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Learn to Sew a Waistband That’s Never Crooked

When you are sewing a skirt or pair of pants and you arrive at the waistband, then you know the finish line is in sight. Just a few more steps and it’s time to wear your new creation. But a crooked waistband can give a less than pleasing finish to your garments.

Here are a few common problems that cause a crooked waist, plus some easy fixes to make your waistband line up and look sharp!

plaid fabric waistband

Ideally, the waistband should be smooth and even at the top of the zipper, nothing peeking or hiding on either side of that junction. The seams on either side of the zipper should meet and create a single line across the intersection. Sometimes it just doesn’t line up!

What goes wrong

There are lots of reasons such as less than accurate cutting, fussy fabrics that shift as you sew, or inattention to the standard seam allowances. Use the examples below to diagnose your specific waistband problem and see where you need to make an adjustment.

Note that in the examples below, I like to have the upper part of the waistband even with the zipper, so that side will have the hook or button on the reverse. Underneath that will be the tab where the hook’s eye is sewn or the buttonhole is made. If you prefer the tab to be on top – these same fixes will apply, you just have to determine which side is causing the issue.

One additional item to note: All these fixes need to be done before you finish off the ends of the waistband. Avoid a session with your seam ripper by taking a few minutes to check that everything is aligned properly

Problem # 1: Over lap is too high.

waistband problem 3 fixed

Here the upper side of the waistband appears too high, the seam line is not matching across the zipper junction and the waistband sticks up above the underlap.

Fix for Problem #1: Adjust the stitching line on the upper side.

Waistband problem 2 fixed

Flip the garment over and redraw the stitching line on the upper portion so it is aligned with the seam line on the other side of the zipper. Stitch and then complete the waistband as usual.

Problem #2: Underlap is too high.

waistband example 2 fixed

This is a variation on problem # 1, as the underlap is misaligned and sticks up under the upper part of the waistband.

Fix for problem #2: Adjust the stitching line on the underlap.

waistband example 2

Here the solution is basically the same as in problem # 1, the waistband seam lines are not lining up at the top of the zipper. Redraw the stitching line and carefully sew to match up with the other side.

Problem #3: Seam lines match up but the waistband underneath peeks out.

waistband example 3 fixed

So close! The seam line crossing from one side of the zipper is perfect, but the waistband underneath peeks out above the upper waistband side. This one is quite easy to fix.

Fix for problem #3: Adjust the waistband width.

waistband example 3 before

This is a case where you can make an adjustment in the width of this portion of the waistband and it will be hidden by the upper portion. In fact hidden is what is wanted, so ignore the marked fold line and adjust as necessary to get that part of the waistband to hide behind the upper portion.

You may need to trim some of the seam allowance off to reduce bulk before stitching across the end. Match it carefully at the center above the zipper, you don’t want it to be too short or too high here. Use the upper waistband as a guide. Then turn and press and it should hide nicely behind the upper portion.

Final version, all lined up and even like a 4-way intersection after a few fixes were applied.

perfectly aligned waistband

So next time you have a waistband wobble, be sure to try one of these easy fixes for a straight waistband that impresses!

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5 Comments

Kyle

Love all the examples and annotations!

Reply
Chris

Your posts are aways so helpful and I find your projects truly inspiring! still want to make that beautiful turquoise coat and block dress you made a couple of years ago, one day, one day 🙂

Reply
maria hopkins

Been sewing for many years but can always learn thank you

Reply
Verta Wurthmann

Where can I find video for making waist bands smaller? And how to do tucks in waist bands as I’ve lost so much weight and these are new paints.
Thank you.

Reply

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