The ultimate guide to sewing a killer DIY dress | the easy elastic waist

 The ultimate guide to sewing the perfect DIY dress. A totally easy tutorial showing you the easiest way to add elastic to a DIY dress | Randomly Happy

Guys, I am so excited. Today is the day our two halves become one proper dress. And this elasticated waist insert makes it a total win. Not a fiddly zipper in sight. Just how we like it.

A dress of dreams with a super comfy waist. How could you not be happy?

The ultimate guide to sewing the perfect DIY dress. A totally easy tutorial showing you the easiest way to add elastic to a DIY dress | Randomly Happy

I don’t know about you, but stitching a project together is always my favourite part of any project. The whole did-I-measure-it-right anxiety mixed with the excitement of finally seeing it all assembled. It’s just something you don’t get from buying clothes off a rack.

Of course, buying clothes off a rack also avoids the bitter angst that comes those times you realise your project hasn’t quite gone to plan. But still…

How to Sew - adding a waist to a dress How to Sew - adding a waist to a dress

What do you think? Is this the best step in sewing, or am I totally wrong? Or maybe you’re new to sewing and are still looking for your first sewing win? Love to hear your thoughts.

Want to learn more about making your own delicious DIY dress? 
Check out the whole of the series:

Choosing the right fabric
 The perfect DIY dress pattern (with only 3 measurements)
DIY dress sewing success
Getting the perfect finish 
The easiest elastic waist ever
Finishing the sleeves (like a pro)
3 steps to a brilliant hem

The easiest way to add an elastic waist


You will need

Top and bottom sections of a dress (pattern here)
Roll of 5/8 inch or 1.5 cm elastic tape
Fabric marker
Tape measurer
Sewing machine, thread

1. First you need to measure your elastic. Pretty simple – wrap the roll of elastic tape around your waist until it feels quite snug. Mark this off. Use the tape measurer to add 6/8 inch or 2 cm on from the mark you just made. Cut.

The ultimate guide to sewing the perfect DIY dress. A totally easy tutorial showing you the easiest way to add elastic to a DIY dress | Randomly Happy

2. Turn your tape into a circle by matching the two ends of the tape together and overlapping the ends by 6/8 inch or 2 cm.

Make sure the tape has no kinks in it before you sew together with a zigzag stitch.

3. Fold your tape in half once. Mark the centre of the fold with a pin. Flip over and repeat for the other side. Mark the two ends with pins as well. Put to one side.

4. Now to sew the two side of the dress together. Start with the skirt wrong side facing out. Take the top section of the dress (right side facing out) and put it neck-side down into the dress so that right sides are together.

Match the raw edges. Sew using a 5/8 inch or 1.5 cm seam allowance. Press the seam allowance so it’s facing the bottom of the skirt.

5. Now lay down the elastic along the waist seam you’ve just sewn. Match one pin to the side seam, the next to the centre in the front of your dress, the next to the other side seam, and the last pin to the centre back.

6. A bit of fiddly work coming up. You want to gather the excess fabric around the waist and evenly distribute it along the elastic. Otherwise you could end up with all sorts of weird bunching.

Spend some time gathering, pinning, looking, and repinning to get the right gather. Use the pins to help you distribute the fabric evenly around the waist. Try and make sure the elastic straddles the seam evenly.

7. Take to your sewing machine and using a zigzag stitch, sew through the centre of your elastic. Ideally you want your fabric to be sewn flat so pull the elastic taunt as you go. The gathers will ping back once you let go (be careful about letting go!).

  1. Reply

    This is so helpful. I'm a bit of a newbie to sewing. I've only just bought a machine and have been making very basic cushion covers and table cloths, all the things you start with. But my long-term goal is to make clothes so this will prove really helpful. Thanks a lot!

    1. Reply

      Thanks Chiara! We'll get you sewing in no time! 🙂

  2. Reply
    Kyla Vosloo

    What a great tutorial – I just finished making the dress and I love it. So very easy to follow! The only hitch I ran into was that measured my waist and tapered the material to it first, and then I couldn't get it over my shoulders! So just inserted side panels, but for next time, how do you get it to taper at the waist but still fit your shoulders?


    1. Reply

      I used an elastic for the waist, so it stretched over my shoulders. Plus I didn't taper to my exact waist measure – I left a little wiggle room. Will be sure to update the post to make that clearer!

      ps Would love to see a photo!

  3. Reply

    Can i find you on YouTube?

  4. Reply
    Alexander LeTerneau

    Hey. I know very very (very) little about sewing and fabric and such, so I figured I would find people who do to consult. I am working on a project for fairly intense outdoor use, and I need bright white fabric. Does anybody know a fairly cheap but durable fabric that I can find in clean bright white? Thanks!

  5. Reply

    More pictures please

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