Adding Button Loops to a Waistband

There were quite a few nice comments on the buttons and loops that I used to finish the waistband of my Miranda Skirt.    I have to admit I love this finish too – plus there is no need to bother with buttonholes!  I did take some photos at the time, so here’s a few notes on sewing rouleau loops…

On this skirt with a wide waistband I used three 10mm buttons, but I often finish skirt waistlines with a 1cm wide self fabric binding that fastens with a single button and loop.

Most sewing books will show how to make rouleau loops – cut a bias strip, fold it lengthwise, sew it down the middle and turn it through.  Here’s a few pointers I think are worth knowing:

  • Cut a length long enough for several loops to be sewn at once.
  • Make them as fine and as round as you can – fat floppy loops don’t look that great.
  • I cut my bias strips 2cm wide and stitch 1/8″ from the fold, this works most of the time for me with lightweight fabrics.  I don’t bother trimming away the allowance – it pads out the loop perfectly as is.
  • Stretch the bias strip slightly as you sew to prevent thread breaking when you turn it through.
  • For the last 1-2cm of sewing, veer away from the folded edge – this makes a wider opening for easier turning.
  • I use a decent sized needle (eye first) and a few strands of thread to turn the loop.  Just make sure you secure the thread well, as you don’t want to lose your head thread halfway along the tube.
  • To avoid twisted loops, take care when turning and try to keep the seam straight  This is not always possible I know!  But you can often wiggle it into shape once the loops are cut.
Here’s how I attached them to the waistband:
  • The loops go on the L side of your opening, and the buttons go on the R where the underlap is:
  • I cut my loops larger than required and trim the ends later – that way they are easier to control when positioning them!
  • There is a right and wrong side to your loop, the wrong side has the seam.
  • Fold the loop in half, and figure out what size loop is required to slip the button through.
  • With the waistband right side up, and your folded loop wrong side up (ie right sides together), attach the loop just inside the seam allowance.   
  • If you are doing a long run of loops, make sure they are evenly spaced by marking the placement position with a notch.  There is only three loops here so I’m going by eye.
  • I like to backtack over my loops to make sure they are securely fastened.
  • Now fold the inner waistband over top, and sew the end of your waistband closed.  (ignore my out-of-place clip, I narrowed the waistband and had some unpicking to do!)
  • I actually sew the end from the other side – where I can make sure I am in line with the zip, stitch the right distance from my previous stitching (OK, bit wonky here…), and ensure I have the inner waistband sitting 1mm lower so it covers all the stitching when it is turned:
  • Turn end of waistband through and admire:
Outside
Inside
  • If you look closely, the wonky stitching I mentioned earlier has caused the lower loops to be a bit smaller.  Luckily there is a quick solution to this that does not involve unpicking:
  • Put the tip of your rusty old shears inside the loop, and open them gently, stretching the loop slightly:
  • And voila – all the buttons now fit through the loops easily.  I like the loops to be reasonably firm, as they tend to stretch slightly with initial use:
  • Finally you can sew the buttons to the underlap.  I position my buttons at the inner edge of the fold of the loop.  And if you are sewing a line of closely spaced buttons, you don’t need to cut your thread between each button, pass it between the fabric layers to the next button position.  Much quicker, and neater too!
  • Hope this helps for happier sewing!
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I'm a designer/patternmaker who loves to share my sewing knowledge with others! Follow me as I sew my personal projects, sharing my favourite tricks of the trade along the way.

13 thoughts on “Adding Button Loops to a Waistband

  1. I love the finished look of the loops, but I hate doing them! I have major trouble turning them inside out. I don't have a special tool. I tried to use the eraser end of a pencil, but it didn't work all that great. Yours look beautiful though; it's inspiring.

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  2. Great tutorial. What a neat way to finish a waistband. I want to go and try this right now but none of my present projects require it. I'll have to go and think of one 🙂

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  3. Very pretty. I'd love to see the single button closure as well if you have a picture. Have you ever used the elastic cording? – Myrna

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  4. Perfect way to finish the waistband of that skirt, and great fabric score! I laughed when I read it was patchwork fabric, remember the Selfish Seamstresses post on “how to spot a newbie” – the use of patchwork was high on her hit list… but we all know, there is patchwork fabric and then there is patchwork fabric…

    I didn't go to the Global sale. I have way to much fabric as it is! I am not a stasher, but for someone who is not a stasher I sure have a lot of fabric lying around!

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  5. That finish does look really lovely, and a much better choice for the small sized buttons!
    I like the story of how you bought the fabric! What a lovely trusting lady; she is probably a serious dressmaker herself and recognised you as a kindred spirit!

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