The last time I made this pattern, I followed the directions on the instruction sheet exactly which resulted in a sort-of waist stay. Adding grosgrain ribbon definitely helped to stabilize the waist seam and keep it from stretching out, but it doesn’t do anything to support the weight of the skirt.
So this time, I wanted to sew a proper waist stay, one that hooks up around the waistline and helps to support this wonderfully full skirt.
A waist stay also reduces strain on the zipper, which is great on any fitted dress! Add a waist stay to any dress with a waistline seam following the steps below.
How to add a waist stay:
First, buy a piece of grosgrain ribbon that’s about 10-15″ longer than the waistline of the dress. (If you’re in the fabric store, loop the ribbon around your waist and then add the 10-15″ to that measurement. That’s what I did!) You don’t need quite that much, but it’s better to have extra than to be short.
I used 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon but a lot of books use 1″, either will do the trick! I also liked to use slightly contrasting ribbon so it looks pretty. For this dress I chose a pale pink – it won’t show when the dress is on, but it’s cute when the dress is hanging up.
Then, construct your dress to the point where the skirt is attached to the bodice.
For my dress, it’s basically finished at this point. I have the bodice finished, facings attached and catchstitched to the underlining, and zipper opening edges pressed under. The skirt is sewn together, and attached to the bodice, seam allowances have been serged and pressed up towards the bodice.
Now, take your grosgrain ribbon. Fold in half, and mark the halfway point with a pin.
Find the centre of your dress – if you have a back zipper, it’s going to be in the centre of centre front – and mark it as well. Now pin the grosgrain ribbon to the seam allowances, matching the centres. (This seam allowance is probably very thick so pin carefully!)
Leave the ribbon loose at each end. This is what I didn’t do last time. You need to keep the ends loose, so they can hook around your waist!
Leave the ribbon unpinned, about 2″ from the zipper opening on each side:
Stitch very close to the lower edge of the grosgrain ribbon, making sure not to catch any of the skirt fabric underneath. Backstitch at both ends.
Here’s what the stitching looks like along the edge, in a close-up shot:
What the dress looks like once the ribbon has been attached to the waistline:
Now, add hooks to the ends of your ribbon. You can use the large metal hooks that often go on waistbands, or you can use two little hook-and-eyes. I used a big hook I had in my stash, the kind you see on bathing-suit tops.
I’ll keep going with directions for my kind of hook. Loop the hook end through the grosgrain ribbon and pin. (If you’re using sew-on hooks, sew the hook to the grosgrain ribbon end.)
Make a loop in the other end of the ribbon and pin.
Try on the dress and adjust the loop to fit snugly around the waist. (If using sew-on hooks, pull the hook end towards the other end of the ribbon and mark where to place the eye.)
This is much easier with a helper! But if you don’t have a helper, that’s OK too. Simply turn the dress around backwards so that the waist stay closes in the front, and adjust the waist stay to fit. That’s what I did, and it worked fine. You could also measure your waist exactly, and transfer that measurement to the waist stay.
Trim the extra ribbon, fold the ends under 1/4″ and stitch the ends. I’d recommend stitching up and down a few times to make it extra-strong!
Voila – your waist stay is complete!
Here it is, on the dress form. You might find it hard to do up on the dress form because her waist doesn’t ‘squish’ the same way it will on a real body. I can suck in to do up the hook, but Diana’s waistline is rock-solid.
Next up: the hand-picked zipper!
Oh and I just noticed I am at 201 followers – thanks everyone! Which means it’s time for another giveaway. Stay tuned for the 200 follower giveaway details and how to enter!