Introduction: Leather Underbust Harness

Picture of Leather Underbust Harness

When I discovered Tandy Leather a few years ago, my life was forever changed. Okay, maybe that sounds a little dramatic, but I really do love Tandy. The staff were extremely helpful and the environment was so cool! I honestly don't remember if I planned on buying anything that first visit, but I walked out with a big piece of leather and an idea. I had to go back again for more materials (not that I minded, that place is awesome), but all my materials came from Tandy.

I looked around on the Internet for awhile, trying to figure out how to begin, but I eventually ended up guessing a lot and making my own design. Here's how that went:

Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design

As with almost every project I take on, I started in Adobe Illustrator. I measured myself a lot and tweaked the design until it was exactly what I wanted.

Step 2: Patterning and Tracing

Picture of Patterning and Tracing

I cut out my design on parchment paper. For the straps, I used a ruler since they're just long rectangles.

Step 3: Cut It Out

Picture of Cut It Out

I used a carpet knife to carefully cut everything out along the lines. *Pro Tip! Don't stab yourself in the leg with carpet knives.

Step 4: I Punched Lots of Holes in Them

Picture of I Punched Lots of Holes in Them

Using a ruler, I marked where every hole needed to be. Then I used a leather hole punching set to punch all the holes. It took awhile and I hit myself with the hammer seven times.

The holes for the rivets ended up being too small, so I broke out the drill and made them bigger.

Step 5: Cowdust

Picture of Cowdust

I tested out all my pieces with the hardware, and it turns out the leather I got was too thick when it came to the straps. So I got out the belt sander and sanded them down until they worked. In the future, I will try using a planer instead.

Note: I very recently learned that you should NOT wear gloves while using a belt sander. For more info, see the comments section of this Instructable.

Step 6: Leather Dyeing

Picture of Leather Dyeing

I used the cheap kind of dye that includes a topcoat because it costs less and takes less time. The bigger pieces were more difficult because it dried so fast I couldn't make it even. But it turned out pretty well and the uneven-ness gives it a good look for steampunk.

Step 7: So Riveting

Picture of So Riveting

Riveting was not as easy as I had hoped. I messed a few up, and there's not really a good way to fix it. But it ended up mostly fine. And it all held together, which is the most important part.

Step 8: Wear It!

Picture of Wear It!

It fits! The holes on all the straps make it adjustable, but some of the holes are just for show. It can't actually be adjusted smaller than this. I'm not sure how well it would work adjusted too much larger either, but it was designed to fit to me, so it doesn't really matter. If you're making your own, make sure you get your measurements down right.

I've worn this several times, for different cosplay type things. I've used it for steampunk and for pirate outfits and for the renaissance festival.

I hope you enjoyed my Instructable and I hope you like my harness! Thanks for reading!


MichaelAtOz (author)2017-10-29

Did the plant survive the cowdusting? (last photo of step 5)

grangerknives (author)2017-10-19

I would strongly suggest NOT using a planer. Abrading with sandpaper and cutting with knives on a planer are dramatically different. The rigidity of wood allows for cutting off a thin layer. The flexibility of leather would allow all of the leather to be drawn up into the blade assembly, thereby destroying the leather and almost certainly damaging the planer or jointer, if you tried that.

Buy the right thickness, sand or use a skiving tool, which would require much practice and skill.

Best wishes. You have great talent and determination!


Darrilin (author)2017-03-23

love it. Thanks for sharing. Hubby and I are Tandy addicts. Great new project.

Jennie bowie (author)2017-02-09

Thank you for thst idea! I was thinking on those lines too. Bless you for the pattern! Down loading tonight!! See if it works for my back. Giving me hell this week. Bless you Jennie Bowie.

dina4680 (author)2017-01-12

OMG beautiful. I need to tighten a leather corset that is too big on me. But I don't know if I can do the riveting.

I am steampunking as wel!

MelissaP118 (author)2016-09-29

What's the purpose of this contraption?

halledean (author)MelissaP1182016-09-29

It's just for looks. I use it in steampunk and pirate costumes.

mindmole (author)halledean2016-10-27

could this be used somehow as a support back brace. It occurs to me that it may be better than typical store bought stretchy Velcro types. either as is or modified for such purpose.

DylanP40 (author)2016-07-21

Nice job and very nice look! Did I catch a "Llamas With Hats" reference on Step 4? ("I punched (bit) lots of holes in them..."). If not, then amazing episode 2 coincidence!

halledean (author)DylanP402016-10-17

Haha! Yes! Someone caught it! I thought it was funny, but I didn't know if anyone would get the reference.

cosmokid (author)2016-10-06

What is the minimxm cup size to wear with it ?

