Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sewing the Waist and Finishing Touches - Style Arc Misty Jeans Sewalong

You who!?!  Where'd ya go?

Sorry, Friends!  Halloween costume making got the better of me towards week's end.  Captain America was very happy with his costume though!

Captain America

I may do a post about his costume at a later date.  That star in the middle of his chest lights up!

Anyway, back to the Misty Jeans.

To attach the waist band, you have to decide on the size of your waistband.  I did not use the waistband guide for this step.  There are so many different types of elastic out that have varying stretch characteristics, that I felt it better to determine the elastic size myself.  I first put the elastic around my natural waist to my desired amount of tightness, then made sure that the elastic would stretch enough to go over my hips with relative ease.  I cut two pieces of the elastic to this length with about an inch of extra length added in for overlap where we will be sewing the elastic together to make a round waistband.

ZigZag Stitch 5.0 Width 1.0 Length

I set my sewing machine for a zigzag stitch (#5 on my machine) with a 5.0 stitch width and a 1.0 stitch length.  On a zigzag stitch, 1.0 is a tight stitch length that will place your stitches close together.

Joining the Ends of the Elastic

Next, I took one piece of my already cut to length elastic, brought it together like a belt would go together (a round loop, with no twisting of the elastic, just one round solid loop) and overlapped the elastic pieces by about 1/2 inch.  Then, I sewed the elastic together with my zigzag stitch.  I started about 1/4 inch from the top edge of the elastic.  Then I sewed to the bottom edge, reversed my stitch and sewed all the way back up to the top of the elastic, set my stitch back forward, and sewed to the bottom edge again.  This might be over kill, but it is what I always do when I am sewing elastic together.


This is what your seam on your elastic will look like once you are finished.  Just a nice solid line of stitching that will keep the elastic together, and keep it from fraying.

Trim the Elastic to Keep it Neat

Next, I trimmed away the extra elastic on both sides of the band, leaving a scant 1/4 inch outside the seam.  Now just repeat these steps to make a band out of your second piece of elastic.

ZigZag Stitch 5.0 Width 2.0 Length

Once both bands were joined it was time to sew the two bands together.  I will continue with a zigzag stitch with a 5.0 width, but I will change the stitch length to 2.0 so that there is space between the stitches.

Evenly Spaced Seams

In this step it is important to make sure that the areas you sewed to join your elastic to form bands are on opposite sides of the waistband.  If you put them together, it would cause problems with bulk, and the stress of those seams does not need to be in the same place.  Spread the love!

I only used two needles to hold the elastic together here.  You want to get your zigzag stitch as close to the edge of your elastic as you are comfortable with.  There is no reason to stretch the elastic as you are sewing at this point.  If you are the brave type and want to sew a straight stitch instead of a zigzag, you will have to stretch your elastic as you go, but I don't recommend trying that if you are a beginner.  You will get an opportunity to sew a stretched seam here in a few steps if you wish.

These Clips Rock

As I was sewing, the elastic bands were trying to move around a little on me, so every now and again I would throw one of these little clips on there in the interest of straightness.  It isn't necessary, but it helped.

Center Front Pinned in Place

Once you have joined your two pieces of elastic together, it is time to attach the elastic to the waistband.  Style Arc gives you directions that say to attach the waistband to the pants, because it gives you creative freedom to decide what method you want to use to join the two.  A really awesome thing about the double thickness of elastic is that you could use the two pieces of elastic to encase the top of the pants, and that would be a really awesome finish.  It is however a harder feat to achieve, so in the interest of keeping these pants beginner friendly, I am using the easiest method I am aware of.

Nancy Zieman goes in to this a bit on her website, except her tutorial that I found was for encasing the elastic with the pant fabric (I will encase the elastic on the next pair of Misty's that I make, but I won't be using this method).  With the Misty Jeans pattern, the elastic is actually part of the design element.  Still, her tutorial is a good one that will help with this step.  

You want to pin your elastic to the outside/right side of your pants.  I placed pins first at my two side seams, using the areas where I had sewn each elastic loop together as my quides.  Then I pinned my center front and center back.  After that, I placed a pin evenly between each of the pins that was already there for a total of eight pins.

 You can see from the picture above that my elastic is going to have to stretch to be the same width as my pant fabric.

This gives you a better idea of what this will look like once it is in your sewing machine and under the needle.  I am using the same zigzag stitch that I used to attach the two pieces of elastic to each other (5.0 wide, 2.0 length).  Once I have placed the needle in to the fabric, I will gently stretch the elastic to meet the pant material using my left hand to stretch behind the needle, and my right hand to stretch in front of the needle.  It is very important not to try to use the needle and one hand to stretch the elastic.  This can mess up the timing on your machine, break needles, and just wreak all kinds of havoc.

