Julia Bobbin Header Image and Menu Past Projects Tutorials Celebrity Copy Cat Awards About Me

Sunday 18 December 2011

Elastic Fantastic - The skirt

Ok, so it's a skirt. A black skirt. Nothing to write home about right?

So why do I feel the need to post about my latest sewing creation? Because the waist band is made of elastic! Truly!

I had recently purchased some beautiful cardigans (sweaters) and while swiping my credit card through their machines to pay for these beauties (all four of them) I started fantasising about what I'd wear with them ... black wiggle skirt. BAM!
I then went on a frenzied hunt through the stores trying to find a black pencil skirt. After many long unsuccessful searches (everything was either too tight on my hips or too loose on my waist) I suddenly had a moment of clarity and an inner dialogue began:

Right side of my brain (RS) - "Hey Julia, what's up"
Left side of my brain (LS) - "Oh you know, just trying to find me a pencil skirt ... unsuccessfully."
RS - "Hmmm ... I see."
LS - " Yeah it's really getting me down not finding one"
RS - " Hey, so um Julia, you sew right?"
*Awkward silence*
LS - "Um .. yes."
*The sound of a penny dropping*
RS - "Then what the H are doing looking for a pencil skirt when you could be making one fool!"
LS - "Fair call RS, fair call"
*The sound of epiphany trumpets playing*

I decided that was that, I had to make me a black wiggle skirt to accompany my new cardigans.

These cardigans are ridiculously pretty, very form flattering and makes me think of the 50's era where clothing was modest (cleavages and thighs tucked away) but the silhouettes were knock you in the face sexy. Think Joan from Mad Men.

Now pencil skirts are nothing new, and God knows they have been done before, but I really wanted a skirt that emphasised the curve of the female figure,; smooth on the hips and small in the waist,  just like Joanie Harris above.
I've made skirts before but the waist band never seemed to really synch in the waist. And then I had a breakthrough.

Now initially I was nervous. Over the years I'd come to associate elastic with plus sized dresses, and that creepy man who sits out the front of my local supermarket wearing sweat pants and most certainly no underwear. Oh.Dear.God. But it's time to be free of my fears and go all 'Justin Timberlake' on elastic and bring the sexy back.

I headed to clegs after work and purchased a strip of black elastic (belt elastic according to the label) about 7cm wide and hurried home to my sewing room to experiment.

I whipped up the skirt using under one metre of fabric of a thick wool/polyester blend that I also purchased from clegs. Once I finished the skirt I measured the circumference of the skirt waist, and then cut the strip of elastic the same length but about 4cm shorter. I then pinned the elastic strip to the skirt, stretching the elastic to fit and sewed it down with a 1.5cm allowance. I also top stitched the seam allowance to the waist band to keep the allowance flat and stop the skirt from buckling.

When the skirt is lying limp and the elastic relaxes, it gathers up a little around the elastic join. When you're wearing the skirt, your body stretches the elastic band out which removes all the puckering of the skirt fabric.

I finished the skirt with an invisible zipper and then squeeled with delight when I tried the finished garment on!

I love how the elastic pulls everything in to the body and emphasises the waist! It is also very comfortable as it moves with you, rather than cuts into you like non stretch waist bands can. Now I'm a big eater, and usually after a big lunch I thoroughly regret what I decided to wear that morning. Now with the elastic, the waist band will expand to include the extra 10 kilos of food I've just shovelled into my belly.

The elastic is also easy to attach as there is no interfacing, no facings and no finishings (apart from the seam allowance where you attach the elastic to the skirt). Genius!

It is such a simple skirt, but one that gives a bit of va-voom emphasising the classic feminine shape. Because the elastic is a feature, rather than covered by a fabric casing, the end result is that the waist band is flat and smooth, rather than bunched up like MC Hammer pants (which, let's be honest I still love).

Too be honest, my trauma associated with elastic first lessened when I made my recent jacket 'Minoru and Me' pattern made by Sewaholic Patterns. I loved how the jacket turned out, and it had a lot to do with the shape created by using elastic. Interesting indeed.

