One of the things I did for my Seersucker Social outfit was to make a matching belt for the first time. I am so hooked! I used a vintage belt kit that I got in a big bag of random sewing crap at the thrift store. The kit contained belting, a two piece coverable belt buckle, a hook for the buckle, and even the eyelets for the belt.
I started by interfacing the fabric for the buckle. I was using a bit of lightweight and fairly sheer swiss dot batiste (purchased in Vietnam and made into McCall 5426). The interfacing gave it a little more heft and opacity. I placed the top part of the buckle on the interfaced side of the fabric and traced the holes. Next, I cut x-es into the corners, so I could fold the fabric up into the belt buckle.
The only thing missing from my vintage kit was the piece of adhesive used to glue the fabric to the buckle. I used a spray adhesive instead.
Once you've sprayed your belt buckle with adhesive, place it onto the interfacing side of the fabric and then fold the fabric into place over the buckle. It doesn't have to beautiful inside the channels. This was my first time, so I will admit it's definitely not the best job (it looks fine from the front). Next time I will clip deeper into the corners. Trim off any excess fabric that can't comfortably fit inside the channels.
When the front of the buckle is covered, you snap the back part of the buckle in place. Before covering the buckle, I was concerned about the two pieces staying together. The back part of the buckle is significantly smaller than the front, and when the front is uncovered the two don't stay together at all. When the front's channels are filled with fabric, however, the back snaps and stays in place because of the tension. Use pliers to close the loop that holds the hook on the buckle.
To cover the belt itself I followed this tutorial. I used my eyelet setter tool to punch a hole for the hook to go through. The last two inches of the belt do not have belting--I punched the hole about 1/2 inch from the end of where the belting is. I used fray check on the hole. The recommendation on the packaging was to use an eyelet for the hook, but this seemed bulky and made it harder to buckle the belt.
I folded over the part of the fabric belt that did not have belting in it and hand stitched it in place.
My sewing goody bag also came with a set of vintage eyelets. I have an eyelet setter gun type thing, but this set came with the tools you use with a hammer. One of the tools was a cutter, and it cut larger holes than my eyelet setter (which punches holes, rather than cutting them). I found that with the belting, I needed the larger holes. Using a piece of cardboard to protect the table and a lot of hammering, I used the cutter tool and hammer to cut my marked holes for the eyelets for fastening the belt.
I used Fray Check on the holes, just because I'm paranoid like that.
There is an art to inserting eyelets with the gun-type eyelet-setter tool. If you don't do it exactly right, the back of your eyelet just crumples and it doesn't set properly.
1. Punch the hole first.
2. Place the eyelet into the hole and (very important) snug the fabric down to the base of the eyelet. You must be able to see the neck of the eyelet all the way around. The photo at right illustrates how far down the eyelet neck you must snug.
3. Put the stalk of the eyelet gun through the eyelet and recheck your snugging.
4. Now you can squeeze the gun and set your eyelet.
If you do not do the pre-punched hole and the super duper extra triple check snugging, your eyelet will mess up. If you do it as described, 90% of your eyelets will go in perfectly. I have not found any way to avoid the other 10%.
Luckily, all of my eyelets went in perfectly. Phew!
All photos of this project are here.
Love the little touch that the belt added! I am now totally into the idea of making more. I had never seen any covered belt kits except vintage ones but they are still made! Most are by a company called Maxant and are available from a variety of sources (google "Maxant Buckle Kit"). I plan to order some soon from here, but I haven't used them before so can't recommend the store yet.
Anonymous left me a comment criticizing my shoes. I am sure it was intended in a helpful spirit, but let me make clear:
YOU CAN PRY MY DANSKOS OFF MY COLD DEAD FEET.
I have crappy feet. They are completely flat, I have tendinitis in my right foot, and they are unusually tender and unpadded. I also have injury-prone calves. It was only after I discovered Danskos (and I have tried other brands; Danskos are best for me) that I realized it was possible for your feet not to hurt all the time.
I don't have a car. My feet are the way I get myself around. Not to mention the fact that I am athletic, some might say to the point of fanatical. Being able to put in a hard workout (or two, most days) is very important to my well-being. Both of these things require that my crappy feet are in the best possible condition at all times. Exchanging my transportation and my mental health for cute shoes is not an option.
I am sorry if my ability to walk for miles every day offends you. But I am not going to endanger my health and my ability to remain active for as long as possible to satisfy your aesthetic standards. In fact, I'm not willing to accept even the smallest amount of pain to satisfy your aesthetic standards. Choosing pain when there is a pain-free solution strikes me as foolish. I am willing to endure occasional discomfort in the name of fashion, but discomfort is *not* the same thing as pain.
Future comments regarding my shoes will be deleted.
In fact, I'm going to declare a new policy. All inexplicably critical future comments, particularly those left anonymously (someone took issue with my ironing recently--what????), will be deleted. They are annoying and upsetting, appear to be increasing in frequency, and I no longer feel obligated to let them stand. It's nothing I would *ever* do, so why should I let it be done to me?