Tutorials

Adding an Adjustable Waistband to Easy Fit Shorts

Add an Adjustable Waistband - just-joshin.com

I love adding custom shorts to complement an embroidered t-shirt. My go-to pattern for shorts (and lounge pants!) is The Scientific Seamstress Easy Fit Pants. They are so, well, easy! Like her other patterns, The Easy Fits pattern is almost like a sewing lesson, so if you haven’t made pants, no worries, it will walk you through. I have used flannel to make PJ pants for my boys and nephew for Christmas, lightweight summer PJ pants, and lots of shorts. They are super quick and always look cute. 

This time around I made a little modification, I added buttonhole elastic and made the waistband adjustable. I have two boys who share clothing, one who has a bigger waist. Their commercial pants that have adjustable waistbands are a huge help in keeping pants up!

This same method can be used on other patterns for anything that has elastic in a casing, including pants, shorts and skirts.  (If you have the pattern, this step inserts before step 4 in the construction, before forming the casing.)

To add an adjustable waistband you will need:

  • Two Small buttons (about 1/4” size, they won’t show so they don’t have to go with the outfit. I used grey.)
  • Buttonhole Elastic 
  • Ruler or Tape Measure (I use a Centering Ruler which is super handy!) 
  • Sew-in or fusible interfacing (A small scrap is plenty)
  • Disappearing Ink Pen or Chalk
  • The ability to make buttonholes
Once you have your shorts (or pants or skirt) assembled, it might look sort of like this. The bottom hems and the top elastic casing are the remaining steps. With the garment inside-out, place the front side up, since that is where the adjustable elastic will be placed.  The Easy Fit pants pattern has you press the casing fold before sewing the legs together, you can see the creases. 

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Fold the casing over as it will sit when stitched, and measure for your buttonholes. I used the centering ruler from the front-center seam and measured 2.5” inches to each side and marked where the button holes should go. These shorts are size 3T, leaving about 5 inches between the buttonholes seemed about right. I estimated, larger sizes should be placed a little further apart. (I aimed for the holes to hit about the hip bones in the front.) The important part is to make sure they are equal distance from the center so they gather evenly,

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My marking pen is purple and disappears quickly, you can see the purple mark on Nemo’s face.

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Once marked, open the fold again, you will need to add interfacing to stabilize the buttonholes. Cut small scraps of interfacing and apply to the back of where the buttonholes will be. This will reinforce the buttonholes and the buttons. I cut mine about 1” x1.5. They should be less than the width of the casing.

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With the casing folded open, stitch the buttonholes where you marked. By stitching open, when you fold it over, the buttonholes will not show on the front of the shorts. After your buttonholes are stitched, add a button about 1 inch to the side of the buttonhole, on the side toward the center seam.

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Once you have your buttonholes and buttons attached, fold the casing over again, and stitch in place. You  do not need to leave a space to insert elastic like it instructs in the pattern, you will insert it through the buttonholes. You can use a zipper foot to stitch around the buttons, if you want. I just used my standard foot and went slowly near the buttons to stitch the casing.

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Once you have the casing stitched, insert the buttonhole elastic. Since it will be exposed on the ends, you should melt the ends with a candle or lighter to seal and keep it from fraying. I buttoned one side and fed through the other with a safety pin. Once they are attached on both sides, stretch evenly to spread out the waistband gather. To loosen, just move the button further down the elastic, that simple.

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The front will have a flatter look than it would normally since there is no elastic gathering. 

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And you’re done!

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(Link to the ruler is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you buy it I will get a few cents. Thanks! The other links are not affiliates, though I could not recommend the Scientific Seamstress Patterns more highly, I love them!)

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