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My Favorite Waistband Is None at All!

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Almost finished today is a satin wool skirt from my self drafted straight skirt pattern. It needs the lining hand-stitched to the zipper, and a good pressing but before all that I wanted to show you my favorite way to produce a no-waistband skirt with a back zipper.


You all know this technique, right? You use heat and steam to stretch one edge of the rayon millinery petersham so that it will fit over the flare of the hip. The un-stretched edge lies against the waist. The zipper pull is not lying flat in the photo…sigh.

Close up

I used petersham on my Prada Knock Off lace skirt (see part one and part two for background on that project) with the ribbon next to the body because the lining would be visible through the lace and use the snap to tighten the ribbon enough to avoid any pull on the top of the zipper when it is closed


The ribbon keeps the skirt from moving around and getting skewed on the waist


but on this skirt I wanted the silk and cotton lining to cover the petersham


I’ll hand stitch all the threads and ravel-y stuff from trimming the plastic teeth off the zipper tape until they are tucked nice and neat inside


I stitched the top edge of the petersham to the seam allowances and lining


and tacked it down to the lining by stitching in the ditch along the darts and seams.


Rather than add even more thread to the waist by under-stitching I tried something new to me. I used Fashion Sewing Supply’s fabulous Pro Weft fusible to hold the waist seam allowances and top of the zipper tape tightly against the ribbon. I don’t think I’ve ever heard about this method before so I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not.


So now I can finish the hand stitching, give it a good pressing and move on to making up a sleeveless top and jacket from the Edith Head pattern. I only had a 1.5 yard piece of this wool so I have to decide on the fabric for the rest of the outfit.

Historical Aside:

I heard on the radio today that Babe Ruth, the Sultan of Swat, was trained primarily as a tailor and shirt maker and played baseball on the side. Due to his early training in the art we love he became a very refined dresser.


About Mary Beth

I am fascinated by changing patterns and colored threads. I sew garments and am teaching myself to machine knit. Since selling the building that housed my workrooms, The Stitchery, I'm searching for a place to set up the knitting machines again. There must be room here somewhere!

12 responses »

  1. Your skirt looks wonderful, the fit is perfect. I like this type of waist too. Thank you for the great tutorial.

  2. Beautiful skirt. And what a cool trivia piece! If you or any of your readers get to New York City in the not-too-distant future, Tinsel Trading has 10-yard spools of petersham in different widths and colors that they are selling 3/$10. The colors are probably considered less than desirable, but they work fine for waistbands and stays. I bought two in a salmony-nude color and one in a very pale yellow. NAYY.

    • Oh that’s a good tip, Ann. I have 2.5 meters each of black and white and various smaller pieces that I’ll use up eventually, hopefully in my lifetime?

  3. Your new skirt looks great.

  4. This is a very clever waist treatment. Thank you for posting such good instructions and photos.

  5. Very clean and neat finish – perfectly stabilized, too. I might have a use for such a finish in the future. Now to find *real* petersham . . . probably not a Jo-ann’s, huh?

  6. Interesting use of the Pro Weft fusible. I’ve always loved this sort of skirt ‘waistband’ treatment, but have never seen it done your way! Very nice!

  7. I love your work MB. I favor the waistband myself. I like the extra waist definition. Thank you for sharing this awesome tutorial.

    Is the inside snap on the petersham taking the place of a hook & eye?

  8. One reason I like this method, is that I find a skirt without a waistband fits better because my natural waist dips in the back and I only have to make adjustments on the skirt pieces without fussing with trying to get the band to fit. Great suggestions to use the petersham. I’ll try that next time.

  9. Love your no waistband waistband! The most comfortable waistband out there! Great job!


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