Sewing A Waistband

Back in the seventies when I was working for one of “The London Designers” the lady who ran the sample garments section showed me this method for attaching a waistband with edge stitching on the top.

It changed my sewing life as a perfect waistband ended up taking minutes!

This tutorial shows the quick and easy way to apply the perfect waistband with edgestitching on the top.

The method works equally well when applying a shirt cuff .

The way shown is only suitable for lightweight fabrics.

1. Apply your interfacing.

I usually use a lightweight, iron on cotton one and cut it slighly narrower than the width of the waistband.

The weight and type of interfacing is a matter of personal preference depending on how firm you want the waistband to be.



Press your waistband in half.



Press under one edge of the waistband just less than 1.50cm or 5/8 inch which is approximately

13mm 0r 9/16 inch.



Pin the right side  of the waistband to the wrong side of the fabric.

On the right hand side there will be your 1.50cm/5/8 inch seam allowance plus an amount for the button extension. See above image.

On the left hand side there will just be your seam allowance extending out from your finished edge.



Sew the waistband to the skirt from the right side.



With  the tip of the iron press the waistband upwards.



Grade the seam as this helps eliminate bulk.



From the wrong side understitch the waistband upwards going through the waistband and two seam allowances.

Please see our understitching tutorial if you don’t know how.



Right hand side from wrong side.


Left hand side from the right side.

Fold the waistband back on itself as the two images above.


Allow the the edge with the pressed turning to lie just beneath the the other edge as on the image above.

When the waistband is turned to the right side this edge will then fall just over the stitch line.



Right hand side from the wrong side.    

When stitching the left hand side make sure the stitching is right up to the folded edge of the garment. See above image.

Grade the seam as in the image beneath.


Right hand side with the button extension from the wrong side.

Stitch at the seam allowance distance and then grade the seam as above image.



Turn the waistband to the right side of the garment making sure you push the corners of your waistband out well.

The folded seam allowance edge should lay just over the line of understitching and the stitching that joined the waistband to the skirt.

Pin in place.



Edgestitch round your waistband from the right side doing the lower, pinned edge first.

The above image is how it should look on the button extension side.

The image beneath is how it should look on the wrong side.




An image of the finished waistband.

I’ve used many images to try and help you step by step.

Once you’ve done this method once it will seem so easy!

Practice on scraps of fabric and please remember that this method is for lighter weights of fabric only, not medium to heavy weights.







The first garment The Great British Sewing Bee wanted contestants to make was a top that incoporated understitching.

UNDERSTITCHING – On a neck or armhole facing.

This has to be one of my most favourite sewing techniques as it enables a proffesional finish very easily.


It is a row of stitching that is usually seen on the inside of a facing or lining but the process can be used in other areas of garment construction.

It is a stitching line close to the seam line and it goes through the facing or lining and both seam turnings.

Understitching can not be seen on the right side of the garment.


The stitching is there to keep the seam rolled to the inside of the garment by a small amount.

It keeps the facing or lining from rolling to the right side of the garment.

It gives extra stability to the edge which results in a clean smooth line for your neckline or armhole.


I have used an armhole awith a facing as an example.

1. Stitch your facing to the neck or armhole.


2. After stitching your facing in place trim the seam allowance to 1cm or 3/8 inch


3. Trim a little more off the facing seam allowance only so  the seam allowances are graded. ( This helps eliminate bulk)


4. Snip the curves so that your garment will lay flat when your facing is turned to the wrong side. Be careful not to snip into your stitch line.


5. On the right side use the tip of your iron to press the facing/lining away from the body of the garment. When you are more experienced at edgestitching it is not always necessary to iron.


6. If you do not have an edgestitching foot adjust the needle on your machine to the left or right of the central position depending which side your facing is to.


7. Understitch the facing or lining. The centre of the machine foot should lay over the seam and the needle will stitch 2 to 3mm away on the facing/lining. See above image.

Make sure that you are stitching through both seam allowances aswell as the facing/lining.


Please note that I would not use a contrast colour as on the image. This is just so that you can see where the stitching lies


8. Your facing/lining will now automatically roll to the back of the garment by  approximately 2/3mm.


9. Press from the right side and you will have the most beautiful clean finished edge.


Practice the understitching technique on scraps before doing it on your garment so that you fully understand the process.

Happy sewing!

Tips for working with silk

Hi readers,

After watching The Great British Sewing Bee last week I’ve been thinking a lot about working with silk.

For this post I’m pleased to introduce guest Blogger, Becky Drinan.

Becky Drinan in her East Hoathly workshop 09/08/13 Picture by Jim Holden

Becky has been visiting Ditto since she was in a buggy, and this obviously rubbed off on her as she now works with beautiful fabrics everyday.

Becky designs and creates bespoke Bridal wear, and teaches dressmaking in her East Sussex studio. She has also just written a book about making your own wedding dress, which is available to purchase in many bookshops and online.

Many of you may recognise her as she worked in the shop on Tuesday’s for several years, but had to stop last summer when juggling Ditto, classes, weddings and book writing  just got too much.  But we still see her in the shop as she comes in regularly to get her fabric fix!


