Tutorial Thursday today! Yessss! Today, I thought I would share a quick tip for creating a contoured waistband. I’ve done this many times on many patterns. I thought I would show how to do this on the Hollyburn skirt waistband piece as it’s a perfect candidate for this type of thing. Just so everyone is up to date, Hollyburn is a sewing pattern put out by Sewaholic. You can view my latest versions here. Before we get to the tutorial, I thought I would share why you might want to do something like this. I find that on my particular figure and with a waistband piece that is anything more than 1 inch wide, I have to do this. Maybe I have a bit too fluffy of a tummy – Dr. Pepper is my vice after all. And chocolate and all that. I find that a little contouring at the waist helps it to sit better on my figure and quite frankly, it’s a little nip and tuck that looks good for me. Now, take it away Contoured Waistband tutorial!
On the Hollyburn waistband piece, you’ll find that it’s a rectangular piece that is folded in half to create a waistband on the skirt section. To contour this waistband we’ll have to change this up a fair bit. We’re going to create two separate waistband pieces – a waistband and a waistband facing and both pieces will be cut on the fold at center front. Follow me? First, find the fold line on the waistband, mark it and then add on 5/8″ seam allowance to one side. I’ve marked my fold line in pink and the seam allowance in green. Cut away the excess.
The Hollyburn waistband is one entire piece so you’ll need to find the center front of it and cut that away too. That center front will now be cut on the fold, no need to add seam allowance.
Mark the seam line (in pink again) on the other side of the pattern and cut into the pattern at around the side seam area, to but not through the seamline. Cut on the other side of the seamline, to but not through the seamline which will create a paper hinge. Oh, paper hinges. The story of my life.
From there you can nip in the waist however much you need by overlapping and taping the longer cut section together. The pictures do a much better job of explaining this, I think. Right about now, you’re probably wondering how you’ll know how much to nip in. When I do this adjustment, I measure how wide the waistband section is (this is the vertical measurement of the waistband). Then I take two pieces of elastic and tie them around my waist. The first I tie at my waist – or where I want the top of the skirt to hit – and then I tie the other piece around the section of my waist that is down the vertical width of the waistband. In the case of the Hollyburn, the waistband is 2 inches wide. So I would tie that second elastic 2 inches below the first. Make sense? Now take the measurements around both areas and compare. I’m usually about 1 inch off or so. You’ll divide that number by 2 since you’re working with half of the waistband piece (because we just chopped off at the center front and now we’re cutting the waistband on the fold). So I need to overlap 1/2 inch. WHEWWWW!
Once you’ve figured all that out, then it’s time to smooth out those angles. Not only are those lines hard to sew, but it wouldn’t look all that great if we sewed this piece up as is at the moment. To smooth out the lines, you’ll need to use a curved ruler. Shimmy up your curved ruler along the angles and find a curve that connects and fills in (or takes away) in a nice looking curve. You’ll be adding to the valley and subtracting from the peak. I’ve added to the valley in red and then I subtracted approximately the same amount from the peak and cut that off.
To make this whole thing a bit easier to see, I opted to retrace the waistband for you. See how you have a nice smooth curved waistband now? You’ll cut the center front on the fold, cut two pieces and voila! Contoured waistband!
If you have a major contouring that is needed in the waistband (like more than 1 inch in the round), I would say that it would be best to do the above in two places instead of one. So think of the waistband in thirds and nip and tuck at 1/3 and then 2/3 mark. Make sense? Sometimes when the waistband gets wider – like 5 inches, which would be more of a yoke – then it’s better to do this in more places than just at the side seam. Makes for a softer curve.
And that’s it for today’s tutorial. Enjoy friends!