A-Frame Renovation: Flex-fit waistband for A-Frame

Want a comfier high waisted skirt? Add an elastic waist to your A-Frame!

A-Frame skirt Version 2 here in a fine pinstripe linen from my stash, nice and drapey. Shown with an  Aster blouse by Colette Patterns  in some Anna Maria Horner "Loominous"

A-Frame skirt Version 2 here in a fine pinstripe linen from my stash, nice and drapey. Shown with an Aster blouse by Colette Patterns in some Anna Maria Horner "Loominous"

I love a high-waisted skirt. There was a time in my life where the more fitted at the waist something was, the more I liked it. I liked being squeezed a bit around the natural waist. (This was, not coincidentally, the time in my life where I wore the most vintage clothing, which is notorious for waist-squeezing)

There came a point where this changed, perhaps when I re-discovered pants and wore them a lot for the first time since I was 13. Or maybe when I started to move away from vintage and towards more abstract and "body unconscious"* silhouettes. I think this time had reached its pinacle when I released Cabin, and A-Frame is definitely a swing in the opposite direction in terms of waistlines. And who doesn't like being comfortable?

*this term came from a great interview with Sonya Philip on the While She Naps Podcast, which I highly recommend

Something I often do with my high-waisted, waistband having skirts is to add a bit of elastic. Not enough to created a pronounced gather at the waistline, but just enough to give you that extra inch you might need while sitting for long periods of time or after an awesome meal.

The nice thing about this technique is it also adds some structure to the waistband without using interfacing.

Start with a slightly larger pattern size

If you're making A-Frame V1 (the pencil skirt), you'll want to follow the instructions for blending between two sizes and go one size up at the waistline only. If you like a more relaxed, less wiggly pencil skirt, you could go one straight size up. If your measurements are different than the pattern (aka, your waist is smaller than the pattern for the size that fits your hips) then lucky you, you don't have to do a thing. In fact, this alteration came about as a way for me to work with patterns & even RTW skirts where I had this same problem.

If you're making A-Frame V2 (the a-line), simply go a size up. Already cut out your size and don't fancy tracing/printing/cutting again? Just add 1/4" to the waistband and skirt side seams as you cut your fabric. Definitely works in a pinch.

Gather Supplies

The waistband itself is 1 1/8" tall. For this tutorial, you'll want to use 3/4" non-roll waistband elastic. This gives the elastic a bit of breathing room in your waistband. Some of the difference is eaten up by the thickness of the elastic as well. And it makes it easier to sew down your waistband without elastic  getting in the way (and for this tutorial, you don't want to sew down your elastic as you sew the waistband).

Skip the interfacing. Since there will be a nice piece of elastic in that waistband, it wont collapse. You may want to fuse a small square of interfacing under the spot where your buttonhole goes if your fabric is thin or loosely woven.


Assemble your skirt

Sew your skirt following the pattern direction until you reach the waistband steps. Sew on the first part of your waistband and press, but leave the 2nd part unsewn.

1. Cut a piece of elastic equal to your waist measurement - 2". I like my waist elastic to be essentially unstretched until I need it to stretch, but if you like your waistband a bit more snug all the time, subtract 3".

2. Pin one end of the elastic into your waistband, lining up the top of the elastic right below the fold on the waistline piece and 1" away from your center back seam (where the circle mark on your waistband pattern piece is).



3. Wrap the elastic around the waistband to the other side. It should be smaller than the waistband itself. Be sure not to twist the elastic! Pin the opposite side in place as you did for the first.


4. About 1/4" in from the edge of the elastic, sew it to the waistband. I started at one end, sewed to the other end and reversed stitched back to my starting point. The elastic should be positioned close to the waistband fold, not where the waistband is sewn on.

Repeat this step for the other side of the elastic.


5. Sew your waistband closed as shown in the instructions. Slide the elastic up against the waistband fold so that you don't sew through it.


When you approach the end of your waistband seam, give the elastic a bit of a tug, scrunching up the fabric past the sewing machine foot, so that you can lay the waistband flat to sew.


