Over the years we've come to believe certain superstitions about sewing and fashion - such as "Don't wear white after Labor Day." "Buy a pattern two sizes bigger than your ready-to-wear size." etc.

Lots of my beginning decisions are strictly based on what will make the sewing process pleasant and not stressful. I'd rather make a dozen jackets, coats, or sweaters than one chiffon evening dress, but hopefully I'll read an author whose work I trust, examine a garment that's beautifully made, and then pool all of that "experience" into a good outcome. So, I've decided to dispel some sewing "myths" by taking them apart for you. I hope that in this way, you'll improve some of your sewing and how you think about methods. After all, sewing is simply what works best this time!

myth10"Cut your waistband out with one long edge
on the selvage."

Behind the Myth: Cut out the waistband on the lengthwise grain, putting the selvage along one long edge. Then when you apply the waistband, you can just let that edge hang down inside the garment so it's not as bulky in the waistband (and you save a sewing step).

The Truth: I have to admit this was something I did for years. I blamed that ripply little edge under the waistband on a too-tight band or my own body. Hogwash! Here's what happens: Because the selvage is designed to stabilize the fabric's edge, it does not give, so when it hangs just below the waistband it doesn't curve around the body's curve and instead pulls underneath your fabric, making it ripple. That's why a contour waistband is shaped the way it is; that's why true grosgrain/petersham works at the waist, while the embossed variety does not.

The Solution: Cut out all four sides of the waistband; serge one long edge or finish with a bias strip of lining fabric. It will be less bulky, and it will steam press to shape and match your body's curve. Another solution is to cut it on the crosswise grain of the fabric. There's more give to fabric on the crossgrain, so it may be more comfortable to wear. Combined with my special waistband interfacing, I now have not only smooth waistbands but comfortable garments.

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Copyright © 1999. Nancy Erickson Consulting