beltmaking 101

Finally–the long-awaited beltmaking tutorial! way I make my fabric-covered belts has been learned from a mix of trial-and-error and vintage manuals. The supplies are simple, and making a simple pass-through belt is quite easy. I have, however, included instructions for how to add a pronged buckle to a belt and add eyelets. I hope you enjoy, and as usual feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

Supplies: 1″ wide stiff belting (available at JoAnns), 1/4 yard fabric at least 45″ wide, buckle for 1″ belt (see sources at the end), pattern paper, thread, scissors, ruler, pins.

Begin by measuring your waist and adding 6″ to 8″ inches to the length (I tend to err on the side of more, especially for a belt using a pronged buckle). Draft and cut a paper pattern 2 times the width of the belting plus 1″, by the length plus 1 1/2″. So if your waist is 28″ (plus a 6″ overlap) and your belting is 1″ wide, the fabric would be cut 34 1/2″ by 3″. I like to make a paper pattern to keep on hand for future projects.

Cut the belting the length of your waist plus the extra. So for a the example belt cut it 34″ long. You can shape one end to a point if you wish (I’ll be covering this in the tutorial).

Using the paper pattern, cut one layer of your fabric. Since my fabric is so thin, I also cut another piece of medium weight fusible interfacing, and used that to add a bit of structure to the fabric so it didn’t slip all over the place.

Fold the fabric around the belting, wrong sides out. Line up the cut edges. Using a zipper foot on your sewing machine, sew as close as possible to the belting along the length of the belt.

Gently work the seam to the center of the belting width, and press seam open. Grade the seam allowance. Do not remove the belting yet!

On the shaped end of the belting, stitch along the point being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. (I found I had to work the belting down a bit, so the point was 1/2″ from the raw edge to do this.) Trim the seam allowance and point.

Remove belting and turn the fabric right side out. I found my tube turner came in very handy for this part! Press the belt.

Reinsert the belting into the fabric tube. This will take a little fiddling and carefully easing it over the belting. Be patient.

Turn the open, raw edge inwards about 3/8″ and slipstitch closed. Wrap the belt around the center of your pass-through belt buckle, and secure in the back with a doubled thread and whipstiches.

To keep the end in place, you can either make a narrow tube of fabric to make a belt stay. (Cut 1″ by 3″, sew the long edges together, trim seam, turn right side out and turn in the openings 1/2″. Slipstitch these short ends together to create a fabric ring and slip over the belt.) Or sew a snap set onto the end to keep the tail from sticking out.

Instead of a pass-through buckle, you can also add a pronged buckle and eyelets. Follow the directions as for the pass-through belt up until the instructions to turn under the unfinished edge and attach the buckle. For this variation you will need a buckle with a prong, and awl for making the eyelet holes, and either metal eyelets and eyelet setter (I show two above; one requires a hammer and the other operates like a hole punch) or heavy thread/buttonhole twist to work the eyelets by hand. (Do note that this will be difficult if your belting is very stiff. I recommend using the metal eyelets.)

Being by measuring in 3/4″ to 1″ from the unfinished edge of the belt. Mark.

Using the awl, work a hole in the fabric where you marked. This sometimes takes a little bit of effort and time if your material is heavy. Set the eyelet according to the directions that came with your setter (or refer to this).

Thread the prong of the buckle through the eyelet. On the back of the belt, fold the free edge around the back of the buckle, turn under the edge 1/4″ and whipstitch in place.

On the opposite end of the belt, measure in about 3″ to 4″ from the point. Mark a series of dots where you want the holes to be for the buckle prong to go through. I generally set mine about 3/4″ to 1″ apart, and will set 3-4 eyelets. Work a hole at each marking and set eyelets as above.

For belt buckles, you have a few options: covered belt buckles kits are hard to find, but are available with a little digging on sites like Ebay and Etsy, and Vogue Fabrics carries a few kits.

Simple, pass-through buckles are available at fine fabric stores (I’ve seen a couple at JoAnns occasionally as well), Etsy, Ebay, etc. I tend to find a lot of mine at antique shops (especially if I’m looking for something unique).

Don’t forget to look at the thrift shops or even in your own closet for buckles you can repurpose from old belts! The pronged buckle I used in this tutorial was taken from a thrifted belt. For mere pennies, you can find a sturdy buckle in a myriad of finishes!

As I mentioned belting is available at most JoAnns stores; I’ve found it near the by-the-yard elastic and Velcro tape. This belting is not webbing–it’s a semi-stiff buckram strip and usually comes in white only.

I generally buy my eyelets at the local fabric store, but you can find them at most of the larger, online retailers as well. My punch-style eyelet setter was a thrift find years ago, but you can find this readily available in fabric stores too. I find these are a lot easier to work than the hammer-set method, though a bit more pricey. Just be sure to get one that is suited for fabric eyelet setting–not paper!

