Tutorial ~ How To Make A Knit Waistband

by Destri on January 8, 2011

Knit elastic waistband
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It was a happy accident that led me to add an elasticized knit waistband to these pajama bottoms.  So glad too, because it was so easy, and I prefer the look over a gathered waistband.  Being a little wider and soft they are nice and comfy for little tummies, and allow for a more fitted ease through the hips.  Plus I was able to use an old knit shirt, and a cute little blanket I found for $3.00 at the thrift store.  Repurposing at its best!

Pretty Flannel Blanket

I spotted this cute little flannel blanket at the thrift store, and thought it looked just Christmas-y enough for my little ones Christmas jammies, yet would carry well throughout the year.  And the trim!  No hemming and it’s cute!  Wahoo!  Oh, and it’s already pre-washed!  Remember think outside the box when looking for materials to sew with, it might just make your life a little easier :).

Little Girl Pajamas From A Blanket

Didn’t they turn out cute?  Probably my favorite project this Christmas.

Flannel Pajama Top

The pajama top is from the pattern I have been working on.  Someone left a comment on how it would make great pajamas, which I had never thought of.  I just lengthened it a bit, and really you could lengthen it more for a nightgown.  I had just enough fabric to line the front, but had to do without lining the back.  I think I was able to fine tune the pattern, and hopefully I will have it for you soon, so excited!  So many possibilities with this one!

Now, onto my happy mistake that turned into my favorite waistband:

How To Make An Elasticized Waistband


Supplies for making an Elastic Waistband

  • 1 inch to 1 ¼ inch knit sport elastic
  • knit fabric (stretchy), I used an old shirt
  • all your sewing stuff

Measurements and Fabric Cuts:

Generally you want a little negative ease with a knit waistband, but you still want it comfortable.  I just wrapped the elastic around my little girls tummy without stretching, then marked and cut.  By the time you trim the ends and overlap at the end to secure that should give you just enough.

From the knit fabric cut a piece as long as the elastic and 3 times wider.


Lay the fabric piece on a flat surface, and then the elastic on top.  I used the bottom of an old shirt, so that is where the hemming is from.  You want the elastic to lay a half inch from the bottom like shown.

Now fold over the fabric to line up the top and bottom edges with the elastic inside.  I trimmed my edge just to make it nice and clean.  Now if you’re really good you would pin, but if you’re lazy like me….

Sewing Knit Elastic Waistband

You just hop on over to your sewing machine and sew it up.  Adjust your stitch length to be a little longer than you would normally use.  Not as long as a basting stitch, just right in between the two.  Sew right along the edge of the elastic, making sure not to sew the elastic.  Don’t forget to back stitch.  Then secure the elastic by sewing a vertical stitch on each end.

Handmade Knit Elastic

There you have it, elastic covered in knit for your waistband sewing pleasure.  I did trim up the ends a bit to clean them up.

Now for the not so happy mistake…

I sewed it to the wrong side of the bottoms.  I may have taught my little guy a shiny new word when I realized what I had done.  I super duper back stitched too.  So just in case you are wondering how to avoid this…

How To Add A Knit Elastic Waistband

I used this tutorial for the bottoms, just using a nice fitting pair of my daughter’s jeans  for my guide.  Like told in the tutorial I added a few inches at the top to fold over when adding a gathered waistband.  But I didn’t take into account that I needed to add a couple inches at the waist for the gathered waistband.  Sheesh.  So basically, if I would have tried to add a gathered waistband the bottoms would cut into her middle, if I could have even got them on her!

So using the same jeans as a guide, I set the bottoms lying flat on the side without folding, lined up the crotch and then cut the waist at an angle, with an extra inch for seam allowance when adding the elastic.  Don’t cut it too low!  The waist should be two inches wider than the waist.

You want to cut it at an angle so that the back rise is about 1½ inches higher than the front like shown.

Now with the right side out, line the raw edge of the elastic with the raw edge of the waist, and one end of the elastic lined up with seam in the back.  Sew with a slightly longer stitch length again for a little give.  The waist should be about two inches bigger than the elastic – and assuming you cut the elastic to fit the waist – you will want to make sure you pull the elastic about two inches while sewing.

To finish off the elastic in the back, I just overlapped the ends about a ¼ inch and did a vertical zigzag stitch.  Sorry, I didn’t get pics of that!

Now just zigzag or serge the raw edge on the inside and you’re all done!

Pajama bottoms with an knit waistband

Easy peasy!  I am afraid I made it seem harder than it was, but really it was so easy.  And a great solution to my little mistake :).

Here they are in action on Christmas morning.

Toddler Pajama Bottoms

I guess I should make another pair to show you how to make the bottoms, since the measurements on the other tutorial wouldn’t be quite right for this fit.  Would that be helpful?

I have another tutorial coming up with how to just do a simple sport elastic waistband too.  It is perfect for little boys, stay tuned…

Hope you are having a great weekend :)!


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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Motherhood Moments January 9, 2011 at 1:23 am

Love this tutorial. I would love to see a pattern/tutorial for the pants. Super cute!


Destri January 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

I will see what I can do! And thank you!


KJ@letsgoflyakite January 9, 2011 at 6:46 am

That waistband looks so professional. Very comfy for kids.


