Replacing a Skirt Waistband

A handful of years ago, back when I lived in Washington, I picked up a circle skirt at a favourite second-hand store. Even though it was both adorable and affordable, for some reason I hardly ever wore it. But why? When I finally realized what it was—the waistband was too narrow and it sat at an unflattering place on my hips—I knew I had to do something. The discovery of some sturdy, wide, black elastic that looked like it would make an excellent waistband was the only impetus I needed to make my skirt wearable again.

The materials I used for this project (along with the skirt) were a seam ripper, wide black elastic about 6 inches longer than the circumference of the skirt waistband, black thread, red thread, tailor’s chalk, three hook-and-eye closures, and a sewing machine—although you could easily do all the sewing by hand.

I began by using the seam ripper to remove the original waistband from the skirt. Then, I marked a line 1 cm from the edge of the elastic with the tailor’s chalk. I used this to evenly align the raw edge of the skirt waist to the elastic. Now, originally, I thought I would pin the skirt to the elastic, but after my many attempts at this failed miserably and numerous four-letter words were dropped (I wasn’t kidding when I said the elastic was sturdy!) I decided that basting might be a better idea.

The skirt has a side zipper that I wanted to keep, so I had to make the elastic overlap towards the back of the skirt at the zipper. To baste the elastic to the skirt, I aligned the end of the elastic with the side of the zipper on the back of the skirt and the raw edge of the skirt waist to the line I hand drawn along the edge of the elastic with chalk. Then, using the red thread and my sewing machine, I basted the elastic to the skirt leaving a small space between the basting and the edge of the elastic. This left a few inches of elastic extending towards the back—this is a good thing. After trying the skirt on and finding the placement of the new waistband satisfactory, I stitched right along the edge of the elastic using the black thread, and removed the basting with the seam ripper.

Now, back to that overlapping bit of elastic. I folded it in half and stitched by hand along the raw edge. The next step was figuring out where I wanted the “eye” parts of of the hook-and-eye closure and sewing them to the main part of the waistband, on the back of the skirt. Then, I took the “hooks” and stitched them to the elastic loop I had just made, only going through the back so the stitching wouldn’t show on the front. After that, I hand-stitched the sides of the elastic loop together, and it was finished.

Note: This wasn’t written strictly as a tutorial, but rather an explanation of what I did in this specific situation. I highly encourage you to experiment with your own clothing alterations and find a method that works for you.

text and photography by Kat Brightwell

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