March 15, 2011 · 70 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing,tutorials · tags: , ,

Sam March 15, 2011 at 15:49

Thanks Casey! Such a great tutorial! I’m super excited to see what your dress looks like :-) Sam x

LindsayBobindsay March 15, 2011 at 15:50

Cool! Thank you! I was just researching belt-making last week. I wish they still made the covered buckle kits…

Aislinn March 16, 2011 at 11:02
Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:30

Thanks for the link, Aislinn! :)

♥ Casey

Caitlin March 15, 2011 at 15:52

this is such a great tutorial. I have done so many different trial and errors with belts, this looks like a great way. I will have try it out soon.

Gina March 15, 2011 at 16:14

Thank you Casey, I am going to bookmark this, very good information! I see now I have made my belts the hard way. The way you have done it is so much easier! Looking forward to Thursday, can’t wait to see your dress

Connie March 15, 2011 at 16:19

WOW who would have thought it was that simple… I am so inspired to make my own belts now, can’t wait to visit Joann’s!!

Thanks Casey for sharing the information!!

lauren March 15, 2011 at 16:48

yay belts!! thank you for putting this together :) can’t wait to try it out!!

Sara March 15, 2011 at 17:18

Casey, you said to make the width of your paper pattern twice the width of your belting, plus 1 1/2 inches. In your example you said that if you are using 1″ belting, you would make your paper pattern 3″ wide. wouldn’t it be 3 1/2 inches?

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:31

I meant the length–oops! Shall go correct that! (Thanks for the eagle eyes, Sara!)

♥ Casey

Lisa March 15, 2011 at 17:18

Most informative belt tutorial I have seen! Even after making several myself this was AWESOME! Thanks!
P.S. On your “you might also like” you were making a corset… where do you get your hardware? And what did you use the zip ties for?? I love your innovation!!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:33

So glad you like this tutorial, Lisa!

I haven’t made a corset in ages, but I used to get my supplies from Farthingales. The zip ties was something that I found out about on various historic costuming blogs as an alternative to plastic boning. It works fairly well, although I do like using metal boning on corsets that require a lot more cinching and such.

♥ Casey

adelaide b March 15, 2011 at 17:26

Thank you so much! This is very helpful.

Alexandria Web March 15, 2011 at 17:38

Thanks for this, I’m going to have a go at this soon :)

Sarah March 15, 2011 at 17:38

That’s the same buckle kit I had for my violet wiggle dress. It was a shame the adhesive dried out but I just used that as a stencil on the fabric and then treated it with some fabric glue, though looking back rubber cement might have been a better idea. Great tutorial!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:34

That’s a great idea for using rubber cement to attach the fabric! I shall have to try that next time I use one of my vintage belt kits where the adhesive has dried out. :)

♥ Casey

Sarah Louise March 15, 2011 at 17:50

Great tutorial Casey! I’ve made a few belts before, but I’ve never used belting – I’d love to try it out sometime.

angie.a March 15, 2011 at 17:54

Hi Casey! Great tutorial!

You can still find the metal buckles to cover at Maxant’s website. I’ll paste the link here:

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:35

Thanks for the tip, Angie! I feel so silly for not including it, because someone actually emailed me last month about it–I just totally blanked! lol.

♥ Casey

Amanda March 15, 2011 at 17:56

Wow, this is awesome! They look so great. Thanks for the tutorial!

Trudy Callan March 15, 2011 at 18:33

This is a wonderful tutorial. Thank you so much.

Clare March 15, 2011 at 18:48

Do you have any tips for beltmaking using the non-adjustable buckles? Like, the ones that hook together? I’ve been puzzled about this for ages… how to put a bit of an elastic insert into the back, or something?

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:36

Hmm… I haven’t made any like that yet, but have run across them in various vintage sewing manuals. I would think an elastic panel (much like what you see on a lot of belts nowadays) would make the most sense–simply because that way it could adjust easily! Otherwise you’re kind of stuck with whatever waist measure you use when you make it.

♥ Casey

Jen March 15, 2011 at 18:52

love this!

Gertie March 15, 2011 at 19:56

Great post, Casey! I was going to say the same thing as Angie about Maxant kits. They also sell them on Create for Less, if you prefer to order there.

I want everyone to know about them so that they stay in business!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:37

Thanks, Gertie! I completely forgot about the Maxant website (someone emailed me last month about it)–I am definitely planning on placing an order sometime soon! :)

♥ Casey

Sheri March 15, 2011 at 20:32

This is great, Casey! Thanks! :)

bonita March 15, 2011 at 21:08

~ * ♥ * ~

Awesome tutorial Casey ~ thanks for sharing. I cannot wait to make my own dresses with matching belts! It’ll be so fantastic.

bonita of Depict This!
~ * ♥ * ~

Stephenie March 15, 2011 at 21:10

Hey Casey, I’ve used the plain gold tone buckles without the prong available from dritz to cover with my fashion fabric so that the belt and buckle both blend in. It’s not hard at all. I still have the belt, if you are interested in seeing what I did with it….

