Thursday, July 5, 2012

Leather Belt

Hey everyone, I'll be leaving for camp in two days. But before I go, I wanted to share one of the projects we'll be doing: making a belt. So here's a little how-to if you've ever wanted to make one. Here's a bunch of links if you want to make the same belt I did. You'll need a 1 1/4 inch belt blank, a belt keeper and buckle that is the same width as your blank, mallet, pounding surface, at least one stamp (I used a rope stamp), a 5/32 inch hole punch, dye, ecoflo super shene to seal the leather, some sort of applicator like a sponge, edge slicker, a spray bottle, some sort of blade for cutting the belt to size, and ruler.

Start off by putting on the belt blank. You need to bend the riveted end together because that is where the belt buckle will be. It does not count towards your total length. You will be cutting the belt end so that you have 4 1/2 inches of overlap. Mark the back with a pencil. And of course, measure twice, cut once.

Use your cutting tool and ruler to cut the end of the belt. Once you cut your belt end, you can choose to shape the end. My last belt was rounded, but I decided to have a more angular end this time around. Don't throw out the excess leather.

You can use it to practice your design. It took me a few days to decide on a design, but let's face it, how could I not do a knit stitch themed belt. I did a few combinations of knits and purls, but ultimately decided on just knit stitches. For those of you who are not familiar with belt stamping, you need to wet the front and back of the leather using your spray bottle. The leather should not be dripping water when you hammer your design into the leather.

The holes can be put in before or after stamping the belt. If you are doing an all-over design, put the holes in after stamping. If you plan on having the design not touch the holes, put the holes in first. 
I made a guide to help since I'll be doing this project with a bunch of kids, but it isn't necessary. The first hole should be put in 4 inches from the end. The remaining holes should be punched in at 3/4 inch intervals. My last belt had 5 holes, this one has 6. It's really up to you. The craftool in the image just needs one or two whacks to get it through the belt. I put some scrap leather behind the belt so that I wouldn't dull the tool on the quartz surface.

Once the water has dried, you are ready to dye the belt. This step is optional, but I wanted this belt to match my black work pants. (So I'll have a knit themed belt as I work at the yarn shop.) If you dye your belt, putting on clothing you don't care about would be a good plan.
There are specific instructions on the bottle. You shouldn't let the dye touch your hands. I used a plastic bag to hold the belt and belt keeper. Don't forget to dye the keeper! Unless you are going for the mismatched belt look.
Let the dye dry before continuing to the next step. I let it sit overnight to be sure it was dry.

Next up you'll use the eco flo finish to give the belt a nice sheen and help protect it a bit. Just wipe it over the top of the belt and let it dry. I tend to do this on hotter days, so I have found that it dries really fast. But if it is cold wet day, you might need to let it dry overnight.

This step is optional, but I think it makes the belt look nice. You can use an edge slicker to make the edges nice and rounded. I've used bees wax in the past, which also worked well.


And lastly, you put in the belt keeper and buckle. This belt blank has snaps, so I just snapped it together. If you don't have snaps, you can rivet the belt together. Congrats! You now have a belt! It will feel stiff, but will loosen up with wear. I have a belt I made 6-7 years ago and have worn daily and it is still in great shape.

7 comments :

peglegparadiddle said...

awesome belt!

José said...

Looks cool ! And a great activity for camp as well :-)

Hope you'll be having an awesome time there, have fun !

Pumpkin said...

I hope you have an awesome time at camp, I think that you are the perfect camp councilor because you are so knowledgeable about crafts and love them too! That is also by far one of the nicest handmade belts I have seen, wonderful work. I particularly love how it is knitting related!

LimeRiot said...

What a beautiful belt! I adore the design you chose.

kiwiyarns said...

Have a wonderful time!

The Watts Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maryse said...

What a beautiful belt! Enjoy your camp!

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