How to Sew a Wide Waistband on Any Leggings

wide waistband onto citrus leggings by Tuesday Stitches

wide waistband onto citrus leggings by Tuesday Stitches

Pull up some tracing paper and a pen because we’re going to do a little bit of pattern drafting! In this tutorial I’ll show you how to turn any leggings pattern into one with a wide waistband. I’ll be using our Citrus Leggings pattern as an example, but this will work for just about any leggings pattern you have. I’ll also explain THREE different ways to sew the waistband – with hidden elastic, with an elastic channel, and without elastic.


1. Sew and trace Front & Back. Start by sewing the Front and Back separately. We’re sewing and then measuring off of the garment instead of doing all our shaping on the pattern because it means a lot less cutting and pasting and worrying about seam allowances if you have multiples seams in your leggings. (You can use the same principles to work directly from your pattern pieces if you’d rather, just don’t forget to remove seam allowances). In this instance, I’ve changed the construction order of the Citrus Leggings so that the Side Front – Front – Front – Side Front and Side Back – Back – Back- Side Back are sewn together in units before the side seams are sewn. Trace along the top and several inches down the sides of your complete Front and complete Back.

2. Create top cut line. For this tutorial, we’re going to assume that you want the waistband to finish at the same height. First we need to mark where the finished top of the leggings are. In the Citrus Leggings pattern, the top 1″ is folded down to make an elastic casing so the finished top of the leggings is 1″ down from the top of the raw edge of the sewn leggings. After you’ve drawn the finished top line, add a seam allowance back to the top. Here we’re using a 3/8″ seam allowance like in the rest of the pattern.

3. Create bottom cut line. From the “finished top line”, measure down the finished height of the waistband you would like to have. In this example I’ve made a 4″ waistband. Then add a seam allowance to the bottom. That will be your bottom cut line. (We don’t worry about seam allowance on the sides because they are already there in our half-constructed leggings we traced). You’ve now made your waistband piece. (Don’t forget to do this for both Front and Back, and do them separately because the shaping is likely different).

4. Create a cut template for the leggings. We’re now going to create a template for what we will cut off of the top of our leggings. Layer a second piece of  tracing paper on top of your waistband pattern. Trace the top and sides along the original trace lines. The “finished bottom of wide waistband” is where the seam will be in the finished leggings – we need to add a seam allowance to the top of this to be left on the leggings so trace up 3/8″ (or whatever seam allowance you’re using) above the finished bottom line .

5. Cut the leggings. Lay the template you just made on top of your leggings and cut off the top portion of the leggings (which will be replaced with your wide waistband).

6. Cut waistband. Cut two Front Waistband and two Back Waistband. Remember to pay attention to the direction of your stretch and your nap.

7. Sew waistband side seams. Sew the Front Waistband to Back Waistband together at the sides and repeat to create a lining. (Note: If you want to make the variation without elastic, jump ahead and read about modifications you may want to make to your pattern piece before sewing).

8. Sew waistband top seam. Sew the Waistband and Waistband Lining together at the top.

OPTION 1: Elastic Casing. Create a casing out of the top of your wide waistband by stitching a line down from the top just wider than the width of your elastic. Leave a 3″ gap in the stitch line when you sew it. Thread your elastic through and join the ends of the elastic. Sew the gap closed.

OPTION 2: Hidden Elastic – If you want elastic but you want it to be hidden, press the top seam allowance between Waistband and Waistband lining toward the lining. Cut a piece of elastic, joining the ends, and align the edge of the elastic to the top seam (using lots of pins to hold it in place). Sew through the elastic, seam allowance, and lining using a stretch stitch.

OPTION 3: No Elastic – Your ability to successfully wear  leggings without elastic depends upon your fabric (how stretchy it is and how good its recovery is), your pattern (and amount of negative ease), and your body shape (pear shapes have it easier because their hips keep the pants from falling). There are no hard and fast rules, so you’ll have to experiment. In this example (the Citrus Leggings with this stretchy velvet on my pear body), I shave off about 1/2″ from each side of the bottom of each pattern piece and about 1″ from the top of each side of each pattern piece. Do this before sewing the pieces together. You don’t want to shave off too much from the bottom as you don’t want your leggings to noticeably gather into your waistband.

9. Baste Waistband bottom. Turn the waistband right side out and baste the bottom edges together so that the waistband lies smoothly. It is important to do this because any discrepancies between length of waistband and waistband lining will show as bulges in the finished waistband.

10. Sew Waistband to leggings. Finally, with the right side of your waistband against the right side of your leggings, sew them together using the 3/8″ seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you set when you drafted your pattern pieces). This is what that looks like for the hidden elastic version where the stitch line is visible on the inside. If you’re doing the no elastic version, you will need to stretch your waistband a bit to get it to fit.

A note – if you’re using a leggings pattern that doesn’t have a side seam, like View C of the Citrus Leggings, you can follow these same principles in two ways. 1 – attach both the side panels to the Front and then follow all the instructions here as written. Your front waistband will be much larger than your back waistband but that’s fine. 2 – Measure the width of the side panel, subtract the seam allowance from each side, and add that amount to the side of each of your front and back pieces. This is a bit harder to do and keep the shaping on the waistband correct.

Thanks to Minerva Crafts for supplying the purple stretch velvet used in the photos. Pictured with our Ultraviolet Tee with Sleeve Bundle.

How to Draft your own wide waistband for leggings from any leggings pattern! by Tuesday Stitches

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