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:38

I’ve been playing around with that idea too, Stephanie–but I’d love to see what you came up with! :)

♥ Casey

Lexi March 15, 2011 at 22:27

Thanks so much for this, Casey! I have made a couple of belts using trial & error, but have never been 100% pleased with them, so can’t wait to try your tips for my next belt project. This is definitely the best belt tutorial I’ve seen. Thanks again! x

Fiona March 16, 2011 at 03:13

Fabulous tutorial! As a long time but occasional sewer I use trial and error when making belts, mostly error! This helps a lot. You’re a star!

northwest is best March 16, 2011 at 03:27

Thank you! This is really helpful – I inherited a lot of my grandmother’s craft supplies, including some beautiful belt buckles, but didn’t know how to make a belt until now.

Stéphanie March 16, 2011 at 04:10

Thank you for this post !

Frederica March 16, 2011 at 04:44

Thanks for this! I can never find belts I like.

Annika March 16, 2011 at 06:03

Thanks for sharing! I would have never thought that beltmaking was fairly straightforward. After reading this, I will give it a try!

Lisette March 16, 2011 at 06:36

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have always wanted to make matching belts for the dresses I’ve made, but just didn’t know how. All hail Casey!

Vicki March 16, 2011 at 09:55

Very timely….I have just finished a muslin for a 1948 dress that calls for a self-belt, and picked up a vintage covered belt kit at an antique shop while away on business in Cape Town (see my blog if you have time). I was wondering how to attack the belt beast, but now I have the help I need!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:39

So glad this was timely for your belt buckle find!!! :)

♥ Casey

Claire (aka Seemane) March 16, 2011 at 10:10

Great tutorial – thank you for putting the time & patience into making this for us Casey :) !

Aislinn March 16, 2011 at 11:04

Great Post,

I have a stash of backles both vintage and modern that i have been meaning to make buckles with.

Can you do a tutorial on self cover backlles? I know the kits come with instructions but i find your tutorials easier to follow!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:40

Glad you liked it! :) I’ll have to add the covered-buckle tutorial to my list of things to do this spring. :D

♥ Casey

Amy Jo March 16, 2011 at 11:22

Thank you Casey! Several dresses I’m making this Spring would look a lot better with a belt made like this! Perfect timing!!

~~Amy Jo

Redhead Lynn March 16, 2011 at 12:35

Your tutorials are so helpful! And I’ve run out of belts that fit… great timing indeed! Thanks! :)

Holly March 16, 2011 at 12:45

Just found a whole bag of vintage buckles at the thrift store for $2.99 and wondered what belts I could make. Your tutorial has focused some ideas quite well. Thanks so much!

Casey March 16, 2011 at 15:41

Oh wow–what a find!!! I’m very envious!!! hehe.

♥ Casey

Tasia March 16, 2011 at 13:18

Great tutorial! I liked the tip on adding the snap to the flopping end. Thanks for sharing! :)

Portia March 16, 2011 at 14:27

Fab tutorial! I was given some of this belting at college the other week so it couldn’t have been more timely! Just have to find a nice buckle now…

Lyra March 17, 2011 at 06:38

Gosh, this tutorial is so helpful and timely. I just found a BUNCH belt buckles from a really run-down store in the area where I usually buy my fabric. Some were vintage, some were new. I bought the buckles for about 15 (American) cents each. How great is that?

Chrys March 17, 2011 at 09:28

I have a huge collection of vintage belt kits. It’s so nice to see a tutorial for them. I think I get one every time I go to the thrift store. At 30 cents who can resist them–same with zippers. hehe I have also found that the stores in my area in Kansas that carry fabric and clothing for the Mennonite women carry the belt and buckle kits as well. In fact, they carry more apparel fabric than the box fabric stores and have such cute stuff as well. : )

sheila March 17, 2011 at 13:59

Thank you for an awesome tutorial.

ilova March 17, 2011 at 17:03

Though this is my first comment, I have been reading your blog for a while. Just wanted to say that I love your turorials (fashion, makeup and hair) and that I feeling compelled to sew a few vintage patterns that I have collected. Keep up the great job!

Pink Hollybush Designs March 19, 2011 at 20:20


Thanks so much for the belt tutorial. I was just thinking that the dress I am working on needed a belt but that self-fabric alone was too flimsy. Thanks to you I have the perfect solution!


Kimberly March 21, 2011 at 16:07

What an excellent tutorial – thank you! This has been bookmarked!

Debra March 25, 2011 at 06:55

Nice tutorial. I have a few patterns that call for matching belts but honestly I’ve just skipped the belts completely. You’ve made it look so simple though- I might actually try it next time!

MJ April 22, 2011 at 12:16

I just made a belt yesterday, combining this tutorial with the “bow belt” project from Tilly and the Buttons. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out for a first effort, but I was wondering if you’ve got any tips for keeping the belting “smushed” into the fabric so that you get a close seam (if that makes sense)? Mine seam got a bit wider out from the belting as I neared the end of the belting. It was nothing a little jerry-rigging couldn’t fix, but I’d like my next try to be more polished. :-)

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