How To Sew A Casing For An Elastic Waistband

How to sew an elastic waist band casing tutorial images.
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A casing for an elastic waistband is an easy solution how to add an elastic to the waist of different garments and hide it. It is suitable for gathered skirts, trousers, leggings or sweatpants. In this tutorial I will describe three different ways of sewing such a casing. Each one has a different difficulty level. Choose one according to your skills and time you want to spend on your project. To demonstrate the different techniques, I’ll be working with a gathered skirt with one back seam.

In this tutorial you will learn:

The insertion of an elastic band is the same for any of the casings, therefore, it will be described separately at the end of this blog post.

Fold the fabric at waist and sew the casing

Beginner difficulty level.

This is probably the simplest method of sewing a casing. I recommend this method for home use only. I personally use it for our costumes or clothing to wear at home. There are other methods of sewing an elastic wait band casing that look more pro than this one :).

If you decided to sew this type of a waistband casing, add extra fabric to the waist of the skirt before cutting the fabric. Add 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) + seam allowance (see the image below).

1. Check that you have finished all (side, front, back) seams and finish the seam allowance at the waist (see the image below).

Finished seam allowance at a gathered skirt waist.

2. Completely sew all side, front and back seams of the skirt BUT one. This seam will be used to insert the elastic waistband.

3. Pin the unstitched fabrics together and draw two markings as indicated in the image below.

Markings drawn on a back seam allowance.

4. Sew the seam allowance + 0,5 cm (3/8 inch) part. Skip the area between the two markings and start sewing again (see the image below).

Sewing a back seam skipping a small part at the waist.
Back seam of a skirt with a small unstitched part.

5. Press all seams open (see the image below).

Pressing all seams open.

6. On the right side draw a line around the waist. The distance between the line and the finished fabric edge should be: seam allowance + 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) (see the image below).

Drawing a line at the waist of a gathered skirt.
Line around the waist where the fabric will be folded.

7. Fold the fabric and seam allowance towards the wrong side and pin it (see the images below).

Folding and pinning fabric at the drawn line.

Now the pinned fabric should look like this (see the image below).

Waist pinned together at waist that will become an elastic waist band casing.

8. Press the folded edge. Be careful not to press the pins.

Pressing the folded edge of the skirt waist.

9. Sew 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) away from the fabric edge all around the waist.

Sewing an elastic waist band casing from the right side of the fabric.

The sewn waist should look like this (see the images below).

Sewn casing for elastic waisband.
Opening for elastic waistband.

In the image below, you can see a finished waist band casing with an elastic inside. Please, click here to see the step-by-step instructions for inserting an elastic.

Completed elastic waistband casing.

Fold the fabric at waist twice and sew the casing

This method of sewing a casing for elastic waistband is slightly more complicated than the previous one – the seam allowance will be folded towards the inside of the casing. If you plan to sew this type of a waist band casing, you will have to add some extra fabric at the skirt waist before you start cutting it. Add extra 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) + seam allowance (see the image below).

1. Sew all seams: side seams, center front or center back seams so that the only thing left to finish at the waist is the casing. Do NOT finish the seam allowance at the waist and leave it raw. Press the seams (back, front or side seams) open (see the image below).

Pressing back seam of a skirt open.

2. Draw a line from the fabric edge on the right side of the fabric all around the waist (see the image below). The distance of this line from the fabric edge equals the seam allowance width. Use a water soluble marker or a pen style chaco liner.

Draw a line below the raw edge of the skirt waist.
Seam allowance on a skirt waist.

3. Draw another line 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) away from the first line. Again, draw it on the right side all around the waist.

Drawing another parallel line at the skirt waist.

Having done that, there are two parallel lines at the waist (see the image below).

Two parallel lines that will be folded in order to make a casing for an elastic waistband.

4. Turn the skirt (or other project you are working on) inside out so that you are looking at the WRONG SIDE of the fabric.

5. Fold the fabric at the first drawn line (seam allowance line) towards the WRONG SIDE and pin it (see the image below).

Folding fabric at a drawn line of the seam allowance.

6. Press the folded edge; be careful and do not press the pins. Just remove them right before pressing the bits they hold one by one (see the image below).

Pressing folded seam allowance of an elastic waist band casing.

At this phase you have a folded and pressed seam allowance all around the waist (see the image below).

Pressed seam allowance of an elastic waist band casing.

7. Fold the fabric towards the WRONG SIDE at the second line you have drawn, pin the fabric if necessary and press it (see the images below).

Folded and pinned elastic waist band casing.
Pressing the edge of an elastic waist band casing.

