the bobbin with elastic thread in your bobbin case, and lower the tension on your top thread just a little bit.

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Elastic thread in bobbin case, regular thread through the needle.

7. Test your tension on a piece of scrap fabric to make sure your machine is shirring properly. You may need to play around with your top tension a bit to get it right. You want the elastic thread to gather the back fabric but still have the ability to stretch back out to the original size.

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Sewing elastic thread.

8. Begin shirring your back waistband 3/4” down from the top seam.

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Rows of elastic thread.

9. Run 6 more lines of shirring. Each line should be approx 1/4” apart.

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Finished shirred back waistband.

Adding Stabilizing Elastic:
10. I found that the fit of the skirt was dramatically improved if I ran a length of narrow 1/2” elastic through the channel that is created between the seam at the top of the waistband and the first line of shirring. I used a 12” piece of elastic for a 21 1/2” back waistband piece.

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Adding elastic band to top of back waistband.

11. Stitch down the short ends of your back waistband to secure all shirring and elastic in place.

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Back waistband with elastic band.

Joining Front & Back Waistband:
12. Open up front waistband.
13. Place right sides of waistbands together, aligning the front of the back waistband (the side that does not show the elastic thread) with the front of the front waistband (choose a side- they should both basically be the same).
14. Your front waistband should still be flared open and the piece that will be the back of the front waistband should open up and above the aligned front and back waistband pieces.

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Piecing together front & back waistbands.

15. Pin together your short ends. Match top seams. You will still have one half of your front waistband ABOVE the junction of your matched up top seams.
16. Sew a 5/8” seam allowance.
17. Fold the opened up back side of the front waistband to the back side of the back waistband, sandwiching the back waistband in between.
18. Pin and sew 5/8” seam allowance.
19. Repeat for the other side of the waistband.

SummerSkirtUnderskirt.jpg title=

Front & back waistbands, sewn together.

20. Flip the back waistband out from being sandwiched between the front and back of the front waistband and you should have a nice full waistband, front and back joined. You should iron the waistband and gathering, otherwise it’s just too poofy! Take some steam and a hot iron to it and it will keep its stretch without looking like a tutu.

Tomorrow: Sewing the skirt!


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56 Responses to Skirt Sew-Along Part Two ~ Sewing the Waistband

  1. alex says:

    Hi all, I just successfully shirred the waistband, after several failed attempts (3 or 4 bobbins full of elastic!)

    The problem was my drop in bobbin, on a newer computerized machine. (Brother CE-4000) The thread is also thicker than my bobbin case usually takes. The instructions here helped out a lot:

    You’ve got to take off the faceplate (on mine, the plastic part around the bobbin case, not the metal presser foot area), and manually catch the thread on a metal tension hook that is near you, at 6o’clock. Then manually raise the bobbin thread by turning the needle wheel while holding onto the needle thread. You’ll catch a loop of elastic and pull it out through the top. Replace the covers, and you can start sewing. Top tension at 5.5 and stitch length at 4.

    Also, hitting the shirring with steam was like magic. I thought I wasn’t getting enough shirring until I steamed it, and it shrunk by probably 40% more.

  2. jimena says:

    I made it!!!
    I had some old old fabric at home and after seeing this, I decided to make this skirt… soon I will post pictures of it in my blog
    thanx for the tutorial
    I can say I had loads of trouble when sewing the elastic thread… but I survived!
    greeting from Peru 😉

  3. karen cole says:

    great idea–love the look it gives the skirt

  4. c.michele says:

    Perfect. As always, this site has exactly what I am looking for!

  5. Brookiej says:

    Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Joke says:

    I think I want to have the “too poofy” version of this 😉

  7. Anna R. says:

    Never mind – re read directions more closely – normal thread on top – got it! : )

  8. Anna R. says:

    Having trouble getting the elastic thread through the eye of my needle. Tried three different sizes… anyone have ideas?! Help! I am loving this project but am stuck!

  9. Krystina says:

    Any tips for working with elastic thread? I have tried it before but the elastic thread snaps when I try to sew it.

  10. Vanessa says:

    I always thought this shirring was much more difficult and never dared! Once i finish the dress i am doing now I will try this skirt.

  11. sang says:

    Great idea about using the elastic at the top!

  12. Ramona Burke says:

    This is a little too poofy for my body type, but I’m totally using this waistband technique to make myself a gored skirt!

  13. 4vs1 says:

    Great tutorial!

  14. DebbieKL says:

    I plan to try elastic thread for the first time. This will help!

