How to Sew the Cheater’s elastic waistband

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So, you may or may not have seen my absurdly silly church talent show video where I demonstrate my talent of ‘speed sewing.’ In the video I make a pair of pajama pants for an unsuspecting volunteer in less than 4 minutes. Anyone who takes pride in their sewing will cringe at my blatant disregard for proper hemming, seam finishing, and elastic waistband techniques.

But hey, I made them in 3 minutes and 20 seconds!

And that is probably why I have gotten lots of comments from people who want to know how I made that waistband so fast. In this post I am going to show you but WARNING! This process is not to be attempted by the picky. I doubt it has ever been taught in a paid sewing class.  And I wouldn’t use it on something ‘nice.’ But P.J. pants? Perfect!

Start with your p.j. pants (or other item) ready for the elastic casing. Here I have finished the top raw edge of the pants with my serger. It wasn’t really necessary because knit fabrics don’t fray, but I love using it when I can (this is the soft and cosy Circa 52 organic knit from Birch Fabrics).

Anyway, the top edge of those pants is going to show, so finish it if you would like.

Sew the elastic into a loop… make sure it’s not twisted.

Lay the elastic against the inside back of the pants, with the seam in the elastic against the back seam on the pants, about 1 1/2” below the top edge.

Fold the top edge of the pants down over the elastic, and start sewing about an inch past the back seam. Backstitch and then continue around the pants.

Fold the top edge of the pants down over the elastic as you go. Try to keep the casing the same width all the way around.

When you get about half way around, you’ll probably notice that you have a lot less elastic than pants. That’s usually how it works.

So bunch up the casing on the sewn part of the pants, allowing you to have enough free elastic to finish sewing the casing.

When you reach the back of the pants again, you may want to stop and insert a piece of ribbon or something else to act as a tag. Handmade pants can be so confusing to kids, lol!

I stitched a cute little tag on top of the casing.

And that’s it. This is not a proper elastic casing by any means, but it’s fast and it works.

By the way, These pants were made from my free P.J. Bottoms and Shorts Pattern.

Happy Sewing!

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. Felicia Balezentes says:

    I am torn between, "Is she nuts?!" and "That’s ingenius!"

  2. Laura Bosch says:

    I’ve done this many times. Makes a quick and easy waistband for leggings or skirts too!

  3. Michelle James says:

    To make it easier to keep the casing even all around, topstitch around the top of the evenly turned down casing before you lay the elastic inside back of the pants. Continue as directed above. Be sure to turn down enough to allow the elastic to fit between the two rows of stitching!

    Michelle at MickieSueToo on Etsy

  4. [object Object] says:

    So nice. My mom always sewed a button in the front by the belly button 🙂

  5. I am not sure what serger you have but they make an elastic foot for sergers and for an industrial machine like a Juki.

  6. says:

    Just tried this yesterday. Have been making shorts for my kids. It is so much easier than threading elastic through a casing and looks just as good. I did turn the bottom of waistband under and pressed prior to sewing. Great tip.

  7. I have been doing this method for years! I love it!!! Nothing I hate more than stringing elastic through a casing, all I can say is BRAVO!

  8. I am just wondering if you ever announce the winners of your giveaways. I don’t ever see any names of winners. I read every post you send out and enjoy learning from them. I enter the giveaways each time also and thank you for doing this. Can you give us names of the winners? Thank you.

    1. Hi Helen,
      The winner of the previous giveaway is named near the bottom of the giveaway page (after the current giveaway). I must apologize because sometimes I forget to go back and put in the name of the most recent giveaway winner. I often update the giveaway page late and night and get sleepy and forget things. 🙂

  9. 😁 This reminded me of the time as a pre-schooler when I was pestering my mum and she was busy sewing. She said she would make me a new pair of pants if I promised to wear them and go out and play. She grabbed a spare piece of velvety brown fabric and in minutes had whipped up something very similar to this, as I watched. If I remember correctly it was 2 rectangles with a square gusset.
    I wore them proudly and didn’t give her any more trouble. She was using a hand-crank Singer and it was still fast enough not to interrupt her sewing session too much.

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