The title of this post was originally going to be “the Basic Belt” but there are so many ways that you can dress this belt up that really, its anything but basic. However, if you make this particular belt (giving it your own whim, of course) its sort of the “belt starting point” if you will. This belt doesn’t have any really tricky maneuvers and doesn’t involve the use of eyelets or the prong. Instead, its just a buckle with a belt. Are you ready to jump in? I know I am. Let’s go!
For your Anything-But-Basic Belt, you will need:
◊ A Buckle – one that has a middle bar
◊ Belt Backing – your waist measurement plus 6-8 inches
◊ Fabric – 2 inches longer than the length of the belting x triple the belting width (I used silk dupioni for this example)
◊ Needle & Thread
◊ Sew-on snaps (optional)
Let’s start with the belt backing. You’ll need a piece of belt backing that is your waist measurement ( I measure over the clothes I’ll be wearing the belt with) plus 6 – 8 inches. I opt for the 8 inch side of things because I like a little extra hang off. Next you’ll need to cut a point on the end (or any other shape you desire – round, blunt, 3-cornered, etc.). If your belt backing is wonky from the packaging, have a peek at this tip to see how to get it to ship-shape up. Put this aside.
Cut your fabric. I typically chop this off the end of a piece of fabric on the cross-grain – but you can go with cross grain or straight grain. You’ll need to cut a rectangular piece that is triple the width of the belt backing (example: for 1″ wide belting, cut a 3″ wide piece) and that is also 2 inches longer than the length of your belting.
Let’s move onto the sewing and folding. There are so many ways to sew the fabric for a belt, but I’m going to start with my favorite way. I’ll be showing you all the other ways I know of too, so if this particular construction method doesn’t suit your fancy, don’t worry! To start, along one of the long lengthwise edges, press up 1/2 “. Now take your belt backing with the shiny side facing up and fold the fabric for the point at the end of the belt. Fold the fabric over the point by about 1 inch, then fold each side in on itself. Pin that in place if needed. Fold the unpressed lengthwise edge of the fabric over the belt backing and then fold the pressed lengthwise edge over that and pin in place as you go down the belt all the way to the end. You should have about 1” hang off of fabric at the end. Next slip-stitch all these folds in place.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say this doesn’t take a little bit of time, because it does. But really not much. There’s a few things that I like about this method though. This method works especially well for fabrics that are fray crazy – like silk and wool. With this method, the back seam isn’t so bulky and eyelets go in a little easier and better. This method also allows you to control how tight the fabric is around the belt backing and sometimes when you do it by machine, the fabric is tight in some sections and not in others and makes the belting material go wonky.
Optional tip: Before adding on the buckle, you can topstitch around the edges of the belt. This works great to keep the fabric in place and can also be a decorative touch to a somewhat boring belt. You can do it by machine or by hand. To do it by machine, simply use a sewing needle that is for thicker fabrics and slowly and carefully topstitch 1/8″ from the edge all the way around the belt. To do it by hand, pick a nice embroidery thread and have an embroidery needle, thimble and small set of pliers handy. Topstitch by hand 1/8″ from the edge all the way around pushing the needle through all layers with your thimble and pulling the needle up with your pliers.
Time to add your buckle. Slip the end of your belting over the buckle’s middle bar, fold your excess fabric over the belting and hand stitch in place.
Optional tip: Tired of belts that won’t stay in place? Here’s a tip. Try your belt on and hold in place, pin mark the inside of the overlap belting and a corresponding section of the under belt that’s near the buckle. Add a sew-on snap to the pin markings. To be able to wear your belt over thicker and thinner fabrics add a corresponding snap piece to each side of the original snap, about 1/4″ – 1/2″ away from each other.
And there you go friends! Have fun making your Anything-But-Basic Belt! I’ll be back with more belt fun later this week!