Tutorial ~ Exposed Sport Elastic Waistband

by Destri on January 13, 2011

sport elastic waist band

You know the exposed wide elastic waistband on boys boxers and such?  They look a tad more masculine than a gathered waistband, and so easy!  Plus, if you are short on fabric, this technique is the perfect solution to making the most if it.  A few of you have asked for the pattern on the bottoms from the pajamas I made for my daughter, which is the same technique I used in this tutorial, use it for the bottoms!   Now onto the tutorial for the waistband:

How To Sew An Exposed Sport Elastic Waistband


  • fabric
  • 1¼ inch sport elastic – I used knit, but braided would work great too – just make sure it is soft for the tummy!
  • all your sewing stuff


This tutorial is for a technique for adding an exposed elastic waistband, not the actual pants.  I will post a tutorial for the pants soon.  You can use any pattern for bottoms, just make sure they are not a loose fit (only two inches wider than the waist), and are cut at the natural waistline for the rise.

Materials for Exposed Elastic

So you have your pants all sewn up at this point.  I literally only had a 1/2 yard to make the bottoms for my little boy, so I left the selvage at the top.  Don’t judge, I was desperate!  So I had a finished edge somewhat.  You could serge around the waist or just do a zigzag to finish the edge.   Cut the elastic to be the width of the waist plus an inch.

Sewing Elastic Waistband

Line the end of the elastic with the seam on the back of the bottoms, with the elastic on the right side as shown.  You want the elastic to overlap the fabric about a ¼ of an inch.  Sew with a straight stitch with a longer stitch length.  Not as long as a basting or gathering stitch, just in between that and the stitch you would normally use.  While sewing pull the elastic about two inches.

When done, trim the elastic to only overlap a half inch and sew a vertical zigzag stitch along the edge like shown.  Go back and forward a few times to reinforce.

Sewn Elastic Waistband

It should look like this.

Sewing Elastic Waistband

Now we’re going to sew a couple more times around the waist to reinforce.  I turned my bottoms inside out a this point.  If you notice the top is gathered from stretching the elastic the first time around…

So make sure you pull it tight again like shown and still using a longer stitch length sew around the top, right along the top edge.

For the last time around, I turned them right side out and sewed right along the bottom edge, again pulling tight and longer stitch length.

Bottoms with a sport elastic waistband

All done!  I was able to actually gain an inch in length, so if you are a little short on fabric, this works perfect!

He has worn them everyday since Christmas, I guess I need to make him another pair.  They have washed up great too.

Hope this helps to give you an alternative to the gathered waistband!  If you didn’t catch it the first time around, here is a tutorial for elastic encased in knit for another option with the waistband.

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