Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Leave a comment

August Upcycle – Belt loops

I must say I am a great fan of belts. I think this stems from my fluctuating waistline. A belt can take up a bit of slack around the waist (when I’ve just got up in the morning) and I can keep my waistbands slightly loose so that my lunch has enough room!

You will need:

  • Matching or contrasting fabric of your choice for the belt loops
  • Interfacing if using light-weight fabric

Before you start

1.  Work out how many belt loops you want to sew. Usually coats and dresses just have loops at the side seams. For trousers and skirts belt loops to accommodate the belt buckle and zip, belt loops can be positioned a few centimetres on either side of the centre front and centre back.

2.  Next decide how long each loop should be. Measure your waistband. Each belt loop length should be the waistband width + 2.5 centimetres for seam allowances. For example, my waistband is 4 centimetres, so each belt hoop should be 5.5 centimetres. Alternatively, if you are adding belt loops to a coat or dress where there is no waistband you may wish to calculate the belt loops size from the size of the belt. Measure the width of the belt. Each belt loop length should be the belt width + 1.5 centimetres for some ease + 2.5 centimetres for seam allowances, so for a 5 centimetre belt, each belt loop would be 9 centimetres.

How to calculate the fabric needed for the belt loops

1.  Work out the total length of fabric required for the belt loops. This is calculated as Total number of belt hoops x length of each belt loop

2.  Cut a strip of fabric slightly longer than this length. For example, if I was going to make 5 belt loops each 5.5 centimetres long, I would need to cut a strip of fabric 27.5 centimetres long at least.

3. The finished width of the belt loop is whatever you would like, but this may depend on the weight of the fabric. First of all decide what you would like the finished width to be. Then width of the strip should be 4 times the finished width. For example, to make belt loops with a finished width of 1.5 centimetres, the strip should have a width of 1.5 x 4 = 6 centimetres.

So using the example above I would wish to cut a fabric strip of 27.5 centimetres x 6 centimetres to create 5 loops which are 1.5 centimetres wide.

This is a method I use for sewing belt loops using light-weight fabric

I used fusible interfacing to add weight to my belt loops, but you can dispense with this if needed.

1.  Cut out a strip of interfacing the same size as your fabric strip

2.  Fold your strip in half lengthwise, right-sides together

3.  Trim 0.5 cm off each of the long sides of the interfacing

4.  Fuse the interfacing to the fabric

5.  Stitch 0.5 cm from the raw edges.

Belt Loop 1

6.  Trim the edges and turn the belt loops right-side out. Press.


7.  With the seam at the centre back, top-stitch close to the edge of both long sides of the strip.


8.  Cut into individual loops.

 For the skirt pictured here, I unpicked the waistband a little where each belt loop was to be placed. 

1.  Mark placements around the skirt or trousers to show where you wish to place the belt loops. I’ve marked them here with pins.

2.  Insert the belt loops into the waistband seam edge (where the waistband meets the trousers or skirt)



3.  Sew the waistband to the skirt.


4.  Fold 1 centimetre at the top of the belt loop and pin in place.

5.  Bar tack at the top and buottom of each belt loop to attach them to the waistband.


1 Comment

February Quick Make – Fabric covered belt

I decided to make a belt for my silk skirt as a finishing touch. I did look at a few tutorials online for making fabric belts. These suggested using “belting”. I looked in all my usual craft shops and then hunted on the web and found nothing for sale in the UK. In the end, the lady who kindly served me in Fabric Land suggested that I try using Petersham’s tape. It has just the right thickness and flexibility.

Belt - finished

You will need:

Petersham’s tape
Fabric that matches your dress or skirt
Paper for making belt pattern
Measuring tape
Loop turner

  1. Wearing your skirt or dress you wish to match the belt for, measure your waist (in my case, 85 cm) or the place where the belt will be worn.
  2. Add several extra centimetres to allow for the belt to pass through the buckle and be held in place by the belt loops. I allowed an extra 20 cms for this in my design.
  3. Cut a length of the Petersham’s tape to the length calculated in the previous step.
  4. Measure the width of the Petershams tape. (Mine was 2.5 cm)
  5. To create the pattern for the belt, draw the length of the belt and add 3 centimetres to that. Total length for pattern =108 cm. For the width, double the width of the Petershams tape (5.0 cm) and add a seam allowance (4 cm). Total width for pattern= 9 cm
  6. Cut out the fabric using the pattern piece created above.
  7. Fold the fabric in half and sew down the length of it, making sure that the seam is made to accommodate the width of tape (i.e. 2.5 cm)Belt close up
  8. Trim and press the seam allowance flat. Make sure the seam is in the middle of the belt.
  9. Sew a straight line along one edge. Trim the seam allowance.
  10. Pull to the right side using the loop turner
  11. Insert the tape. Make sure the seam is centre on the back of the belt. This takes a while!
  12. Sew up the end of the belt so it’s tidy.
  13. Iron the belting, making sure the seam is in the middle.
  14. Next, it’s time to add the buckle. Fold the end of the belt through the buckle and sew in place.

Belt buckle close-up


I’m sewing a skirt – Part 3

Well, this is my skirt. I think in the past I’ve tended to feel a bit self-conscious in skirts as they don’t tend to fit me well. But this one seems just right, thanks to Deby’s instructions! I even used the toile that I made from cotton sheeting as the lining (waste not want not). It does mean that it too has darts rather than pleats in it, but I think that is fine.

I did make a few additions to the basic pattern; I like to give myself a challenge. I added a waistband and belt loops. The reason for this is that I feel more comfortable with the ability to hold the skirt at the waist.

For the waistband this Youtube video from Professor Pincushion helped me out.

I thought just to finish things off to make a matching covered belt. I think this makes the skirt extra smart. I’m hoping to use this for work.
I’ll post something extra for the belt, I think it deserves special attention!

All in all, this was a very satisfying project, with no real upsets or calamities. It certainly has increased my confidence. I felt particularly proud of the fit and my off piste additions!

Finished Skirt

Woman with no waist wearing a me-made skirt

There is one thing that I’m not completely satisfied with. The hem is a little puckered and I think I’ll give it a tidy up when I have a space hour in front of the telly.