I am making this Instructable to enter into the Tandy leather competition, vote if you like it.
This will be a retrospective Instructable on the leather set I made for a friend to cosplay at PAX AUS for the up coming game; Fallout 4, the belt set has already been made but supplementary pictures, drawing and patterns will be provided to detail the steps taken to produce the product. A full model of the belt set couldn't be found at the time of costume construction and reference images from trailers were used to build up a majority of the design, the remainder was fabricated.
If you liked the cosplay then you might want to check out my friends Instagram, here.
Certain aspects of the belt was alters or omitted due to practical, time or monetary constraints.
The shoulder and arm guards are not included in this Instructable because I wasn't sure if they were plastic or leather. If they were to be made out of leather then shaping then it would take extraordinary time to create custom casts for each individual shape. Leather casting can be done with water but will yield inferior results to casting with beeswax, requiring a minimum of 2kg to fully submerge certain parts.
This project took me 4 months because I was busy with uni, I estimate this project to take roughly 48 hours to complete; majority of the time was spent hand stitching, if you have a sewing machine capable of sewing upwards of 7mm leather then it will greatly reduce crafting time.
Step 1: Materials, Tools, Price
Prices are in AUD
2x1.5' Brown Strips ($3.75 each)*
1x1' Brown Strip (at least 1.2m, I was able to shave one of my 1.5' strips down)
2' Raw Strip ($10)**
100mL Sealer ($6)
100mL Brown Oil Dye ($10)
2mm Brown Sheet Leather ($20) ***
4x8mm eyelets (Optional)****
6pairs 24 Cal. Snap Studs (pack of 20 pairs and setter for $15)
1.5' Silver Buckles ($4.50)
2x1' belt buckles ($1.08 each)
6mm Chain Link ($4.37)
8mm Chain Link ($5.67)
Abrasive Paper (Optional) ($0.90)*****
* - Usually these will cost around $20-35 each but these were second grade.
** - Belts can be bought pre-dyed and sealed but store usually don't prepare belts this thick
*** - Mine is probably a lower quality leather than conventionally used, higher quality grains will likely cost somewhere about $60-120 for 7 sqft
**** - These can be as large as maybe 12mm, they're aesthetic.
***** - This is if you want to give your belts a weathered appearance, or you could shake it in a bag of gravel.
- 8mm Leather Punch (single; $8, rotary 2-10mm; $20-50)
- 4prong 4mm Pricking Fork (diamond shaped) (~$20)
- 2prong 4mm Pricking Fork (diamond shaped) *
- Edge Beveler (Optional)
- Wing divider (Optional)
- Beeswax, Edge Burnisher (Optional but recommended) ($3 a stick, $25)**
- Leather Needle (assorted pack $8) ***
- Hooked Needle ****
- thick black linen thread
- Stitching pony/vice and two blocks of wood (Optional)
* - These are helpful for corners, but an awl can be used instead.
** - Drill bit burnishers are recommended, and substitutes for beeswax are jojoba oil.
*** - Any thick needle can be used, finer ones may bend and needle eyes break.
**** - Helps with stitching belt loops, alternatively rivets can be used.
I conservative spent $100 worth in raw materials, using about $80 worth to create the belts salvaging eyelets and studs I had lying around my house. The majority of my savings came from mystery leather sheet, a difference of $70 from my second option. TIP4YOU; If you don't mind lower quality leather ask your leather dealer for second grade leather. Raw materials may cost anywhere between $100-180.
I had to purchase a 4 prong 4mm pricking fork and edge burnisher for this project, spending about $50 worth on tools. Tool prices seem to range costing upwards of $100, pricking forks are pretty much essential and burnished edges will stop the edges from fraying but are optional.
Step 2: Stitching
Use a wing divider, set to 5mm, to score the perimeter before punching with the pricking iron will neaten your stitching and create a small trench that the thread will sit in, I didn't have a wing divider and some of my stitching was wonky. As a general rule of thumb; the amount of thread you'll need is twice the length you are stitching plus a bit more for trying off the needle. After finishing your stitch, hammer the stitching gently to set the thread in the trenches. I followed the Tandy Leather stitching video, only using the "single needle stitch" mainly because I didn't have a stitching pony, I back stitched at high stress points and at the start and ends;
If you have a stitching pony, or a vice with two pieces of wood, you might want to saddle stitch;
There are alternative stitching methods but the Tandy "single needle stitching" is the method I used the entirety of the project, there was some trouble sewing around tight corners, you are free to use alternative methods.
Step 3: Using Patterns
Patterns are an easy way to distribute desired shapes needed for projects, these patters will only work if you use the suggested materials, if you use different belt widths then you will need to make modifications before you cut your leather. Please measure again after printing, sometimes patterns print larger or smaller.
To transfer the pattern over to leather simply trace it onto the leather sheet. After cutting you can clean up the edges with an xacto knife, tailor scissors or sand paper.
Step 4: Belt Making
There a 3 belts in this costume and I feel it would be easier to demonstrate with videos than images, I like Ian Atkinson's instruction videos because they are very detailed;
Belt making is mostly straight forwards until you reach the buckle which you can either rivet like above or sew, like Nigel Armitage below.
