We are so excited about the Swansea Top & Dress! During the testing process one of our testers WOWed us with her DIY skinny belt. Without too much convincing from us and the rest of our testers, our guest blogger today and long time tester Kate Lindhorst agreed to write up a quick tutorial on how to create your own leather skinny belt!
Have fun making your one of a kind custom belt! And special thanks to Kate!
Getting older and having kids does things to a person, for me it has brought out a lot of weird traits in me that “younger me” would definitely roll her eyes at. For example, “younger me” used to go get her nails done every 7 days like clock work at the same salon, with the same tech, at the same time. “Old me” is usually rocking some mostly-chipped Dollar Store polish that was hastily applied during nap time. Insert gasp and side eye from my former self.
Besides my lack of cuticle care, “younger me” and “old me” are different in one other major way. I am now what my husband lovingly (lol) refers to as “frugal”. It’s true, in my years since having children I have become that crazy person who goes somewhere and won’t buy something because I could get it cheaper somewhere else. Or I tell myself I don’t need it. Or, my family’s personal favorite, “I could totally make that myself!”
Which is how last week I found myself making my girls oodles of skinny belts. Have you ever seen something really cute and thought how badly your kid needs that!? I do. A lot. And when I saw Jess’ new pattern would accommodate a 1/2″ belt, I was on the hunt before you could say “seriously how cute is that?”
It came to my attention pretty quickly that cute toddler belts are EXPENSIVE. Sorry, Gap. Keep your $30 belt because this mama isn’t paying up.
A quick dig through my box of craft treasures (read: things I buy on impulse without any true plan for) showed me I could make my own skinny belt on the cheap with just a few supplies.
So! If you’re an “I’d rather make it” kind of mom like I am here is what you’ll need.
Marine Vinyl or some other kind of leather type material. Not much, an eighth of a yard should be plenty. I bought mine at Joann, it’s about $20 a yard but have them cut ⅛ and use a coupon and it’s practically pennies.
Some leather making tools, a punch set is awesome for a number of things but will especially put a clean finishing touch on your belt. Hobby Lobby has this set which, again, use a coupon! Cheap. And make sure you have something to punch on, if you peek at my cutting mat you will see a fun little hole. That matches a fun little hole I put in my table…do not underestimate the sharpness of these things!
Rivets or Chicago screws. If you buy rivets make sure you get something to set them with! (ask me how I know this is important…) For this particular project and keeping costs low, Chicago screws would probably be your best bet.
Lastly and most importantly, you need some buckle hardware! You’ll need 1/2″ to fit the Swansea top, but obviously you can choose to do other sizes. I love this seller on Etsy, free shipping, hello!
Other things you’ll need: an omni grid ruler (optional but handy!), some Fabri-Tac (again optional but handy), a rotary cutter, some sewing skills, and about 15 minutes. Oh! And a nice sharp leather needle!
- So first thing is first, measure your model. My youngest is somewhere between 20-22″ where I wanted the belt to hit. I added 10″ to this to account for the tail and what I was going to need to fold over.
- Now I’m going to cut 2 pieces of my material, in my case vinyl. I’m using my omni grid to keep a nice straight line so the belt looks nice and clean and not jagged. So now I have two 1/2″x32″ pieces of vinyl. You’ll want to cut an additional piece (or two depending on how finished you want the look) that measures 3/8″x1 1/2″. Now, as long as your edges are straight the hard part is over!
- I usually put some glue at one end and then put the pieces together so that I can cut the ends of my strips so that they’re rounded, that is the end that will be tucked into the belt loops. You can leave it square or do whatever with it.
*Tip: at this point I also put some dots of glue along the length of my belt before I put the strips together. It helps to keep them from slipping all over thus keeping the edges nice and sharp.
- Sew your strips together with a long stitch length and about 1/8″ in from the edge. Don’t forget to backstitch!
*Tip: baby powder will make sticky vinyl slide through your machine super easily. I just take a little on my finger and cover my belt in a thin layer. Alternatively, you can use a Teflon foot, roller foot, some scotch tape on your foot, or brute force (not recommended).
- You should have one long strip of pretty soon-to-be belt now. If it slid on you you’ll want to even up the edges so they look crisp. At this point you will want to re-measure. Make sure your belt isn’t going to be crazy long, trim any excess. THEN measure two inches from your not rounded end. Using your punch set you’ll want to put two holes overlapping to make one oblong hole. This is where the prong to your buckle will go. Make sure it’s at least a little oval or it won’t have enough room to move.
- You will now need your tiny strips of vinyl you cut earlier. If you cut 2, sew them up the same way you did your belt. You’ll have 1 strip of vinyl now, take the short ends and sew them right sides together at ¼”. It might take some finesse but turn your loop right side out.
- Now take your loop and put it on the end of the strip you just punched. Push it a little down so it’s out of the way. Add your buckle, putting the prong through your previously punched holes. Fold the tail under and push your loop close to the buckle.
- Grab your punches again! This time you’ll want your hole about ¾” in from the end of your belt. Making sure the buckle is in place or it will be wonky. Put 1 centered hole through all layers.
- Time for Chicago screws or rivets. Or you can just choose to sew! In place of screws or rivets sew across the width of the belt remembering to backstitch when you start and stop.
Attach one (using the instructions that were hopefully provided with them) through all layers in the hole you just punched making sure everything is nice and lined up. Push your loop back towards your newly attached fastener.
- With your loop pushed towards your buckle, punch another hole for one last rivet. This will hold your belt loop in place as well as secure the tail that was folded over.
- The end is near! Grab your tape measure and mark your original measurement from where the belt is folded around the buckle. I have measured in 22 inches from the fold and that’s where I will put my first hole. I’ll then put one just inside that (at 21.25″) incase she gets taller and skinnier. For the remainder of the tail I will space my holes 3/4″ apart until about 1-2″ from the end.
Voila! Now you have a skinny belt perfect for pairing with your new Swansea Dress or Top!!