8. Start sewing close to the edge (2 mm – 1/16 inch) at the back or side seam along the casing. You can use a blind stitch presser foot which will guide the fabric easily. Sew all around the whole waist (see the images below).

Sewing along the elastic band casing edge.
Finished edge of an elastic waist band casing.

9. At the back seam or side seam, where you first started sewing, draw to markings about 3 cm (1 3/16 inch) apart (see the image below).

Markings at waist band casing where to start and stop sewing.

10. Start sewing at one of the markings. Use a standard presser foot or a presser foot with a ruler and sew about 2 mm (inch) from the other folded edge (see the image below).

Start sewing at one of the markings at the elastic waist band casing.

11. Stop sewing as soon as you reach the other marking. You should end up with a small unstitched part (see the image below).

Opening for an elastic waist band.

Insert an elastic band through the gap and sew it. To read more detailed instructions of inserting the elastic, please click here.

Finished elastic waistband casing.

Develop and sew a facing that will be used as waist band casing

The following steps will describe how to sew a facing at the waist that will be the casing for the elastic waist band. If you choose this method, add a seam allowance to the pattern at the waist and develop a simple facing (see the image below).

Gathered skirt with facing used as a waist band casing.

1. Leave the seam allowance at the waist unfinished and sew all (front, back, side) seams of the skirt. Press these seams open (see the image below).

Pressing side, center and back seams open on a gathered skirt.

2. Cut a facing for the waist and leave all seam allowances unfinished. Sew all seams but one together. Pin the two unstitched ends together (see the image below).

Pinning facing ends together.

3. Partially sew the pinned ends together leaving an unstitched part in the middle (see the images below).

Stitching facing ends together.
Two facing ends sewn together with an unstitched part in the middle.

4. Press the seam of the facing open (see the image below).

Pressing seam of a facing open.

Now you can see a gap in the facing that will be used to insert the elastic into the casing (see the image below).

Gap in the middle of the facing that will be used to insert an elastic into a waist band casing.

5. Pin the facing to the skirt (or other garment) right sides together precisely so that the outcome looks nice (see the images below).

Aligning a seam of a skirt and a facing.
Facing pinned to skirt waist.

6. Sew the facing together with the waist.

Sewing the facing to the waist of a gathered skirt.
Facing sewn to waist of a gathered skirt.

7. Draw a line at the right side of the facing. This line will indicate where you should fold the fabric in order to hide the seam allowance of the facing (see the images below).

Drawing a line at the facing indicating the seam allowance.

8. Fold the fabric at the drawn line, pin it and press (see the images below).

Be careful not to press the pins.

At this phase the waist should look like this (see the image below).

9. Gradually turn the facing towards the inside of the skirt and press it. Do not fold right at the stitching, but about 1 mm (3/64 inch) above it (see the image below).

As you finish pressing the folded facing, the casing should look like this (see the image below).

10. Now sew the facing so that it will form a casing for the elastic waist band. Sew about 2 mm (5/64 inch) from the left edge of the facing (see the images below).

Sewing along a facing edge making a casing for an elastic waist band.

The waist band casing is ready and you can insert an elastic band through the gap in the facing. To read more detailed instructions about inserting the elastic, please click here.

Finished facing casing on a gathered skirt.
Finished elastic waist band casing using a facing.

How to insert an elastic into a waist band casing

1. Cut an elastic waistband 2,5 cm – 1 inch wide (not wider). Calculate the length of the band according the following formula:

elastic band length = 0.7 * waist circumference + 1 inch

elastic band length = 0,7 * waist circumference + 2,5 cm

2. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and insert it to a gap in the casing. It’s a good idea to fix the other end with a pin to the garment. This way it will not be swept inside the casing (see the images below).

Inserting an elastic into a sewn elastic waistband casing.
Fixing elastic end to seam allowance.

3. Move the safety pin inside the casing all around until you reach the opening.

Moving a safety pin with the attached elastic through the waistband casing.

4. As you reach the gap (opening), pull out both elastic ends (see the image below). A small part at the end, you worked with, will be slightly damaged. Just cut it away.

Both ends of an elastic band sticking out from an elastic waist band casing.

5. Now sew the two ends of the elastic together. I usually do this by using a dense zig-zag stitch (see the image below).

Dense zigzag stitch setting on a basic sewing machine.

Sewing two ends of an elastic together using a dense zig zag stitch.

6. Pull the waist so that the elastic sweeps inside the casing (see the image below).

Pulling the waist of the skirt so that an elastic waistband gets swept inside.

Conclusion: How To Sew A Casing For An Elastic Waistband

As you can see, sewing a casing for an elastic waistband is not a difficult task. Any of the methods described above will work well for your project.

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