Making the NH Patterns Jenny shorts? Confused on the waistband? Or maybe you just want to know how to sew an elasticated waistband generally! Well, have I got the tutorial for you! These Jenny shorts have a bad habit of confusing people when sewing the waistband, so here I am to show you how to tackle it with photos to guide you through!
(If you haven’t tried the Jenny shorts pattern yet, and want to give it a go, you can find the pattern here).

Firstly, you want to begin by sewing your shorts until you get to the waistband. Then, once you’re ready to sew the waistband, here’s where the magic happens! (It’s not really magical but it sounds good to say that!).

Take your waistband piece that you have cut out from the pattern and fold in half with right sides together, matching the two shorter ends of the waistband.

Now at this point I like to make a small notch on the fold of the waistband, this will mark your centre front and will just help you to align your waistband in the next step!

Now, keeping your waistband inside out and with the shorts you sewed up previously right side out, slip your waistband over the top of your shorts so that the right sides of the waistband and shorts are facing. You should align your waistband seam with the centre back seam of your shorts and align your notch (if you made it) with the centre front seam of your shorts. Pin the entire way around the waistband and stitch together using a 1cm seam allowance. (I call for a 1cm seam allowance on this pattern, which is slightly smaller than 1/2″ but if you are using a different pattern please follow the seam allowance given in your pattern).

I have also put a label in this seam, so on the next step it makes it a little easier to see the seam!

Once you have attached your waistband to your shorts, press your waistband and waistband seam upwards and away from the main body of the shorts.

(You can see here that where the label is, is where we attached the waistband to the shorts previously. You want to press this seam and the entire waistband up and away from the body of the shorts.)

Now, along the entire top edge of the waistband, turn over by 1cm and press in place. This will enclose your raw edges when we sew the waistband down in a moment!

Next, take the folded edge you just made and fold down so that this edge hangs slightly over your original waistband seam (where you first attached the waistband to the body of the shorts, you can see with mine it is where the labels are). This edge should come down past the original waistband seam by about 3mm, to give you enough room to stitch through in a moment.

Continue to do this the entire way around your waistband and pin in place.

What you should do next is turn the shorts so that the right side if facing you, and stitch in the ditch the entire way around the waistband, carefully removing the pins from the inside as you sew. You should sew the entire way around the waistband, leaving a gap a few centimetres from your start point. This will allow you to leave a hole to insert the elastic through. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

Personally, I do things a little different as I don’t like the look of stitching in the ditch on my shorts, and I like to have a row of stitching on the edge of the waistband. If you like the look of stitching in the ditch you can move on to inserting your elastic, but if you want to see how I do it, see below:

You can see here, instead of placing my folded edge over the top of the stitching so that it is 3mm over my original waistband seam, I personally bring my folded edge down to MEET the original waistband seam. I then stitch close to the edge of the waistband rather than stitching in the ditch. This does give me a row of stitching on the waistband from the right side of the fabric, but I find this easier and less fiddly, and I like the way it looks! Either way you choose to do it, the outcome will be good either way!

Now we can move onto inserting the elastic. So, from the inside of your shorts, find the small gap that you left when sewing the waistband. Cut your elastic to size and attach a safety pin to the end, then use this safety pin to feed your elastic through your waistband bit by bit. Be careful not to twist your elastic when doing this, and try to keep it as flat as possible throughout and also make sure you leave the end of the elastic poking out the hole. If you pull it all the way through, you won’t be able to attach the two ends!

Once you’ve threaded your elastic all the way through, take both ends of the elastic, place one on top of the other and stitch together.

Once you’ve attached your elastic together, give the waistband a few gentle tugs until the elastic is all enclosed within the waistband again. Then, you can sew up your hole that you left to insert the elastic initially, by following your previous stitching line.

That’s it! Your waistband is done! If you wish you can sew a few vertical rows of stitching through the waistband to help stop the elastic from twisting, but before you do this, I would recommend putting them on first and adjusting the gathers of the waistband to where you want them. Then marking with a pin where you want to stitch through.

For those of you that want to see finished look from the right side of the garment when sewing it my way (not stitching in the ditch), take a look below. This is how the stitching would look on the waistband from the right side if you sew it my way!

What do you think? Still scratching your head on how to sew the waistband or having an “ah-ha” moment and ready to get cracking?
Let me know!


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