Thread Theory

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How to stop a waistband from rolling over or buckling.

Have you ever had a problem with trousers that buckle, crumple or roll over at the waistband?  Even though they seem to fit nicely at your waist or hips and are comfortable, by the end of a day of wear the perfectly pressed waistband is a squished mess.

This ‘roll-over’ can be caused by the difficult to fit proportions of a rounded tummy but this isn’t always the case – some people find it is amplified by the size of their belt loops or the width of their belt.  They notice that some pants buckle all of the time and other pairs do not.  They find that pants that fit higher on their waist are less likely to buckle than low rise options (or vice versa).  It can be a tricky problem to deal with!

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One easy solution I have found is the use of Ban Rol instead of a regular fusible interfacing.  Ban Rol is a stiff polyester trim that you can insert between the waistband and waistband facing during the construction of the trousers or skirt.  It’s really easy to use and creates a gorgeous stiff waistband!  Aside from preventing waistband crumpling, it also keeps the corners of your waistband at a perfect right angle.

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I’ve carried Ban Rol in our shop for quite some time now (for $1.20 CAD per metre) but I haven’t really explained its use on the blog or created a tutorial!  I’m in the midst of making all new samples for our Thread Theory patterns and so thought I would take the opportunity to photograph how I insert Ban Rol into the waistband of the Jedediah Pants.  It’s really easy!

My method does not involve stitching the stabiliser to the waistband at all – it is simply floating freely within the waistband casing.  This is a quick method that I find works just as nicely as other methods I have seen…as long as your Ban Rol matches the finished width of your waistband.  You can trim Ban Rol so that it is narrower to match a thin waistband but I wouldn’t recommend using Ban Rol that is too narrow for an extra wide waistband.  We carry the correct size for the Jedediah Pants or Jutland Pants patterns (1 1/2″ wide).  It is also a pretty standard size for most trouser and jean waistbands.

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Cut the Ban Rol to approximately the length of the waistband.  I just cut it the length of the pattern piece and trimmed off the seam allowances later.

Sew your waistband as per normal.  Various pattern instructions will include different waistband construction techniques.  Regardless of the technique used, stop construction when there is still an opening into which you can insert the Ban Rol.  In the case of the Jedediah Pants, this is after you have sewn the waistband to the pants and created the corners (Belt Loops & Waistband Step 9).

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Gently push the Ban Rol behind the seam allowance and, if necessary, use a point turner or tweezers to push it right into one finished corner of the waistband.

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Here, looking at the wrong side of the pants, you can see that the Ban Rol is tucked underneath the seam allowances:

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Before pushing it into the other end of the waistband, place a pin through the first corner so that you do not pull the Ban Roll out of place.  Also, make sure that the Ban Rol is the perfect length.  If it is too long, just trim the Ban Rol slightly.

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Now close up the waistband as per the pattern instructions so that your Banrol is encased but still sitting freely within the waistband (you don’t need to stitch through it at all).

Here’s how your waistband will look from the right side (sans a jeans button):

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And from the wrong side (I love my buffalo check binding!):

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Enjoy washing and wearing your perfectly crisp waistband…crumple and roll-free!


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

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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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