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Navy Ponte Pant - How-To's for a Flat Elastic Waistband: SWAP Wardrobe Installment #2

While I've come realize that I truly WANT the comfort of a stretchy elastic waistband, I ALSO do NOT like the puckery - gathered look of the conventional elastic-through-a-casing look.

SEW..... as I made this CORE pant of the great Navy Ponte Knit, I decided to try something new - at least to me. Follow along with these steps and see if perhaps you don't like this just as much as I do!

End result: outside and inside....

Step 1: CUT ELASTIC. Using the elastic you like best - which for me is either what is shown below: 1.25" Sport Elastic OR what you will see (that I actually used in these pants) a 1" Knit Elastic - pull it as tight as you can around your largest part: whether that be your waist or your hips. I say as tight as you can because ANY ELASTIC WHEN STITCHED THROUGH ALONG ITS LENGTH, WILL STRETCH OUT - SOME. Take that knowledge into account, and give this technique a whirl on a practice pair of pants.

I never LAP my elastic, but rather I BUTT it and stitch securely on a piece of ribbon or a scrap of lightweight fabric as you can see below.

Step 2: MARK ELASTIC. I always put the butted spot at my center back. Find the Center Front (CF) by folding your circle in half. Mark CF with a pin. Match CB and CF to find the SIDES, mark with pins. NOW... since we all carry more in the FRONT of our waist than the BACK, I move the side pin 1/2" towards the Center Back on each side. Wee the red-headed pin in the picture above. Doing this will give you 'Keying UP Points' as you stretch the elastic to match the same points on your waistband strip.


To determine WIDTH: I like to utilize a strip of fabric along the selvage of the fabric - planning to use the selvage as the 'finished' interior edge. I especially do this when the fabric is dense, or heavier - as was this ponte knit. Then you need twice the width of your elastic plus 5/8" to seam to the pant top edge, and i say another 1/2" along the selvage - so for my 1" elastic: 1/2" selvage edge to 'hang' inside the pant + 2" (1" elastic times 2 for back (inside) and front (outside) of the band + 5/8" seam allowance to attach to pant upper edge. Therefore, I cut my waistband along the selvage as one long finished edge, 3 1/8" wide.

To determine LENGTH: by this time, I have constructed my pant so that the uppermost edge is just large enough to comfortably get over my hips and/or around my tummy. For myself, my hips are the larger. If your pant is of a knit fabric, it likely can be less in circumference at the top edge because it will stretch when you pull it up. Not so if your fabric has NO stretch. Be realistic here. I then add 1" more to allow for a center back 1/2" seam.


In order to zigzag the elastic circle onto the wrong side of the Waistband Strip accurately, I find that marking a line along which to butt the edge of the elastic is helpful. Since I don't want this zigzag stitching to show on the outside of the waistband, I am setting it on the INSIDE of the waistband width - the edge closest to the selvage.

Therefore - I mark 5/8" + the width of the elastic (1") so 1 5/8" from the straight (NON selvage edge) of the waistband strip.

THEN... I stitch the waistband strip ends, right sides together, with a 1/2" seam allowance.

MARK Keying up points on the Waistband strip same as you did on the Elastic in Step 2 above.

Step 5: ZIGZAG ON THE ELASTIC to the wrong side of the inside portion of the waistband width - that slide closest to the selvage. Butting the edge of the elastic along the line you marked in Step 4. See the picture below. Do NOT lose the Center Front and Side Seam Markings - you could even mark these points with a marker on the elastic. You will have to STRETCH the elastic to make it fit. I use a ZigZag Stitch at least 3 long and about 3.5 wide.

Step 6: Join Waistband/Elastic Strip to the top of the Pant. Key up the marked side seam points on your waistband strip to the side seams of your pant, and center fronts and center backs. I always use a Stretch needle for stitching on knits, and a stitch length of at least 3 on my sewing machine, utilizing polyester thread.

Step 7: Grade this seam just sewn. See the picture below. This is really helpful if your fabric is thicker, as was my Ponte. I grade the Waistband Strip seam allowance to about 1/4" and the Pant seam allowance just a bit - so 1/2 or 3/8" wide. S

Step 8: Flip everything into place.... and BASTE by HAND, making sure that all the seam allowance goes UP, towards the Waistband itself, NOT down towards the pant.

The picture below shows the Hand Basting Step - do NOT skip this step, or the seam allowance will creep towards the pant....

Step 9: Stitch in the Ditch from the outside of the pant to secure the inside part of the Waistband Strip into place.

The picture below shows this both from the outside and the inside of the pant.

Since the elastic is all stitched TO the Waistband, there is no need to stitch through the waistband to keep the elastic from rolling.

I love this application. Try it - you might like it!

PATTERN USED for my Pant: I utilized an old Burda Pant pattern from my pant pattern COLLECTION. I'm very glad the 'skinny' pant silhouette has moved to history, replaced by a wider legged pant silhouette. I feel the slight 'bell' of this style is classic, and flattering to my body. This pattern, Burda 2998 takes me just 1 yard + 14" of 60" fabric. The other thing I love about Burda pant patterns is that the inseam is placed forward on the leg, pulling the back in around my rear end some, eliminating 'baggy butt', which I don't really like unless I'm aiming for a classic Trouser Look with a straight leg which falls straight down from the fullest point of my derriere'. I think we're just all more accustomed to less fabric around the lower parts of our derrieres thanks to wearing jeans so much - and now, especially after all of the tights we've gone out in public wearing (not me!). I'm NOT a fan of that fad, and welcome the return of a more classic look.

I wish I'd flashed a smile at least, but photographer grandson got in my 'Swirl Top' too so I'm just goin' with it all, head to toe (even on a bad hair day). My scarf of Yo-Yo's is one I purchased from Quilt Festival years ago - made by skilled Vietnamese hands.

I love these pants SEW MUCH, that while this awesome Ponte Fabric is still available from Joann Fabrics - see this link:

That I ordered another couple yards to make an ADDITIONAL pair of pants exactly like these, plus another shell-type top, but with a higher neckline and cap sleeves. These pants are pivotal in this SWAP Wardrobe, so I feel it is highly worth the expense of time and money.

PLUS - I've found that making great wardrobe pieces is an incentive to keep the WEIGHT off - even helping me walk on by slicing another piece of the Sourdough Bread I've started to make!!! Read more about this fabric at my blog post all about it:

For the 1st Installment on my SWAP Wardrobe showing all the pieces, click on this link:

I obviously changed my mind for what the 2nd Installment would be - but will move on to the Green flowing jacket in my next post. I moved this one up to meet a request from one of my adult students :)

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Jun 13

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