Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools


Entries in tutuorial (2)


Factory Technique, Ready-to-Wear Style Elastic Waistband Tutorial

I first learned this technique from my friend Patricia, the woman I count as my sewing mentor.  I’m grateful that she taught this to me as I use it frequently and find the result much nicer than elastic through a casing.  This waistband cannot be altered once it is complete so check your fit carefully before embarking on this project.  My instructions show the use of a serger but you can substitute an overlock stitch on your sewing machine if necessary.

When cutting out your garment, allow a fold over, cut-on waistband allowance equal to the width of your chosen elastic.  For instance, if you are using 1.25” elastic you would leave 1.25” at the top waist edge above the finished waist line.

Make sure you use sew-through elastic for this project.  To determine the cut length of elastic, measure the garment wearer’s waist and subtract from 2- to 4-inches, depending on how tight you like to wear your waistband.   Making sure you don’t twist the elastic, butt the cut ends together and use a wide zigzag to stitch across the cut edges, joining the two ends together.  You can also reinforce this seam by placing a piece of tricot or Seams Great beneath the seam (or wrap a piece entirely around the cut ends).  Try on the elastic and make sure it is a comfortable fit before proceeding.

Mark the elastic in quarters, using the just sewn seam as one mark.   To do this, fold in half along the seam and mark the resulting fold using a marking pen.  Next, match that mark to the sewn seam and mark the two resulting folds.  Set the elastic aside.


Prepare your garment in a similar fashion.  To quarter the waist line mark the center front and center back then bring these two marks together.  Mark the resulting two folds (these marks may or may not fall at the side seams).

Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the garment, aligning the top edge of the garment with one edge of the elastic.  Match and pin the center back of the garment to the sewn seam on the elastic.  Match and pin the remaining three marks.  Allow the fabric between the pins to drape naturally.

For the next step you may feel more comfortable basting the elastic in using your sewing machine the first few times you attempt this technique.  With practice you will be able to skip that step and go straight to serging the elastic onto the garment.

Serge with the elastic on top of the garment fabric.  Begin at the center back seam and sink your needle into the elastic/fabric, placing the edge of the elastic next to but not over the knife’s edge (you could also disengage your knife if you wish). 

Place your left hand behind the needle and hold the elastic and fabric together near the center back pin.  Place your right hand on the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is flat and flush with the elastic.  Holding this area taut, serge the edge.  Make sure you do not cut the elastic while you are serging and remove pins as you come to them. 

When you reach the next pin, stop with the needle down through all layers and reposition your hands, placing your left hand close to and behind the needle and your right hand at the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is taught and continue serging.  Repeat this step until you reach where you started and serge off the edge.

If you have difficulty managing the fabric, you can mark the elastic and garment waistline in eights instead of fourths.  This makes the amount of fabric you need to stretch at one time much smaller.

Fold the elastic to the wrong side of the garment so the fabric covers the elastic.  Pin the elastic in place, placing four pins roughly where your quarter marks were previously.

Move to your sewing machine.  Stretch the elastic between two pins and, using a lengthened straight stitch, edge stitch along the serged edge through all layers.  As before you will move your hands between the pins as you progress.  Leave your needle down in the elastic/fabric when repositioning your hands.  Continue until you reach where you started .

Heavily steam the waistband/elastic and watch it (literally) shrink back to its original size and shape.  Admire your completed waistband.


Accordion-Fold Photo Album Tutorial

This tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating a small photo album with accordion-fold pages.  These albums are perfect gifts and can be customized to suit almost any occasion.  These instructions will show you how to put together the album but will not go into detail about creating a cover for the piece.  You can use anything you wish for this cover, from a quilted and embellished piece, one with machine embroidery, velvet, or a plain piece of fabric.  Please see my other post from today in the Journal section of my blog for more information on how I created the cover for the piece in this tutorial, as well as other ideas and pictures of cover possibilities.

You will need a few supplies for this project.  Probably the most difficult part of this entire venture will be finding the paper needed for the accordion folded pages.  I am fortunate to live in an area where there is at least one good art supply store.  For those of you without access to such a store, this paper can be purchased online here.  You will need a piece of paper at least 26” in length.  You can also purchase sheets of chipboard here.  These instructions are for a finished size of approximately 4.5” x 6.5” which will accommodate a standard 4” x 6” picture.


  • Chipboard, 2 pieces 4.5” x 6.5”
  • Black Heavyweight Paper (90 lb.), 1 piece, 6.25” x 25.5”
  • Cover Fabric, 6” x 8”
  • Backing Fabric, 6” x 8”
  • Flannel, 6” x 8”
  • Ribbon, 1 yard
  • Stylus or bone folder
  • Double-sided Tape
  • Acid-Free, archival quality glue

Begin by cutting the heavy-weight black paper to size.

Next, score the paper to create the accordion folds.  Use a quilting ruler or other gridded ruler to ensure that your scores are straight and squared with the paper edges. 

Measure 4.25” from the left edge of the paper and, using your stylus or bone folder, score the paper along the edge of the ruler.  Using this scored mark as your new left edge, align the ruler and score again 4.25” away from the first mark.  Continue until you have made five scored marks on the paper.

Measure over 4.25” from the last mark and, using a rotary cutter or exacto knife, cut off the remaining paper.  You should have six sections marked on the black paper.

Fold the paper along the creased marks accordion style (one fold forward, the next fold back).  Set the paper piece aside.

If I am using a single layer of fabric for the front or back cover, I like to also use a thin layer of flannel underlining.  Baste the flannel to the outer fabric layer and treat as one.

Center one piece of chipboard on the fabric/flannel unit.  I always start with the back cover to get the feel for the process before tackling the front cover.  Place four small pieces of double sided tape at the four corners of the chipboard.  Fold one corner in diagonally (this will form a triangle) and adhere to the tape.  Try to make this fold so the cut edges of the triangle are perpendicular to the cut edges of the fabric unit.  Repeat for all four corners.

Place a strip of double-sided tape along each of the four long edges of the chipboard.  Fold in each fabric edge and adhere to the tape.  Pay close attention to each corner and try to fold the fabric so the two edges are close together here and with as little bulk as possible.  Find and mark the center of this piece with an X.  Place a piece of double-sided tape over this mark.

Find the center of the ribbon and place it over the taped center mark of the back cover piece.

Repeat this process with the fabric chosen for the front cover (I did not use a flannel layer with this piece).  Here is my completed front cover.

Place the previously folded paper section so the two long cut edges are facing to the right (this is important if your front cover has a directional design.  You want to place the cover onto the pages so the design is correctly oriented (top/bottom) when the pages are facing this direction).  Begin by running a thin bead of glue close to the outer edge of top paper section.  Fill in the remaining area with more glue.  You need to use enough glue to be effective but not so much that it oozes out from the edges when you apply the cover. 

Carefully center and place this glued page onto the front cover piece.  I usually start with the front cover as it is easier to see to align this side of the album.  Repeat the gluing procedure and attach the back cover.  Check to make sure that no glue is leaking out from the edges of the paper and wipe off carefully if it is.  Close the album and make sure that the front and back covers are aligned with each other.

If the front cover is embellished with beads, embroidery or other 3D objects, place a towel or other padded surface down, lay the album with the front cover on this padding, and weight the album closed with a heavy book.  You should check a few minutes later to make sure no glue has oozed out along the paper edges which can cause the pages to stick together as the glue dries.  Let the project dry for several hours.

Tie the ribbon around the album to close.  Here’s my completed project.  Mount your photos inside as desired.   I hope you enjoy making your own.