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Learn a New Way to Sew a Waistband to a Lined Skirt or Pair of Pants

As a garment sewer,  I am always looking for new and better techniques that can make my garments look more professionally made. 

Case in point — applying a waistband to a lined skirt or pair of pants. While there are a variety of methods available, the method or technique typically chosen depends on a preferred waistband style and the weight, thickness and malleability of the fabric. Putting in a waistband, frankly, is a task I usually dread doing. That is until now.

Follow along to learn how to sew a waistband with little-to-no hand stitching! 

 silk skirt

I have found a new way to add a waistband to a lined skirt that requires less hand stitching and looks much neater and finished on both the inside and public side of the garment. This technique comes from examining a skirt I bought recently as part of a two-piece suit. I just love the way the narrow waistband fits snugly and flat against the body, which is not always the case with home-sewn ones.

Most waistbands applied to a lined garment call for the lining to be attached to the skirt (or pants) before adding the waistband. Not this time. This technique calls for attaching the waistband to the fashion fabric and then attaching it to the lining. Yes, you read that right. The waistband is sewn separately to the fashion fabric of the skirt or pant, then to the lining. Fold the waistband in half to bring the lining and fashion fabric together and you’re almost there.

The secret here is getting all the fitting done just right before you begin. You must know the exact length of the waistband needed. You must also make sure the waistband itself is cut precisely. No wonky rectangle of a waistband. Furthermore, all stitching needs to be precise as well. Only even seam allowances allowed if you want it to look as good as the commercially done ones.

Here is how to apply a narrow waistband to a lined skirt or pant:

Step 1.

Begin by first constructing the skirt in the fashion fabric and then the lining fabric. Finish all fitting issues so that all side and waist adjustments are correct.

Step 2.

Make the waistband. Measure the waist to determine the length. Add to it 1 inch to accommodate two 1/2″ allowances for the ends and another half inch for ease (1 1/2″ total). Plan the width at 2 1/4″ – this is for a 1/2″ finished waistband.

waistband with half interfaced

Step 3.

Sew one side of the waistband to the skirt fashion fabric at the waist using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Leave a 1/2″ overhang at each end where the zipper is. Trim the seam down to approximately 3/8″. Press the seam up toward the waistband.

Step 4.

Then sew the other side of the waistband to the skirt lining at the waist using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Leave a 1/2″ overhang at each end where the zipper is. Trim the seam down to about 3/8″. Press the seam up towards the waistband.

waistband centered between skirt and lining  underside

Step 5.

Turn the overhangs into the waistband, even with the line of the zipper, and press in place.

pin end into waistbandpublic side

Step 6.

Now fold the waistband in half so the skirt and lining come together. Pin the two together at the seam line to prepare the waistband for the final sewing.

Step 7.

Using an edge foot, stitch into the seam line (stitch-in-the-ditch) all around the waist to join the skirt and lining together to complete the waistband application.

finished waistband

Step 8.

Seal the two ends with a couple of hand stitches. Apply a hook and eye to close the waistband.

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Fitting Fundamentals for Sewers

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This is so wonderful!! Thank you so much for sharing. As a garment sewer myself, I too have always dreaded the typical waistband. By the looks of it, this process will definitely ease the pain! Thanks again. Happy sewing!


Thank you so much for this, such a simple idea, that I will try in my next skirt project.


Really good article. Thanks………

Wendy Habel

just brilliant.!! I love sewers that share, thank you

Linda Reynolds

that’s was I thought when I saw it on the store bought skirt. Glad you like this approach. Thanks for your comments.


You can do even less hand stitching if you machine sew the ends of the waistband before the stitch-in-the-ditch step. Here’s how to do this:
After pressing the ends to match the zipper opening, open out the pressed zipper seam waistband seam allowances at the ends of the waistband.
Turn the skirt and lining so the right sides are together, with the waistband-to-skirt and waistband-to-lining seams aligned and the pressed seam lines at the zipper opening aligned. (The waistband will be folded in half with right sides together at this point.)
Stitch along the pressed marks on both ends.
Press the seam and turn the garment right side out (wrong sides together). Trim the seam allowance, if necessary, for a clean finish. You may need to use a point turner to help make clean corners when turning the waistband.
Then, realign the waistband seams and continue with the stitch-in-the-ditch steps to finish.


Thanks very much. Though am still a learner but, it was easy to understand.

Carol Nigh

This the first time I’ve seen this technique. I’m advanced seamstress & I like this idea. Thank you for sharing. This idea will be handy. It’s great.


Am going to give this a try.. As i have a skirt to make now. Thanks for sharing


Hello there, thank you for the tutorial, it helped a lot in sorting my brain into working order and I now have a beautifully lined skirt as a result!
Thank you ?

Meg Kundert

i use a similar technique for all my lined pants and skirts except that I include side seams in the waistband for any waist tweaking or adjustments. The zip is in the front or back, and the lining/waistband is attached before sewing any side seams. The last thing I do is fold over the waistband and stitch in the ditch.


I love this idea! I’m in the process of making my very first skirt and I’m getting nervous about the zipper and the waistband parts. I was wondering, for this method, would you leave the lining unattached at the zipper, or would you attach it somehow? Thanks!


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