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Video: Installing an elastic waistband on Myrtle

Today, I’m going to show you how to install the elastic waistband on Myrtle. Watch the video and follow along with the photo tutorial and you’ll get it.


Here’s the short version:

The method we’re using here creates a little flap at the waistline, which you can fold over a circle of elastic to create a casing.

There is one thing to keep in mind.

The method shown in the video is designed for knit fabrics, because they stretch and are much easier to ease into place.

If you’re sewing with a woven, I’ll talk about a simple variation that’s a little easier with non-stretchy fabric. It results in a slightly shorter bodice, so if you are long waisted or tall, you may wish to add some length to your bodice when making Myrtle in a woven fabric.

Start by assembling the bodice and the skirt as instructed in the pattern. You should have the bodice and skirt completed before you start the rest of this tutorial.

Attach Skirt to Bodice


1) Sew skirt to bodice. With right sides together, align the skirt with the bodice at the waist, matching the fronts and backs at the waistline and aligning the side seams and notches. Pin, then stitch the bodice to the skirt.


2) Sew a second waistline seam. With right sides together, stitch the bodice to the skirt again, stitching 1 3/8″ from the first seam.

If you are using a knit fabric, use a narrow zigzag stitch for this (with a width of 0.5mm).

If you are using a woven fabric, use a straight stitch.


You can use masking tape to mark your sewing machine at the correct distance for an even seam allowance.

Create elastic band


3) Measure out your elastic. Measure a length of elastic to fit around your waist, unstretched. Add an extra 3/8″ to each end for seam allowance.


4) Shorten the elastic. Trim 2-3 inches from the length of elastic. This should create some negative ease. Wrap the elastic around your waist to check for fit, and trim more if you’d like it to be tighter.


5) Create a circle. Join the elastic in a circle by overlapping 3/8″ on each side and zigzagging each end into place.

Encase the elastic


6) Pin elastic in place. For a knit dress, align the edge of the elastic right below the second line you stitched on the skirt. You will have to stretch the elastic a little in order to fit the waist. Pin the elastic in place. You should have a flap of fabric above the elastic.

For a woven dress, do the same, but pin the elastic ABOVE the line of stitching instead of below. In this case, the flap of fabric will be BELOW the elastic.


7) Fold the flap over. Take the 1 3/8″ flap and fold it over the elastic to cover. Pin the flap to the dress, removing pins from the elastic as you go.

So, for a knit fabric, you’ll be folding the flap down and pinning it to the skirt.

For a woven fabric, you’ll be folding the flap up and pinning it to the bodice.

The reason for this is that the flare in the skirt makes sewing the flap down a little tricky with non-stretchy fabric.


8) Stitch flap. Stitch the edge of the flap to the dress, stretching the elastic as you sew. Stitch just through the flap and the outer dress, don’t catch the elastic in your stitching.

For knit fabrics, you will again use a narrow (0.5mm width) zigzag to do this.

For woven fabrics, use a straight stitch.

This step can be a bit fiddly, because you are stretching everything to fit as you sew. Take it slowly, check for puckers, and don’t be afraid to rip some stitches and redo if you need to.



9) Adjust gathers. Turn the dress right side out and adjust the gathers to be even.


10) Stitch in the ditch. To secure the elastic, stitch in the ditch at each side seam. This will keep the elastic from twisting or sliding, and help maintain the evenness of your gathers over time.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



July 21, 2014 #

Thanks for the tip. I love the fabric you used!


July 21, 2014 #

This is a nice tip, but I think the 1 3/8″ lost of length in the bodice and skirt (2 3/4″ total) would affect even those who are making the knit variation.


July 21, 2014 #

I’m not sure if I’m understanding you correctly, but the extra length is built into the pattern.


July 21, 2014 #

A suggestion when making the elastic into a circle. The method above produces a slight lump, when the two thicknesses of elastic are overlapped and sewn.

I usually join my elastic by cutting a scrap of woven fabric, mabye 1″ long by however wide the elastic is. Stitch one elastic edge in the middle of the scrap, butt the other edge of the elastic against the first (be sure nothing it twisted!) and stitch again. Trim the scrap as necessary.

This gives a nice flat join to the elastic, with no lumps or bumps. Just be sure the scrap isn’t visible through the main fabric.

Alice Elliot

July 21, 2014 #

Great tip!


July 21, 2014 #

That is a cool Tip Sz.


July 21, 2014 #

That’s awesome! I’d love to include this tip in a future edition of Snippets, with your permission!


July 23, 2014 #

But, of course. Sewing is also all about sharing! Feel free to include it wherever you like.


July 31, 2014 #

Glad this was mentioned. That’s exactly how I’ve done it for a decade. A pinked firm woven scrap and wide zigzag over the two butted ends and then narrow zigzag a narrow ‘box’ encompassing the two ends.

Alice Elliot

July 21, 2014 #

The step in which you pin the elastic before turning down (or up) the flap and then removing the pins as you pin the flap, is essential. Otherwise you’re going to be tearing your hair out! Other instructions for inserting elastic this way have never included this step. I’m everlastingly grateful for this info!!!


July 21, 2014 #

I can’t wait to break into this pattern this weekend….!

Debbie Cook

July 21, 2014 #

is there a reason why you wouldn’t sew the flap without elastic, leaving an opening to insert the flat elastic, and then join the elastic ends and finish seaming the flap?


July 21, 2014 #

Nope, you could do it that way too!


July 21, 2014 #

Rather than stretching the elastic as I sewed the waistband down, I sewed down a bit of the edge (probably about 1/5 or 1/4 of the waistband at a time) then pulled the elastic through so that the bit behind the needle was gathered, and the bit in front of the needle was flat. When I got to the end of the flat bit, I just did the same again, until I got back to the start. I found this much less stressful!


July 21, 2014 #

So did you already connect the ends of the elastic to make a loop, or did you do that at the end?


July 22, 2014 #

Connected them first as described in the pattern, but realised that I could slide rather than stretch once I started sewing.


July 22, 2014 #

Had to make sure there were no pins going through the elastic obviously!


July 22, 2014 #

I see. Thanks!


July 22, 2014 #

Gereat tute Sarai, thanks a lot!


July 22, 2014 #

The only problem I have is my waist starts to crawl up, what suggestions do you have?


July 22, 2014 #

It could be that your waist is higher. In that case, you could shorten the bodice so that the waist naturally sites higher. With an elastic waist, the dress will naturally try to migrate the waist to the narrowest point on your body.

Also make sure the elastic is not too tight, which can also contribute to this problem.