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Elastic sides give waist a custom touch

Question: Please repeat your instructions on adding elastic to the sides of a waistband. I have always wanted to be able to do this to my patterns, and a friend told me you had once shown how this is done in your column. _ Mrs. F.B., Camas, Wash. Answer: This is a custom touch that is easy to add to a pattern, but it can't be added to every pattern. "Partial" elastic is not meant to be a substitute for "all-around" elastic, so your pattern will need an opening somewhere. Elastic at the sides does not make it possible to slip the garment on and off without an opening of some sort.

Always select a pattern that is clean at the sides. Pleats do not hang correctly from a shirred waistband, so omit any pleats in the elasticized area. Also omit pockets and zippers from this area. They would cause too much bulk.

If your favorite pattern has one or more of these details at the side, you might want to consider placing the elastic across the back instead.

With your pattern selected, you are ready to begin. The inside of your finished band will look slightly different from ready-mades, but that is only because the equipment used in the garment industry is different from yours. There won't be any difference from the outside at all.

Preparing the waistband

Alter your waistband pattern by marking a section for the elastic that extends 2 inches to 2{ inches on either side of the side seam (shaded area in the illustration). Cut these areas out from your pattern, adding seam allowances to all new edges.

Preparing the elastic inserts

Illustration 1

1. Cut out one long piece of fabric the width of the waistband and about 15 inches long. Fold right sides out and stitch it together along the bottom seamline. The ends are left open.

2. Thread elastic through the band until it is flush with one end. Stitch across this end to hold the elastic in place.

3. Pull the elastic out through the open end until you have the amount of shirring you want. Do not overstretch. Stitch across the remaining open end and trim away any excess elastic.

Illustration 2

4. Shirr the elastic by sewing rows of stitching down the length of the strip. Hold the strip taut both front and back so the fabric is stretched out flat. Place the rows no more than \ inch apart.

Illustration 3

5. Construct your waistband ends (of the original pattern) by folding them in half, wrong sides together. Finish as the pattern suggests. Turn right sides out and press.

6. Fold the middle section in half, right sides out, and press.

7. Cut two sections of shirring 4 to 5 inches long, plus seam allowances, from your strip and sew them into place in the band.

8. Trim the seam allowances so they don't show above the finished band. Edge stitch the seam allowances toward the plain section of the band. Place this edge stitching 1/16 inch from the seam.

Illustrations 4 and 5

9. Apply the waistband to the skirt. Turn the seam down into the skirt and stitch directly into the waist seamline again to anchor the seam.

Note: If you would like slight easing in the skirt itself across the hips, you can do one of two things:

1. When cutting out the skirt, add \ inch at the waist side seam, tapering back to the original cutting line about 3 inches down.

2. Add the \ inch easing at the waist by simply graduating the side seamline out \ inch as you sew the seam.

In either case, the elasticized portion of the band is stretched as it is sewn to the skirt.

There you have it. The seam allowances (which will show on the inside of the band) are the differences I referred to earlier. However, once you have used this technique I think you will agree with me that nothing has suffered in the finished look.

Questions may be addressed to: Sew What's New, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, 4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112.