The instructions are for a 1” (25mm) wide belt that fastens with D-rings, although you could make a slightly wider belt (but see note on materials below) or use a different fastening method. Suitable webbing, D-rings and a zip can be found in any good haberdashery shop or market stall. My gold-coloured D-rings came from Hobbycraft.
What you will need
- A length of 1” (25mm) wide cotton, nylon or polyester webbing, waist size plus about 12-15” (30-38cm)
- An 8-20“ (20-51cm) nylon or polyester zip in a similar colour to the webbing (16“ (41cm) is a good length)
- Sewing thread to match the webbing
- A pair of 1” metal D-rings
- A sewing machine with a jeans needle in it, ordinary and zipper feet
- The usual sewing kit – pins, needles, tape measure, etc
- Fabric glue (optional)
A note on the materials
The webbing needs to be reasonably thick, you don’t want the bulge of the zipped pocket and its contents to be visible when the belt is worn. Any such bulges will be less obvious if it is a dark colour, so choose black or navy if you have any doubts about the thickness of the webbing you can find to buy. Cotton webbing will need to be washed, or left to soak in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, and then dried before you get started, or it may shrink and wrinkle where the zip has been sewn behind it. If you prefer to use a side-release buckle instead of D-rings you will need a slightly longer length, certainly waist size plus 15” rather than 12”. Also, bear in mind that many people nowadays, particularly the young, wear their trousers and skirts below the waist, so it’s a good idea to make a belt that is generously long. It’s easy to shorten it later.
Webbing tends to look much the same on both sides, which means that a D-ring fastening looks OK despite the fact that the inside of the free end of the belt will be seen. If your webbing has a noticeable wrong side, then a different fastening method that hides the wrong side would be better.
The zip should, ideally, be the same width as the belt, ie 1”, but it doesn’t matter if it is up to ¼” (6mm) narrower, it will just mean that there is less room in the hidden pocket. It shouldn’t be any wider than the webbing. Nylon or polyester zips are less bulky than cotton ones, and stronger. Pay attention to the depth of the pull, if it is too proud it will stick into the wearer. Invisible zips tend to have shallow pulls, but they need quite a lot of force to open and close them, which is not ideal – the pocket in the belt needs to open discreetly without a lot of tugging. It shouldn’t strictly be necessary for the zip to be the same colour as the webbing because it will be on the inside out of sight, but try to find one with the tape very close in colour just in case any of it is visible at the edges.
Before deciding to make a 1¼” or wider belt, check that you can find a zip of a suitable width. Ones that are wider than 1” are often quite thick and bulky. Larger D-rings can be hard to find too.
The sewing thread doesn’t need to match the webbing colour perfectly. You could even use a contrast colour if your sewing skills are good enough to make a feature of all the topstitching. Webbing is often striped and one of the stripe colours could be used so that the stitching appears to be an additional stripe. In the photos I have stitched using honey-coloured thread that matches the central stripe. The only row of stitching that does need to be a good match is the vertical seam securing the bottom end of the zip. This should definitely not be sewn in a contrast colour, you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that there is anything unusual about this belt. If the webbing is a dark colour then stitching this seam in a matching thread should be fine as it will not show. The same applies if the webbing is quite textured, so that the stitches are lost in it. Otherwise you may prefer to stick the lower end of the zip to the webbing using fabric glue, or else to slipstitch it invisibly in place. See Step 2.