perfect corners on waistbands? yes you can!

for a long time i struggled with getting my waistband corners to turn out well. it seemed that nothing i tried would produce anything even close to a neatly squared off corner. i tried everything—trimming, pressing, taking a diagonal stitch, jabbing with anything sharp i could get my hands on… but finally, finally i came upon a fool-proof technique. no, really. you’re skeptical, and i understand, but trust me: this one actually works.

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begin by sewing your waistband and waistband facing together at the top edge. sew all the way across, then press, grade, and under stitch all the way across.

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attach the waistband to your pants/skirt. give it a good press, and double check that your fronts line up nicely at the waistband seam. if all looks good, grade the SA.

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now we’ll sew up the short sides of the waistband. from the front, fold the waistband facing over the waistband (RST), making sure you grab the whole upper seam allowance. it has been under stitched, so just make sure everything is nicely lined up.

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stitch up the short side, making sure that your stitching hits right next to the pant/skirt opening without catching it in your stitching.

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trim the SA down to 3/8″—no smaller. no smaller you hear? the only bulk i remove is that little snip you see there.

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get ready, here’s the cool part: fold the SA back and pinch it with your fingers right at at the corner. while pinching, pull the waistband right side out. then kind of take the seam and rub it in between your fingers to work that seam out.

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if it doesn’t quite lay square yet, take your point turner and don’t just start poking willy nilly!!! place it between the layers of fabric to finish squaring out the corner.IMG_0909

here’s the finished corner before pressing. the whole key to this working is allowing the layers to be neatly folded up inside. keeping the SA’s strengthens the corner and encourages it to keep it’s shape. when you trim close to the corner as we’re all told, you weaken the seam and lose all that interior structure. then when you jab and jab to get that point out, you stretch out the fabric and just end up with a wad of fabric jammed into the corner. it will never lay nice and square that way.

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you can even see the folding action from the outside. go grab one of your RTW pants and you’ll see the same thing.

moral of the story: fold, don’t jam. and finally enjoy those perfect corners you’ve always dreamed of.

—lisa g.

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45 thoughts on “perfect corners on waistbands? yes you can!

  1. Marie F. says:

    WOW!! I was looking recently at the RTW pants and wondering how it was built to look like this. Now I know! Thanks a lot for this tips!

  2. Michelle says:

    Amazing!! I would drool over such a perfectly squared waistband corner…
    I also can’t get my corners at the top of zippers to be perfect. Wonder if there’s a right way to fix that as well.

    • lisa g says:

      this technique would work the same for the top of zippers, depending on how you typically construct things. the trick is all in folding the SA’s to lie flat!

  3. kathi giumentaro says:

    Beautiful corner. I’m starting a pair of cargo pants on Monday and will definitely give this a try.
    Thanks.

  4. dokucug says:

    I really needed to hear this! Here’s why: when I make a waistband (or anything like this) before trimming the SA down, I always fold it out like this to make sure my stitching was OK – and it usually looks really good. And then I trim it all down the way we’ve always been told to (!) and everything becomes wonky!! Thank you for telling me it’s OK to break the “rules!”

  5. aleah says:

    Brilliant! I’ll definitely try this on my next pair of Thurlows! (Is that what you have here, btw? Love the lining!) Waiting to sew the end until it’s attached to the pants is a good idea too – my waistband and fly facing are never lined up quite right. Thanks!

    • lisa g says:

      sadly, not another thurlow here–instead a poorly drafted (darn you mccalls!) pair of shorts for my oldest daughter. and it is definitely best to sew those short ends last, makes for perfect matching. and on the thurlow, the fly shield is too wide (by about 1/2″) so i chop it off the edge of the shield from the get go!

  6. Kelly says:

    I think I love you. Seriously!! This makes me want to redo the waistband on my denim Moss skirt, that corner is all whacked out. I am so excited to try it out!

  7. Shar says:

    Thank you for posting this! I have more than a few waistbands with a wonky stretched out corner. You have such great tips and tutorials would you be able to add a new heading at the top of the blog with links to them? Of course I have no idea if I’m asking for the world here since I’m not technical.

    • lisa g says:

      no, that’s definitely not asking too much–i’ve been wanting to re-organize things around here for a long time. i just end up reading blogs instead of working to improve my own…

  8. lsaspacey says:

    You are amazing! Most tutorials I see on blogs are either for very simple things that already exist on the internet or they are taken directly from time-tested sewing books and presented as if they were just invented. (I own 20+ sewing books from the 1940s to present.) However, this one I have never seen and it is brilliant. Thank you!

  9. poppykettle says:

    Oh yes. My fabulous sewing teacher was the first to show me this, and I love her for it! How dreamy does that turned out waistband look? You’ve got to love a right angle.

  10. Susan says:

    I agree completely, this technique is brilliant! I learned about this a couple of years ago while following some bag tutorial somewhere, I can’t even remember. It is the *only* way I’ve done corners since, and usually I don’t do any trimming with it at all. Sometimes with thicker layers, I do like you did. I love this technique so much that I get rather mad when instructions say to “clip corners” or poke them out. No no no! 🙂

  11. featherstitch says:

    Thank you so much! I’m so excited learning this. I just made a pair of shorts for my husband and didn’t get the neat waistband finish I wanted – lucky he will wear a belt.
    I’m about to make two more pairs for him so will definitely use your technique. It makes so much sense about why to not cut off the seam allowance – now that you have pointed it out!!

  12. Lynn says:

    Thanks for sharing this tutorial. I’ve had problems with getting neat corners on my pants waistbands. I’ll have to give this a try. I have one question. How do you handle the remaining SA on the facing? On the very last photo, the folded edge of the facing isn’t tacked down or stitched. Do you slipstitch it in place or topstitch from the outside?

    Thanks.

  13. Tunji B says:

    I sincerely appreciate this particular post. it’s life changing most especially I v been making effort to get this for a long time. I just did not quite long today. Am impressed with my results. Thanks alot. Don’t mind if you can refer me how to finish up pants professionally blog, I mean the inner construction.

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