Over to Becky…

First of all, there are so many types of silk that lumping all silk fabrics together and saying “treat them like this…” would just be wrong. These tips are actually for any slippery fabric, which amongst others includes crepe backed satin, crepe de chine, chiffon, georgette and habotai, these fabrics are all commonly found in both polyester and of course, silk.

Now that I’ve set that straight, here are some tips for working with slippery fabrics…

Squaring up

Straighten the grain of your fabric, either by tearing across the grain from a snip on the selvedge, or by pulling a thread from the selvedge and carefully cutting along the pulled thread.

Lay your fabric on a flat surface with the selvedge and cut/torn edge at perfect right angles to one another, if you have a cutting mat this is perfect, or use the square corner of a table as a guide. Now you can lay your fabric out ready for the pattern, safe in the knowledge that your grain lines are true.


Laying out

Weigh down the corners of your fabric to stop to from wafting every time you move around the project. You can buy special fabric weights, but if like me you don’t have any, a paper back book or (clean) mug coaster will do the trick- basically avoid using objects that could mark the fabric or leave an imprint.

Before you pin your pattern down, test your pins in a scrap of you fabric to make sure they easily pierce the fabric without dragging or leaving a hole. If possible use special silk pins, they are longer and finer than regular pins. Carefully lay, then pin your pattern within the seam allowance, being sure to double check those grain lines are still straight.

If you are sewing long seams or complicated curves then marking extra notches on the pattern could help you keep the fabric from bunching or puckering. Measure along the seam allowances and add markings to the pattern pieces along corresponding seam edges.

Cutting out

Check your scissors or rotary cutter on a scrap of your fabric to check there are no burrs to snag the fabric.Now personally i prefer to use scissors (after a nasty accident when a rotary cutter took the end of my finger off), but using scissors to cut very slippery fabrics can be a challenge, especially if you tend to lift the fabric up when cutting out. Try to keep the lower blade in contact with the surface below, and use long smooth cuts rather than nibbling at the fabric.


Laying fine tissue paper beneath your fabric and cutting through both it and your fabric can help prevent slipping between the scissors.


If you really struggle then using a rotary cutter and a cutting mat could be your saving grace. Just be sure to keep the mat beneath the blade to avoid slicing into expensive furniture!


Use a brand new, very fine needle (60/8 or 70/10) and again, test the stitches on a scrap of fabric before working on your garment.

I find that a good quality polyester thread is the best for sewing silk as it has a natural stretch and is readily available in a myriad of shades. Having said that, for visible hand finishing I would use a cotton or silk thread.


To avoid lightweight fabrics getting ‘sucked’ down the hole in the machine plate, put a small piece of masking tape over the hole (but not over the feed dog) before sewing fine fabric – the needle will create a hole just big enough for itself to pass through without dragging the fabric into the machine.


To stop fine fabric bunching up at the beginning of a seam sandwich the raw edges between tissue paper, begin the seam on the tissue, continuing onto the fabric. Tear away the tissue after sewing.


Water marked fabric is very hard to rescue, so if your iron has a tendency to drip or spit, then turn the steam off and avoid heartbreak.

Use a pressing cloth when working with silk, a cotton lawn hanky is perfect, but if you want to splash out then a silicone pressing sheet is a great investment.


Phew! I intended to give you a brief list of tips, but as you can see there are loads of little things that make it easier to work with slippery fabrics. If you only take one tip from this post then let it be this… Test every single process on a scrap of your fabric before working on your garment, this way you should avoid any nasty surprises.

One last little thought…

If working with slippery fabrics is a new challenge for you then choose a relatively simple pattern – preferably one that you’ve used before, at least then you can concentrate on the techniques rather than demystifying a new pattern.

Well I hope these tips help you, happy sewing!


Is this my next shirt length?

Cliff from The Great British Sewing Bee always pays Ditto a visit when visiting Brighton.

He has an amazing selection of beautifully made shirts of which quite a few are made out of our fabrics.

I always find it hard to beleive that he’s only been sewing for a handful of years!

Is this my next shirt length?

Is this my next shirt length?



Ditto talks to Rosie & the Boys

This blog was first published on the Rosie & the Boys website as part of a feature on selected independent shops in Brighton.  Rosie’s site showcases her own paper art and other artists and retailers in the arts and crafts world. She says:

‘I’m an independent designer and papercut artist based in rural Bedfordshire. Working under the name Rosie and the Boys (a reflection of the fact that I’m the only girl in a house full of boys) I specialise in creating customised and bespoke papercuts as well as offering a range of contemporary greetings cards and prints.

Passionate about supporting fellow British craftsmen and women, I decided to start writing a blog to  highlight the amazing amount of talent and creativity I come across in my everyday as well as professional life.  It’s a great opportunity to share how I create my own work as well as learn more about the work of others through interviews and features such as the Creative Cities series.’

Living in a material world – Ditto Fabrics

by Rosie Posted on 14 August, 2013

Rolls of fabric
Image: DItto Fabrics


A browse through the TV listings guides of recent years will bear testament to the fact that there has been a spectacular revival in people wanting to try their hand at creating things for themselves.  Whether its baking, sewing or knitting, it’s no longer seen as odd to make something yourself rather than buy it from a shop.

