Friday, May 1, 2009

Tutorial: Redo a worn out elastic waistband

You know you are getting old when you hear that crackle of elastic that has stretched its last stretch. Or hey! Maybe you aren't old, but you love a good thrifty find or vintage garment.

I've got a favored pair of pants, I bought them at a yard sale in 1995, for a dollar, I can remember the rack on the porch in Royal Oak, MI where I found them. Isn't that strange, that I can remember? I've called them my elephant pants, but I always get compliments when I wear them.

The old elastic is overlocked (serged) in and stitched down. I'll be redoing it the same way, but I'll offer suggestions for sewing if you don't have an overlock machine:
old sad elastic

Click on any picture to see a larger photo.
Find a thread to clip in the right side, I use my Fiskars Softouch
clips, but you can use a seam ripper.
Clip between the layers, gently pulling apart, 2 to 4 threads at a time.
Clipping old step 1Clipping old step 2

I secured the pocket with a pin because it doesn't go to the top of the waistband and because I don't want to waste time later figuring out which way the pocket goes.

pinned to hold pocket placement

Next cut the threads on one side of the elastic, then separate the layers again, slightly pulling and cutting a small amount at a time.

Clipping old step 3Clipping old step 4

Old elastic-New elastic. My new is a little thinner, but that is OK because I plan on cutting a little of the fabric off with the overlock to have the stitches in securely. It is a good idea to replace the elastic (braided 1'' wide) with as similar as you can so you aren't changing the way the garment fits or changing the seam allowances.

measure old elasticnew elastic

Just wanted to show here that I switched the direction of the pin so it wouldn't have to be taken out while overlocking.
switched the direction of the pin

I don't have a good and fast rule for elastic length, only that whatever you use needs to be shorter than you think. Elastic grows every time you sew through it. If you know of a good chart I'd be happy to see it. Another suggestion is to look at a commercial pattern that has the same kind of waistband you are doing and use your corresponding measurement.

First butt ends together, extra secure. I'm using my Bernina 950



I mark the elastic with a pen in 1/4 before sewing.
Marking 1/4

Next using my Juki MO644D to overlock the elastic to the pants. I match my pen marks to the side seams and center front/back. I'm also taking off about 1/4" with the knife blade. (I should have pressed the waist before sewing, but what can I say :D) If you don't have an overlock, finish the raw edge at the waist with you preferred method and sew with a straight stitch or zigzag to secure the elastic and the following step works the same way.



Finally stitch the elastic down with a straight stitch, you can do right side up too, I just wanted to make sure I caught the pockets.



Finished!
finished!

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