Step 5: Main Belt: Belt
If you want to bevel the edges of the belt then you will need to do it before dying. After beveling edges you may want to wet, with water or gum tragacanth, and schlick the edges down, make sure the leather is completely dry before dyeing. I left mine to dry for about 24 hours just to be sure, 12 hours would probably be fine.
**Please dye outside or in well ventilated areas AWAY FROM FIRES, leather dye contains alcohols that WILL FUME**
Start by setting down some old news papers and put on a pair of rubber gloves.
- Dye the leather
- Leave to dry, about 3 hours between coats, leave for 24 hours after last coat before working,
- Stitch together
- Bevel edge (if you want) then burnish (if you want)
If you want a weathered appearance then dab dye on in patches, it will give the leather an uneven, patchy appearance.
If you want an even coating then do the follow;
Step 6: Main Belt: Small Bags
You will need three of these bags for the set, each small bag consists of 4 pieces; a 2.5x21.5cm connecting strip, a tab to connect to the belt, a smaller front piece (Piece A), and a larger piece that forms the back and lid (Piece B). You can apply sealant to the back of the tab, and pet it down will a hard surface to stop the leather fibres from going everywhere allowing the belt to slot in easier, but it's optional, it's easier to do it before cutting the the tab.
Start by punching both sides of the connecting strip with a pricking iron. Overlaying piece A onto piece B (they should fit perfectly) you can punch through both layers, making them both uniform. Fit the studs onto piece A and B, after cutting the slots into the tab fit it onto piece B and stitch on. Stitch the connecting strip to the perimeter of piece A, then stitch it to piece B, it's easier to gauge how much of the connecting strip you need this way. Trim the connecting strip and you're done.
Step 7: Main Belt: Large Bag
The wrap around is just a 20cm by 53.5cm (trimmed down) rectangle with a tapered flap, I've only included the flap in the pattern to save printing space, you have to add the extra length to it to make it 53.5cm long before tracing the pattern on to leather. Two side panels are needed to make the bag, they must be mirrored; trace it on the leather, then flip it and trace again, marking the "start here" on the side panels helps.
For the belts; bevel, seal and burnish the edges, if you want to, before doing anything else because sealing them is very hard after you sew them to the bag. The keeper really should be incorporated into the buckle end, but I accidentally left it out. At between 6cm or 8cm from the ends of the belt punch a 8mm by 20mm oval (this is where the buckle will sit). Noting the front and back of the belt, fold on the oval (front over back) and crease by hammering with a mallet (or hammer wrapped in a towel). Secure the buckle in the belt using either of the methods mentioned earlier in the belt making section.
Using the diagram mark the leather wrap for the placement of the belts, when stitching the belt take care on noting curvature of the bag as it can pinch around the the folds if the belt is sewed on too tight. When you get to the 9cm gap in the middle leave a bit more belt, so it can slot on to the belt easier.
Prick stitching holes in the side panels from where you intend to attach bottom of the wrap to. Prick both side edges of the flap, prick the bottom 4/5ths of the flap, it doesn't really matter if you prick more then you're going to sew.
Then stitch together, tighten the stitch every inch, 3cm, and more frequently when stitching around corners.
Step 8: Padding
You need two of these pads. Each pad needs two keepers that's made with a 1x9cm strip. It's easier if you cut a 1x36cm strip then divide it into 4 smaller strips. The loops should be able to fit the thickness of the belt in them. Fit the keepers on is similar to fitting them to belts, which is outlined earlier in the instructable.
Step 9: Hip Belt to Shoulder Belt Connection
To attach main hip belt to the shoulder belt you will need to cut two 20 cm strips from your 1 inch leather belt and taper one of their ends. Loop the straps around the main belt to gauge where the studs will go, mark the position with an awl, punch, and attach studs before sewing the loops. Taper and stud one side of the ends of shoulder belt in a similar fashion, noting the front and back of the belt, fold back over front. Before tapering and studding the other side of the belt you will need to measure it to see if it sits on the shoulders properly. Slide the chain links on and connect both hip belt and shoulder belt together.
Note that the shoulder belt attaches to the front left of the hip belt, going over the right shoulder, and attaching to the back left of the hip belt.
The front connecting loop was sewn on to the belt to stop it form moving, this can be done to the back one too, if you plan to sew the connecting loops on the the main hip belt then you must sew it to the belt before sewing the loop close.
Tip; If your leather is not folding because it is too thick or too stiff, a fold can be encouraged by hammering with a mallet or a hammer wrapped in a towel.
Step 10: Shoulder Strap and Side Belt; Connection Joint
Before attaching the shoulder and side belt together, if you plan to clean the edges, you will need to bevel, schlick, dye and seal the sides of the belt before stitching.
The shoulder and side belts connect with a two piece connection joint that ideally should be made from double sided leather, but I didn't have any double sided leather so I just sealed the back. In the pattern there is cover slip that is detailed as the dashed shape, just fold the pattern to fits the shape and trace.
After cutting out the pattern but before stitching you will need to mark where the connection joint will sit on the shoulder belt, the top of the connection joint should sit just below the shoulder blade. First the side belt was stitched to the connection joint then shoulder belt. Punch and stud the top cover before stitching on.
The end of the side belt is slotted through the chain link and tightened, until it is sufficiently tight. After marking where the chain link sits on the end of the side belt, taper and stud the end.