Sew-alongs · Sewing for Argentine Tango · Sewing Techniques · Skirts · Tango Skirts

Wrap Skirt Sew-Along 3: Starting the Waistband/Ties

Aaaaand… we’re back! Now that the pleats, sides seams, and hem of my wrap skirt are done (as of the previous post in this series), I can get on with the waistband. In this particular pattern*, the process involves a bit more than your average waistband; being a wrap skirt, the waistband extends at one end into a tie end, and the other tie end is sewn separately, then attached at one side seam of the waistband. (Confused? So was I. All will be explained and illustrated.)


McCall's 5430 wrap skirt pattern

* I’m using McCall’s 5430 for this sew-along; you’ll find more information in the first post in this series. Of course, you’re welcome to use your own wrap skirt pattern, as long as you’re clear that my assembly instructions may not apply— but the sewing techniques should still be helpful!

What we’ll cover today:

  • Ease-stitching the waist edge of the skirt;
  • Sewing the separate tie end and basting it to the waistband;
  • Sewing the outside waistband pieces together (meaning the ones that will show on the outside);
  • Attaching these pieces to the skirt.

First, did you remember to do your homework? If so, your waistband pieces are already appropriately interfaced. If not, do that before proceeding— and be careful to follow the pattern instructions carefully as to which pieces get interfaced, and where; there are a lot of different pieces in this waistband, and it’s easy to get them mixed up. Which reminds me of a tip I wanted to mention:

Tip: When you’re using a pattern like this one that has multiple versions, it’s a good idea to use a highlighter to mark the steps in the instructions that only apply to your garment, thus:

Highlighting sewing steps
Here, I’ve highlighted the steps in the pattern instructions that apply to my skirt. I’m making View A.

Glossary: Ease-stitching simply means a line of stitching, sewn within the seam allowance and usually with a fairly long stitch length (I use 4, as a rule). The purpose is to fit a piece that’s slightly larger into a slightly smaller one by distributing the excess fabric evenly; the ease-stitching helps to control this distribution.

The general idea is the same as for creating gathers: you’ll pull on the bobbin-side thread to create gathers. Creating ease is just pulling less on the thread. This is frequently used to help shape sleeve caps, for example, so that they fit smoothly into the armhole without actual gathers.

1. Ease-stitch across the top of your skirt, just inside the 5/8″ seam allowance line.

Ease-stitch across top of skirt
1. After ease-stitching across waist edge of skirt, pull gently on your bobbin thread, just a little bit. My skirt required very little adjustment; if you look at the 2 threads coming out of my ease-stitching, you can see that the bobbin thread is just a bit longer than the top thread— that’s how little I had to adjust the ease.

Tip: It’s a good idea to establish certain standard ways of doing things when you sew. For example, when I ease-stitch, I always have the right side (RS) of the fabric facing me when I sew; this way, I always know that the WS is where the bobbin thread will be. You could also use a different color of thread in your bobbin to indicate where to pull the thread, since ease-stitching will never show on the outside of your garment.

Another ease-stitching tip: Do not backstitch at the ends! You’re going to want to pull those threads later.

2. Now let’s work on the waistband. First, sew the separate tie end pieces together (in this pattern, that’s pattern piece #4). At the angled end, sew a few backstitches at each corner to reinforce them; you’ll be trimming away a lot of the seam allowance later.

Reinforce corners of seam
2. Sew tie end pieces (pattern piece #4) together. To reinforce the corners of the tie end, add a few backstitches on each side of the 2 corners.
Trim seam allowances
3. Trim seam allowances across corners, close (but not too close) to the stitching line.
Continue trimming near corners
Trim a second time, along the sides leading to the corners, gradually trimming closer to the seamline. All this trimming helps to reduce the bulk in the corners when you turn your tie right-side out.
Turn tie right-side out
Using a narrow, blunt-ended tool, gently push into the corners to create the points. I’m using a bamboo chopstick; you can also try a knitting needle if the tip isn’t too sharply pointed. What you must avoid is poking all the way through the fabric.
Use a pin to sharpen the points
If your corners don’t look really pointy, insert a pin through the corner, and pull gently on it — just a little! Be careful with this; it’s all too easy to cause the entire corner to fray. (Don’t ask me how I know.) Press your tie when you’re done.

4. Now that the tie end is finished, we’ll baste it onto one of the waistband pieces.

Baste tie end to waistband
4. Baste the completed tie end in place to the interfaced left front waistband (#5) piece.

Tip: Use what I call the Above & Beyond approach when basting: Start your basting above the piece that’s getting basted (the tie end, in this case), and finish beyond that piece. This helps keep the basting stitches from working their way loose. You can see how I did the same thing when basting the pleats in place.

5. Assemble interfaced pieces of waistband. Okay. For this part, I had to really look closely at the pattern instructions to figure it out. Here are the notes I added:

Assembling the waistband.
5. Assembling the waistband. The piece on the right, which I’ve marked as pattern piece #5, is the same piece you just basted your tie end onto. Now you’re going to sew this piece to the back waistband (#7), and #6 to #7. Notice that all these pieces are the interfaced ones.
After sewing waistband seams
After sewing my 2 seams, I think my waistband matches up with the picture in the instructions!

6. Now it’s time to attach the waistband to the skirt! Remember the ease-stitching you did earlier? We’ll see if it actually needs to be adjusted:

Adjusting ease
6. Lining up the skirt with the band. Here, I’ve pinned the waistband to the skirt (RS together) at the side seams (each marked with X). You can see that there’s a little more fabric in the skirt than in the waistband (the green bit at top); I’ll need to adjust the ease so that the 2 pieces match up in size. If yours needs to be adjusted, remember it’s the bobbin thread you want to pull on to tighten up the skirt top; you probably won’t need to pull much.


Sewing the band to the skirt
Adjust ease (if necessary), then stitch seam. Here, you can see that my ease-stitching line is well inside the seamline. Also, if you look at the bobbin thread, you can see it’s a bit longer than the top thread; this is the result of pulling a little on this thread to adjust the ease. (The short bit of stitching in lavender thread is where I basted my pleats earlier.)
Lining up the short band end
One end of the waistband will line up with the front edge of the skirt; the other extends into a tie end. For this end (piece #5), be sure there’s 5/8″ of the band extending past the front edge of the skirt before stitching the band-skirt seam.
After sewing waistband to skirt
After sewing the waistband-skirt seam and pressing seam towards band. I’m so happy my side seams matched up so well (arrow)!
Almost done!
Almost done! Don’t you love that magic moment in every project when it actually starts looking like the garment it will be?

I think that’s plenty for today, don’t you? Next time, we’ll add the facings to the waistband we made today, add the buttons and buttonholes, and then we’re done! (Wow, already?)

Homework: Go ahead and sew your remaining waistband pieces (#5, 6, 7) together; that’s just the 2 side seams. And let me know how you’re doing with your skirt!

Coming up next: We’ll finish the waistband, nay, the entire skirt, by adding the waistband facings, then finishing with buttons and buttonholes. We’re on the home stretch!


Want more sewing stuff from Colormusing? Check out myBratelier (lingerie sewing, including bras!), and Changing Your Clothes, which covers everything from repairs & alterations to dyeing and remaking thrift-shop finds.

And don’t miss all my color-palette-related excitement at the  A Musing blog! (Click on the dots above to visit my mother ship,

2 thoughts on “Wrap Skirt Sew-Along 3: Starting the Waistband/Ties

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