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The Two-Piece Waistband

A center back seam is the secret to making that favorite pants pattern fit perfectly— every time
Threads #102 - Sept./Oct. 2002

Nowadays, every pair of pants I make is comfortable and fits perfectly in the waist. But this wasn’t always the case. Until I started making pants with a two-piece waistband, each pair I made with my favorite pattern (altered to fit me to a “T”) fit differently in the waist and hips, depending on the fabric I used. Sound familiar? 

I quickly realized that the pattern didn’t need a major overhaul every time I used it; each version I made just needed a little finetuning. But I could never be sure how the garment would fit until the waistband was complete. Then to make adjustments, I’d have to remove and redo the entire waistband, which was frustrating, to say the least. So I set out to find an easier way to fine-tune the fit during construction—with the waistband in place. 

Look to center back 

My solution was an adaptation of the standard man’s trouser waistband, made in two pieces and seamed at the center back. I added up to 158 inches to the new center back waistband seam allowance (s.a.) and widened the allowance on the seam of the back pants to match. I also changed the standard construction sequence to sew the center back waistband seam last. This allowed me to try on the almost-completed garment and tweak the fit through the waist and hips by simply adjusting the back seam. This approach works on pants with fly fronts; side zippers; or side-front,
inside-the-pocket zippers. 

Make room in the pattern 

Before you start adapting a pants pattern, make sure it fits well, and that the waistband equals the body’s waist measurement plus 1 inch for ease, plus seam allowances and the closure overlap (if the waistband calls for one). Then follow the steps in…

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