How to Sew an Adjustable Waistband

Hi! How would you like to know how to sew an adjustable waist into the pants you make? Here is a complete tutorial, with way too many photos on how I sew an adjustable waistband. This is the typical waistband I use in all the jeans and pants I sell in my shop on Etsy.


 Supplies you'll need

 Step 1: 

Attach interfacing to the wrong side of the waistband.

Step 2: 

Mark the center of the waistband, and then measure 4" to both sides of center and mark. These markings are where you'll make your buttonholes for the elastic openings.

This spacing works well for size 4T. You should check this measurement on your child to note where you want the buttons to sit. I don't like them to sit on my daughters hips, that would be uncomfortable for her. I like the elastic to come around her hips to the front - it gives plenty of room for the elastic to stretch and doesn't bunch odd in the back of the pants. If you're confused, please ask questions.
Find center of waistband and make marks 4" on either side. This is the location of your elastic opening.

Step 3:

Fold and press the waistband in half widthwise, then mark the position of your buttonholes. Start buttonhole 3/8" down from center fold. Sew a 7/8" buttonhole (slightly larger than your elastic).

 Step 4:

Using a seam ripper, carefully open your buttonhole.

 Step 5:

On the waistband edge that does not have the buttonholes, fold under 1/4" seam allowance and press (as shown). This will come in handy when you edge stitch the waistband later on - trust me on this.

 Step 6:

Fold the waistband, right sides together. Sew, with the appropriate seam allowance. Turn the waistband right side out and press seam open.

Step 7:

With the right side of the pants up, pin the right side of the waistband to the wrong side of the pants, matching the center back of the waistband to the center back of the pants. Make sure the buttonhole side of the waistband is on top (as shown below).

Step 8:

From the right side of the pants, sew the pinned waistband to the pants, with the required seam allowance.

 Step 9:

Press the waistband up, and fold it on the fold line toward the pants right side. 

Step 10:

Fold the free raw edge of the waistband under 1/4" and pin this edge to the pants front and topstitch through all layers to secure it.

Step 11:

Edgestitch along the top fold line of the waistand.

Step 12:

Sew buttons on waistband in front of the buttonhole openings (as shown).

 Step 13:

Cut a length of elastic that will run from one buttonhole to the other. Mine is 18", add 1" for seam allowance.
 Fold elastic ends under twice, and sew to secure.

Step 14:

Using a safety pin attached to one end of the elastic, insert the elastic through one of the buttonhole openings in the waistband and out of the other opening. 

Step 15:

My latest trick.... after many many sewn keep the elastic from turning inside the waistband casing, stitch a line along the center back seam to secure the elastic in place. The elastic will still stretch from either side, but this will keep the elastic from pulling out of the pants or turning. 

And you're done!

These pants are now available in my shop! Stop in and support handmade!


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