Thread Theory

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Day 7 – The Waistband and Belt Loops (Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along)

22 Comments

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After yesterday’s success with the fly, you’re ready for anything, right?  Well here’s what we have coming at us today: The belt loops, the waistband and then, the button/closure on the waistband.  A big day!  But it’s totally achievable (and couldn’t really be separated) because the belt loops are finished after the waistband has already been started…so before you know it all you will have left is hemming!

First off, iron your fusible interfacing onto the waistband piece if you haven’t already.  I like to use a medium weight interfacing for this but you might also like to try a heavier interfacing if you are using something thin such as a linen.  It’s nice to have a lot of structure in this area.

Next, I’ll show you my belt loop method that DOESN’T involve making a tube and turning it (painstakingly) the right way out…I really can’t stand doing that!  Instead, we’ll prepare the belt loops by folding in each long edge 3/8″ and ironing.

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We can now fold them in half and iron, just like making bias binding.
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To finish the edges, all we have to do is top-stitch 1/8″ from either edge (the folded edge and the open edge) and give them a press.
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To make enough belt loops for the shorts (or pants), just cut each belt loop in half.

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There will be one extra strip so toss (or save in your scrap bin?) the one that has the ugliest top-stitching.

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Now that the belt loops have been made, it is time to position them on the pants in preparation to sew the waistband.  We’ll do this by pinning them with the right side facing the right side of the pants (choose whichever side of the belt loop you had facing up on the sewing machine bed when you were top-stitching as your stitches will look nicer on this side).  Pin them with one raw edge of the belt loop lining up with the raw edge at the waist of the pants and the rest of the belt loop extending downwards.

Choose your placement based on the line diagram in the instruction booklet (or based on these photos here), or you could place the belt loops as per the wearer’s favorite pair of RTW pants.  You could even use the extra belt loop to form an ‘X’ shaped double belt loop at centre back if this is your preference.

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To keep the belt loops in place while stitching the waistband, we can simply baste along the top of each loop.

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And now it is time to begin the waistband!  Place the waistband and pants with right sides together and match up any notches while pinning in place.

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Make sure that the seam allowance extends out on either side of the fly, as pictured below:

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Now, we can stitch the waistband to the pants.  There are a few things to watch out for while you do this:

  • Be very careful when you sew over the zipper – it is safest to use the hand crank on your sewing machine instead of the electric foot at this point so that you have time to shift the zipper teeth out of the way when you feel the needle hit them.  Either that or you can wear goggles as is done over at Cation Designs!
  • Ease as you sew and try to sew over your pins rather than taking them out so that nothing shifts around
  • Check your belt loops are lying straight and flat before sewing over them

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Once that is done, we must do quite a bit of grading – this area can get pretty bulky so trim the pants seam allowance and the belt loop seam allowance short and keep the waistband seam allowance long to eliminate this issue.Edited-35

Good!  Now, let’s apply the binding to the long raw edge of the waistband.  When test sewing, Meg of Made by Meg mentioned to me that she prefers to apply the binding to one of the waistband edges before she sews it on to the pants so she doesn’t have to deal with the bulk of the pants while completing this step.  Feel free to do this!  The only reason I sew it on afterwards is because I don’t find the bulk bothers me at all (maybe it’s because everything feels small and un-bulky compared to sewing massive duvet covers for my work with The Heather Company!).  Note that the raw edge of the binding is lined up with either end of the waistband – there is no need to tuck it under to create a finished edge as this will be tucked inside of the waistband later on.

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Wow, don’t those insides look nice?!

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Okay, so now comes the tricky part which we’ve THOROUGHLY documented with photos – I hope this helps anyone who has ever been a bit confused when finishing the corners of a waistband!  This is what our waistband looks like at the moment:

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To begin sewing the corner, we have to fold the waistband in half with right sides together with the raw edges of the waistband (well, one raw edge and the other bound edge) lined up.

When you go to do this, you will notice that the entire bulk of the shorts/pants gets in the way.  Pull this bulk away from the short edge of the waistband so it is still sandwiched by the waistband but is out of the way when you go to stitch the short edge.  Here is a photo representation of how to do this:

In the photo below, my left hand is holding the bound edge of the waistband and my right hand (the lower hand) is holding the raw edge of the waistband to which the rest of the pants are sewn.  The zipper/rest of the pants are visible in the middle.  I am beginning to fold the waistband in half with right sides together.

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Here is what it will look like when it is properly folded in half:

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And here is the bulk of the zipper and pants being sandwiched in between (and pushed away from the short edge of the waistband so it is out of the way).

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Keep a firm grip on what you’ve done so it doesn’t become unfolded and place a few pins in if it will help you to keep things in place.  (The photo below is a good example of how far the rest of the pants have been pushed inside of the waistband, and then to the left, out of the way).

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Now we are ready to stitch from the top, folded edge of the waistband to the stitching line where the shorts/pants are attached to one edge of the waistband…

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…and then pivot and stitch (with the shorts/pants tucked out of the way inside the waistband) approximately 2″ along the already stitched line, this time catching both layers of the waistband.

