No Strings Attached™

No Strings Attached™ elastic waistband option
Did you ever make a soaker and wish you'd included a drawstring, or thought of adding elastic because the ribbing just wasn't cutting it? Are you tired of droopy pants and saggy soakers? Do you need a quick-to-remove diaper cover for your EC'd babe? Or perhaps you like to knit long pants but have a curious toddler that just LOVES to untie them and run naked thru the local grocery store? If all this sounds familiar, read on! Knit In Your Pants™ and Davinawear™ are proud to offer -- free for your personal use -- these instructions on adding the No Strings Attached™ elastic waistband option to your already-knit garments. This elastic waistband can be added to any knit or crochet pattern without any prior planning or special sewing/knitting skills. To begin, you need a garment -- finished up complete with ribbing and a length of coordinating yarn of similar weight. Next, you will need elastic -- usually 3/8" will work fine for a waistband. I also am experimenting with some stretchy grosgrain lycra/nylon ribbon that I found in my local fabric store. It comes in lots of colors and seems quite sturdy and thin.

Cut elastic 2" shorter than hip circumference. The easiest way to do this is to lay soaker out flat, double the elastic and lay it across the hip area. Fiddle with it until it's approximately 1" from the edge and cut. These measurements are not guaranteed to work for everyone and are intended as a guide. With experience, you may find that a different standard measurement works best for your baby's build and the knitting pattern you are using. Heavier weight elastics may need to be looser than thinner, stretchier ones. Davina recommends pinning the elastic and pulling it up over baby wearing a diaper to determine correct length. I suggest that the knitter/crocheter experiment and take notes each time they construct a garment.

Next, overlap the edges of the elastic about an inch and sew it closed, being careful not to twist the elastic before you sew it. I like to use a length of 100% polyester thread, doubled. Don't knot it, but leave a few inches free. Work around the edge of the elastic, not too tight so the thread won't break under stress. When you get back to the beginning knot the two ends together.

Decide which yarn you will be using to embroider the elastic on, and cut a length approximately 15 times the width of the hips. That's width, not circumference. So, a soaker that's approx 10" across will need about 10" x 15 or 150". I lay the yarn across the soaker and roughly measure each section quickly. It sounds like a lot of yarn, I know, but this technique does use quite a lot. Thread the yarn on a large tapestry needle, the type used to sew up sweater seams. I recommend that when you begin the embroidery you pull only half the yarn through, use it all up, then go back and embroider in the opposite direction. That cuts down on the yarn getting worn by pulling through over and over.

Now comes the fun part! Place the elastic around the soaker. You will be securing the elastic to the soaker with a duplicate stitch technique. Depending on the width of the elastic and the gauge of your knitting, it will take about 3 to 5 rows deep of an elongated duplicate stitch to cover the elastic. By that I mean you must duplicate stitch, skipping a few rows to cover the elastic. Try to do just enough to make it lay flat. You may want to make your first stitch at the top just below the ribbing to mark where the top of the elastic should lie.

Following the path of the knitted stitch, use a large tapestry needle threaded with the contrasting or matching yarn to pick up a stitch as shown. Go over the elastic and -- being sure to insert the needle in the "next" stitch -- sew the elastic on. Once you get going it's easier to hold and quite a fast process. Keep the stitches fairly snug but not tight. Stop every few stitches to verify that you are still "on course". When you are doing the duplicate stitch embroidery, it is a good idea to mark the beginning of the knit round on the soaker so that when you get to that point you can "jog" your embroidery up one stitch. An alternative would be to start the duplicate stitch at the beginning of the round so you don't have to remember to "fudge" at that point.

To make it easier the first time, or if you are using a very fuzzy yarn, or a hard-to-see color or highly variegated yarn, it might help to knit a few rows in a contrasting color where the elastic will be going (so that when you come back to duplicate stitch it's clear where to begin and keep it in a straight line). Of course, you'd have to plan in advance for that option.

When you have worked all the way around, secure the stitches on the reverse by splitting one side, then weaving in the ends at least 8 to 10 stitches (split those to prevent "show-thru" on the right side of the knitting).

To be sure of complete (or almost complete) coverage it is necessary to use same weight or heavier weight yarn as the body of the garment to do the embroidery (see the tie-dyed sample below). I find that most light to midweight worsted yarns need to be doubled to completely cover the elastic. If you need complete coverage with your yarn, I recommend following the same instructions, but work with the yarn doubled, and cut another piece 15 X the hip width when that one runs out. I would not recommend working with a doubled length of yarn long enough to go all the way around, but I have not tried it yet and it may depend on the yarn used as to whether it would be difficult to handle.
If desired you may substitute a more decorative embroidery technique to attach the elastic. It would be interesting to duplicate stitch in every other stitch, then go back and do every other stitch in a contrasting color. The stitching may be coordinated and tied in with other trims, embroidery, or accessories. The possibilities are endless!

Please feel free to send pics and descriptions of any variations you have tried so that I may post them here. I'd love to see your work. All feedback is very welcome, even the unflattering stuff!

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