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40 pence belt

Added Mar 9, 2011

by harrietbazley

London, United K...






This coat cost 5p(!) at a jumble sale, having obviously been used as a child’s costume in some kind of stage production: but once the sleeves had been let out again, the missing button replaced and the hole in the pocket lining mended, it had obviously once been a fairly classy garment, and a rather useful one. It’s made of some kind of pure wool suiting fabric which is very warm for its light weight, and I have been wearing it throughout the winter.

However, the one missing part that I couldn’t find a replacement for was a belt to go through the dangling belt loops. I thought I’d be able to pick up a second-hand fabric belt cheaply, but I couldn’t find any at all. In the end I decided to make one myself, using the fabric left over from making the waistband of my peacock rescue skirt. The piece of cloth wasn’t quite long enough so I had to piece an extra six inches or so onto the end of my strip.

It hadn’t dawned on me precisely how long the seams are on a tailored belt and how many times one has to tack and then sew them: once to catch down the outside of the interfacing, once to sew it in close to the fold, once to make the seam, twice with tiny running stitches to topstitch the edges after turning outside-in (and then I had to unpick the original interfacing seam, which was redundant and showed….)

I found an old-fashioned haberdashery shop (Jeanette Fashions in Clapham High Street) with a drawer full of buckles, and bought one for 35p; then I had to work out from scratch how to sew it in while leaving the prong free to move! In the end I cut a long slit (much longer than I thought it would have to be) towards the end of the belt and buttonholed through all the layers to seal the edges, before inserting a half tailored loop just behind the buckle to hold the belt firmly against the prong, and stitching the end back against itself, while running another seam through the six layers of fabric immediately behind the bar of the buckle to keep it in place. (I’m not sure how one would do this bit by machine: it was a bit of a fiddle by hand, but not too hard.) A second tailored loop was left free to slide along the belt and secure the loose end.

In the absence of a tailor’s awl I actually used a mattress needle plus my seam ripper to make the eyelet holes , catching up and severing a few threads at a time and then buttonholing as closely as possible around the hole. This project took far longer than I had expected; however, as I thought, the belt does make a big difference to the way the coat hangs, and the way its skirts flare out when you walk. The coat is still slightly too big for me, but it looks a lot more feminine now!

Material Notes

scrap length of men’s suiting fabric
scrap piece of canvas for interfacing
belt buckle



Related Techniques


Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Garment Type
Business, Classic




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