Pants that are too big are not just unflattering, they are also impractical since you constantly need to readjust them when you wear them.
There is a quick fix to this problem – you can add belt loops. The result is a pair of pants that look good because you can wear a belt to make the pants fit right on your body.
Adding belt loops to pants is a pretty straightforward project. Belt loops can be made to be functional or decorative. They can be made in various widths and can be as simple or as decorative as you want.
So, how do you add belt loops on pants? Making and attaching belt loops can be done by hand or with a sewing machine. If you are using a sewing machine to make your belt loops, you can also add topstitching to the belt loops to add structure to them.
If you want the belt loops to blend in with the rest of the pants, you will need to match the fabric of your belt loops to the fabric of your pants. If you want to add a decorative touch, you can use fabric in a contrasting color.
In this article, let’s take a look at a few ways to make belt loops and attach them to various types of pants.
What You Will Need To Make Belt Loops
- Your fabric of choice. For dress pants, we recommend a fabric that closely matches your dress pants’ materials and colors. (If you can afford to cut the length of your pants a bit short, you can take a few inches from the pant legs for the best match, but make sure to cut the length evenly on both legs and leave room for seam allowance.)
- Sewing thread that matches the color of your dress pants.
- Fabric scissors
- An iron
- A sewing machine (optional)
- Fabric markers
- Sewing pins
- Double-sided fusible tape (optional)
Determining The Size Of The Belt Loops
Before cutting your fabric, it is helpful to determine how many belt loops you are planning to make. Dress pants usually have four belt loops, two at the front, two at the back.
Your belt loop is essentially a long rectangle, so it is not very difficult to make. However, you will need to have the proper size for the belt loops to make sure that they are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
The length of your belt loop will need to cover the length of your waistband, plus seam allowance. In most cases, you will also need to make sure that the belt loops are not laying totally flat on the waistband but instead leaving some room for the belt to go through comfortably later on.
How to calculate the right size:
Belt loop length = waistband width + seam allowance (two sides) + ¼” (for belt). So, if the width of your waistband is 1.5” and your seam allowance is ¼” on each side, the length of your belt loop is 2¼”.
As for the width of the belt loop, it’s usually a matter of personal preference. You can make it a regular size (around ¼”) or chunky size (⅜” to ½”). Since the belt loops will need to be folded inwards twice, you will need to multiply the width by 4 to determine the size of the fabric.
So if you want a ¼” belt loop, the width of your strip of fabric should be 1”.
Depending on the number of belt loops you’d like to have, you can cut a strip of fabric that covers that length. The easiest way to make belt loops would be to make a long strip of fabric and cut out individual loops.
That means if you are making four belt loops, you should be making a strip that is four times the length of your belt loop. In the example above, it would be 2¼” x 4 = 11”. The width of the strip should remain the same as 1”.
Okay, that was a lot of math, but it’s not that hard to figure out if you have a pair of dress pants in front of you. Once you have determined the right width and length, go ahead and cut out a strip of fabric with the dimensions that you have calculated. In our example, that would be 11” by 1”.
How To Make Belt Loops
There are a few ways to make belt loops, including a non-sewing option using fusible tape. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to make belt loops.
Method 1: Fusible tape
This method works best for lightweight fabric, mainly because the fabric will have a better chance of staying secure when it is constructed with double-sided fusible tape.
In addition to the materials that we mentioned above, you will need a long strip of double-sided fusible tape to secure the fabric.
Here’s how to make belt loops with fusible tape:
- Serge the sides of your strip of fabric to prevent the fabric from fraying. If you don’t have a serger, you can use the zigzag stitch in your sewing machine to achieve the same result.
- Cut a piece of fusible tape that is as long as your strip of fabric but half the width of your fabric.
- Lay the piece of fusible tape in the middle of your strip of fabric on the wrong side. Then, fold the edges of the fabric lengthwise to cover the entire piece of tape, and the two edges of the fabric should meet in the middle of the piece of fabric.
- You can use pins to secure the fabric in place as you go.
- With a hot iron, go over your strip of fabric (remove the pins as you go) to activate the adhesives in the tape. When you let go, the strip of fabric should be flat, with the tape hidden in the middle of the trip.
- If you want to add a decorative touch, you can topstitch along the sides of the strip on the front-facing side of the belt loop. This step is optional, however, as the bond is already secure thanks to the fusible tape.
- Cut the strip into the length of the belt loop that you want to get ready to attach to your pants.
Method 2: Sewing
- With your long strip of fabric cut out, fold the fabric in half along its length. With a hot iron, press the fabric down to create a clear crease in the middle of the strip of fabric. You now have a long strip of fabric that is half the original width, ½” in our case.
