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How to create a channel

Gathered side channel on top

What is a channel?

A channel, sometimes known as a casing, is a separate piece of fabric (or a turn-back hem) used to enclose a drawstring or elastic. You can sew it to the inside or outside of the garment. You’ll find them on sleeves, hems, waistlines and waistbands.

Creating a channel tutorial

1. Prepare the channel shape

Draw the desired channel shape onto the pattern.

A If you want an even height channel, draw a straight line and use a pattern master to draw a parallel line above.

B Alternatively, draw in a new shape if you’d like a decorative-shaped channel.

2. Trace the shape

A Lay paper on top of the pattern and trace off the channel shape.

B If the channel goes across a seam, join the two pieces by placing them together at the stitch line of the seam.

3. Finish the pattern

Add seam allowance all the way around. If you cut on the fold, don’t add seam allowance; label CUT ON FOLD and place an arrow to indicate. Or you can trace a full pattern.

4. Add channel position

Keep the channel marked on the pattern as a reference for placement. Add drill holes on the pattern at the edges to help you transfer the channel position onto the fabric when sewing.

In this example, I opened up the pattern from the hem to nothing at the neckline and shoulder. Then I drew on the channel and traced a copy.

I sewed it to the back of the fabric and in this case, I left the side seams open for the drawstring to come out. However, you could also add buttonholes (before stitching the channel) so the drawstring can appear on the front piece. See the example below.

Below is the pattern for the photo above.


In this example, it's been added to the sleeve as well! (It would look better with an arm in it!) You can see the pattern below. 

Volume has been added to the side seams (to nothing at the centre front and centre back. This means the CF and CB become curved and therefore need a seam added.) Then a channel is added, fixed at the top and adjustable at the bottom. You can see the pattern below.

In this example, I have cut away the back, by drawing a Design line.

Then added gather through the bottom panel. I first added it evenly throughout, to make the gather at the opening visible, then I added flare to add extra width in the hem. You could add it all evenly throughout, however, there will be more fabric bulk at the opening.

It is gathered by a channel (also used to finish the top edge) and then elastic is added so it can be stretched to get on and off. You could also use a facing and fix the gather and add a side zip.

Did you enjoy this tutorial?

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If you're beginning your pattern-making adventure or you'd like to dive in further, this course is perfect for you; it covers everything from moving darts to adding volume and finishing patterns.

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  • Suthi

    Thanks for sharing! This is very helpful and something I’ve been wanted to try on a couple more loose fitting patterns I have.

  • Shuay

    Hi Alys! Thank you so much for the tutorial! I would like to try them out soon.

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