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This is what it will look like when you are done this stitching:

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Now you can turn the waistband corner right sides out for a moment to check that everything looks square and properly stitched.  Turn it wrong sides out once again so we can grade this area closely – clip both corners and grade both seam allowances.  I like to start grading about 1/2″ from the end of my stitching so that when things are turned right side out there is a bit of extra binding on the waistband that will tuck into the sewn corner – you can see the extra binding in the photo below:

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Once the waistband is turned right sides out, we must carefully poke out the corners (a knitting needle works well for this – try to avoid using the tips of your scissors…they’re handy but wouldn’t it be disastrous if you snipped a hole in your fabric after all this work?) and press everything flat.

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Here is what the inside of my waistband looks like at this point (I’ve only sewn one waistband corner). You can see how the bound edge of the waistband tucks into the finished corner.

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With that done, we can now secure the rest of the inner waistband to the pants.  First, pin from the inside so that the waistband is positioned as it will be when it is finished:Edited-49

Flip to the right side of the shorts/pants and edge stitch 1/8″ away from the bottom of the waistband, catching the inner waistband and sewing over your pins as you go.Edited-50

This is what it will look like from the inside:

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Now it’s just a matter of finishing our belt loops!  While the belt loops are still pointed downwards, stitch across them, 3/8″ from the bottom edge of the waistband (this simply allows more room for a wide belt).  Fold the belt loop up from this point and fold the raw edge under as pictured below.  Fold them fairly loosely so there is still lots of room for a belt to be threaded through.  I’ve cut off a bit of excess from the end of the belt loop – how much you cut off will depend how loose you would like the belt loops to be.Edited-54

Stitch across the folded top of the belt loop several times (to make sure it’s extra strong) and, if you would like, trim the raw belt loop edge even shorter.Edited-55Edited-56

And that’s that!  All that you have to do now is add a button hole and button.  Start your button hole 1/2″ away from the edge of the waistband and sew it horizontally along the waistband.  Sew your button directly above the zipper on the other side of the waistband.  If you don’t really like sewing button holes (welcome to the club!) and the wearer always wears belts anyways, you could consider hand sewing a large hook and eye (not the tiny little versions meant for dresses, but the big, heavy duty flat ones that are more like clips) to the inside of the waistband.  I’ve seen this quite a bit on RTW shorts so I tried it out on Matt’s first version of the Jedediah Shorts and it worked really well!

Tomorrow will be the home-run stretch during which we sew the hems and optional cuffs!  If you are sewing the pants variation rather than the shorts, you don’t need to wait for us…you’re probably too excited to finish them off to wait a whole day just to sew a simple 3/4″ hem!  For those of you doing cuffs – these are super easy cuffs that allow us to display all the hard work we put into seam finishes!  See you tomorrow!

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22 thoughts on “Day 7 – The Waistband and Belt Loops (Jedediah Shorts Sew-Along)

  1. Thank u very much

  2. Hi. I am very new to sewing and am having issues with a Burda pattern when it comes to the waist band. I just found your blog and am hoping it will help guide me through the waistband process. Thank you for having this out there! I pinned you to Pinterest so others can learn from you too. 😄

  3. I’m years late in doing this sew-along and having the same issues with easing while sewing on the waistband. I mean, how exactly am I supposed to do this? Do I pull a little tight on the waistband while sewing it the pants waist underneath? I’m at a loss :-/ I cut a longer waistband that only seemed to give my pants a larger (i.e. too large) waist.

    • Hi Dina,

      I hope I can help you with easing! The practice of having a waistband that is smaller than the actual pants is common for tailored trousers. The smaller waistband acts like a belt to hold the pants up. We included this feature in the Jedediah Pants pattern because the chino style relaxed fit at the hips benefits from a fitted waist holding them up! Have you checked out the youtube video that I linked to in reply to one of the other comments? This video very nicely explains the technique of easing to create fit. Another method you could try is basting along the top of the the pants and then using the thread to gather very slightly and evenly. This slight gathering will help ease evenly just like all of the pinning does in the youtube video. Another technique you could try (depending on the type of fabric you are using) is to shrink your pants ever so slightly along the waist. It is possible that the fabric fibers relaxed as you sewed the pants – to shrink them back to their original size, place an iron above the fabric (not touching the fabric) and blast them with steam until they are very hot and damp. If you are using a loosely woven fabric, this should really help to tighten things up before you begin attaching the pants to the waistband. Lastly, here is an interesting discussion on Pattern Review where people give their two cents about easing in a waistband: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/sewingclasses/board.pl?t=3934

      I hope this information helps you out!
      Morgan

      • Hi Morgan,

        Thanks so much for your speedy reply! So, after I posted my comment, I went to a local sewing studio for a private lesson to figure out what I was doing wrong. You should know that I was sewing the long pants in corduroy. Anyway, we took the 36 waistband and pinned it to the pants in the order you specified (i.e. center back and then 5/8″ from each end). The issue when you do that, however, is that you end up perfect on the left side and too short on the right side. The reason is because the right side is longer from center back to the end sue to the overlap at the button area. We double checked to see that I had cut the correct size and placed the marks in the right place. I had. So that left us needing to cut a slightly longer waistband which accommodated the uneven distances I described above. Once we did that, it was easy peasy to pin the waistband on and ease without any bunching. When I got home I had my husband try them on and they fit well.

