Adding a Drawstring to that too Wide Waistband

You all know those shorts or that skirt that is just a little too wide and you think thats ok it has drawstring…
Adding a Drawstring to that too wide waistband (2)
Only to realise that they aren’t actually drawstrings at all just decorative ties!  On the upside they do make it very easy to add a real drawstring of your own!  The cute little shorts above belong to my little nephew (the same one I made these Hunting Shirts for).  His mum bought four pairs for him for the summer but they are all too wide.
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While she was staying on the weekend I added a drawstring to the first pair for her, and she must have liked it because she dropped the other three pairs off on Monday for the same treatment!
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Of course I didn’t have the matching drawstring cotton ribbon they had used but you can use double fold bias binding (bias tape), or cotton ribbon.  Just don’t use silky/satin ribbon it just doesn’t stay done up.  The last thing you want is to go to the trouble to add a drawstring to have it continually slipping or coming undone.  Cotton ribbon I don’t have  but I do have quite the collection of bias binding!

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Just in case you wanted to see proof here it is!  And you wouldn’t believe that I paid NZ$20 for nearly all of this lot!  Someone was clearing their stash and sold it all on Trade Me (NZ Ebay), lucky me!  You might recognise the patterned bias on the far right too, that one I made myself for my Make your own bias tutorial!

What you will need

  • Shorts/Skirt/Pants to be altered
  • Bias Binding (Bias Tape) or Cotton Ribbon (A shoe lace would work too!)
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (can hand stitch but will take longer)

Step 1 – Prepare you drawstring

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I laid my bias in place to work out how long I wanted it.  It will need to be pulled to tighten but you want to make sure you leave enought for the bow.  Then cut your bias to length.
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Starting from the middle of the bias sew the fold closed using a regular straigh stitch close to the edge.  Bias often has one side slightly narrower side, so becareful and make sure you catch both sides!  A zigzag stitch can be used to ensure you get both layers and you can even use a contrast thread.  Check out my Struggling with bias post if you’re interested.
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Once you get near the end of the bias, fold in the raw edges and sew to just shy of the edge.
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Then with the needle down in the fabric lift the presser foot and pivot the bias to line up witht the fold.  Lower the presser foot and sew along the fold (just in from the edge), lock stitch and you are done!  Repeat for the other side of the drawstring.  You won’t see the join in the middle as it will end up in the centre back of the waistband.
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There is your drawstring ready to go!

Step 2 – Insert drawstring

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Use a small safety pin to feed the new drawstring through the existing hole from the decorative ties.  You can cut the ties out first if they are in the way.
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There may be a seam in the centre back (or on the sides), that was topstitched to prevent the elastic from turning inside.  I had to unpick this to get past it.  I only unpicked a small section at the top of the waistband that was just big enough to fit the drawstring through.  The very first pair I did wasn’t stitched here so it went straight on through, but I wasn’t so lucky with these three.  Although it only took a few seconds to unpick 2 or 3 stitches and away I went!
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Now you can cut out the decorative ties carefully with scissors.
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I will be keeping those to upcycle on another project!
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The last little thing you will need to do is stitch the drawstring in place in the centre back.  This will prevent the drawstring pulling out if you accidentally only pull on one side, just make sure it is even on both sides!  I used dark stitching so you could see it and also because these little shorts have contast stitching all over, so it matched nicely.  I like to start at the seam between the waistband and shorts, lockstitch (reverse over a couple of stitches) sew towards the top of the waistband then reverse back down to the seam and lockstitch again.   Trim off the excess threads and you are finished!
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There you have a quick and easy solution!  I did all three in about 20 minutes and that was with stopping to take photos, so it definitely doesn’t take long.
I would love to see your fixes!

4 thoughts on “Adding a Drawstring to that too Wide Waistband

  1. Hi Chelsea, I'm glad it's useful to you! I have done this quite a few times, it beats saving the clothes till they 'fit'…by then they are too short or the wrong season! Thanks 🙂

  2. Why do they even make the fake ties?! We were given a few pairs for my son and we had exactly the same problem. If they still don't fit in autumn I will be doing this!!

  3. I wonder that too! With the cotton tape it takes all of two minutes to fix. You can just knot the ends and no sewing required. I did get some for the next few pairs 🙂

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