DarrinP (author)2016-10-06

Looks as would dig into the breast on the side. Maybe adding cups and line them with some type of padding

halledean (author)DarrinP2016-10-06

It actually doesn't dig in. It really just sits underneath. It's not uncomfortable.

thewanderingjack (author)2016-09-26

Haha I wondered how I even got to this project, but it was featured in the newsletter and looks really great. I voted for it! Is there anything you'd change, fit/comfort wise? Thanks for the template! Great work!.

Thank you!
The only thing I'd probably change is I'd cut a couple inches off the length in the front. I don't know if that wording makes any sense, but I can't think of another way to word it.
It works fine the way it is, but it can only get as tight as how I'm wearing it because the overlapping parts are too long and can't go past the rivets of the straps. If I cut it, I could make it fit tighter, which would make it fit a bit better.
It's a really easy fix, so I might just cut it and re-dye the edge.

I see what you mean, and it's obvious once you point it out.

I have a few ideas for making it more adjustable/versatile... thank you so much for the inspiration. :)

jcarter35 (author)2016-09-22

Very cute! Well done.

RalphH22 (author)2016-09-09

Excellent work!

I loved the 'patchy' dye effect I thought it was deliberate as looks so much more interesting and Steamy/Diesel-ly than an even dye. I was wondering how you did it, I assumed several random layers of dyes, Don't you just love serendipity.

zhangxuanqi (author)2016-08-07

Simple and beautiful

Tardisrepairman (author)2016-08-03

I'm very impressed by the way you decided what you wanted and then went right out there and made it.Great work! Terrific final product! Well Done! :-)

(After reading all the safety advice in the comments I have cut off all my hair and thrown away my gloves and scarfs on the off-chance that I ever use a belt sander. ;-)

Natalina (author)2016-07-29

Really well done! I actually like the uneven dye effect, I assumed it was intentional :)

mr_marte (author)2016-07-29

Thank you for sharing your project. I am particularly impressed by your use of Adobe Illustrator. What a great skill you have in bringing your concept to an easy to understand format. Thanks.

BeachsideHank (author)2016-07-19

I'll give you a first- hand account of what went wrong at the belt sander one day at work. A gal was assigned to deburr some metal parts and so not wanting to soil her hands she donned a pair of gloves. After some time, she strayed too close to the belt and it grabbed her hand and pulled it into the lower guard. No amputation but several days of lost work and a manicure job she'll never forget. Her supervisor was a young guy who should have noticed this and had her remove her gloves, but he was inexperienced and ignorant about such a hazard. He learned from this and thereafter vowed to never let such a thing happen on his watch again, and got educated on shop safety. 40 years later I still second guess myself about my failure to protect her as I was solely responsible for this event. I hope you take this story to heart and do yourself a huge favor and be sure to read and understand all safety procedures when working with power tools, bad things happen in microseconds and the damage can be collateral too.

Please loose the gloves. ☺

DanyN1 (author)BeachsideHank2016-07-28

Hi! The first time I tried to use a belt sander someone actually told me to wear gloves, so I did. The first few strokes I was fine, but then I too strayed too close to the sander and I felt the belt pull on my hand. Fortunately, the gloves I was using were too big for me so the belt sander just ripped a little piece of the glove's finger... but as soon as that happened I threw them away from me.

BeachsideHank (author)DanyN12016-07-28

Glad to hear only a glove suffered injury in your safety education event. ☺

halledean (author)BeachsideHank2016-07-19

O.O Wow. Okay, thank you! I will not wear gloves for that anymore.

NewY1 (author)halledean2016-07-22

Great piece. Also heres were more advice comes in. Tie up the hair, lose the gloves, shop apron to keep loose clothe away, NO jewelery, and last but not least, contact tandy and ask for a leather weight chart so you can determine the right thickness for future projects. Youre just getting startes young lady, and yoir project is fabulous. I was trained by my father when i was four, we're both autodidactic and ive been doing since then. Get yoir hands on a starter kit from Tandy, you want one and it will help you step ip your game by leaps and bounds. Ive been going there since 1973 and today im still a regular customer, Tandy is my favorite toy store; everytime I go there i stop just to take a big wiff of all that leather and it get the ideas flowing on what to make next. Drop by instagram #s.b.standard.leather and look at yoir potential. Welcome to the Leather community young lady...

razor7177 (author)halledean2016-07-21

great work...u could do a steam punk style bobba fatt costume, on the glove u could try mechanic gloves (google it) but use the one that are snug to ur hands...not the thick loose/baggy gloves..

SoLongSidekick (author)razor71772016-07-21

I think that's pretty innapropriate. Her weight looks perfectly proportional to me.

Jim_dJ (author)SoLongSidekick2016-07-21

*Boba Fett* (of Star Wars fame)

SoLongSidekick (author)Jim_dJ2016-07-21

I know, it was a joke.

ElChick (author)BeachsideHank2016-07-21

Excellent instruction, and thanks for sharing your personal viewpoint. It drives home the importance of shop safety all the more, and I want you to know that I appreciate it!