  15. Joy says:

    I love this technique! everything looks so dreamy with it!

  16. ~Helena~ says:

    Nice Thanks.

  17. Llamabean says:

    This is a great tutorial, wonderful pictures make everything very clear!

  18. Michelle says:

    Love these instructions. I, too have elastic thread just waiting to be put to good use!

  19. Barbara says:

    Sorry. Me again. And does the stitch length nedd to be wide? How wide? Thanks again!

  20. Barbara says:

    Hi! Nice skirt!
    About the smocking bit. When you sew the second row, do you have to stretch the fabric first, or just sew it with the gathered fabric. Difficult to explain but I hope you understand what I mean. On the photo where you are sewing the next rows the fabric looks stretched out/straight.

  21. Deb Cameron says:

    too cute!

  22. graciegreeneyes says:

    Having the pictures to look at is fabulous – great tutorial. I think I might be able to pull this off

  23. alisha says:

    I love elastic thread. Such a clever idea to just use it on the back of the waistband.

  24. kathie says:

    beth- try loosening up your top tension. some machines just have a harder time with elastic thread in the bobbin. if you can, pull out the manual for your machine and see if you can’t loosen your bobbin tension a bit, as well.

  25. Amy says:

    I’ve bought elastic thread and wanted to learn how to use it. Thanks for the info on how to use it. Maybe I will make a skirt for the kiddo since I’m on the expanding waistline plan – you know the 9 month baby making plan. Or maybe I will put this on my ever increasing to do list for later.

  26. Rochelle says:

    Great shirring technique! Hope to try it tonight.

  27. Trish B. says:

    I am following!

  28. Christine says:

    I need to go shopping for some elastric thread. Good tutorial.

  29. Beth says:

    I’m trying to shirr some fabric, but it’s not gathering up enough. Advice? I hand wound my bobbin very loosely and am using a basting stitch.

  30. Ramona says:

    I think this would be so cute on my daughter. Thanks for the tute.

  31. qsogirl says:

    This reminds me that I want to make a shirred dress with elastic thread! So fun!

  32. kate C. says:

    I tried shiring for the first time a few weeks ago for dresses for my daughters. It worked okay, though I had to use really long stitches and stitch really slowly. I didn’t adjust the upper tension though and my machine is from 1953.

  33. Kristy says:

    elastic thread has always made me weary…thanks for making it look a bit easier than I have made it!

  34. Addy says:

    Neat! I’ve never seen this technique before!

  35. Amy says:

    Wind the elastic by hand. I’m as new as you get to sewing but I tried this the past weekend for a dress for my daughter and it worked wonderfully.

  36. sy says:

    i’ve been wanting to try out shirring, the results look great

  37. Jackie H says:

    What a great touch with the shirring on the waistband – I really like it! 🙂

  38. Marcia W. says:

    Hmmmm. My old sewing machine may burp on the elastic thread, but could modify for traditional casing.

  39. I never would have thought of putting the stabilizing elastic in the top, I’ll have to remember that for future projects too.

  40. Jenny says:

    Yay! So helpful!!

  41. Kelli says:

    I’ve got elastic thread sitting in my drawer waiting on me to get around to using it…sounds like this will be the project. Right after I get my sewing room cleaned up from the last project! 😉

  42. carli spielman says:

    I’ve never used elastic thread before – do you have to wind it onto the bobin by hand or can you use your machine to do it?

    Thanks for this tutorial!!

  43. Mama Lusco says:

    Heading to my machine now!

  44. Ginger says:

    While I think this is a cute skirt I don’t think it would be very flattering on me. But I am enjoying reading how to do it.

  45. Serena says:

    I never would have thought of the stabilizing elastic. That makes all the difference!

  46. Bonnie C says:

    I love the elastic in the back so you have a nice clean looking front. And I do love sewing with elastic thread!

  47. Jennifer S. says:

    Wow… I have never thought it’d be possible for me to do that. Cool, thanks for the instructions!

  48. katie says:

    Soooo nice! Easy without looking lightweight. I love it.

  49. kathie says:

    yes, easy and perfect to turn into a little girl dress. just add a tie to go from the front around the back of the neck and voila!

  50. Judi B says:

    Thanks for great tips.

  51. PeachRainbow says:

    Thank you!

  52. Doris says:

    Great Tute!

  53. Tong says:

    Great idea with the stabilizing elastic!

  54. I’ve never used elastic thread, I should give this a try.

  55. Heather C says:

    This looks like fun. Need to get some elastic thread.

  56. BreannaS says:

    I can see a dress in my daughters future using this technique!

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