A waistband on pants or skirt should be firm enough to support the weight of the garment and also to lie flat against the body. It also needs to be flexible for comfort. Interfacing is most commonly used to stabilise waistbands but sometimes leaves you with a ‘cardboard’ band around the waist. Consider this method, using grosgrain ribbon, which is a favourite of mine and one that you will find in most couture garments.
BEFORE you cut out your pattern, decide how wide you want to make the waistband. In this example I am making it 4cm wide so the waist seam for the garment is increased to this width.
Add to garment waist seam allowance
Next cut your waistband three times the finished width plus 1 cm. Also add an extra 10cm length which you will need to make a mitred corner – more about that later. In this example, my waistband is 4cm wide so I have cut the fabric 13cm wide (3 x 4cm + 1cm = 13cm)
Fold the fabric lengthwise at twice the finished width and press a crease. (Note that this crease will not be along the centre.) Unfold the fabric and pin the grosgrain ribbon on the wrong side, placing one edge along the creased fold as illustrated.
Sew the ribbon in place taking tiny stitches along the fold line. In this illustration I have used a contrasting thread, but you would be aiming to match the thread to your fabric. Because these stitches are exactly on the fold line, they will not be visible when the waistband is finished.
Below is a view of the right side of the waistband. If you look very closely you will see the tiny stitches which are really only visible because of the colour of the thread.
Right side of waistband
Next we are going to mitre the end of the waistband. This reduces the bulk of having a seam right at the edge.
Place the waistband on the garment, right sides together, as if you were ready to sew it in place. Fold the end diagonally at a 45° angle as illustrated. You now have a long edge and a short edge for your waistband. The long edge is the edge that attaches to the garment and the short edge is the one that folds over and will be on the inside of the garment.
Press along the fold line, then open and trim 6mm away from the fold.
Now for the tricky bit. Fold the end, right sides together, at the ribbon edge that has been sewn to the waistband. Match Edge A to Edge B and sew along the creased fold line.
Trim the corner to reduce bulk.
Turn and press. The end result is a waistband that has a fold at the end (instead of the bulk of a seam) and the seam is distributed at a 45°angle, away from the edge of the band.
Now it’s time to attach the waistband to your garment. Align the end of the waistband with the edge of the garment opening. Remember that you will have a 4cm seam allowance.
Your stitching line will be right against the edge of the grosgrain ribbon. Be sure not to catch the ribbon in your stitching.
Hint: It is easier to stitch INTO the very end of the waistband, rather than to start at that end. In this illustration you would stitch from right to left.
Press the seam allowance up towards the waistband. Do NOT trim your seam allowance. The extra layers provide a firmer waistband and prevent a ridge showing through where you trimmed.
Fold under the remaining 1 cm seam allowance and slip stitch this edge in place.
One final word. The extra wide seam allowance gives additional body to the waistband. However, consider your fabric. This may not work so well with very heavy fabrics or fabrics with a long nap. The band may end up being too thick and uncomfortable around the waist. Consider a different option to a waistband finish or even making your waistband out of a contrasting fabric that is not so heavy.