Not your grandma’s elastic waist

Ever wish you had gap less waistbands on your jeans or pants? Did your jeans fit great when you tried them on or first thing in the morning only to loosen through the day? Do your skinny jeans insist on pulling themselves and everything else down when you bend, sit, or squat in them? Are you just tired of pulling up your pants that fit when you bought them?

If the answer to any of these is YES then I need to share my easy quick fix that makes a perfect waistband. It doesn’t roll, fold, or most importantly gap! As you may have noticed from the title, it is elastic, but not used in the traditional way of replacing a drawstring in a casing.

My inspiration pants were these that I found on clearance a few years ago when visiting a Sam’s club with my mom. Of course being a short term item they were gone and never returned once I realized I loved this waistband and wanted to buy more.

So thanks to khakis&co for this idea! The secret is the elastic being slightly smaller than the denim band.

I have experimented with this method on a couple pants that were making me crazy, like these skinny jeans that excelled at pulling themselves down…

Sadly, the narrower elastic and the idea that I only needed it across the back only sort of fixed the problem.

This pair with elastic almost the same width as the waistband and almost the full length worked SO much better!

The method that works best is to stop at the end of the day with pants that are gaping and pinch the waist at either side to where it feels snug and check what this excess is at the full relaxed potential of the waistband. For me this usually has been around 1.5-2″ (ie pinching about 1/2″ on each side) at the end of the day for pants that had no gap in the morning.

You then want to measure from Just outside the button and buttonhole all the way around the interior waistband with each section laid smooth as you measure around.

Then, using elastic the same or almost the same width as the waistband, cut a length that matches your waistband measurement minus the pinched amount (2″ in my case) and keep an extra 1/2″ to tuck under the ends.

You then will start pinning with each end pinned with 1/4″ tucked under. Then flatten the waistband with those two pinned points held together. This will show you the folded middle point of your waistband and the folded middle point of your elastic, match these two points together and pin. Then use the same process to find each halfway point to match until you are comfortable that you have enough points to keep even tension as you sew. I like eighths as seen above, and that works well for hand or machine sewing.

When sewing, you want to hold each section taught so the elastic is stretched to match the fabric of the waistband. If machine sewing, be sure to use a little zigzag or woolly nylon thread so there is some give in your thread but stretching while sewing should help with this.

Easy peasy! No more gappy pants and not your grandma’s elastic waist.

I did all of my initial pairs hand sewing the edge of the elastic with a simple whipstitch to hold down the elastic edge all the way around. I showed my daughter who is in fashion school and the first thing she said was “Why did you hand sew this?” to which I really don’t have a good answer other than in my brain when I don’t want something to show on the outside I hand sew…a consequence of being a historical seamstress first. I also like portable projects and the repair pile is often that. On the upside, this proves you don’t need a machine to do this fix!

I guess I could machine sew it even if the top stitching would show since I never wear my pants with waistbands showing anyway and I could watch the outside while sewing to ensure it lined up with what is already there. It would mean removing or skipping over the beltloops which just seems like extra work. I like that I can fix a pair of pants by hand during an evening tv show and be pleased as punch when I wear them next and they stay put exactly where they should. 🙂

It’s the little things. I still need to figure out how to keep shirts perfectly in place when moving in them and without the tucked in look with leg wrapping shirt stays that my brother wore in the marines. That will be a real breakthrough!

2 thoughts on “Not your grandma’s elastic waist

  1. Do you think this would work on pants that *do* gap first thing in the morning? Both my sister and I are built such that pants that fit our hips are usually too big in the waist.


    • This should work for that also, I find I can fix my 2″ gap without the waist looking gathered or bunched in any way. If you are cinching in more fabric it may appear bunched a little but still probably better than gaping open. 🙂


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