Sewalongs, Tutorials

GINGER SEWALONG PT 13: BELT LOOPS, HEMS & BUTTONHOLE

Okay sewalongers – we are FINALLY entering the home stretch! This is the second-to-last post before we hammer our rivets and buttons. Today we will be topstitching all the final details for our almost completed Ginger Jeans. If you are having any fitting issues or want to be included in the Ginger Sewalong contest, be sure to upload your photos to our Flickr group as I’d love to see your progress!

Today is a good day since we will not have to switch thread at all – you can keep that topstitching thread in for each step! First up, finish one raw edge of your belt loop piece (use a serged or overlock stitch). Once that’s done, try and press that strip into thirds. You want your finished edge on the outside, as close to the edge as possible (if you’re lucky your nails will also be stained with indigo dye like mine are below – the jean maker’s manicure!)

preparing belt loops

Now topstitch the entire length on both sides. You are trying to catch the raw edge in one of those topstitched lines, but don’t stress if you can’t quite get all of it – these babies will be plenty secure once we’re done with them.

preparing belt loops

Now cut the strip into 5 pieces approximately 3 1/2″ long. Press each end under about 1/2″.

sewing belt loops

Belt loops can be a pain in the butt to fasten since you are sewing through so many layers of fabric. It really helps to flatten your loops as much as possible to make it easier to feed through your machine. Enter the hammer. From the wrong side, give each end a good couple of whacks.

sewing belt loops to jeans

What I am about to suggest next may be highly controversial, but rules were meant to be broken. I have found that the easiest way to sew belt loops to jeans is by using a few dabs of fabric glue. This helps to temporarily anchor them while you are stitching them down. The location of the belt loops is as follows: one at center back, two just next to your front pocket topstitching, and two halfway in between your center back belt loop and the front ones. If you are using glue, let it dry for about 10 minutes before sewing on your machine.

gluing belt loops to waistband

If the idea of fabric glue gives you a Tim Gunn “Why I never!” feeling, you can also open up each loop, line them up on the top of your waistband and sew the wrong side down to anchor it before flipping them back to the right side. I don’t have a photo of this to demonstrate, but you are basically just sewing the top half down before topstitching it. Either way, belt loops can be wiggly and it’s much easier to sew them if they are anchored a little beforehand. Be sure to use your hump jumper or a piece of cardboard for this step to help your foot stay level.

When it comes to securing them to the belt loops jeans, you have two options. You can bar tack them in place, which is VERY strong, but not all machines want to bar tack through all that fabric.

ginger skinny jeans pattern - hemming jeans and sewing belt loops-15

Alternatively, you can just use a short straight stitch and backstitch about three times to really secure that puppy in place. I tend to hike up my pants by the belt loops so I’ve learned through experience that I like them to be really strong. Either way, try to line up the topstitching at the top of the belt loop with your line of stitching on the waistband. Mark with chalk if it makes it easier for you to sew.I try to stay roughly within my topstitching lines on the belt loop. I find it looks better than trying to sew the entire length of the loop.

sewing jean belt loops

sewing belt loops to jeans

Once installed, you can trim the excess on the inside of the belt loops to prevent fraying.

Next up, buttonhole! Take your jean button and center it on your waistband above the fly. Mark a line a little bigger than the button so you’ll have room to get it in and out. I start the buttonhole about 1/4″ away from the waistband stitching. Make sure you do a test run first to make sure your topstitching thread tension is cooperating. If you can’t get a nice thread tension, use matching regular thread (or use a fun contrasting colour like Sallie did here).

sewing jean buttonhole

If you have some Fray Stop, apply it before you cut your buttonhole open. This hole takes a lot of abuse and I find this product really helps prevent it from fraying too much over time.

Finally, we are going to hem our jeans. This is easy peasy. Just fold each hem up 1/2″, press, fold again, and topstitch. Done!

hemming jeanshemming jeanshemming jeans

Let’s give ourselves all a long, loud slow clap. You’ve all done amazing work! I want to wrap this sewalong up this week so I will be back tomorrow to talk rivets and buttons. Happy Thanksgiving to my southern neighbors!


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  • Nice hint about the hammer; you’re going to need it for the rivety bits so you’d want it all warmed up. I always forget and sew through the tacky glue and …oh, that just hurts to think about. Don’t be like me! Wait!

  • Scruffybadgertime

    Heather Lou thank you so much for all the care and attention and personality you’ve put into your sew along. I’ve been making my first pair of Gingers this weekend ( we had a bank holiday in the UK) and it feels as if I’ve just spent time hanging out with you!! I’ve got so far, just hemming and button to complete and I’m really pleased with the result. And as you’ve admitted to the fabric glue guilty pleasure, I used wonder tape and that worked a treat for the belt loops too, and I wouldn’t have thought of it had you not suggested the glue ( which I didn’t have). I cannot wait to get wearing my jeans! Potentially almost as satisfying as shirt making!! X