- Fold the two edges of the fabric inwards (towards the crease) and use a hot iron to press it down again. You now have a long strip of fabric that is a quarter of the original width, ¼” in our case.
- With your sewing machine (or hand sew), sew a straight stitch along the open edge of the strip to secure it. If you would like a decorative touch, you can also add a top stitch to the other end of the strip.
- Now, you can measure out individual belt loops and cut the long strip into shorter pieces in the desired length. You should have the belt loops ready.
Now, let’s take a look at how to attach those belt loops to the waist pants of different types of pants.
How To Add Belt Loops To Dress Pants
If you have a pair of dress pants that already have belt loops in your closet, it may be helpful to pull it out and investigate the pants’ construction.
When you take a look at the belt loops on a pair of dress pants, you may notice that the belt loops are not attached on top of the waistband itself. The top part of the belt loops is attached on top of the waistband, but the bottom part of the belt loop is tucked in between two layers of fabric that make up the waistband.
So, to create a neat-looking result when you want to attach belt loops to a pair of dress pants, some seam ripping will be required when you sew.
How to add belt loops to dress pants:
- Using a fabric marker, mark on your dress pants where you want the belt loops to be placed. Make sure the belt loops mirror each other on each side of the crotch seam.
- Using a seam ripper, you can remove the stitches where the waistband is attached to the pants on the right side of the pants, leaving a hole big enough to insert the belt loops. You only need to seam rip in the areas that you have marked with the fabric marker in step 1.
- Using fabric pins, pin the belt loops to the places that you have marked in step 1, make sure to fold down the seam allowance in each loop when you pin.
- Then, pin one end of the belt loop to the top edge of the waistband, and insert the other end in the area that you just seam ripped, and pin it in place. When you do this, make sure that the belt loop is a bit longer than the waistband for a more polished, professional look.
- Using your sewing machine or hand sewing, topstitch the two ends of the belt loops to secure them in place. Then, topstitch the lines in the waistband that you seam ripped in step 2 to secure it.
- If there are any loose threads or frayed fabric, you can clean it up with fabric scissors.
How To Add Belt Loops To Jeans
Adding belt loops to jeans is a bit tricky, mainly because, as a material, it is much thicker than dress pants materials, so you will probably need a sewing machine to add belt loops to jeans.
If the material is too thick for the jeans, you can try using a hump-jumper to assist with the presser foot, which can help make it easier to sew through this material.
To add belt loops to your jeans, you won’t have to do any seam ripping, but you can add belt loops on top of your existing waistband.
A lot of jeans use a contrasting thread color to make the threading stand out. If that is the case, you should try matching your thread to the thread color of the jeans, not the fabric itself.
Here’s how to add belt loops to jeans:
- Using fabric markers, mark where you want to add the belt loops on your jeans.
- Fold the seam allowance of the belt loops down (around ¼”) and pin the belt loops in place. The edge of the belt loops should meet the edges of the waistband.
- With your sewing machine, sew a straight stitch to secure the belt loops in place. Because of how thick the material is, you probably won’t be able to sew through all the layers to topstitch. In this step, we recommend sewing the seam allowance of the belt loop to secure it to the waistband.
- If you have a heavy-duty sewing machine, you can add a top stitch on top of all the layers. Using a zigzag stitch with the shortest stitch length, add a top stitch on top of all the layers on each side of the belt loop.
- Clean up any fray edges and loose threads, and your jeans should be ready with newly-done belt loops.
How to Add Belt Loops to Elastic-Waist Pants
If you have a pair of elastic-waist pants (or jeans), adding belt loops is a great way to transform a plain pair of pants into a more modern look.
If you want to go for this look, the first thing to note is that the belt loops for this design are usually thicker, so make sure you account for that when you calculate the size of the belt loops.
The second thing to consider is the placement of the belt loops. Since the waistband is occupied by a large piece of elastic, you want to avoid sewing on the elastic itself because it can make the elastic less flexible, which defeats its purpose.
Here’s how to add belt loops to elastic-waist pants:
- Determine where you want to place the belt loops and mark them down using a fabric marker.
- Fold down the seam allowance on your belt loops and pin them in the places that you have marked. When you do this, make sure to use your hands and feel around the waistband to pin to the area where there’s only fabric and no elastic. The top edge of the belt loop should meet the edge of the waistband, and the bottom edge of the belt loop should extend below the elastic area.
- With your sewing machine (or hand sewing), sew a straight stitch across the top and bottom of the belt loop to secure it in place. As you sew, make sure the fabric below is laid flat (since it can be scrunched up because of the elastic, making it difficult to sew.
- Clean up any frayed edges and loose threads, and you should be done!