Altering the Rae for a Flat Waistband (Measure Fabric)

Thank you to Measure Fabric for providing the chambray for this tutorial! 

Since I've made about a hundred Rae skirts with this modification, and I'm clearly obsessed, I thought I might as well make a little tutorial for it! It's a simple change that I love; it dresses the skirt up a little bit but maintains the original flirty silhouette. I used a denim-colored chambray from Measure Fabric for a casual look but you can dress this silhouette up or down--basically all of my skirts are some variation of the Rae at this point! This tutorial is for literally the exact way I make this version of the Rae, so it's not necessarily the exact right way to do it, just how I personally do it, lazy shortcuts and all. You've been warned!

By the way, you don't need the Rae skirt pattern for this tutorial, you could use any number of similar elastic waist skirts patterns that are designed like the Rae with an attached casing. (Although, I haven't used any others personally so no guarantees there.)

Tutorial below the cut!

Pattern changes:

The Rae skirt is written to have a built-in casing for an elastic waistband, so what we need to do first is eliminate that casing and then add a seam allowance. On your pattern, there are notches at the marks where you would be pressing to create the elastic casing. Draw a line at each notch and parallel to the top. The top curves slightly, I just ignore this.

Fold the casing part along the lines you've drawn, under and then under again. (This is how you would make the casing part of the skirt if you wanted an elastic waistband.)

You should be able to see the top edge of the skirt through the panel--trace along it.

That is our new cut line.
Fold the top of the skirt down below this line to preserve it while you cut your fabric at this line. If you are wondering why we use this particular line, it is because it marks the bottom of the part of the skirt used as the gathered elastic casing plus a 5/8" seam allowance, so the pattern piece we end up with is the skirt panel minus casing plus seam allowance.

Sewing instructions:

First, you'll need a waistband! I usually cut a 4" strip the full width of my fabric, it is easy to measure and will land you with a 1 3/8" waistband, which is a nice width on me. Trim off the selvedges.

Take your strip and fold it in half, and hold it around your waist where you want the waistband to be on your completed skirt. Mark with a pin where the overlap is. This is how snug your final skirt will be so make sure you can breathe, etc. Add 2 1/4" to the end of the waistband (where you pinned); this if for the overlap (1") and the seam allowances on either end (5/8" + 5/8" = 1 1/4").

Trim off the end of the waistband. Immediately put the trimmed off end in the scrap bin--it looks the same and can easily be confused for your waistband, and then you will have a wrong-size skirt (ask me how I know).

Interface the waistband.

Press it in half long ways, right sides together, to form a crease, then open it back up. Press one long side in 1/2".

Then we're going to stick a whole bunch of pins in to mark divisions. First, put a pin on either end, at 5/8" from the end. That's our seam allowances. Next on one end, put another pin in 1" from the 5/8" pin.

That's our underlap (for the skirt hook and eye). Next, fold your waistband almost in half, aligning the underlap pin with the opposite seam allowance pin, and put a pin at the fold for your half-way point. Then fold each half in to the half-way point pin, aligning the underlap pin with the half-way point pin on the underlap side, and marking the 1/4 mark, and then aligning seam allowance pin on the non-underlap side and marking that 1/4 point.

At this point you should have 6 pins in your waistband. Phew! If you fold your waistband at the middle pin, you should have one side 1" longer than the other.

Moving on the skirt itself, the first step is to sew all the front panels together, and all the back panels together, just like the regular instructions.

Second, sew the back to the front on one side only. Since the front and back are identical, it doesn't matter which. (Also, you can serge/finish all your seams and the hem if you want here.)

Into the other side seam, insert a zipper. It doesn't matter which type, but I suggest either an invisible zipper or a lapped zipper (since it's on the side, a centered zipper doesn't make much sense but also works).

How to insert a lapped zipper (scroll down).

How to insert an invisible zipper.

Either way, you'll want to align the zipper tape with the top of the skirt (although I say differently in my Royal Wedding Sew Along) since that will be eaten up in the seam allowance.

You skirt should now be a complete tube. I like to hem now, but you can wait until the end if you want.

Put in three rows of basting stitches along the top of the skirt. You can stitch right over the tails of the zippers.

Mark the center front and center back with pins.

Now it is time to attach your skirt to your waistband. The two sides of your zipper will match up with the seam allowance pins. (Note: if you did a lapped zipper, the direction of the lap determines which side of your body your zipper will be on--you want the lap to open to the back. Make sure your waistband is facing the same direction!) The opposite side seam will match up with the half-way point pin. The center front and center back of the skirt will match up with the 1/4 point pins.

The top of the skirt will be longer than the waistband, and we just gather to fit: pull the tails of either the bobbin or top thread only of your basting stitches and shuffle the gathers around until your skirt is the same circumference as your waistband. Pin in place.

Stitch at 5/8".

 Then, keeping both width-wise seam allowances folded up into the waistband, fold the waistband right sides together at either end, and stitch the ends closed at 5/8". This will abut the edge of the skirt on one side:

Bun on the other end, be 1" away from the edge of the skirt (remember our underlap):

The interior waistband should be slightly longer than the outside, since it's only folded under 1/2"--this is to make topstitching easier and is correct! Trim the ends of the waistband and fold wrong sides together, making sure the corners of your waistband are nice and square. See how the interior of the waistband sticks out below the front (you can see it best on our little tab underlap):

Since we pressed the interior waistband up only 1/2", not 5/8", it should overlap the skirt gathers slightly. From the exterior of the skirt, pin the waistband in place (remember when you pressed your waistband in half? Follow that guideline). You can also use a fabric gluestick to glue this down instead of pinning if you like.

From the exterior of the skirt, stitch in the ditch along the seam between the gathers and the waistband, from end to end.

When you get to the underlap (that sticks out from the end of the skirt panels) hop up onto the fabric and topstitch to the end. It will be covered anyway.

If you already hemmed your skirt like I did, all you need to do is attach the skirt hook and eye!

The hook goes onto the non-underlap side (where the waistband is flush with the skirt zipper) facing inside (toward your waist). The eye side goes on the underlap. Zip up your skirt to determine where the exact placement is--the eye should be directly underneath the base of the hook.

Try on your new skirt!

As always, if(/when? haha) any thing is unclear, just ask! I'm happy to help :) that's what I'm here for.


ps: this is also how i make a dirndl skirt, just with a gathered rectangle instead of the rae pattern pieces.

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