The elastic-backed waistband of the Estuary makes for a very comfortable skirt, but it is one of the trickier parts of this pattern. One seam at a time – you can do it!
1. Increase your machine’s stitch length to 5.0 (or as long as it will go), then sew two lines of gathering stitches on the Skirt Fronts, ⅝” (1.6 cm) and ⅜”(.9 cm) from the top edge of the skirt, between the side seams and the folded edge of the placket. You are not sewing gathering stitches on the Skirt Back, just the Fronts. Leave long thread tails for easy gathering. Return your stitch length to normal.
Note: If you have inseam pockets (View B), catch them in these lines of gathering stitches, so they also can be gathered into the waistband.
2. Pin the unfolded edge of the Waistband to the Skirt, RST, matching side seams. The short edges of the waistband should extend ⅝” (1.6 cm) beyond the skirt front edges. You’ll be sewing these soon to make a clean finish on the center front, but for now, just make sure that you have a ⅝” (1.6 cm) extension of waistband beyond the finished edge of the placket. Pin Skirt back to Back Waistband securely, then pin the front edges. Pulling gently on both rows of bobbin thread, gather the Skirt Front pieces to fit the front waistband pieces.
Distribute the gathers evenly and pin in place. Go ahead and use lots of pins to secure the gathers in their nice even distribution, and pin with the pinheads facing the top of the skirt. It will hold the volume of fabric in place nicely, and you won’t have to worry about breaking a needle as you sew.
When you’re using gathering stitches, wrap the long thread tails around a pin in a figure 8 to secure them before you start sewing. This will prevent your gathering stitches from loosening as you sew.
3. Sew the entire waistband to the skirt with a ½” ( 1.2 cm) seam allowance. You’ll be sewing in between your two lines of gathering stitches. Grade and trim the seam allowance to ¼” (6 mm). Press the waistband and seam allowances away from the skirt, then rip out any gathering stitches that are still visible on the skirt.
To finish the center fronts of the waistband, lay out the skirt with the right side of the facing you. Flip the long, folded edge of the waistband to meet the waist seam – it should extend a mere ⅛” (3mm) beyond the waist seam. The right sides of the waistband will be together. Sew the ends of the waistband, then clip the corner and trim the seam allowance to ¼” (6mm.) (Shown below.)
Flip the waistband right side out – the long, folded edge of the waistband will be on the wrong side of the skirt, laying just over the seam attaching the waistband to the skirt. Repeat this step for the other end of the waistband.
4. If you are using optional Wonder Tape, apply it to the seam allowance of the waistband that you folded and pressed towards the wrong side. Peel the paper off the Wonder Tape on the Back Waistband section only, leaving the paper in place on the Wonder Tape that’s on the Front Waistband sections. Fold the Back Waistband into place, going just ⅛” (3 mm) past the waist seam, thus covering it, and matching the side seams. Carefully press into place, allowing the Wonder Tape to adhere, but avoiding pressing the Front Waistband pieces.
If you are not using Wonder Tape, fold the Back Waistband into place, just covering the waist seam and matching the side seams. Carefully pin into place. Pin from the wrong side, and have the pin heads facing the hem of the skirt, so that you can pin the folded edge of the waistband securely. It’s really important that you do this step well, and make sure that the folded edge does go just past the stitching of the waist seam.
5. From the right side, stitch in the ditch along the Back Waistband only, forming a casing for the elastic. Double check on the inside of the skirt that you’ve caught the fold of the waistband edge the whole way.
6. Insert elastic into the back waistband casing.
Tip: use two safety pins on the short edge of the elastic as you feed it through the casing. This will keep the elastic from pulling at the center and folding onto itself as you pull. Double check that the elastic is flat, and not twisted or flipped inside the channel.
Pin the elastic in place (lining up the edge of the elastic with the edge of the seam allowance inside the waistband) keeping the pins on the right side of the skirt. I used safety pins here, so that I could try on the skirt safely. This is a good time to try on your skirt – if you want to tighten the elastic, now is your chance!
Sew down at side seams to secure the elastic in place. Sew from the right side, so that you can stitch in the ditch neatly.
7. If you are using optional Wonder Tape, peel the remaining paper from the Front Waistband seam allowances and carefully line up the inside edge to just cover the waist seam. Press to adhere. Stitch in the ditch on both Fronts, completely enclosing the waist seam.
If you are not using Wonder Tape, carefully line up the inside edge of the waistband to just cover the waist seam. Pin in place. Just like when you were sewing the back section of the waistband, pin from the wrong side, with the pin heads facing the hem of the skirt, so that you can pin the folded edge of the waistband securely. It’s really important that you do this step well, and make sure that the folded edge does go just past the stitching of the waist seam. The bulk of the gathered skirt can be a little pushy, so take your time.
From the right side, stitch in the ditch on both Fronts, completely enclosing the waist seam.
8. Increase your stitch length to 3.5 mm. Beginning at the side seam of the waistband and 1/2” (1.2 cm) from the bottom seam of the waistband, stitch across the back to the other side seam while stretching taut the elastic. (Stretching the elastic while you sew will make your straight stitches into a stretch stitch so your thread won’t break when you pull on your skirt.) This can be a little tricky, because you’ll have to adjust your hands a few times as you make your way across the back waistband. If you leave the sewing machine needle down in the elastic as you adjust your hands to move on to the next section, you’ll avoid jogs and jumps in the lines of stitching.
Make another line of stitches 1/2” (1.2 cm) from the top of the waistband, forming two lines of parallel stitches. Then return your stitch length to normal.
The tip in the instructions suggests adding a third row of 3.5mm stitching along the bottom edge of the elastic. This is helpful if you’re finding that the waistband seam allowance is bunching within the casing.
Move on to the final day of the sew-along here!