the bow belt

05.26.11 | the bow belt

I’m sure you’ve gotten sick and tired of seeing this belt pop up in outfit photos–I wear it so often! It’s a lucky find from an estate sale last year, and quickly became my go-to belt. I am a complete sucker for tailored bows anyway. The downside is, that it’s at least 45-50 years old, and starting to show it’s age. One of the holes has ripped and it was really on it’s last legs during the 30×30 challenge. But I couldn’t just loose one of my favorite belts! So I set out to recreate it—that’s right. I made another one. Not patent like the original (just because I couldn’t find a decent patent faux leather), but close enough. I also had enough foresight to document how I did it (mostly for my own reference), but thought I’d make it into a full-blown tutorial to share with you all.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

  • 1/4 yard lightweight (not too stiff) faux leather 60″ wide (or real leather, but keep in mind these directions refer to faux)
  • Sewing machine needles compatible with the leather
  • 1” pronged belt buckle (I took mine from a thrifted belt)
  • Leather punch or awl
  • E6000 glue or similar heavy-duty adhesive
  • Paperclips
  • Scissors, ruler, black permanent marker (or a color close to your material)


05.26.11 | the bow belt

Begin by measuring your waist and add 6” to that. Draw two rectangles on the wrong side of the faux leather the waist+6” measurement by 1” tall. Shape one end if you desire to allow for a pointed or rounded tab.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Draw two additional rectangles 19” by 1/2”, and another 2” by 1/2”. If your faux leather is pliable and light enough, you can cut out the long strips so one long edge remains attached to the other. This means you’ll just have to fold the wrong sides together and not worry about lining up both long edges. Otherwise just cut around each piece as you normally would.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Fold in half (or line up) the longest piece along the long connected edge. Using the paperclips, clip the edges together making sure you match the edges as best you can.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

With your sewing machine set up to sew heavier material (refer to your manual for information on appropriate tension and needle), sew around the edges about 1/16” to 1/8” away from the edge. Just be sure to remove those paperclips as you sew! Start and stop at the short, unshaped edge. Backtrack or tie the threads off.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Repeat for the other two (shorter and narrower) strips. You should now have three pieces: the main belt, the bow strip and the short rectangle (bow center).

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Using the permanent marker, color along the edges of the belt if needed. My backing showed, so I had to do this. If you’re using real leather, this step isn’t necessary.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Fold the bow strip as shown above.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Wrap the bow center piece at the cross points (note: I did a bit of decorative topstitching on the long edges of the center piece, but this isn’t necessary). Use a dab of the adhesive to secure at the back. (Note: be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions and precautions when using heavy-duty adhesives.)

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Measure in 1” from the unshaped short edge of the belt, and make a mark in the center. Use the awl to poke a hole at the mark, which you can enlarge to a slit with your scissors if you have a wider belt prong. Insert the belt buckle prong through the hole.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Wrap the end of the belt around the center post of the buckle to the backside of the belt. Use a paperclip to hold in place and stitch down. I stitched over this area multiple times to really secure things.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Mark the holes on the shaped end of the belt. I added a total of 5 holes; the center one being at my actual waist measurement. The others were spaced 1/2” apart. You can do them further apart if desired. I used just a bit of tailor’s chalk for this step. Punch each hole as marked. I actually was able to use a paper hole punch for this step!

05.26.11 | the bow belt

If you’d like, you can add another small strip of the leather to make a stay to hold the tail of the belt in place when it’s buckled. I used a piece that was 1/2” wide and long enough to wrap around the belt and overlap slightly at the back. You can stitch the ends together or glue in place. Slip the finished ring over the belt and down towards the buckle end.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Find the center front of the belt (from that actual-waist hole to the end). Mark. Using the adhesive, glue the bow to the center front. Allow to dry completely. A clothespin is helpful to keep everything in place while the adhesive is setting.

05.26.11 | the bow belt

Now you’ve got a swanky, vintage inspired belt! Wouldn’t this be cute in a really bright color (I’m thinking robin’s egg blue or Kelly green!)? I seriously need to find a source for more faux leather… I could have a whole wardrobe of these belts!

May 26, 2011 · 96 lovely thoughts
posted in sewing,tutorials · tags: ,

MJ May 26, 2011 at 11:07

*swoon* Absolutely adorable. I definitely have to find some heavy duty needles for my machine now!

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VioletteCrumble May 26, 2011 at 11:27

Thank you! I have been looking and looking for a belt like this forever.

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Stephanie May 26, 2011 at 11:30

Cute! I’ll have to dig up some belts for belt buckles next time I’m out thrifting. I really have not been able to find good buckles anywhere.

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Kimber May 26, 2011 at 11:33

This is fantastic.
Now, where to find some faux leather…?

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:02

I found mine at one of the chain sewing stores, in the home decor section. But I think that places like Fabric.com carry lightweight fake leather as well…

♥ Casey

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Popbabe7 May 26, 2011 at 11:46

Absolutely lovely- thanks for the tutorial!

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Pansy Lane May 26, 2011 at 11:47

Oh this is lovely!

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Holly Storm May 26, 2011 at 11:48

Cute! I am planning a faux leather obi belt and have just recently noticed the almost total absence of belts in my wardrobe…never was a belt girl. I think I NEED to make this. Just flippin’ cute. Thanks for the tut!

