two-piece menswear-style waistband

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've got a thing for a good ol' 2-piece menswear-style waistband, even for kids. By two-piece, I mean seamed at the top with an outer piece and a facing, and for extra credit, binding on the edge of the facing. Sure it would be easier to throw some elastic in a casing and call it a day, but sometimes something more tailored is called for. I've started doing a 2-piece waist on my recycled shirt skirts and tablecloth skirts.
I noticed my daughter's twill uniform pants from Lands' End have this treatment. The twill is thick, so they did the facing out of pink oxford cloth and the pocket linings out of pink stripe oxford shirting instead of self fabric or plain white, even though I'm sure it cost them more to do. I love the idea of haberdashery details on the inside even if none of it shows from the outside. You just know it's there when you're wearing it. It's a psychological thing, mostly, but it does make for a nice flat waistband, even with button elastic in the back of it.
If your pattern is designed to be a 1-piece foldover waistband, you can make it into 2 pieces by cutting in half lengthwise and adding seam allowance onto the edges. I trim 1/8" to 1/4" off the facing piece because it will be overhanging the waist seam on the inside just a tad too much if I don't. If it's a fixed waistband, but you want to add button elastic, just add 2-3" worth of ease to the length of the pattern piece. I lightly interface both pieces with fusible interfacing. I cut the interfacing pieces minus seam allowance so I'm not bulking up the seams.
I cut a 1" strip of cute coordinating fabric to be used for binding. It can be cut on the straight grain instead of the bias because it won't need any stretch to finish the straight facing piece. I run it through my handy dandy 1/2" bias tape maker to get a nice perfect piece of binding.
It looks super professional if you sew the binding onto the waist facing piece using a bias binding foot. They are not universal- you have to get one for your specific machine.  The one I got for my Babylock is adjustable to handle different widths of binding.
Otherwise, just be really careful to be straight with your stitching or even baste the binding on by hand first.
Next, I sew the top edge of the facing to the top edge of the waistband (right sides together), going straight across and not turning the corners at the ends. I press the seam flat toward the facing piece and trim the seam allowance in graduated layers. After that I backstitch the seam allowance down onto the facing side, close to the seam. This ensures that the seam rolls perfectly and firmly to the inside of the waist. Important, especially if you wanted to get fancy and make your whole facing out of a contrast color.
If you are using button elastic, mark 3/4" buttonholes centered in your facing about 1 1/2" away (toward the back) from the side seam markings. This keeps the elastic & buttons  toward the back where any bulk won't be visible. I always have such paranoia when it comes to slashing open the buttonholes. I'm afraid I'll overshoot the end of the buttonhole and ruin my almost-finished garment, so I put a pin at the end to stop the seam ripper if it decides to keep going. attach buttons 1/2" away from the buttonhole, toward the front.
When attaching to the body of the garment, allow the waistband to extend enough past the body to account for seam allowances and any extensions the waistband has (like for a button). Then flip the waistband inside out the close up the ends. Trim the corners and seam allowances on those edges. Flip right side out and press the daylights out of it.

Then comes my favorite part- "crack-stitching" or "stitching in the ditch". I didn't photgraph this part, but I've blogged about it in the past here. Pin your facing flat with the corners tucked in like above. Turn the garment right side out. To close the waist you will stitch in the seam crack where the body meets the waistband. You won't even see the stitches on the outside when you're through. An edge joining foot makes it easier, but it's not difficult to aim your needle right into the crack. Finally, feed your elastic through the waist through the buttonholes.
Not your average run-of-the-mill waistband!

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