Bias-bound inside waistband tutorial

If I’ve been learning anything from my MMM mini-challenge, it’s that two pairs of pants – my jeans and linen pants – aren’t sufficient for one unique me-made outfit per week! I do have a few skirts, but I really prefer wearing pants to work. I decided to move another pair of the pleated pants to the top of my ever-growing sewing queue, ahead of the husbo’s new jeans.

And, since one of you – you know how you are! – so kindly asked to see more about how I finish waistbands, I used this opportunity to write up a little tutorial on the subject. For fly-front pants that aren’t jeans, this is my preferred method as it reduces waistband bulk, adds visual interest, and somehow seems easier than folding the seam allowance of the inside waistband under. I first saw this technique used on a pair of j.crew pants and used it on my velvetine pants (out of rotation because velvetine weather is long gone) and Nathan’s shorts. | bias binding waistband tutorial

What you’ll need:

  • Your inside and outside waistband pieces, sewn together, with the seams where they meet trimmed and understitched
  • 1/4″ or 3/8″ double-fold bias binding; yardage = your waistband length
  • Marking tool or chalk
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pins | bias binding waistband tutorial


1. Trim your inside waistband. How much you trim depends on your seam allowance and the size of your bias binding. In my case, my SA was 5/8″ and my binding was 3/8″; I trimmed off 1/8″, which left me with 1/8″ of the SA not covered by the binding. If I were using 1/4″ binding, I would have trimmed off 1/4″ and still would have had 1/8″ not covered by binding. | bias binding waistband tutorial

2. Cut a piece of bias binding that is slightly longer than your waistband | bias binding waistband tutorial
3. If necessary, press your bias binding closed; one side should peak out over top of the other | bias binding waistband tutorial

4. Pin your bias binding to the inside waistband, with the longer side on the wrong side. Stretch the binding slightly as you pin, making sure that the fold meets the inside of the inner waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial | bias binding waistband tutorial

5. Sew the binding to the inside waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial

6.  Make sure the stitches caught the binding on both sides. Trim off any excess binding. | bias binding waistband tutorial

7. Pin the raw edge of the outside waistband to your pants, right sides together, and sew. (I like the machine-baste first, and then stitch after I’ve made sure my seams match up and there are no puckers.) | bias binding waistband tutorial

8. After pressing the seam you just sewed, trim and grade the seam starting 1/2″ from the edges of the waistband. (I find that not trimming to the edge makes turning the waistband easier.) Trim the zipper if you need to. | bias binding waistband tutorial

9. Fold the inside and outside waistbands right sides together. Pin the raw edges of the waistband together, folding the inside waistband up. Make sure the fold is a little lower than where the pants and outside waistband meet. Repeat for the other side. | bias binding waistband tutorial

10. Using your chalk, draw a straight line where you want to stitch your inner and outer waistbands together. I use the edge or fly shield (or zipper edge, if you don’t have a fly shield) as a guide to make sure my line as straight, and move it a little closer to the raw edge to accommodate for turn-of-cloth. Stitch on the line you drew. | bias binding waistband tutorial

11. Turn your waistband right-side out and make sure it came out straight; if so, you can trim and grade if you like. (I recommend Lisa G’s tutorial on perfect waistband corners.) | bias binding waistband tutorial

12. Your bias binding will be turned toward the inside of the waistband; this is correct. Start folding it open so you can see it from the inside of your pants after the zipper, and press where the binding folds. Repeat for the other side. | bias binding waistband tutorial

13. Making sure none of the inside waistband is showing from the upper edge of the outside waistband, pin the inside waistband to the outer from the outside, along the seam between the pants and the waistband. | bias binding waistband tutorial

14. Check your pins and make sure they’re above the top edge of your bias binding | bias binding waistband tutorial

15. Stitch in the ditch of the waistband seam, removing pins as you go. | bias binding waistband tutorial

16. Make sure the folded part of the inner waistband was stitched down. All you need now is a closure, and you’re done! | bias binding waistband tutorial

I’ll be back soon to share the pants that this bias-bound waistband is attached to!

And, in case you’re in or near Seattle, my favorite thrifted fabric store, Our Fabric Stash, is having a one-day sale event this Saturday!


30 thoughts on “Bias-bound inside waistband tutorial

  1. I’ve always wanted to try this but have been too lazy to figure it out. I usually have sewing fatigue by the time I get to the waistband. Thanks for making this tutorial!

  2. I love this idea! I think it works very nicely on pants,and I bet it could be done on skirts. I can see this being a time saving technique for me, because I always have extra sewing and pressing when I turn my waistband under. Plus, I think it’s really cute to have a fun element on the inside of a garment. Thanks for the idea and instructions.

    1. Glad you liked it! I think it would be great on skirts. And I always find this faster and neater than turning the waistband under; no matter how carefully I mark and press, it’s never even!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial 🙂 I can see it will be useful for bulkier fabrics like denim and cord. I’m wishing I saw it before I completed the denim skirt I made this month (will be blogged soon), actually. I like the idea of a bit of contrast peeping out inside too, to enliven a plain garment. Will be borne in mind for future!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tutorial! One thing I forgot to mention (that you might appreciate as a fellow scrap-lover) is that you can use up scraps by making your own bias binding. Looking forward to seeing your newly finished denim skirt!

  4. i love this type of finish! funny, i’m working on a pair of pants right now and had decided to do the waistband just like this. great timing!

  5. Yeah look, I’m just going to go ahead and take ALL the credit for this, because I’m pretty sure it was me who so rudely was all “show me your secrets”. And you know what? I REGRET NOTHING. This is awesome! When I FINALLY get to a sewing machine again I am doing this, and then I am going to consider wearing my pants inside out just so everyone can see it.

    1. You do deserve the credit! I like the idea of making tutorials but didn’t know what folks would want to see – there’s already so many good ones out there! And you could make inside-out pants look super-chic.

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