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Narrow waistband

LindaG | Posted in General Sewing Info on


I was looking at some designer pants with very narrow waistbands — less than 1″, perhaps as little as a half inch, almost a bound edge. I’d like to try that on a pair of pants I am making.  Does anyone have any construction advice?

Thanks!  Linda


  1. DONNAKAYE | | #1

    I certainly do.  I often use what is called a "triple-fold waistband."  You can  make it as wide or as narrow as you like. I prefer a very narrow waistband because they are much more comfortable for my particular figure type.  The result is softer and less obtrusive than most other "tailored" waistbands, and the technique is extremely easy.

    I'm going to go fish out the written instructions for the triple-fold waistband (which was taught by my mother, Audrey Childress -- see thread discussion) and post them for you so that I don't leave out any steps (which I sometimes do when I try to write from memory alone).

    Donna Childress Brandt


    1. Elisabeth | | #2

      Hi Donna,
      You have a wealth of information, it is wonderful! Have you considered creating a website? There are so many topics you have posted on here and I certainly can't remember it all, it would be very nice to be able to have a place to go look for these things to remember. And we could say, oh that is on Donna's website! in our discussions here. A website might be a good place to sell your mom's sewing tools as well if you choose to manufacture more. What a gift to be able to use and enjoy your mom's knowledge. My mom paints beautiful oil landscapes and portraits, that is her main passion and work. She taught me sewing which I love, but I sometimes wish I was interested in painting too because she knows so very much.

      1. DONNAKAYE | | #3

        Your reply was very thoughtful and considerate, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it on behalf of both myself and my mother.  I am quite proud of her accomplishments (if it isn't obvious), and I miss her very much.  We used to chat on the phone for hours about sewing.  Now all I have are these thread discussions, and I can't tell you how therapeutic it's been for me.  I would like to thank everyone who has expressed their appreciation for all that Audrey has done for the home sewer.  For anyone who doesn't know, Edna Bryte Bishop was a frequent visitor to our home and made some of my Barbie doll clothes.  She would teach me how to make them, too.  That's actually how I began sewing.  I still have the Barbie doll dresses she made.  Audrey was taught directly by Edna B., among other Bishop teachers.  Edna B. was the first person, to my knowledge, who ever brought fashion industry techniques to the home sewer; that was her specific "mission" in life.  She was a sweet and wonderful woman with a heart as big as you can find anywhere......Thanks again.....I'll certainly consider a website....

        Donna Childress Brandt


        Edited 6/27/2005 10:08 am ET by DONNAKAYE

    2. SewNancy | | #4

      I would love to see those instuctions too.

  2. DONNAKAYE | | #5

    As requested, here are the instructions for the triple-fold waistband for medium to lightweight fabrics.  I will scan the illustrations and have them available to e-mail to whomever wants them. If I can figure out how to do this in the photo gallery or something, I'll certainly try.  If this post is too long, I'll break it up into several parts.

    Fabric length:  Waistline measurement plus 6 inches, preferably on lengthwise grain (but bias can also be used).

    Fabric width:  I use between 3 and 3-1/2 inches for a very narrow waistband, 4 inches for something a little wider.

    Divide lengthwise strip into three equal parts and clip each end of ONE of the foldlines.  Fold wrong sides together at each end at the clip marks and press this one fold down.  Stitch together with regulation stitch at 1/8" from the cut edge of the folded portion (letting edge of presser foot ride along edge of fabric; you are simply stitching down the folded portion at this step).  You should now have a folded side and a single side.

    On the single edge, chalk mark, on the wrong side of the waistband, a line 5/8" from the CUT edge (that is, the raw edge opposite the folded edge).  Turn folded edge down, wrong sides together, to meet chalk mark line and press this new fold.  (The waistband is now "self-interfaced.")

    Waistline tape - woven fabrics:  To determine correct markings on all waistbands applied, mark a piece of stabilized seam binding the size of your waistline, and mark center of these two markings.  Establish a center front and a center back.  Now fold the tape into four equal parts and mark temporary side seams by "creasing" seam binding.  Move the side seam marking toward center back on each side by approximately 1/2", or more as may be necessary for the figure, and establish YOUR side seam.  This permanent information should be used on all waistbands, regardless of style or place of opening, for WOVEN fabrics.  This is YOUR PERMANENT WAISTBAND PATTERN, used to correctly mark all waistband styles except elastic.


    Edited 6/27/2005 9:57 am ET by DONNAKAYE

    Edited 6/27/2005 10:10 am ET by DONNAKAYE

    Edited 6/27/2005 10:11 am ET by DONNAKAYE

  3. DONNAKAYE | | #6

    Triple-fold waistband, part 2:

    After making your waistline tape, transfer markings onto waistband so that opening is at left side seam (in this example).  When transferring markings, work with wrong side of waistband up, cut edge away from you, and make markings onto the wrong side of the waistband at the cut edge.  Apply right side of single edge of waistband to wrong side of skirt, pinning waistband to skirt at appropriate markings (side seams, center front, and center back).  Stitch waistband to skirt at 5/8", with waistband up and garment down, easing garment into waistband.  Turn remainder of waistband upward (toward top of skirt) and LIGHTLY PRESS (with tip of iron), from wrong side of skirt, at the line of stitching ONLY, being careful not to remove fold in waistband in the process.

    You must now finish off the overlap (or left front) side of the waistband.  Fold waistband right sides together at fold line (that is, the fold line which now sits between the seamline and the outer folded edge of waistband), making sure that the 5/8" seam allowance is turned UP, and stitch all layers together just outside, very close to, the line of the side seam (thus making allowance for the cloth to turn inside), and stitch together back and forth several times.  Slash the fold to open the seam up so that you can press it on a point presser.  After pressing, trim seam close to line of stitching, chop out any bulk at point very close to line of stitching, and turn the waistband right side out.  As you do this, bring the waistband up and over the cut edge of the top of the skirt.


    Edited 6/27/2005 10:00 am ET by DONNAKAYE

  4. DONNAKAYE | | #7

    Triple-fold waistand, part 3:

    Starting at the left (overlap) edge of front of skirt (i.e., the finished edge of the waistband), top stitch waistband into place so that it just covers the 5/8" stitching line.  (Note: You will be working with the bulk of your fabric to the INSIDE of your machine.  This is a technique that may take a little practice, but it's well worth the effort when required to stitch directionally.)  If you have done all of the steps correctly, the waistband will naturally sit right in postition for you to stitch.  Stitch all the way off the other end of the waistband.

    When you have finished topstitching the waistband into place, finish off left back (underlap) side of waistband by stitching back and forth several times, or serging, at about 1 to 2 inches from the side seam (the extension for the underlap).  Trim off excess fabric (if not serged) close to line of stitching.  Attach hook and eye (or use button and buttonhole, if preferred).

    This concludes the instructions for the triple-fold waistband.  Again, if I can figure out how to post the scan of the illustrations, I will do so.  Otherwise, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll send the scanned illustrations to you directly.

    I have lots and lots of these kinds of instructions that I am happy to share for anyone who wants them....

    Donna Childress Brandt


    Edited 6/27/2005 10:05 am ET by DONNAKAYE

    1. LindaG | | #8


      WOW!  Thank you so much for taking the time to put all of that terrific information on line for me.  It's much more than I could have expected from the busy people on this board.  I am looking forward to trying it on the next set of pants (4 pair cut out and ready for sewing!) and will let you know how it goes.



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