Sewing Activewear Tutorials / Tutorials

Sew a Runner Belt: An Easy DIY Tutorial

Want to make your own runner belt? Then follow this simple tutorial on how to sew an expandable runner belt with plenty of space for the phone, cards, keys, gels, or whatever else you need to bring on your run (or walk).

And the best part, no pattern is required and it’s a great scrap buster too, especially if you are already a keen sewist since most of the things needed to make this workout pouch are probably already in your sewing stash.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, meaning that a commission is earned from qualifying purchases.

Tools for making a runner belt

  • Thick and sturdy elastic. At east 1 meters/1.1 yard long and around 30 to 35 mm wide (1 1/4″ to 1 3/8″ )
    Don’t go for flimsy, soft elastic, instead pick the type of elastic that is normally found on runner belts.
  • A plastic buckle 
  • 1 or 2 plastic slides (Tri-glide)
    Note: Make sure the slides and buckles have a similar width as the elastic
  • A plastic coil zipper. In this tutorial, we’re using a closed-end zipper, but a separating zipper works too.
  • A piece of knit fabric. Ideally, use a quick-dry stretch knit, since you will likely sweat a lot!

The links above are Amazon affiliate links

Step-by-step instructions for making a DIY runner belt

1. Cut the fabric

  • Cut a rectangle that is as wide as the zipper tape is long. Here the zipper tape is 28 cm (11 inches). 
  • The length should be 25 cm (10 inches). 

Cut the fabric so that it stretches the most vertically and the least in the zipper direction.

2. Prepare for attaching the zipper

Since the fabric is stretchy, it’s best to stabilise the fabric first. Otherwise, there is a risk that the fabric will stretch out and grow while sewing the zipper. I strongly I’m using water-soluble doubled sided tape, also called wonder-tape. 

Right side up, tape the fabric edge using wonder-tape. This will keep the zipper in place and prevent the fabric from stretching out. But you can also use hand basting or glue-stick to keep the zipper in place and prevent stretching.

Get Wonder-Tape

3. Place the zipper on the fabric edge

Place the zipper on the right side of the fabric, with the zipper pull (slider) facing down to the fabric and coils away from the edge. Start with one side of the zipper.

4. Sew the zipper

Use a zipper presser foot. Sew close to the coils, using a straight stitch. Remember to secure the stitch using backstitch at the start and end. When reaching the end, stop with the needle down and close the zipper to make sewing easier.

Repeat the same thing on the other side. Place the zipper using Wonder-Tape, with the zipper closed, stitch close to the coil and open the zipper during the final stretch to make sewing easier.

5. Turn the tube

Now the zipper tape and stitches are hidden inside and it’s time to topstitch along the zipper to keep the edge from rolling over the zipper. 

6. Topstitch the zipper

Again using a zipper presser foot, topstitch along the edge using a straight stitch. This step is important because it will prevent the fabric from getting stuck in the zipper.

Start with the zipper open, and when you reach the end, close the zipper and pivot the tube so that you won’t stitch through the entire tube.

Repeat on the other side. Open up the zipper again. Topstitch and finish with the zipper closed.

Want to learn more ways to add storage to your activewear?

Then check out my book Sewing Activewear where there are several step-by-step tutorials for adding pockets to workout clothes.

7. Make the belt straps

Cut two pieces of elastic. In this tutorial, they are each 45 cm (18″) long, which will fit a large range of bodies. But you can of course make them longer or shorter. 

Thread the elastic over the middle bar on the slide. The elastic should be attached to the backside of the slider. 

Pin the elastic in place. Repeat if you are using a second slide. Remember to check that they mirror each other.

8. Stitch the elastic

Stitch over the edge using a zigzag stitch. Stitch back and forth several times to fully secure the elastic. Switch to a larger needle if you are getting skipped stitches, which is pretty common when sewing over heavy elastic.

Repeat on the second strap.

9. Thread the straps

Pull the strap through the buckle, with the backside facing up.

Fold over the bar, thread through the slide again.

Flip the buckle and thread over the slide bar one final time. 

Repeat the same sequence on the other buckle, again making sure they are done in the same order.

10. Attach the straps to the pouch

Turn the tube, so that the zipper tape is facing up. Insert one strap, with the upper buckle and glide facing the zipper pull. 

Wrap the fabric around the elastic. Then fold the fabric back and forth three times to create pleats. Pin to keep the folds in place. 

Insert the second strap, fold three times.

Before you sew, check to make sure the pleats are in the same direction on both sides. Also, check that both straps are attached with the upper side facing the pull side of the zipper.

12. Stitch the ends to close the pouch

Using a straight stitch, sew close to the ends of the zipper. Stitch back and forth several times to secure the seam.

Repeat on the other strap. 

13. Pull out the straps

Open up the pouch, and pull out the straps.

If you want to, you can trim the edges to remove some bulk. 

The finished runner belt

Now the runner belt is finished. The pouch is very narrow, but thanks to the pleats it will expand when you place things inside the pouch. 

Adjust the belt straps so that they fits well around the body. And enjoy your new workout belt!

Also, if you wish that more leggings would have pockets. Check out our Aila Leggings Sewing Pattern that comes with two great waistband pocket options!

Watch Video: How To Sew An Expandable and Adjustable Runner Belt

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, meaning that a commission is earned from qualifying purchases.


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  • Michelle
    June 22, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Excellent tutorial! I can’t wait to try this. I have some scraps of technical fabric, and this is a perfect way to use them up. These would make great gifts that are quick to make.

  • c
    June 12, 2022 at 6:47 pm

    There is ads over pattern which is annoying


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