Hand Sew a Simple, Sturdy Belt

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About: A student who loves getting creative sewing, cooking, dancing and whatever else captures my interest. You'll find me working on all sorts of projects!

With a knowledge of basic sewing techniques and a few hours, you can sew yourself a strong belt as broad or narrow and with as many holes as you like! This is a suitable project for a beginning sewer and can be made entirely by hand, although a sewing machine would speed things up.

I took my sister's and my own measurements to sew up this simple belt out of a large, old skirt so that both of us can wear it (though not at the same time, of course!). My sister loves collecting things and her motley mix of buckles came in handy today :)

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Step 1: Gather Materials

What you will need:

  • Strong fabric, e.g. polyester or cotton
  • Belt buckle*
  • Needle & thread
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Chalk or marking wheel
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • A long, thin object, e.g. pencil or knitting needle

*Belt buckles such as tongue buckles, D-rings and slider military buckles can be salvaged from old belts or made out of wire (e.g. metal coat hangers). You can even fashion an oddball buckle out of a button! However, this Instructable will show you how to create a belt with a tongue buckle.

Step 2: Cut Fabric

Measure your waist with a measuring tape and add to that about 20-25 cm (8-10 in). This will ensure you have enough length for attaching the belt to the buckle and for the overlapping end of the belt (or larger sizes). Lay your fabric flat and use chalk or a marking wheel to mark a rectangle on your fabric measuring the calculated length - I used 98 cm (38 ½ in) - by 8 cm (3 ⅛ in). Cut it out. This will produce a belt 2.5-3 cm (1-1 ⅛ in) wide. You can decide to make your belt wider but make sure it fits in your belt buckle and belt loops.

Step 3: Pin and Sew

Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise so that the right side is on the inside. Pin in place, making sure the folded edge is straight. Mark a line about 1 cm (⅜ in) from one of the short edges. Double thread a needle and sew along the mark with a backstitch (see this lesson in the hand sewing class by jessyratfink). If you have a sewing machine, this step will go much faster.

Next, mark a straight line about 2.5 cm (1 in) from the folded edge. This distance should be the same as the inner width of the buckle and leave at least 1 cm (⅜ in) seam allowance. Sew all along the line with a backstitch as before, using multiple lengths of thread if necessary.

Note: My large seam allowance gives extra weight to the belt but also makes piercing holes in step 7 more difficult. You can narrow your seam allowance slightly if desired.

Step 4: Turn Inside Out

Snip off a small corner from the end that is sewn closed to facilitate turning inside out. Then, use a pencil or blunt end of a knitting needle to push the closed end into the sewn "tube" you've created. Carefully pull the tube down over this end until the end sticks out at the top. Continue sliding the fabric down over the knitting needle and/or pulling the turned end from the top until the whole belt has been turned inside out. This is a bit tricky and requires some patience. You can insert the blunt end of a sewing needle through the stitches in the side to poke out the corners of the closed end. Finally, iron the belt flat.

Step 5: Attach Buckle

Carefully pierce a hole 5 cm (2 in) from the open end of the belt. You can use embroidery scissors, a safety pin or progressively larger needles until the tongue of the belt fits through the hole. Insert the buckle as shown in the image - the underside of the tongue should face the open end of the belt. Thread the short end of the belt through the buckle. Sew a strong row of backstitches through all layers, right next to the buckle, allowing just enough room for it to move. It's a good idea to go over the stitches again to ensure their durability.

It's starting to really look like a belt! :D

Step 6: Add Belt Loop

From a scrap of the same fabric, mark and cut out a rectangle 3 cm by 8 cm (1 ⅛ by 3 ⅛ in). Fold over both long edges so the right side faces out and pin in place. Sew both long sides with backstitches about 2 mm (¹/₁₆ in) from the edge, making sure the overlapping stitches are on the back (where the folds are visible). Sew the strip into a loop with overlapping ends, making sure the belt comfortably fits through twice. With the loop in place just behind the buckle, sew two more rows of backstitches through the double layer of belt: one just behind the belt loop to secure it and one towards the open end of the belt.

Step 7: Punch Holes

Wear the belt around your waist and mark where the tongue of the buckle should go through the belt so that it will fit you perfectly. Mark a few more equally spaced dots on either side of the first mark and pierce holes. The edges of the holes can be protected by stitching thread all around it as would be done for a buttonhole.

Step 8: Wear With Pride!

Your belt is ready! Optionally, decorate it with embroidery so that it is practical and beautiful.

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