Wednesday 5 June 2013

Stop Waistband Elastic from Twisting...

Don't you hate it when the waist elastic in the back of a garment twists!!! I have a pair of tracksuit pants, that I purchased because they looked lovely and thick. They do the job of keeping me warm, but the twisted elastic at the back annoys me and is so uncomfortable. The problem could have easily been prevented if the manufacturer had added one or two tiny steps when they were being sewn.

This tutorial will show you two easy techniques to stop waist elastic from twisting.

Depending on the width of the hem and the width of the elastic, you may need to increase the width of the hem ever so slightly for the first method.

After you have sewn the waistband casing, but before you feed in the elastic, add an extra row of stitching very close to the edge of the fold. Mine usually ends up about 1/16" from the edge. 

The edge stitching gives a lovely finish to the waistband, as well as stopping the elastic from twisting. The elastic will need to be a reasonably snug fit in the casing. ie; not so roomy that it allows lots of movement.

The second method is stitching in the ditch, after the elastic is inserted and distributed evenly around the waist.
  • Turn the garment to the outside.
  • Flatten the fabric so the seam is easily seen.
  • Backstitch at either end and sew along the seam line.

I stitch in the ditch at the side seams and the back seam. Elastic doesn't seem to twist at the front... not sure why that is. As long as you match your thread to the fabric, no one will ever see your stitching.

It's easy to see why stitching in the ditch prevents the elastic from twisting. With edge stitching, it's not so obvious. Try the following on a scrap of fabric...

After you have sewn a hem, put your finger on the fold and push down. The fabric moves easily and forms a tunnel, which will allow the elastic to readily move. Edge stitch the casing and now try the same thing. It is possible to form a tunnel, but much harder. I had to use both hands and so I couldn't co-ordinate taking a photo.

You can use either method by themselves to stop waistband elastic from twisting, or you can use both edge stitching and stitching in the ditch together on the one garment.  My preference is to stitch in the ditch or to use both methods. I don't think I ever just do the edge stitching. 

Stitching in the ditch on a pair of boy's denim shorts.

Stitching in the ditch and stitching the casing... Pintucked Skirt tutorial. This is not really edge stitching, because, as you can see, the stitching isn't close to the edge. It's 1/2" from the edge. It still works, though, as the elastic fits snuggly in the casing and can't readily move.

Both methods used on a pair of 3/4 pants, the same as the pintucked skirt.

There you have it... two easy ways to prevent waist elastic from twisting.

Stay tuned to see the rest of the floral flannelette garment in the examples above.

This little tip will be joining the almost 100 ideas already added to the Sewing Tips and Techniques collection, here on Threading My Way.

... Pam


  1. I HATE twisting elastic. I usually stitch in the ditch. I haven't tried edge-stitching, though.

  2. Hello. I just discovered your blog through one of your skirt tutorials posted today on I just joined via google to follow you.

    Not sure if many know but on July 1 google is eliminating google reader so unless one has registered their blog with another social media network and informed their followers to do the same, we will lose you! :-).

    I registered my blog with networkedblogs and bloglovin so that I can keep up with my favorite blogs (like yours) :-). Thanks so much. -JC

  3. Neat! My kids pants always have twisty elastic, mainly because I use a very narrow elastic for pj's and such. I'll have to try this next time!

  4. Thank you for this post! I was thinking to do the stitch in the ditch method, but I was not sure if I was doing it right :)

  5. I like your blog, and I do learn things from you. Thanks for posting and all the work that goes into blogging. It's strange reading the date on your post and comments being on June 6th and I am reading it on June 5th! It always gives me a chuckle. Rhonda, in IL, USA.

    1. I've always wondered what date showed up on countries that are behind us. Now I know. Yeah it must look odd... LOL!!!

  6. Pam great post!
    the first method is esp important for soft cloth garments, as it prevents the upper side of the waist band casing from fraying quicker than the rest of it.
    A loose tight elastic sort of `ruins` it , the Upper stitch , like you showed keeps it in a better shape.

  7. I will have to remember these tips Pam, if I ever get around to making those pyjama trousers my son asked for!

  8. Great tips Pam! I've seen a few people asking how to prevent elastic from twisting lately... shall pass this on ;-)

  9. Great post Pam! It took me ages to figure this one out! I stitch in the ditch for mine!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  10. What a great tip - I'm going to use it next time I'm working with elastic. Thanks for coming by and sharing! I really look forward to seeing what you're going to link up.

    Robin @ Fluster Buster

  11. Awesome tip! All these sewing posts make me want to sew! =)

    I am co-hosting this week on the Fluster's Creative Muster Party. Thanks for sharing your creations with us! I hope you found inspiration in all of the terrific posts.

    I host a (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and a TGIF Link Party at my place -- A Peek Into My Paradise... I would love for you to link up and follow if you like what you see. =) I follow back - I love making new friends!

    I can't wait to see what you link up next week!

    Hugs, Cathy

  12. I always have problems with this! This is the best tip ever! Thanks!

  13. Thanks! I will be doing this tomorrow. BTW...mine always twists in front....but I have a butt that won't even hold up a belt and a little roll above tummy from stomach issues...whereas you all were graced with a butt, giving a slight curve, bend, and lift to the band, hence the back twist.

  14. I'm going to make an elastic waistband skirt. I'm not a skinny person, and the twisting is awful! Anyway--so, you stitch in the ditch right through the elastic??? WOW--makes so much sense! Thanks!

    1. That's right, Christina - sew right through the elastic.


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