How to Add an Elastic Waist to the Rushcutter
I love that current fashion trends are teetering toward a more relaxed fit these days. Wide-legged pants, A-line dresses, and boxy tops are not only comfortable, but also versatile and flattering. Plus, they’re relatively quick and easy to sew! And The Rushcutter by In the Folds is no exception.
After I sewed the double-sided cotton version for the 2016 Spring Collection, I was eager to sew this pattern again in a more drapey fabric. Then, Lauren sewed up a mod, rayon challis version for the Spring Collection blog tour and it sealed the deal. A rayon Rushcutter jumped to the top of my to-sew queue.
I decided to sew up the sleeveless View B of this pattern, but skip the sash that cinches in the waist of this A-line dress. I wanted the View B silhouette, but I have a childlike need to be comfortable all the time. An inflexible fabric belt around my diaphragm makes me a little twitchy. So a cinched elastic waist was my solution and I thought I’d share my method with you!
This tutorial will lead you through the step-by-step process of adding an elastic waist to the Rushcutter, but is applicable to any A-line or shift dress with lots of ease through the waist and hips. This process is ideal for lightweight fabrics like rayon or voile, but is also suitable for stable fabrics like linen and cotton. I don’t recommend adding an elastic waist to a dress sewn in a heavyweight fabric like twill or denim.
What you’ll need:
- An extra 1/8 yard of fabric (self or contrasting is fine)
- 1/2” wide elastic equal to your waist measurement plus 2"
Okay, let's get started!
1. Sew the dress, leaving the hem unsewn.
Sew your dress according to the pattern instructions. I recommend leaving the dress unhemmed, so that you can decide on the hem length once the elastic is applied. Inserting an elastic waist will bring the length of the dress up an inch or so more than if the waist were uncinched.
2. Decide where to place the elastic.
Try the dress on inside out and cinch in the waist with a small belt or long fabric scrap where it feels comfortable to you. I like my dress waist to be cinched right at my natural waist. Notice how much fabric blouses over the belt and adjust by pulling fabric up or down underneath the belt. Using a pin, mark the location on the dress where your belt feels and looks best. Pin at the center front, center back, and side seams.
3. Mark the waistline.
Take the dress off and with tailor’s chalk or a fabric marker, mark a line around the waistline where you’ve placed your pins.Try to keep the markings a consistent distance from the hem. The center front marking may dip a few inches lower than your side seam markings, which is normal. This will account for the fabric that will smooth over your bust.
4. Cut the casing.
In this method, the elastic will be secured inside a casing for a professional finish. First, measure the circumference of the dress waist with a flexible tape measure at your markings.
Then, cut a rectangle of self fabric 1.5” wide by the circumference measurement + 1”.
5. Prepare the casing.
Serge the two long ends of the casing (this is optional, but makes it easier to press the small seam allowances). Then sew and/or serge the two short ends of the casing right sides together, using a 1/2” seam allowance. Press that seam to one side.
Next, fold the serged edges of the casing towards the wrong side of the fabric by 1/4” and press.
6. Attach the casing to the dress.
With wrong sides together, align the seam of the casing with one of the side seams and pin, centering the casing over the waistline marking. Continue to center the casing over the line and pin around the entire circumference of the waistline.
Edgestitch the casing to the dress at both folded edges, leaving a 1” gap to insert the elastic at the side seam.
This is what the sewn casing should look like:
7. Insert the elastic.
On your body, measure your waist where the elastic waist will sit. Cut a length of elastic equal to that measurement plus 2”. Secure a large safety pin to one short end of the elastic and feed it through the opening in the casing. You may want to secure the other end of the elastic to the dres so that you don’t lose it in the casing as you pull it through. Continue to feed the safety pin and elastic through the casing until it comes out the opening on the other side.
8. Secure the elastic.
Ensure the elastic is not twisted in the casing, then overlap the short ends by 1” and secure with a safety pin through a layer of the casing so that the elastic ends don't disappear inside the casing. Turn the dress right side out and try it on to ensure a good fit through the waist.
Once the fit feels good, turn the dress inside out and sew this overlapped elastic section with a zig-zag stitch, backstitching several times to secure.
9. Close the casing.
Redistribute the casing around the elastic so that the waist is gathered equally in the front and back of the dress. Close the casing by edgestitching the casing closed near both folded edges. You’ll need to stretch the elastic near the opening so that the fabric lays flat.
10. Hem your dress.
Now that the dress waist has been cinched, you can evaluate how much length (if any) you’d like to take off when you hem. Hem the dress according to the pattern instructions.
That’s it! Turn your dress right side out and admire your handiwork. If you decide to sew the sash for View B of the Rushcutter, you’ll notice that this method helps to evenly gather the fabric underneath the belt.
Do you have other dresses that could be improved from a cinched, elastic waist? Try this method! It’s relatively quick and easy and changes the entire look of the garment.
We’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new fabric batch (see sneak peek here)! But yardage is super limited for this one, so make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter if you see something you like.
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