Destri January 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

I am thinking it would be super comfy for me to ;). Just cut off the top of all my jeans and do this, that would be lovely!
Thanks you!


Admitted Fabricaholic January 9, 2011 at 7:00 am

What GREAT pajamas!!! Love them!!! I don’t know why I never thought to do the knit waistband, they do look so much better then the elastic, I agree! Will have to try this out! Thank you so much!


Destri January 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

I know right? I guess I always thought it would be harder, but it was simple. It takes just a little more time, but no more difficult. And they have washed up great too. Let me know how it goes!


Laura January 9, 2011 at 7:36 am

Those pajamas are truly awesome! Thank you for the tutorial for doing the elastic waistband. I’ve starred it in Google Reader so I can come back later and make use of it.


Destri January 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

You bet, let me know how they turn out :)


Maria January 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

How cute are those jammies! I love that the trim was built in and you didn’t have to finish the edges. Finishing the edges, is always the “pull my hair out” part of projects for me.


Brooke Douglass January 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Those are so cute!!!!!!!!!!! I hope I can find some addorable blankets like that to use some time soon, Brooke
Girl Boy Girl Inspired


Suzanne January 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Oh Destri, these are the cutes PJ’s ever you did an awesome job. The waist band is great!


Donna January 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I love these PJ’s. As a Grandma who loves making her 16 grandchildren pajamas, I would love the pattern for these adorable PJ’s.What a great idea to repurpose cute blankets with finished edges. I love them.


Mommying On The Fly January 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

This is absolutely PERFECT!! LOVING the tutorial, and the jammies look GREAT!!!! BTW.. gotta a little award for ya @ http://mommyingonthefly.blogspot.com/2011/01/woot-woot-award.html


Susanne January 10, 2011 at 8:09 am

So so so adorable!!!

I did this waistband this summer to make a skirt from a dress (I didn’t like the top part). It is the comfiest thing ever, and super easy. Plus you can easily find $1 tank tops at goodwill in just about any color. Love it!


Haley January 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

*SQUEAL* This is perfect!!! I’ve got a super skinny little one that I’ve not known how to help….this is awesome! Thanks


Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids January 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Love the PJs – so cuddly and sweet…Also, that waste band would be the perfect way to convert favorite pants into maternity pants.


Kat January 11, 2011 at 8:37 am

Thank you so much for sharing!! This is great! :)


margaret January 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Thanks so much for the great tute,great timing as was about to go and buy a pattern for soft top pants lol.
Now to cut up all my old shirts and put them to good use!


Erin January 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Thanks so much for this idea! I used to have some pjs with that kind of waist that I loved. Now I’m going to try to make some new ones for myself =-)


LiEr January 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Hi Destri – thank you for this tutorial! I found you on One Pretty Thing today, and am glad I came to see this. I’ve been thinking about (i.e. probably won’t get done) sewing yoga type pants for my eldest kid (she’s 6+), which needs this kind of waistband. You make it look so easy! Thank you for putting this together!


Amber January 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Thanks for the tips. Its one of those things you see and think, “why haven’t I been doing that??!” (whilst slapping your forehead!) I’ll be bookmarking this for the next PJs. cheers. Amber


Juli February 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

I use soft spandex for waistbands, you can even skip the elastic because the spandex is stretchy enough on its’ own. Super comfy!


Clover@farrbetterlife May 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

I so want to make them but I am a little confused. All my pants patterns are for elastic waist. do I need to narrow them at the top? And do I need to shorten the top from the rise since I dont need so much to make a gathered elastic waist. Hope this makes sense.


Destri May 10, 2011 at 3:51 am

So sorry! I forgot to add the link to the post that explains all that. Yes, you do have a more fitted ease through the hips and you make the rise come to just about where you want it when finished. This post will explain in detail a little better.
If you have anymore questions let me know, happy sewing!


Monica January 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm

You guys rock!


Dianne January 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Thanks for posting this! I’m making some fleece pants and I think this type of waistband looks so much nicer than just folding over the top of the pants and inserting an elastic. Plus, you can use a cute contrasting fabric for the waistband. Your tutorial makes the most sense (and is the most thorough) out of any I’ve seen.


Monica January 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Ahh. Help! Its the simple things that get me. When you are ready to sew the elastic band to the pants is the elastic band one long strip or is it sewed together to form a circle. I cant figure out how to sew it. There is obviously a larger waist on the pants than there is elastic band, but how do you sew it properly.
. Tnaks monica


Destri January 13, 2012 at 7:38 am

LOL, I feel the same way all the time Monica! You sew it in when it is a strip and then overlap the ends just enough to do a zigzag stitch to conceal both ends. When you sew make sure that you pull the elastic while sewing. In the tutorial I had about two inches more in the waist so I pulled the elastic a little more than that. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.


Ruth January 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Brilliant! thank you!


Vict February 3, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Um, “the waist should be two inches wider than the waist”. ??? This tutorial was not so easy to follow, especially that line.


Destri February 4, 2013 at 5:55 am

So sorry you didn’t find it easy to follow. In the future I am always happy to answer questions :). As for that line, you want the waist of the pajama pants to be two inches wider than the waist measurement, to allow for a little gathering.


Ross September 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

excelente me encantó y se vé muy fácil, usted nos inspira gracias.
Saludos para todas.


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