Once you'd sewn your waistband shut, you can redistribute those gathers around the waistline. Since you're only really reducing the waistline by 1-2", you might not even see an obvious scrunch. When the skirt is on, it is barely noticeable...very different looking than an actual elastic waist skirt (which is why you still need the zipper!


Be careful when you sew your buttonhole. The extra raised elastic might throw off your groove. It certainly did for me. Check out the first time I did the buttonhole. Yikes! I'll give myself a little credit...I was definitely rushing. The 2nd time, the buttonhole was great (see the image on the right for evidence!)


If you're somebody who likes being comfy, but it looking for a "gateway" high waisted skirt, this could be a very nice option.


How do you all feel about elastic waists? Do they remind you of toddler clothes, 7th grade math teacher pants, or bad 80's dresses? Or do you relish in the opportunity for something cute that fits without cutting off your circulation?

Down with OPP

Yeah, you know me! (yes, this is a reference to the Naughty By Nature song. What can I say? I have a soft spot for 90's hip hop. If you do too, definitely go and re-watch that video. Queen Latifah makes an appearance.)

In this case OPP stands for Other People's Patterns.

As you know, along with designing patterns for you, I make a lot of patterns for myself. Lately I've been experimenting with using other people's patterns when I would normally make my own. As a pattern maker, it's a great way to do research and it is also a great way to distinguish 'work sewing' from 'pleasure sewing'. I tend to make up patterns rather than use pre-existing patterns for almost everything, including recipes (as discussed here!)  So using OPP gives me an opportunity to relax and not think too hard about what I'm making. Which is nice.

This is my 3rd Aster shirt by Colette Patterns. When I first saw this pattern it spoke to me immediately. I love Colette Patterns' designs, but usually they're not quite my style. This top, however, fits the bill for something I've been thinking about a lot lately: variations on button up blouses (especially without collars). This was definitely a quick and easy sew, though I'll admit, the button band threw me off a bit (I blame this on not using Colette's instructions. There are some differing seam allowances I didn't expect! Note: Always read the instructions, even if you think you know what you're doing ;)  )


My first Aster was a a 'wearable muslin' made from a stripey cotton gauze. Colette Patterns are drafted for a C cup, so I already knew I would need to do an SBA (Small Bust Adjustment). The results were good, thought the fit was not perfect. Having a very petite upper body (not so much on the bottom), I found the fit comfy but a little too low cut all over to feel comfortable. I figured this was due to the bodice/armhole length being a bit long.

For this version, I shortened the pattern by 1/2" evenly at each shoulder seam, bringing the armhole up to a more comfortable place. I also narrowed the sleeve by 1" to compensate. However, I still found the neckline to be a bit gape-y. I think I should have taken 1/2" from the shoulder only at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the sleeve, like a sort of 'square shoulder' adjustment. The is usually an adjustment for square shoulders. I have what's often called a 'forward shoulder'. I think in subsequent versions, I can take out yet another wedge shape from the shoulder seam to eat up the extra length at the neckline (as shown in the pic above).

Tiny fit issues aside, it's absolutely wearable as is and I love it! As you can probably tell, I changed the V-neck to a scoop neck. I also shortened the sleeves and omitted the bias cuff. I see many more Asters, or at the least, more button down variations in my future.

Can we talk about this fabric for a second? This was one of those 'love at first sight' fabrics. I picked it up at Britex when I was in San Fransisco. Their selection is truly overwhelming, but luckily I was able to browse enjoyably without having a panic attack. I decided to treat it more like a gallery visit than a shopping trip.

I picked up this amazing Japanese cotton print. I find it super unusual in the best way (though who knows, maybe it's super traditional in Japan. A friend pointed out that a lot of the motifs appear in Japanese scrolls). The fabric was only 35" inches wide, which seems scary but in reality worked out quite well and resulted in less waste fabric. The color palette is perfect and the fabric feels sort of old and worn in the best possible way.

I couldn't wait to cut into it! I defied the oft held fear of charging forward on a project with beloved fabric. And it worked out well!

Have you ever seen a fabric in a shop and just knew it would make the perfect so-and-so? Did it work out?