Adding a Hybrid Waistband to Rad’s Solar Flares

I struggle with waistbands. It doesn’t seem to matter if I spend my free time snacking or doing hundreds of crunches every week, my stomach has been slack and disproportionate since my son was born. Low bands fall under my belly and roll down. Medium bands cut across my softest points which is not comfortable and makes for an odd silhouette. Tall bands are most comfortable across my stomach, but the extra height in the back either bunches up or rolls down.

Whether you are pregnant, post-partum, or just like having more waistband in the front than the back, creating a hybrid ruched waistband is an easy way to customize the fit and support of the Rad Patterns Solar Flares (or any other pant or skirt pattern which uses a knit waistband).

Determining Waistband Measurements

Height: I wanted to have a fairly standard three inch waistband in the back, so I went with 7 inches for height of the back piece. To get good coverage in the front, I opted for 15 inches for the front height. That worked out perfectly for me, but you can make the pieces taller or shorter depending on your preferences. A good rule of thumb is to make the part you want to ruche about double the size you want it to join to.

Length: Use the pattern’s cut chart to figure out how long to cut your waistband pieces. If you are using the non-maternity option, divide the band length in half. If you are using the maternity option, subtract half of the non-maternity band measure from the maternity band measure and use the result as the length for the front piece (this adds the extra length to the belly side while keeping the back length standard).

You can either add a half inch to the length of both pieces and sew the pieces together with a half inch seam allowance OR just use a quarter inch seam allowance when you sew the pieces together.

Ruching the Front Band

Make sure you have elastic which can stretch to more than double its length (clear elastic or swim elastic are good candidates). Stretch the elastic a fee times before measuring and cutting. Cut two pieces of elastic the same length of the height of the back waistband (in my example, 7 inches).

Mark the quarter points of the elastic and the sides of the front waistband. Pin or clip the elastic to the wrong side of the waistband at the quarter points and both ends. Sew the elastic on using a zig-zag stitch. You will have to stretch the elastic a lot to make it fit against the fabric. When you stop to reposition or re-stretch the elastic, make sure the needle is down first. (If this is your first time ruching with elastic, be aware that it does get easier with practice!)

Finishing the Band

Once you’ve ruched the front waistband piece, sew the front and back pieces right sides together. If your ruching didn’t get the front side to exactly the same as the back piece, you may have to stretch the back piece slightly to match.

Optional: Fold the band down with raw edges together and sew or serge the edges (wrong sides together) to form the finished band.

Find the halfway points on the front and back of the band and match those to the front and back seams. Clip or pin those and the side seams, then sew or serge to attach the band to the pants.

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