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waistband elastic formula?

Flax | Posted in General Sewing Info on

This is a very basic question – I know, but I was just wondering if there was a formula to follow for cutting elastic for a waist band. I seem to remember my high school home Ec. teacher saying “measure your waist and subtract such and such…” When I sew for others this formula would be very helpful.



  1. Pattiann42 | | #1

    Two inches, but I find pj elastic to be so "stretchy" that I have to remove more than the standard two inches.



    1. User avater
      Flax | | #2

      Hi spicegirl1,does that mean that if a person's waist is 30" that you'd CUT the elastic at 28" and sew together?what would you allow for an overlap?Flax

      1. Josefly | | #3

        The type of elastic does make a difference in how much shorter you cut it. Some elastics are more or less comfortable and "giving" when stretched. But generally, I cut the elastic 1" to 1.5" inches shorter, and overlap by 1".

      2. Crazy K | | #5

        Mind if I jump in here??  I follow a tip I gleaned from a Sandra Betzina show years ago........I no longer overlap my elastic but rather use a piece of light fabric and butt the ends of the elastic and sew onto the little square of fabric in a wide zig-zag stitch.  Then I either fold the fabric over the elastic and secure or trim the excess away........somewhat depending on the strenth of the fabric and the width of the elastic.  I think use a marker to mark the quadrants......by folding and getting half and quarter points.  This works great, the marks give me a guide for stitching onto my garment and it's easy.  I do the sew-on method with my serger and then fold over and stitch my casing.  Of course, I do mostly childrens' clothing and pull-on pants for myself so this works!  As far as length.........for kids I use the pattern suggestion and if I know I have a Skinny-Minnie or Max, I deduct accordingly.  I guess I pretty much do the same for myself.

        There is my nickel's worth........hope it helps.


        1. User avater
          Flax | | #6

          Thank you all so far for all the cents worth :)I really like the Sandra tip. Also in many situations I cannot do an elastic fitting. So I guess I need to come up with a formula. I use the same elastic for all pants. its Stretch Rite flat non-roll. I buy it in 25 yard rolls so at least my elastic is consistent. I think that I'll combine the advice here and see how it goes, I don't need to have the project finished until tomorrow. If there is anyone else willing to add to the topic feel free.Flax

          1. Crazy K | | #7

            I use the 1" ban roll elastic for most pants as well.  For men's pj's, sport wear, etc. I have a 1-1/2" sport elastic that is a bit more stretchy.  At least I always use one of the two and I, too, buy the whole roll.  It is so much less expensive than the pre-packaged or buying a yard or two..........and ending up with many pieces too small for any good use!

            Good luck!  I find that the pattern recommendations are usually close unless you have someone that wears 'plus' size or a Twiggy on your hands.  Then you have to adjust according. 


  2. starzoe | | #4

    Waistline elastic isn't what it used to be. One of the major companies apparently has gone out of business. You can't rely on any formula, the best way to go is to try the pants on and adjust as needed.

  3. DONNAKAYE | | #8

    There is an absolutely fool-proof way which I've used for years.  Mother taught it to me.

    Wrap the elastic around the fullest part of the hips and overlap slightly in the front.  Not too tight, or you won't get it around your hips after the bulk of the fabric is added.  Without removing your hold on the elastic at the front, slip it up to your waistline.  If it's comfortable, use that measurement.  If it's a bit tight, slack off a little bit.

    1. User avater
      Flax | | #9

      Wow thats a good idea! Good ol' mothers - they are the best!However that wont work for my customers but I think that if I have them give me a waist and a hip measurement I could probably figure out stretching the elastic to the hip measurement and comparing it to the waist measurement keeping in mind the other advice and perhaps that will work out fine. Thank you for the help!

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