Enclosed Waist Seam Tutorial for the Hummingbird

I’ve blogged on a couple of occasions (here and here) about the Hummingbird patterns by Rabbit Rabbit Creations, and how I just wasn’t happy with the way the waist seam finishes turn out. There are a few ways to finish the waist seam: simply serge (probably doesn’t feel too great so snug against the skin), binding the seam with bias tape (looks pretty, but adds bulk to an already fitted bodice), or enclosing the seam allowance in the bodice. That last option is the prettiest of the three, and the Hummingbird pattern instructions include a recommendation and short tutorial for doing so. BUT! The instructions for this method aren’t so great.

The problem I have with the original enclosed waist seam tutorial is that the enclosure process is done AFTER the elastic is put in. This makes it very difficult for a couple reasons:

  • The back is gathered up because of the already-installed elastic, making it more difficult to attach the skirt.
  • The casing for the elastic leaves very little room for turning up the lining & enclosing the seam allowance.
  • Again, the elastic is already there, so you have to stretch the back bodice while topstitching–all while trying to make sure you catch the lining below!

You’ve probably guessed by now that my enclosed waist seam tutorial involves installing the elastic last. Let’s do this thing. And by the way, the Hummingbird patterns I’m talking about can be found here.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-1First, you’ll need to follow the instructions until you have a mostly-finished bodice. Front bodice is finished, straps are attached, back bodice is finished through the step in which you understitch the lining. The next step is to sew the side seams.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-2 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-3 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-4Line up the side seams as you typically would (bodice opened up, main RST and lining RST). Pin.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-gif-1Sew the side seams, but pay close attention here. You need to leave a section of the lining unsewn. I start at the top of the main fabric, sew down I reach the end of the main fabric’s seam allowance, then jump to the last 3/8″ of the lining and sew that section. Don’t forget to backstitch at all your starts and stops. Sew both side seams in this manner.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-5Here you can see exactly the unsewn gap I have in my bodice side seam (about 7/8″).
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-6hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-7And here we are with both side seams sewn.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-8Next, attach your gathered skirt or pants to the outer fabric of your bodice. Flip your lining up and out of the way!
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-9Press the raw edge of your bodice lining up about 3/8″…
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-10…or just as much as you need for the folded edge to line up with the seam line you just make when attaching the skirt/pant. The stitching visible in the above photo is my skirt gathering stitch–just ignore it!
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-11Next, you’ll carefully turn your garment right side out and edge stitch the bodice, making sure to catch the turned-up lining beneath. The original Hummingbird tutorial instructs you to pin all along the lining side to help it stay in place. That sounds like a really bad idea to me–don’t sew over pins! I actually don’t use any pins here, I just go slowly and keep in all lined up with my fingers.
CONFESSION: I didn’t sew on the bodice. Instead I turned my lining up a little less than 3/8″ so that I could stitch in the ditch (right where the bodice meets the skirt) and still catch the lining below. It looks nice!
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-12So, after you  secure your lining (whether you edgestitched your bodice or stitched in the ditch), your garment should look like this on the inside. Yay! No scratchy serging or extra bulk! And you are considerably less frustrated at this point than you would have been if the elastic were already installed! What about the elastic, though? This is where those side seam openings come in…
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-13hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-14 Cut your length of elastic according to your pattern’s chart. Add a safety pin to one end. And…
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-gif-2Push/pull the safety pin + elastic through until you have just 3/8″ of elastic sticking out of your side seam. You might have to fold your elastic just a bit if your hole isn’t quite wide enough. That’s A-OK, it’ll lay nice and flat once we finish.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-15Your safety pin will be somewhere over here. Don’t worry about him. He can wait.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-16Pin the elastic to the bodice opposite of the elastic tail to hold it in place.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-17Tuck the elastic tail into the bodice, making sure it lays nice and flat.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-18 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-19Keep your elastic pinned, and flip the bodice so that the right side is showing. We’re going to stitch in the ditch (right where the front bodice meets the back bodice) to secure the end of the elastic.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-20Here’s my ditch stitch. Match your spool & bobbin according to your bodice and lining. Or just be lazy like me. :)
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-21Here how the bodice now looks on the inside. This end of the elastic is secured!
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-22 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-23 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-24 hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-25Push and pull your safety pinned elastic end through the opening at the other side seam and repeat the process. Let the elastic hang out 3/8″, pin, tuck, turn, stitch.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-26Do a bit of hand sewing to close up the side seam openings. I hate hand sewing, but this is so much more manageable than trying to catch the lining from the right side of an elasticated bodice, right?!
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-27And done.
hummingbird-enclosed-seam-tutorial-28Admire your (maybe, hopefully, probably) stress-free beautiful Hummingbird with an enclosed waist seam. That’s better!

This tutorial is super long, but I promise this method is the best I’ve found for the Hummingbird patterns. Even with the little bit of hand sewing, I’ve saved so much time by assembling my Hummingbirds like this. Can’t wait to share this particular Hummingbird top with you!!

Oh, and here’s an outtake from making the tutorial. E was really digging my tutorial set-up (tripod on the desk + remote!) and made herself VERY useful. I have about 100 random images, but I really like this one:
hHeehee. I have the cutest assistant. :)
Hope at least some of you find this enclosed waist seam tutorial helpful! I’ve added an image below for you to pin to your sewing tutorials Pinterest board–I know you have one!

13 Comments Enclosed Waist Seam Tutorial for the Hummingbird

  1. Annika

    Love your tutorial. Very professional with all the animated gifs…
    Must have been a lot of work to put together. So thanks for the time you put into this…

    1. Glitter+Wit

      Thanks, Annika! I’ve been avoiding tutorials for almost a year now because they are so time-intensive. I think I’ve figured out how to streamline the process, though. Hopefully I’ll be posting more tutes soon!

  2. Erin

    Thank you so so much for this! Make sure you post it to the FB group- I know lots of people will be grateful that you took the time to do a tutorial!!

  3. Kristie

    Thankyou sooooo much! I’ve just seen your tutorial after I have had the most difficult time trying to enclose the seams on my first hummingbird! I was unsuccessful doing so and slightly disappointed with the untidy seams! I have only used Oliver + s patterns previously and they always turn out so well finished. I will definitely be using your method in the future! Thanks again! x

  4. Chris

    Excellent tutorial thanks so much………sometimes watching the explanation makes it so much easier than just reading instructions.

  5. Emily

    thanks for this!! I love this pattern and have only made one.. I did not like putting the elastic in where she said to. I was planning to figure out a way to put it in later.. but now i don’t have to figure it out! thanks!!!

  6. Poccianti

    Whouaaaa… Merci! Merci !!!… Si je ne sais pas écrire en anglais… Je voudrais quand même vous remercier pour votre tutoriel!….
    Pensée de France…. ;-)


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