        This brings to my question: Is the waistband the correct length in your pattern? Has anyone else had this issue? It was very clear that when we pinned center back at the mark and then did the ends leaving the seam allowance that one side had a normal amount of ease and the other was so short as to cause gathering.

        I look forward to your answer. I’m definitely making another pair 🙂

      • Hi Dina,
        Thanks for your clear description of your experience at the private sewing lesson – I am glad that you were able to solve the waistband problem and that the pants ended up fitting your husband! While I have had some sewers contact me with confusion about the waistband notches, I haven’t received such a clear description as yours has been. It is very helpful to me! I will be sewing up a new pair of Jeds shortly to see how I can change the waistband markings. I am confident that the waistband is the correct length but your experience has me wondering if the markings are incorrectly spaced to account for the button overlap. We are getting very close to selling out of our current batch of tissue patterns so this will be the perfect timing to make some changes to the pattern markings before reprinting!
        Thanks for your help and sorry for the confusion caused by the markings! Happy sewing,
        Morgan

  4. Thank u so much for the above, I got stuck while sewing my pants following a burda pattern I bought couldn’t understand the instructions, decided to Google and came across this blog. Now my pants are complete thanks to you.Much appreciated.

    • I’m so glad to hear that this post helped you and that you were able to find it easily on Google! Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you referred to it. Best of luck on future sewing projects!

  5. What technique do you use to ease the waistband without it puckering? Also, I looked back over my pattern and I couldn’t find notches to line up. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Troy,
      I hope your Jeds are going well! To prevent puckering when easing in the waistband I pin the waistband to the pants as follows (using the notches on the waistband pattern piece to help divide the waistband evenly): First, I pin the centre back of the waistband to the centre back of the pants. Then I pin the ends of the waistband to the fronts of the pants (so that a 5/8″ seam allowance extends beyond the edges of the pants). Then I divide the sections of the waistband in rough quarters and pin them to the side seams. To be extra careful I sometimes add extra pins dividing the whole thing into eighths. You could keep dividing the waistband further and further into even sections with as many pins as you like – the more you pin the less likely your final result will be puckered! Here is a really thorough video on easing that might help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eh7_zvHcIio
      Good luck!
      Morgan

  6. great tutorial. was looking for a quick refresher and this was so easy to understand. thanks!

  7. Morgan… This is probable a silly question, but when finishing the corners of the waistband should the same process should be applied to both ends of the waistband…? Neither the sew-along nor the instructions that come with the pattern indicate this specifically… Thank you!

    • Hi David, no question is silly! Yes, you finish both corners of the waistband in the same manner. Please let me know if you would like more instruction on how to do this! I hope your Jeds are going well :).

  8. Hi Morgan! Just wanted to let you know that without the comments and your reply to this post I would have been completely stumped. I ended up matching the notches at the front but eased a lot in around the back. Perhaps it would have also helped if I’d stay stitched the back yoke and front at the beginning! Otherwise a great pattern and nicely put together instructions 🙂

    • Hi! I’m glad that these comments helped you out, I’m working on revising the instructions so that people won’t have trouble with this step anymore! Good idea to stay stitch the back yoke and front :). Thank you for your comment!
      Morgan

  9. sewing along a month late, learning lots and really enjoying seeing the shorts come together… but tonight the waistband piece seems too short (by about the width of the zipper shield). notches match at back side seams and centre front. any ideas?? otherwise will recut the waistband a bit longer at one end.

    • Hi Ailsa,
      The waistband should be a little bit shorter than the pant waist as you will be easing in the excess fabric as you sew (this helps shape the waistband and pant seat to the body). If it helps with easing, you can ignore the notches and pin so that the ease is spread throughout the whole waistband. Alternatively, if you have fabric to spare you can cut a longer waistband and then just trim off the excess after it is sewn on!

      I hope this helps!
      Morgan

      • I’m having the same problem today. When I line up the notches, the right front waistband is 1 3/8″ shorter than the right front, and the back waistband is 1″ longer than the back pieces, and I just don’t know how to ease that in. But when I ignore the notches, everything fits together nicely, so thanks for confirming that everything will be okay if I do that!

      • aha… fixed! ignored the notches as you suggested and hey presto, perfect fit and beautiful waistband.

        everything is easier when the sun shines… i shouldn’t sew so late at night!

        thankyou, morgan, for the prompt support (and all the other little skills i’ve picked up sewing along!)

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