Jeans Part 8: Belt Loops and Buttonholes


Before we get started: If you used the “Follow on Feedly” button (over there to the right) before today, please try it again.  The earlier version of the button would subscribe you to the comments, rather than the actual articles.  I caught that error and fixed it yesterday.

A Quick Fix

After finishing the waistband and hems, I threw the jeans in the washer.  Trying them on afterwards, I discovered the pocketing developed a hole – I didn’t close the pocket bags carefully enough, even going over them with both serger and conventional machine.


This was easy to fix by re-stitching with some white thread on the conventional machine.

Belt Loops

As expected, my machine attached the belt loops with difficulty.  Belt loops are difficult, since there’s many layers of denim and they are smaller than the machine’s presser foot.

The machine can sew through all the layers of denim.  The problem is getting the feed dogs to reliably shift the fabric with that much bulk squished under the presser foot.

I started making some samples with my scrap denim.  I learned pretty quick the auto-bartack feature just isn’t reliable, because you don’t know if the machine is going to be able to feed the fabric reliably for the duration of the cycle.  If it can’t feed the fabric, the computer will never think the bartack is complete, and it will sew in one spot forever (or until it causes a thread jam).  Also, the buttonhole foot isn’t really ideal for stitching over a big lump of denim.

So I started experimenting with a narrow zigzag stitch, with a short enough stitch length to get a “satin” effect but not one so short the feed dogs loose grip on the fabric.  Instead of the buttonhole foot, I just used the normal zigzag foot.

I also tried to use regular thread in a shade close to the topstitching thread, but didn’t like the way that looked. So I stuck with the topstitching thread.

One question I had was whether to sew through both folds of the belt loop at the top.  Since that’s the first attachment point, it’s easy to just go through one fold.  I checked my pair of RTW jeans and saw they stitched through both folds.  Though my machine got through it on a sample, it failed on my first real attempt attaching the center back loop.


Removing close zigzag stitching like this is hard. But I did it, and restitched it (fixed version shown above) through only one fold, taking the safe-not-sorry route for the rest of the loops.

For the bottom of each loop, I did stitch through both folds of the loop.  This works better because all of the feed dogs can grip the fabric; at the edge of the waistband only half the feed dogs are in use.

I used Wash-Away Wonder Tape to fix down the belt loops, mostly so that I wouldn’t be surprised with belt loops that went on crooked or weren’t loose enough to allow a belt.


Wash-Away Wonder Tape on the inside of the belt loop.


Belt loop is stuck down with tape, ready for bottom fold to be stitched.


I placed the belt loops using the suggestions from pattern, as well as checking my pair of RTW jeans.

Sewing boo-boo #627: I attached one of the loops inside out by mistake.  The serging  is supposed to be on the inside of the belt loop.


I had to pull it off and sew a new one on. Fortunately, if you follow the pattern instructions you get a few spare loop pieces.


Again, I made samples to test my buttonhole.  I determined that using topstitch thread for the buttonhole was not a good idea – the machine couldn’t handle it.

It performed much better with regular thread, so I ran the buttonhole using my navy blue thread to match the denim.  Even then, I ran into some feed problems with the machine’s auto-buttonhole cycle.  But I got a good result.



I made yet another mistake: I treated the buttonhole with Fray Check, and then cut it with a razor blade.  But it looks like I missed the ditch, and actually sliced through the lower buttonhole stitching.  I think I will have to try to fix this either with a close zigzag stitch like the one I used for the belt loops, or else some hand stitching.

Next Time

I’m not done yet.  I’ll be doing buttons and rivets, then trying on the finished jeans!