You could just stop at this step and be done with the waistband.  I wanted to run a row of topstitching along the top of the pant at the waist attachment to help keep the elastic neat and turned in the proper direction.  To do this, I turned my elastic up (how it would be when I wear the pants).  I set my machine for a straight stitch with a 3.0 length.  Then I stretched the elastic to it's maximum stretch and ran a stitch through the pant fabric, and the elastic that is on the inside of the pants (where we had attached the elastic to the pants).

Broken Needle #1

Over the course of this seam, I proceeded to break not one, but two needles.  This was completely my fault and not my machines.

Broken Needle #2

I have my machine set to stop with the needle down in the fabric.  When you are sewing through elastic that you are having to stretch by hand, you always want the machine to stop with the needle up.  Otherwise, when you let go of the fabric/elastic to readjust the area you are stretching the elastic will move and snap your needle.

If you have never snapped a needle before what kind of sewing sorcerer are you, there are some things that you will want to know here.  It is very important to make sure that the bottom of the needle does not drop down in to your machine as it is a PITA to try to retrieve and could do major damage to your machine if you tried to sew and forgot the needle piece was in there.  I generally go ahead and cut the thread with the fabric and presser foot still in place, remove the broken needle piece, and then go about changing my needle.  You will just want to start  your stitches about three stitches back from the point where you broke the needle.

Front of Style Arc Misty Jeans

Back of Style Arc Misty Jeans

Once you have finished the topstitching, the front and back of your jeans will look something like the pictures above.  See how the fabric puckers evenly between each stitch?  That is what we are going for.  I know that some of the more advanced sewist participating in the sewalong are using the harder method of encasing the pant fabric between the two elastic pieces.  I can't wait to see how those jeans turn out.

Our final step here is to sew the lower hem of the pants.

For this step you will need to employ a friend, spouse, or kiddo to pin the your hem.  Put your Misty Jeans on inside out and flip the lower hem up.  Have your helper get the hem even and pin it in place (then go check it in the mirror).

Notice my helper pinned the pins in the wrong direction

Once you are satisfied with the hem, take your pants off, and press the hem in place.  I like to do this around a tailor's ham, but have had equal success just pressing the hem flat.

Proper Pin Placement

After you have pressed your seam and then removed the pins, it is time to set up your sewing machine for this final step.

Insert a double needle, select the double needle setting if your machine has that function.  Select a straight stitch with a 3.0 stitch length.

If your machine has a removable free arm, take it off to reveal your perfect space for sewing pant hems.  If you don't have a removable free arm (why does that now sound right) then you can still sew this, the free arm just makes it a little easier is all.

Turn your pants right side out and remove your pins.  Your pressed edge will be your guide.  Line the pressed edge of your pants hem up with the one inch line on the throat plate of your machine.  If you don't have a one inch line, just put a piece of tape one inch out from the center point where your needle would align for a straight stitch.  Does that make sense?  I like to start hem stitching at my inseam.  Just sew a twin needle stitch all the way around the pant hem, and do the same for the other leg, making sure to overlap your stitches at the beginning/end for a few stitches.  Now press the hem to set the stitches, trim your excess fabric from the inside of the hem, and guess what?  WE ARE DONE!!!  Yay!

Neatly Trimmed Hem

Finished Hem

Friends, thank you so much for sticking with me through the ups and downs of October and making it to the end of this Sewalong.  You are real troopers!  Tomorrow (hopefully) I will have the reveal post up along with the details for entering your own Misty Jeans into the sewalong to win cool swag.  I can tell you today that I have decided to leave the entry open til November 30th.  If you guys are having half the craziness in your lives that I am having, I know that you will need the extra time.


  1. Thanks for extending the end date. My pants are done, but I still have to get decent photos. And life is crazy like you were saying!

    1. No problem, Maggie. I knew that if my life was all crazy, then most likely everyone else's life was too!

  2. Yay! I can't wait to see your finished jeans! I've only gotten the back of mine constructed so far, so I'm (still) a bit behind, but I'm hoping to get them finished this weekend or early next week. I am planning to encase the waistband on mine, so we'll see how that goes.

    1. Michelle, Isn't that how it goes with sewalongs though? We all fall behind. Good luck on your encased waistband. Are you using the fold down method, or a seperate piece of self fabric? Can't wait to see them!

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  4. Thank you for extending the date! I haven't even started. :/ Hopefully I will get it done! :)

    1. Andie, I hope you are able to get it done, too! I would love to see how your jeans turn out, but don't feel pressured either. It's ok to take down time during rough spots in our lives. xoxox

  5. woot! just finished and they are supremely comfortable for pants, which I hate to wear! I did encase the elastic also, as michelle said she was going to do, and it worked out pretty well. I was just to lazy to find a dark colored elastic and didn't want it to show through ;)

    1. I am so glad that you were able to work through the pattern and get some comfortable pants out of it!