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Step 5: sew your waistband darts
This is the biggest step.
First, a wee caution
Now, you can sew your dart to the bottom of the waistband, but you’re not going to like it.
Chances are that the curve you need won’t stop at the bottom of the waistband. If you do stop sewing the dart at the bottom of the waistband, it’ll likely balloon out into a little bubble.
That’s a problem you’ll run into when you see tutorials that fix waistband gap with elastic. The back gap does get fixed, but the elastic won’t address the curve that needs to be there to fix the fit in the first place.
Baste and check the dart
Fold the dart markings right sides together keeping the fold vertical.
Baste the darts from the top of the waistband down to the bottom of the yoke. Be sure to start at your marking and go downwards in a straight line until you get to the fold.
At this point, try on your jeans. If everything looks good, and there’s no bubble at the bottom of the yoke, first take off the jeans.
Finishing the darts
Go back over your stitching with a 2.6mm length straight stitch. Back stitch at the top the waistband. Shorten your stitch length to 1.5mm as you get close to the dart point. Leave long thread tails and tie off the dart at the point to finish it.
But if you find that there’s still a little bubble at the base of the jeans’ yoke as you’re wearing it, here’s how to fix it.
Take off the jeans, now extend the dart into the pocket area by about 1″. Baste again, being sure to stitch behind the pocket itself. If the dart point is now sitting flat, re-sew the dart with a shorter stitch length to finish it off just as above.
Step 6: Press those darts
Next press those darts to one side with high heat and a whole lotta steam. If you have a clapper, smack that dart with it. Hold the clapper in place to work the steam into the dart, and don’t move it until it’s cool.
Optional but awesome: adding back the belt loops
Place a belt loop right next to the seam you made with the dart on the waistband.
The belt loop should be on top of the pressed side of each dart but on the right side of the pants.
Now use a straight stitch and stitch the belt loop to the top and bottom of the waistband back and forth a couple times. There’s a lot of denim here, so be careful. You might need to hand walk your fly wheel.
The goal here is to use the belt loop to camouflage the waistband seam and tack down the dart at the same time.
From there, the only Gap will be a store, and not at the back of your pants! Use this alteration on any of your jeans that have this problem or a denim skirt like this upcycled denim skirt.
More sewing techniques to try:
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.