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enidshapiro | Posted in General Discussion on
Two questions:  When cutting out a waistband, it’s always crossgrain, yes?
Also, can someone describe to me the technique called “crowding.”  It’s used to ease a waistband onto a skirt.


  1. CareEare | | #1

    I have made waistbands that were  both cross and with the grain.  It depended on how much fabric I had.  The waistbands came out successful both ways, for me.  I am sure that if you use the correct interfacing that it shouldn't matter which way the grain is, unless you need to match it to the skirt bottom.

    Crowding, of what I know via Sandra Betzina is a technique you use to help ease in some of the fullness.  I have used it on sleeve caps, but can also be use for waistlines.  I believe it is detailed in her Power Sewing book (p 150).  If you don't have the book, it goes like this:

    Set your machine to a longer stitch length, I use 3.5 stitch length.  If you have a walking foot or IDF take it off or disengage it.  Lay your fabric in the machine and stitch to the inside of the seam allowance and begin to stitch, but place your finger behind the presser foot and allow the fabric to bunch up between the back of the foot and your finger.  Remove your finger every 2-3 inches sewn and allow the fabric to clear the area and place your finger next to the presser foot again.

    You may want to practice on some scraps before you attempt to do it for real on your garment.  It takes some practice. The longer the stitch length, the more it will "gather" in the fabric.

    Hope this helps you!

    1. enidshapiro | | #4

      Thank you!  I'm going to try it tonight.

  2. FitnessNut | | #2

    Technically speaking, a waistband should always be cut on the lengthwise grain (the grain should run down the length of the band). The reason for this is that the strongest, most stable grain of the fabric is along the warp and you want your waistband to be stable. Having said that, if you are short on fabric, it is acceptable to cut it on the crosswise grain. Just be aware that you may experience some stretching and will have to be careful about selecting an interfacing. If it is a more unstable fabric, a silk dioupionni for example, a waistband cut crosswise could split under any stress. Something to be aware of.

    1. enidshapiro | | #3

      Thank you for responding. 

      Do you mean the waistband should run in the SAME direction as the selvedge?

      How about cuffs?

      1. FitnessNut | | #5

        "Do you mean the waistband should run in the SAME direction as the selvedge?"

        Yes....in fact, you can use the selvedge as the finished inside edge of the waistband, as long as it doesn't pull or curl. Instead of turning it under, pin it from the right side with the seamlines matching and stitch in the ditch.

        Cuffs aren't under the same amount of stress as a waistband, so the grain isn't as vital. You can cut them either on the lengthwise or crosswise grain or even on the bias. Usually, however, they are cut with the lengthwise grain running across the width of the cuff (it then runs down the arm, just like the sleeve).

    2. KathleenFasanella | | #8

      I don't mean to be quarrelsome but I disagree... First of all, from an engineering standpoint, the weft is the more stable element of the grain because the threads are woven under a lot less pressure than the lengthwise grain. The lengthwise grain threads stretch! That's one reason why clothing shrinks more in length than width. Secondly, I've been an outspoken critic of industry's practice of cutting waistbands along the selvedge (it's cheaper). Since those threads shrink more, the waistband ends up being smaller in relation to the rest of the garment once it's been washed a few times. If you've ever wondered why the waistband of your jeans has gotten proportionately smaller than the hip measure, that's why. If you'd like a longer, more in-depth discussion of precisely this topic, go to http://www.kathleenfasanella.com/waistbands.html

      1. HeartFire | | #9

        That is a facinating article,but for the home sewer, if we pre-shrink the fabric then there shouldn't be a problem with the waistband cut on the lengthwise grain, which does not strech like the crosswise grain. Although, if stabilized well with interfacing, the crosswise grain works just fine.


        1. KathleenFasanella | | #10

          I'd recommend interfacing the waistband regardless of grain orientation.

  3. kayl | | #6

    Crowding is the same as "ease plus stitching". How I do it is to set your machine to a longish straight stitch, and put the fabric under the presser foot; park your left thumb directly behind the presser foot, hard. Stitch, letting the fabric pile up between the presser foot and your thumb; release when you've got too big a pile, then put your thumb back down and continue sewing.

    What you'll see is that you get myriad tiny "pleats" that shorten the seam line. Match the various dots and notches of what you've just ease stitched to whatever it must be joined to, and stitch again, this time normally.

    You'll find this a good technique whenever you've got a few inches of ease to "gather", but you don't want a gathered look. Some fabrics

    will cooperate more than others. Very resilient fabrics, like some

    wools, will often not ease as much as you think they will. Grain line can influence the amount of ease you get with this technique, too.

    One of the places crowding is often used is in setting sleeves, particularly dropped or shirt sleeves (it's less successful in a set in sleeve with a large amount of ease, but it can be done in a lot of fabrics.)


  4. suesew | | #7

    You can also get some of the same effect of "crowding" by putting the fuller, longer piece of fabric on the bottom against the feed teeth and the shorter piece on top. If you hold on to the top piece - giving a little resistance - the feed teeth will grab the lower fabric and ease it to the upper fabric. This works especially well on waistbands.

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