Oh and for those who are interested, I bought my cardigans from Alannah Hill with the exception of the mustard cardigan, which I bought from Princess Highway ... I think.

I love this new skirt and I encourage every one to give it a try. It'll make you look small in all the right spots. The possibilities are endless!

I am not ashamed to admit, I am now an elastic convert. Amen.


  1. FABULOUS!!!! And totally gorgeous cardies, too - did you embellish or find them like that? And I love the POP of colour with the saffron cardigan and the red (orange?) belt. Really lovely.Well done, that girl!

  2. @Banaghaisge Thank you! Yes I love the saffron cardigan as well, and it is a red belt! I was lucky enough to find these cardigans already embellished. The label I bought them is a bit on the pricey side, but all their embellishments are hand sewn. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Fabulous idea - well done - you look fantastic as always!

  4. Fantastic! I have about a meter of grey wool on my stash and some elastic so might have a go at it. I love your cardigans, you look va-va-voom!!

  5. great skirt, julia.. really fits perfectly.. but those cardies, oh dear, they are to die for..

  6. love love love love love love love this skirt!

  7. This is exactly what I need! Elastic will make a wiggle skirt fit like a glove! Oh, and thanks for your tips on Burda 7494 on PR. It helped me so much with my version!!

  8. Love the skirt, cardi's and elastic. Great idea for those (me actually) whose weight fluctuates - so an elastic waistband is ideal. Will be altering one of my skirts post-haste so I can still wear it. Thanks for posting - great job!!!!

  9. Hi Julia!
    Your skirt is G O R G E O U S !!!
    I love your photos, you are a beautiful model :) I totally need a skirt like this for the silly season hehehe I tend to over eat kilos and kilos of food too.
    QUESTION: Is it hard to stretch the elastic to sew it down?


  10. Those cardigan + black skirt combos are absolutely fantastic! I am in love with your look, in the most uncreepy, not the sweatpants guy look possible.

  11. @Nicole A Thank you! I'm so glad I could help!

  12. Really nice skirt and gorgeous cardigans -guess I have to copy those cardigans, I don't think I can live without ;)

    But the elastic waistband have one drawback -not noticeable to you, as you are slim and have no potrudent stomach. I have a skirt (in jersey though) like it and the waistband have a tendency to slide a bit downwards and thus making the stomach a lot more visible -really not flattering :( Guess that's the price of having carried a child and still not having lost the last weight..

  13. @Neeno Thank you Neeno! Suprisingly it's quite simple! I stretched and pinned, stretched and pinned all along the waist band. The good thing about elastic is it wants to move! While you're sewing it down, you'll need to stretch it a little, so just make sure you stretch from behind your needle with one hand, and in front of the needle with the other, so that you don't put too much pressure on the sewing machine foot.

    1. Thanks Julia!!! I will definitely give this skirt a go!

  14. @Paulsen Thanks for your comment Paulsen, especially the slim part! I could see how the elastic could end up looking unflattering. I'd advise getting really thick elastic, like the one I used. It's belting fabric so it doesn't move too much. Or make a dress out of it and attach a torso to the elastic waist which will hold it up too. I've just finished making a dress with an elastic band waist and will be posting it soon. Thanks again for your comment, and good luck with the cardigans!

  15. This is spectacular! Maybe I missed it, but did you use a pattern? I f so what?!? You have killer curves that the skirt accentuates and I would love to duplicate!

  16. This is great! I just found your blog. Does the difference in size from hip to waist create too much bagginess in the fabric because of the elastic? It would seem like it would. It didn't look like this was a problem in your photos.

  17. Great skirt!

    I have a 4 inch wide elastic, do you think if I make a casing for my skirt it will gather? I really want to try the elastic waistband, but I also want to add a zipper.

    1. I think you could definitely make a casing for the elastic! Just make sure the casing is longer than the elastic if you want it to gather up.

  18. You are truly talented! Wow! Here's my question, though. Does the invisible zipper go all the way up the back of the skirt, elastic waistband included? Is it possible you could post pics of the lovely skirt on its own, lying flat, both front and back?

    You are truly a genius coming up with this idea!