Minoru Sew-Along #17: The Waistline

Sew AlongWidget Minoru Minoru Sew Along #11: Little Hidden PocketsToday we’ll give our loose, baggy jackets a sleek, flattering silhouette! We’ll sew a casing for the elastic waistline, insert the elastic, and pull it tight until we’re happy with the fit. The jacket is nearly complete at this point, so it’s easy to fit the elastic and know how it will feel in the finished product.

This is one of the design elements that sets this jacket apart from other sporty weekend jackets – it’s fitted in the waist! I have a thing against saggy, sack-like jacket backs. If the jacket is too baggy without waist definition, then the jacket is pulled out by my widest part (the rear) and from the side, all of me looks as wide as my rear end! A wide rectangle. Not the ideal look for someone with big hips! We look smaller and curvier when we show off our waists.

When we sew in the waist elastic, you get to try on your jackets, adjust the elastic, and get the perfect fit. Start with the elastic guide measurements, as you can’t make it larger once the elastic is cut, but you can shorten it. It’s easy to cinch the elastic tighter, pin the elastic end in place, and try on the jacket again. Repeat until you’re happy with the look!

If you had trouble finding two-inch elastic, and are substituting narrower elastic, you’ll want to sew your casing smaller to fit your elastic. Same thing if you are using elastic that’s wider than 2″ – although I rarely see elastic that wide. Two-inch is usually the widest elastic available at the fabric store.

Want to catch up on previous Sew-Along posts? Click the links below to read more:

Let’s get started! Before we sew the casing, let’s make sure the layers are smooth. Lay down your jacket on the work table, and smooth down the lining. If the lining is pulled up when we sew the elastic casing, it will stay that way! We don’t want that. We want it to hang straight down from the neckline.

Bunched up – not good!

Smoothed out – much better.

To keep these layers in place while we sew the casing, let’s pin above and below the stitching lines, through all layers. This will keep everything in the right place when we take it to the machine.

Feel through both layers, to line up the sideseams, and continue pinning.

It’s easier to pin above the stitch line first, and then pin below.

Now when we stitch the casing, we’ll sew along the top and the bottom, making a long open tunnel. Again, I like to start with the top row. It gives me one more chance to smooth out the layers when I come back to sew the bottom row!

You can either sew over your thread-traced lines, or pull them out before you get to them. I remember it was a bit tricky to take out the basting stitches on previous jackets, so I’ll remove each big stitch just before I get to it. It feels like I’m ‘chasing’ the row of basting stitches with my machine!

Backstitch at both ends. Now when we go to sew the second row, if you think your first row might have deviated from the markings, why not measure and re-mark the second stitch line? It’s better to take the time now and be sure, rather than rip out your casing stitches on the right side of your jacket!

Sew the second row of stitching. Here’s what it will look like, from the inside! (I just noticed my iron in the back of this shot. No, I don’t iron on the sewing table! I’m short on space so when I’m not ironing, the board is put away and the iron sits behind the sewing machine.)

Cut a piece of elastic according to the elastic guide, and pin a big safety pin to one end. We’ll use the safety pin to help push the elastic through the tunnel. (Bonus if you have a gadget that helps with threading elastic! I’ve only used safety pins but I love those gadgets that help turn tiny loops. Whatever you use that helps you thread elastic through casings, use it now!)

Now, reach up between the layers of lining and jacket, and poke the safety-pinned end into one end of the elastic tunnel. Use the safety pin to inch the elastic through the casing, until it reaches the other side.

Secure the elastic at both ends with a pin or safety pin. A safety pin is better, if you have two available!

One point to note: if you pin the elastic end through the outside of your jacket, it’s easier to adjust as you try it on. However if your jacket fabric is coated or waterproof, or if pinning through it will damage it, then pin on the inside!

Try on the jacket, and adjust the elastic as needed. (This is where it’s easier if you’ve pinned the elastic on the outside, although either way you’ll need to reach up into the lining to pull the elastic.)

Look at the jacket from all angles – does it look good from the side, back and front? Pull it tighter for a snugger fit and try it on again.

When you’re satisfied with the waistline, sew straight across the ends of the elastic, from top stitching line to bottom stitching line, to secure the elastic.

If there is a lot of extra elastic, trim it off. (I didn’t have as much extra as it looks like in the photo below, I didn’t trim my piece to match the elastic guide before inserting it into the casing.)

And that’s it! Our elastic waistline is done. Just one more post tomorrow, on hemming, and our jackets will be complete!

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12 Responses to Minoru Sew-Along #17: The Waistline

  1. LLBB March 13, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    This is such an excellent feature of this jacket!!

  2. Inna March 13, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Can’t wait to start sewing mine!!!!!!!

  3. Aida March 13, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I’ve just discovered your site and I’m thrilled!! I’m a beginner sewist and I’m looking for easy-to-follow patterns so that I can gather courage and try my hand at some clothing.
    I love the feeling of your site and the patterns are sooo lovely. Also, I’m happy to read that they’ve been made with a pear-shape figure in mind, that’s me!!
    I can’t wait to try some of them, maybe I’ll start with the dress, it’s the only with an “Easy” level, right?

    • Tasia March 13, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      Hello Aida! How exciting that you’ve taken up sewing, I hope you love it as much as I do! Of all the patterns, the Lonsdale Dress is the easiest to sew. There are no darts, only a few seams, and easy-to-sew pockets. Plus, there are step-by-step instructions with photos posted in the Lonsdale Sew-Along. Here’s the link – that will pull up all of the Lonsdale Dress-related blog posts to help you along! Happy sewing!

  4. Pauline March 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    The jacket is almost finished, I can’t wait to wear it. I don’t think I could have done it without your helpful advices.
    I ilke that the elastic defines the waist, more girly.

  5. velosewer March 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I used 32mm or 1 1/4″ wide elastic and it suited my shorter frame. The waist line definition is definitely why I bought this pattern and made my jacket.

  6. Sophia March 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Your jacket looks so great and the lining fabric looks so smooth and silky. I can’t wait to see the finished project!

    After over a year of living in Boston, I finally got the guts to take my bike out into the mayhem. It was actually a lot of fun and my new bright pink Minoru was the perfect jacket to wear! Unfortunately, the hot pink clashes with my red bike. Hmmm… new Minoru, or new bike. That’s a toughie. :)

  7. maddie flanigan March 14, 2012 at 5:11 am #

    You’re almost there! The jacket is looking better and better with every post. Can’t wait to see the final product!

  8. Isabella May 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Hi, I’ve just ‘stumbled upon’ your marvellous website, (now subscribed !) whilst searching for tips on how to tighten / elasticate a jacket waistline without any lining in it! I can ‘see’ what I mean in my minds eye, but not sure exactly how to go about it. Would I make a casing from fabric or tape first, then stitch it into jacket with elastic inside?! Help please!!!

    • Tasia May 24, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi Isabella! I think that’s exactly what I’d do – I’d make a casing out of fabric, or perhaps a ribbon or tape that’s just a little bit wider than the elastic, and sew it inside the jacket with two rows of stitching on the top and bottom. Leave the ends open, and thread the elastic through the tunnel. Then stitch over the elastic ends to secure it! It’s basically the same as with the lining, you’ll just have to create your own casing with something else. Something that will be relatively smooth and flat would be best. In my mind, I’d use self fabric if it made sense, or perhaps a plain cotton. Hope this helps!

  9. Isabella May 25, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Thank you so much Tasia for the advice. It’s much clearer now in my mind. Sorry I bothered you with it, much appreciated. I’ve subscribed to blog, looking forward to reading all the interesting stuff on it! It’s refreshingly different from other sewing sites.