Still, when you watch programs on the TV encouraging you to try your hand at a new skill you might find yourself muttering that it’s all very well when you have a team of researchers to go and find stuff for you and a endless stream of experts desperate to feature on your show but in the real world finding unusual items or knowing the right thing to buy to make something isn’t that easy.


Ditto Fabrics logoSo, with the above in mind today’s post features the amazing Ditto Fabrics shop based in Brighton. Like all the shops we are featuring this week, this isn’t a place staffed by uncaring shop assistants who have no interest in the stock let alone helping you choose something.  In fact it’s the exact opposite.  I caught up with owner Gill to find out more about why she chose to run a fabric shop, her recent buying trip to Italy and life in the shop…


View of Ditto Fabrics Interior
Some of the gorgeous fabrics available at Ditto Fabrics Image: Ditto Fabrics

An enduring passion:

“I’ve been addicted to material for as long as I can remember, so running Ditto fabrics is the perfect occupation for me.  Even after 30 years I still think, ‘Wow! Don’t all these fabulous fabrics look lovely,’ every time I go into Ditto to start work.  The range of colours of all the different cottons, linens, wools, silks and many more make me feel really excited and enthusiastic at the start of every working day. The Ditto staff share my passion and we try to pass this on to our customers.”


Stack of various fabrics
Image: Ditto Fabrics

The Influence of Italy:

“The Italian cloths I ordered on my trip to Florence at Easter started to arrive this week.  There was so much choice of designer ranges in the supplier’s huge new warehouse that I was given a scooter to cover the distance!  It took me back to being a small girl scooting around wearing dresses made by my mother or her aunt, a tailor, showing that it runs in the family! This adult scooting took me along aisles of gorgeous cloth.  After several hours I had found a wonderful selection that I think will offer unusual, amazing quality fabrics that makers from Brighton and further afield will love. I emerged into Florence where everywhere I looked I recognised the Italian sense of style that produces such lovely fabric.”

Inside the fabric warehouse
The Italian Fabric Warehouse Image: Ditto Fabrics

“My quality materials with interesting design come from many different places including the UK and one of the great pleasures of my work is going through the samples and choosing the next seasons look.  It is so exciting when new deliveries arrive.  It feels like Christmas as I rip the parcels open to see what’s inside. Already my mind is running riot thinking, ‘What could I make with this, what could I make with that?’”

The rewards of knowledge:


Comic strip themed italian silk shirt
“A shirt made out of one of our Italian silks by Jeanne Spaziani” Image: Ditto Fabrics

“As you will gather, I also love sewing and put my fashion degree and years working in the trade to good use many times a day in the shop.  We all enjoy helping people choose the right fabric for the look they want.  I get a real buzz from working with someone who is very unsure when they arrive in the shop and ends up leaving very happy with the choices we have helped them make.

Recently an A level textile student came in looking for velvet to make a jacket with a period influence for her assignment.  Velvet presented a massive challenge to her as a novice sewer.  After we talked through and went round the shop  looking at lots of different options she chose an ex-designer cotton with weave design detail and a patterned viscose lining which gave her much more chance of success.  I was absolutely thrilled when her mum came back a few weeks later and told me that she made a stunning garment which she had won an award for and had featured in a special display. What’s more, it was so cool that she had a queue of friends wanting to wear it to go out.”

A bright future:

Rolls of black, white and red patterned fabric
Image: Ditto Fabrics

“I’m loving the revival of sewing and crafts using fabric that’s going on at the moment.  It’s enticing all ages and men as well as women to get stitching.  Who would have imagined, even a couple of years ago, that there would be a massively successful sewing programme on television.  The Great British Sewing Bee really does seem to have tapped into people’s interest in making and I am looking forward to even more sewers of all skill levels visiting Ditto either in the shop or online.”


Fancy a visit to see the fabulous range for yourself? Here are the details you’ll need:

Shop Address: 21 Kensington Gardens Brighton East Sussex BN1 4AL

Tel: 01273 603771

Shop Opening Hours: Monday to Friday – 10am to 5.30pm Saturdays – 9.45 to 5.45

Can’t make it to Brighton? Why not visit the website instead?

For online enquiries you can also call: 01273 958959 anytime between 8.45 am -3.30pm (leave a message if there is no one available to take your call – who knows it might even be the lovely Gill who calls you back!).



The makers of BBC2’s

The Great British Bake Off

are looking for people who love sewing to take part in a brand new TV series.

If you’re a dab hand with a needle and threat, they’d love to hear from you.

( They’re especially keen to hear from some sewing men!)To find out more contact them on:

020 7067 4822 /

Or you can download an application form at:

Please note that this is for amateurs only so if you have a degree or recognised qualification to do with sewing you can’t apply.

Sew Today – Swatch Watch

A big thanks to Marilyn Stevens, editor of Sew Today for giving Ditto a double page spread on their Swatch Watch page in the June edition.