I love all the options you can choose to add and customise in Opal, including the belt loops and belt. You can just add the belt loops so you can wear your Opals with a belt of your own, or sew a fabric belt to match your garment! That’s what we’re covering today in the next step of the Opal sewalong, so let’s get started!
// Belt Loops //
Take your belt loop strip and fold it in half so that the right side of the fabric is inside and the long edges are aligned. Give it a quick press to help keep it in place while you sew.
Sew 1/4” (6mm) from the raw edge along the entire length. Working with such a small piece can sometimes be fiddly, especially at the start when you are trying to first start stitching. Sometimes instead of starting at the edge, stitching forwards, and then backstitching and continuing, it can be easier to start slightly further in from the edge. Begin with the backstitch instead, stitching in reverse to the edge, then using the thread tails to help you pull the strip out from under the presser foot as you stitch forward again along the length of the strip.
With that done, you can turn the belt loop the right side out. I like to use a loop/rouleau turner that you use by threading it through the tube, grabbing the end, and then pulling back through. Another method though is with a handy safety pin. Just insert and close the pin on an edge of one of the ends, and wiggle the edge back on its self and into the tube. You can then feed it through the tube until you reach the other side. Turning small tubes the right way can be fiddly, but just take your time and do deep breaths if you get frustrated! The first bit is always the hardest, but you’ll get there eventually.
Once you have it turned, give it a good press to neaten it up and to get the seam straight. You can either have the seam running along the side edge, or you can roll it to be in the center of the tube. I like doing it this way because I can sew them to the pants so the seam is hidden on the inside of the loop, and it looks nice and neat. If you like, you can also topstitch along the strip at this point, close to folded edges, for a little extra design detail.
It’s time to cut your strip into 5 belt loops now, using the notches on the pattern piece to measure out how long they need to be. Each loop should be 3 1/2″ (9cm) long.
Turn the pants so they are the right way out, and check whether you can still see the belt loop notches you marked when you first cut out your pants. If not, grab your pattern pieces again and remark them.
Place your belt loops on the waistline so that they line up with the notches, and so their raw edges are aligned with the raw edge of the waistline. There should be two on the front, and three on the back – the fifth belt loop will be sewn directly over the center back seam. Pin them in place.
Neatly stitch each of the belt loops 1” (2.5cm) from the raw edge. Do your best to start and finish your stitching on the belt loop, and not to continue off the edge and onto the pants. The reason we want it to be nice and neat is that this stitching isn’t just basting, it’s stitching that stays in place and that sits below the waistband seam. Doing it this way will mean the belt loops start below the edge of the waistband, so as to allow more room for the belt.
That’s all you need to do for now in regards to the belt loops, the next step will be to add the waistband! While we wait for the next post to do that though, we can get along with sewing the belt!
// Belt //
Start off by placing your two belt pieces right sides together and lining up the short edges of the straight ends. Sew the pieces together along this short edge, 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge.
To distribute the bulk of the seam allowance, press the seam open.
Now that your belt is in one lovely, long piece, fold it in half lengthways and so right sides together and the long edges are aligned.
Sew around the belt, 5/8” (1.5cm) from the raw edge, along both the angled ends and the long edge, leaving a gap of around 3” (7.5cm) somewhere in the middle.
To help to get a nice pointed belt end, it helps to get rid of some of the seam allowance bulk, so trim it back along the angled edges and clip the corners, being careful not to snip your stitches.
Turn the belt the right way round by pushing the ends back through the gap in the stitches. Using a long tool like a chopstick can help with this. A pointing tool can also be helpful to push out the corners of the belt ends to get nicely pointed tips. Just be careful not to be too vicious with your pushing, otherwise you might bust through your stitches or put a hole in your fabric!
With it all out the right way, press the belt into shape, lining the seam up nicely along the belt edge.
You can now close the gap in the belt by either hand sewing or by topstitching. Topstitching around the whole belt is another nice design detail, and can be a two-birds-one-stone way of closing up your gap!
And that’s it for the belt & belt loops!
// Looking for more Opal posts? //
- Inspiration and Ideas
- Tester Round-Up
- How to Lengthen Or Shorten the Pants
- Inseam Pockets
- Patch Pockets (back pockets and front patch pockets)
- Seams (crotch seam, inseam, side seams)
- Belt Loops and Belt (this post!)
- Waistband (B & D standard elastic waist)
- Paperbag Waistband (A & C)
- Bonus Hack – Cargo Side Pockets
- Bonus Hack – Drawstring Waistband
- Bonus Hack – Elastic Hem Joggers
- Opal Hack Ideas