Let me introduce to you Emily Adams of Dressing the Role! She kindly put together a tutorial for us as part of our Tutorial Contest. Thanks for taking the time to teach us your elastic sewing methods Emily!
A tutorial by Emily Adams
Want to make a pair of Comox Trunks with a fabric covered elastic waistband but aren’t sure how? You’re in luck! There are several different ways to do this – Morgan covers one way in her tutorial. I like to use a slightly different method that sews the elastic directly to the waistband, eliminating twisted elastic and creating a nice, clean finish.
So, first off, a little info about elastic – not all elastics are created equal! You want to find an elastic that you can sew through without damaging it. A knitted elastic would be good for this project, since it’s not too bulky but is safe to sew through. Be careful not to use braided elastic – this stuff is cheaper, but will lose its elasticity when sewn through. A quick way to tell the difference between these two elastics is that the braided elastic will get thinner when stretched, but knitted elastic will stay the same width. For more detailed info about elastic, visit this helpful site: The Sewing Directory.
So, that being said, here’s my little tutorial:
1. Cut a piece of fabric the circumference of your trunks plus seam allowances and twice the width of your elastic plus generous seam allowances – I’d give yourself a good inch and a half. This will give you a little “wiggle room” when attaching the waistband to the trunks. Note: unlike in Morgan’s tutorial, here we’re going to make our waistband out of a single strip of fabric instead of two.
2. Sew the short ends of your waistband using a narrow zig zag.
3. Trim seam allowances to 1/4″ and press. This helps reduce bulk.
4. Pre-stretch your elastic before cutting it. This ensures that the elastic won’t stretch out too much after the first few wearings, as elastic tends to stretch out a little the first time it is used. Then cut your elastic to the exact size you want for the finished waistband – do NOT add seam allowances!
5. Cut a small swatch of woven fabric (3″ by 3″ should be enough). Sew one end of the elastic to the swatch using a regular zigzag stitch; go over this seam several times for reinforcement.
6. Butt the other end of the elastic right up against the attached end and sew several times using a regular zig zag. Make sure the elastic is not twisted!
7. Trim off the excess swatch fabric. This method helps eliminate bulk at the center back seam.
8. Fold your waistband in half lengthwise and sandwich the elastic right in the middle. Try to match up the center back of each to avoid a strange lumpy spot in the middle of your waistband.
9. Carefully pin the waistband to the trunks. Make sure to mark and match the center front and center back to evenly distribute the fabric.
10. You may notice at this point that your elastic loop is a little smaller than your waistband loop. That’s ok – you will just need to stretch the elastic a tiny bit as you sew. This will slightly gather the waistband, but that’s ok – it’s just underwear!
11. Sew the waistband to the trunks, stitching through the edge of the elastic as you sew. To do this, pinch out the waistband seam allowances with your right hand so that the elastic is butted right up against the center of the waistband – you want to avoid having a gap between the fabric and the elastic at the top of your finished waistband (and this is why you gave yourself a little extra – to leave room for your fingers!).
At the same time, use your left hand to slightly stretch your elastic, as discussed above, if necessary. This is a bit of a juggling act, so take it slow!
If you are using your serger for this, you want to be very careful not to cut through the elastic! Try to line up your trunks so that the edge of the elastic is just to the left of the serger knife. This will ensure that you stitch through the elastic but don’t cut it.
If you are using your regular machine, sew one line of regular sized zigzag stitches to attach the waistband to the trunks, sewing through the edge of the elastic as you go. Then sew another row of zigzags directly to the right as a seam finish (and as a second line of protection just in case!). Trim the excess fabric right up to the second row of zigzags.
And you’re done!
You may notice that the gathering on my waistband isn’t even – that’s because I didn’t stretch my elastic evenly as I sewed it. But no biggie, you can’t even tell when it’s being worn, and husbands (and other dudes :)) tend to be pretty forgiving if their clothes aren’t perfect!
Thank you for the great tutorial Emily! I look forward to trying out your techniques on my next pair of trunks!