How to Construct a Waistband Casing

A waistband casing consists of a tunnel sewn to accommodate a drawstring or elastic at the top of a skirt or pants and at the waistline of a dress.  A casing can also be used at the hems of sleeves and pants.  You will need to fold the fabric towards the wrong side and press about 0.75 cm (quarter-inch), then fold down again the width of the elastic or drawstring, plus about 1 cm (half an inch).  Sew the casing closed, all along the garment, leaving a 4 cm (2″) opening.  Optional:  You can also edgestitch all the way around the top of the casing.  This flattens out the gathers at the hemmed edge and neatens the look.

Bodkin with Drawstringand Safety Pin with Elastic

Bodkin with Drawstring
and Safety Pin with Elastic

Using either a bodkin or a safety-pin attached to one end of the elastic or drawstring, thread the item through, being careful not to pull the opposite end into the casing.  For an elastic, overlap the two ends about 1 cm (half-inch), sew together and insert back into casing.  Adjust gathers and sew the casing closed.  For a drawstring, you will need to insert two buttonholes, approximately 2 cm (1″) apart at the front of the garment, within the casing, in order for both ends of the drawstring to exit and be tied.  The buttonholes can be placed so that the drawstring exits at either the inside or the outside of the garment.

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

You can also add a casing of different fabric, instead of folding down the fabric of the existing garment.  For this, you would do as above, but instead of adding the amount you calculated for the casing onto your original fabric, you would measure this amount onto the new fabric and cut it out.  You will also have to add another 0.5 cm (5/8″) or whatever is your seam allowance, as you will be attaching the casing to your garment.

A Skirt in Two Rectangles

Two Rectangle Skirt

This skirt is likely the easiest style to sew.  It is really just two rectangles plus an elastic waist.  You can put a belt over the elastic waistband casing to finish it off and make it look a tad more complex than it really is.  The fabric I used was a stretch cotton sateen, which gives it a heavier drape and a lovely sheen.  I have seen these in every beginner sewing book and everybody has their favourite way of constructing them.  Here is an outline of the steps that you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Skirt in two rectangles

First, you measure out two rectangles, the length that you desire the skirt to be plus about 4 cm (2′) for the double folded hem and another, approximately 4 to 6 cm (1.5 to 2.5″) for the waistband casing, depending on how wide you want your elastic.  For more on how to construct a waistband casing, click here.  The width of the rectangle will be your waist measurement, plus anywhere between 5 to 25 cm (2 to 10″) depending on how much you want the skirt to gather and how much “give” or stretch there is to the fabric you have chosen.  Keep in mind, if you have very curvaceous hips, then you will have to leave enough room to be able to pull the skirt on over them to get it to your waist.  The width of the elastic will be up to you, but you will have to adjust the waistband casing accordingly, and the length of the elastic will be your waistband measurement minus about 5 cm (2″).  Pin it and try on first, for comfort.

Elastic Waistband Casing

Elastic Waistband Casing

Then, you sew the two rectangles together, giving two side seams, and double fold the hem.  For this, you fold up the hem 1 cm (half-inch) and press, then fold up another 1 cm (half-inch) press and topstitch close to the edge.  After this, you fold back the top of the skirt about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch), press and fold over again the width of your elastic, plus about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch).  Sew around the skirt, making a casing and leave a 5 cm (2″) opening.  Thread elastic though this casing, sew the elastic ends together then stitch the casing closed.  Done!  It takes no time at all, and makes a very simple yet appealing and easy to wear skirt.

Super Simple Sewing: Rectangle Placemat Purse

purse tote stripedpurse tote flowers

This is my first sewing project and it is quite simple to do.  I made some small handbags using rectangular placemats.  By using a placemat, it ensures that you do not have to worry about finishing your seams, nor do you have to use your trusty ruler and scissors to measure and cut fabric. Also, placemats are often double-sided, so you have a choice as to which side you want to see on the outside while the inside looks equally spiffy in a coordinating fabric without having to insert a lining.

It is a very good first project for somebody still wary of measuring and cutting properly.  The handles used were plastic purse handles, although you can also get wooden ones, and were attached to the bag using grosgrain ribbon.

Supplies:  One rectangular placemat, scissors, ruler, plastic or wooden purse handles, chalk or fabric pencils, coordinating grosgrain ribbon (for widths and lengths, see details below), one sew on snap closure and buttons, beads or other embellishments (optional).

  1. Cut five pieces of grosgrain ribbon (four will need to be the width of the openings in your purse handles, as they are going to be threaded through these openings, and the remaining fifth piece will be for the closure so it can be of a different width).  Cut each piece approximately 10 cm (4-5”) long.  Find the centre of the short end of your placemat and mark this.  Measure the distance between the two ends of one handle and centre this measurement on the short end of the placemat.  Mark these two measurements (where the openings on the handle fall) on both the right and wrong sides of the placemat, approximately 2 cm (1”) down from this short edge.  Sew one end of the ribbon to the right side of your placemat on one of these marks.  Sew one end of the second piece of ribbon to the right side of the placemat on the other mark.  Do the same for the opposite short end of the placemat so that you have four pieces of ribbon hanging off the right side, two on each short end.
  2. Next, sew the fifth piece of ribbon, the closure, to the right side of only ONE short side of the placemat, right on the centre mark.   
  3. Thread one end of the handle ribbon through the opening in one end of a purse handle.  Then, flip it to the inside of the placemat and sew into place on the mark you made earlier on the inside or wrong side of the placemat.  Do the same for the other end of the handle.  One handle should now be attached to one short end of the place mat.  Then, repeat this for the opposite short end with the other handle and two ribbon pieces.
  4. Now, we are going to need wide grosgrain ribbon, it can be the same as the closure ribbon or something else.  Cut two pieces, each equal to the width of the short end of your placemat.  Sew one ribbon on each end of the placemat so that you cover the raw edges of the ribbon pieces that you just sewed on.
  5. Fold the placemat in half lengthwise, with right sides facing, and stitch both sides together.
  6. Then, box both corners and turn the bag right side out.  Click here to find out more about boxing corners.
  7. Now you can hand sew one half of your snap to the inside of  the closure piece of ribbon.    Flip over the ribbon to the other side of the purse and mark where you will need to sew on the other half of the snap.  Sew this half of the snap on the purse front and Ta Da!  You should have a handy purse sized tote.

You can also add embellishments, like beads, fabric flowers or buttons, to the front of your bag, I sewed on some jewelry pieces and buttons to the closure piece of ribbon, on the opposite side of the snap.

tote pursesmall tote - flowers