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How to Add an Elastic Waist to a Dress: A Drastic Elastic Refashion

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Dress Refashion
No-Sew '70s Housecoat to Dress Refashion

A few months ago, I showed you how to add a fantastic elastic waist to just about any dress!

A lot of you asked why I cut the thing in two and restitched it before adding the elastic.  I thought it gave it a cleaner line, but heck!  Let’s try it another way!

I started off with this coral-y bathing suit coverup-looking thing…

how to add elastic to waist of dress before
Having a blissful summer flashback!

I thought the hue of this frock was just a wee bit to light for fall/winter/whatever this cold thing is that we’re in, so….I reached for these!

Cherry Red Dye and Tan Dye

After the dye bath, I still needed to deal with how shapeless this dress was.  While I usually just add a belt or a sash (because it’s easy and I like ’em), I want to make sure I show you guys other tips and tricks too.

Here we go!

I turned my dress inside-out, then I used my tailor’s chalk to draw a line all the way around my dress where I wanted my new waistline to be.

measuring waist for dress
Measure for measure!
marking waist of dress for elastic with chalk

I also made a mark at the center front and center back of my dress.

marking center front of dress with chalk
Front and center!

Next, I wrapped a section of elastic around my waist and pulled it to where it was snug, but not too snug.  

Then I cut it off.

elastic cut for waist of dress
You shall do nicely!

I stitched the two ends together.

sewn elastic for dress

I folded the elastic in half and used a fabric marking pencil to mark the ends of the folded bits.  

This meant I had a mark for every fourth of the elastic waistband.  Don’t worry.  It’ll make sense in a sec.  🙂

marking elastic
Mark it!

I then pinned each of the marked bits to the center front, center back, and each side seam.  

This makes it easier to evenly distribute the rest of the elastic.

pinning elastic to waist of dress
Even Steven!

Time to stitch it down!  Just use a straight stitch, but make sure you pull the elastic a bit as you go to keep the fabric from getting bunchy.  

It’s finicky, but it’s not that hard!

sewing elastic to waist of dress

And just like that, you have a dress with an elastic waist!  

I rolled the sleeves up a little, pressed them down, and was good to go!

refashionista how to add elastic waist to dress after
If you look closely, you can see where I accidentally dribbled toothpaste on the front! :/

However, me being me, I couldn’t resist putting a belt on it!  😀

refashionista how to add elastic waist to dress after with belt
Sticking with what I know!
refashionista how to add elastic waist to dress after with belt
*Happy Belt Dance Break*

Sadly, the building I work in is in a constant state of frrrrreeeeezing, so all my coworkers got to see was this:

jillian under shawl

C’est la vie!


how to add elastic waist to dress before and after
DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater Dress Refashion
No-Sew '70s Housecoat to Dress Refashion

34 thoughts on “How to Add an Elastic Waist to a Dress: A Drastic Elastic Refashion”

  1. I like the dye you used for this dress. Most especially, though, I wanted to say I enjoy your attitude and sense of humor! I hope you are feeling well. I look forward to more of your work.

  2. how on earth do you know what colour combinations to use when you dye?? I would never have thought of combining red and tan let alone to dye a salmon dress.

  3. Love it! I might actually be able to do this version of elastic. By the way, if you ever want to sell that owl necklace, I’d love to buy it!! It makes me happy every time I see it!

  4. You know, I would have thought that one would never turn into anything cute but here you go again! You have a great eye for seeing potential in everything! I really like it!

  5. Cute dress! You should really avoid a straight stitch with elastic though (unless you have a stretch stitch setting on your machine). You should aim to use a zig zag stitch. Even if you are pulling the elastic tight to the fabric when you stitch, you risk having loose stitches when you relax the fabric. If you don’t pull the elastic tight to the fabric when you stitch, you risk breaking the stitches when the elastic is pulled. The zig zag stitch gives the stitches a little more wiggle room to be flat when needed, but allow for stretch without breaking.

  6. Gee,how I love your work and your creative ideas!! They are truly something for me to aim for, however, just a reminder that you may want to watch your use of the word “spactic”. I am in special education and this kind of use of the word is a real no-no.

  7. Thanks for steering me towards belts. Thanks to you and a couple other influences I’ve been slowly adult-ening up my style from my former hippie-festival look. 🙂

  8. Jilly, I follow you all the time but never comment. I had to this time because this is a “wow, you hit it out of the park” dress!!!

  9. Cute! Adding elastic usually makes me feel like it’s kind of a silly way out of a poorly fitted garment, but it really does work in cases like this.

    I am not sure if you are aware, but “spastic” is generally considered an offensive term towards people with disabilities.

    • My daughter is special needs with Spastic Quadriplegia, a form of cerebral palsey (her muscles are all tight so she has a very hard time making them do what she wants them to do, so she can’t walk or talk, but can stand or sit with help). I have never heard it used as a offensive term, only as an actual medical term. And we took no offense to this.

      • I think it’s just a British thing, (sort of like how the word for cigarette there is extremely offensive here). I have a lot of readers from across the big pond, and am glad I know about this alternate meaning for the word. And I certainly didn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings.


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