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eased waisbands

melanie | Posted in Patterns on

I have always made my own skirts, making either the tailored waistband (supported fabric) or the elasticised type, with soft fabrics and jerseys. Lately I notice on readymade skirts the waistband in front appears to be the former but at the back the section between the side seam and the dart position is gathered, both skirt and waistband. Does anyone know of a modern pattern which handles the waistband is this way – Vogue perhaps? or has Threads ever featured it. The slight “give” around the waist I imagine would be very comfortable to wear. What alteration could I make on my conventional patterns (nearly all pencil or straight) to adjust them to this way of construction? I would welcome any suggestions. Thank you.  


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    When I wore a lot of skirts to work, I always used this type of waistband: flat in the front and elasticized in the back.  I think they were called "half-fitted" or "half-elastic" waistbands.  It is very easy to adapt any skirt pattern with a waistband for this very comfortable and flattering waistband.  I've even modified rtw skirts that were too big for me by inserting elastic in the back waistband only (doesn't happen lately, though!)

    You can cut the waistband in one long piece, or you can cut the front and back separately.  Either way, you use a normal-length(width?) across the front, and make the back band as wide as the skirt is before gathering.  You insert the elastic from the side seam to side seam, securing the ends.  The elastic in the back forms the gathers, so you only do gathering across the front before stitching the whole waistband on.

    On a gathered skirt, an elastic-back band usually eliminates the need for a side seam.  If you want to use this kind of waistband on a darted, fitted skirt--by omitting the back darts and making the waistband as wide as the skirt-- you might have to have a side zip or button in order to put it on and take it off.  Either way, it makes fitted skirts much more comfortable to wear, and the front always looks neat and slim.

    1. melanie | | #3

      Sincere thanks to you and to Josefly for replying so quickly and giving me several suggestions and techniques to make my waistbands more comfortable and more attractive. I can think of two skirts I can improve already since I always keep scraps for alterations. I spend a lot of time on long train journeys and there's nothing worse than a waistband that's cutting. Thanks again!

  2. Josefly | | #2

    I've also seen skirts, pants too, with elastic only at the side-backs, not all the way across the back. I think if this is what you're describing, I would do as Teaf5 says, but you'd need to make the waistband in four pieces instead of two. If you have a pattern with darts in the back, and you want to keep the darts, you could straighten the back side seam from the hip to the waist, taking out most of the curved shaping, to give enough extra fabric to gather in with elastic. Don't forget, though, as Teaf5 mentioned, since the front of the skirt is still fitted, you're not adding enough width at the waist to make the skirt wide enough to pull over the hips, so you will still need some kind of opening at the waist. I would definitely do a muslin, if only of the top part of the skirt - a mini skirt? - to see how much extra fabric and fullness you want.

  3. DONNAKAYE | | #4

    Melanie, this technique is shown in full color pictures in one of my recent book acquisitions -- perhaps on RTW techniques for home sewers.  Are you still interested, or has your question been answered?

    1. melanie | | #5

      I got two very good pieces of advice but photos would no doubt be a big help, so details of the book would be wecome = thank you.

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