BeachsideHank (author)ElChick2016-07-21

I appreciate your response to my mea culpa, thanks.

roley1 (author)2016-07-25

As someone that has attempted leather work in the past I have to say that this is an absolutely amazing item. Every detail of it is perfect even the dye finish that your not happy with is great as it has an aged look to it that makes it more authentic for cosplay. Its one of a kind hand made items like this that set a great costume apart from the quick and cheap 20 million made at the same factory garbage. You could possibly make some useful extra cash by making items and selling them. If this is the finished quality of your first attempt then without hesitation I look forward to seeing future creations as like everything skills improve with practice.

enjoy life and enjoy creating

psargaco (author)2016-07-23

Love it! I can already see a world of possibilities

Gordyh (author)2016-07-23

To sum up some of the safety suggestions already mentioned, No gloves. No loose fitting shirts (at least tuck the shirt in to your pants and pull it to the back so it is tight in the front) and long sleeves are a NO-NO around power equipment. As is long hair, a pony tail is not good enough!!! tie it up in a bun or wear a hair net. Wear proper safety glasses, goggles or a face shield, debris can get around your loose fitting reading glasses and into your eyes. Many have ignored safety for years and gotten away with it, BUT many others have paid a high price :( I lost 1/2 of a finger to gloves and seen coworkers injured due to the others even after they had been warned of the dangers.

The photo show an excellent project and dare I say make an old man wish he was young again ;-)

fortj3 (author)2016-07-23

That mottled finish looks MUCH better than an even finish would have.

jphillips23 (author)2016-07-21

Why would you want this item?

Is there a physical reason?

richb77 (author)jphillips232016-07-21

I suspect you have never heard of cosplay or steam punk then? I can see a lot of steampunk influence and can imagine a few cosplayers liking this.

Personally i like it. Its a good instructable offering something difficult/impossible to buy.

jphillips23 (author)richb772016-07-22

Thank you.

You are correct, I have never heard of any of that.

I did not think it was a practical weight belt becase it did not extend low enough. I was thinking more of a fashion statement but did not consider it as part of a costume.

BtheBike (author)jphillips232016-07-21

I think that's pretty clear . lol

If she were ever to do any heavy lifting, this would significantly help to protect her from injuring herself, but in reality it's a costume coplay thing - for looks, not everyone thinks "the latest nike air jordan trainers" or "jeans halfway down their arse" is cool.

Jamie45 (author)2016-07-22

You said that the “cheap dye” dried so fast you couldn't make it even. Personally, I think it looks a lot better
with the mottled finish (for lack of a better term) than if it had come out

ZombieWorkshop (author)2016-07-21

I always wanted to try leather craft, your work looks awesome like medieval, I learned the hard way no wear gloves while working my metal lathe almost broke two of my fingers two years as ago

NewY1 (author)ZombieWorkshop2016-07-22

Go to Tandy's web page and the have starter kits at good prices, better when you catch it on sale. I was taught this craft at 4 yrs old and im almost 50 now. You never get tired of creating things for yourself, for sale, for family and significant others. Anyone can by some junk made not in America, but, when you hand make a quality item that demands a premium, and you gice it to a parent, spouse or anyone special; they strut your one of a kind art work like a peacock with all its feathers on display... believe you me, you wonr regret getting yoir first set. Then come back here for ideas, postings, youtube tutorials etc and show yoir work... welcome to the firat day of rhe rest of yoir life. Take a peak at instagram #s.b.standard.leather for ideas...

NewY1 (author)2016-07-22

Great advice. Leather aprons are almost mandatory around power tools, as is safety glasses or the infamous plastic face mask. I wouldnt turn on an idustrial styled or actual tool without them. Safety is number one priority. Also, get a tanker style work bench with the draws on both sides. You can see one on instagram #s.b.standard.leather where he shows his set up. Just saying...

NewY1 (author)2016-07-22

The secret to custom work are mistakes are called either one of a kind or personalization. The color is excellent, you nailed that part. People try to get a perfect even coat and that is so average, that you may not have been happy with it. The style I give you two thumbs up. You will enjoy this craft so much more when you learn about the different thicknesses in terms of oz and mm. Have fun, you just started a life long legacy, we dont live forever, but you will make things that almost will... welcome to the leather club and find a site called deviantart.

dseymour4 (author)2016-07-22

Turned out great, nice job! i've thought about trying leatherwork so many times.

jim0825 (author)2016-07-22

For those of you asking "why?", It's explained at the end of 'ible:

I've worn this several times, for different cosplay type things. I've
used it for

steampunk and for pirate outfits and for the renaissance

Sometimes, girls just wanna have fun (and it does look good on her.)

But the warning about long hair and power tools are valid though. Safety first...

rlbnd (author)2016-07-22

Is this for middle back support? If I were you, I would integrate a bra in to the next one. It might make for a base by which strapless dresses could be made around.

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