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Lmessels May 26, 2011 at 11:51

What a completely AWESOME tutorial! Need to make ASAP! :) Now I’m just waiting for your tutorial on the sailor knot belt!

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:03

I’m still working on it!!! I’ve got it about halfway done and then ran into a little design issue that I’m still mulling over. ;)

♥ Casey

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Miranda May 26, 2011 at 11:54

Thanks for reverse engineering this for us! I’ve had bow belt envy for a while now :-) .

Kimber, “uptownfabrics” on ebay http://stores.ebay.com/Uptown-Fabric carries a whole range of colors, red, turquoise, yellow. I don’t know if it’s the right weight, but it’s worth looking into!

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chriss May 26, 2011 at 11:56

This tutorial is fantastic Casey — I know I was jealously eyeing that belt in your 30×30 posts for sure! Thank you for the clear instructions; for myself, I want one in patent red!

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:04

Patent red sounds so amazing!!! Love that idea!

♥ Casey

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Emilie May 26, 2011 at 11:57

Wow! This is so fun and it looks so easy to make! I will definitely try this if I can find the required materials and tools at my local store.
This might seem like a silly question, but do you wear the bow at the front or at the back?
Thanks for the tutorial!

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:05

I’ve always worn the bow in the front (most of my outfit photos are of me wearing the bow frontwise), which is what I always assumed was the case. Buckles in the back were not uncommon in the 50s. ;)

♥ Casey

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Lauren May 26, 2011 at 12:10

i could never get sick of this belt – it’s so perfect! thank you for posting this tutorial – i’m off to find a faux leather source :)

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Portia May 26, 2011 at 12:22

Wowzers! Fab tutorial. How did your machine cope with the faux leather??
Px

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:07

It actually went quite well! I have researched sewing with leather and fake leather in the past, so I kind of knew what to expect. I had to adjust the tension and presser foot pressure a bit (not unusual when sewing with any heavier-weight material), but with the appropriate needle it sewed beautifully.

♥ Casey

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Claire (aka Seemane) May 26, 2011 at 12:23

Fab tute – thank you for sharing it with us Casey :) !

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Vanessa, Take only Memories May 26, 2011 at 12:46

Wonderful DIY! I really need to get myself a sewing machine…

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Whistlepea May 26, 2011 at 12:55

I’ve got the same question as Emilie. Is the buckle in the back? I thought at first that it was two separate belts. Super cute!

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Casey May 26, 2011 at 13:07

The bow goes in the front and the buckle in back; at least that’s how I’ve always worn it! ;)

♥ Casey

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Mo May 26, 2011 at 13:51

Lovely tutorial with really clear instructions, thank you. x

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Stephanie May 26, 2011 at 13:56

This looks so fantastic!! Love all of your tutorials :)

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GentlewomanThief May 26, 2011 at 14:15

What a timely tutorial – I just picked up some vintage buckles at a closing down sale last weekend!! I’m definitely going to have to try this out with one of them (or all of them, if I get addicted, too!). Thanks for a fab set of instructions! :)

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DeniseAngela May 26, 2011 at 14:20

I love bows… so thanks for this tutorial! I will definitely try this for a dress I am making that needs a little pretty added with a belt!

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Erin May 26, 2011 at 14:27

Hey, I love that belt! all of your stuff looks wonderful! Thank you for your awesome blog :)

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Miss Marie May 26, 2011 at 14:35

Wonderful tutorial! And very inspiring. The idea of making my own belt has never even occurred to me (I always just use a ribbon when I don’t have the right belt to hand!) but now I must try it.

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Em May 26, 2011 at 14:45

Fantastic tutorial as always. I can think of so many different colors I would like including classic red and also a bone colored one. Now, if I could just find the time and stay put long enough to actually sew something this perfect.

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jeanine May 26, 2011 at 14:53

Do you think vinyl would work, or oilcloth? Just curious! Adorable belt and great tute!

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Victoria/Justice Pirate May 26, 2011 at 15:08

oh wow. this looks really beautiful!!!! It would make any outfit more gorgeous too, I think!

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Rebecca May 26, 2011 at 15:22

That belt is absolutely adorable. I am a complete sucker for bows. Do you think it would be possible to make the belt from other materials as long as they were stuff enough? :]

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Rebecca May 26, 2011 at 16:03

That should have said “stiff” enough. :]

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Lucy May 26, 2011 at 18:08

I think you could – I could see this made with some awesome quilting cotton. You’d obviously need to interface the belt, and you might need some of those metal hole reinforcers, but otherwise I don’t see why not. It would limit you a whole lot less than having to find the perfect faux leather!

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:10

You could certainly use something other than leather/fake leather or vinyl for this belt–such as a woven material; especially if you use a bit of stiff belting (Sunni sells belting). Just remember that you’ll need to finish the edges a bit unless you don’t mind them fraying! :)

♥ Casey

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Rebecca May 27, 2011 at 14:52

Thanks! I will definitely try it. :]

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the fabled needle (jen) May 26, 2011 at 15:24

cute! i never would have thought to make my own (faux) leather belt! i love the bow detail. (and no, i’m not sick of that belt or anything you post!)

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josie May 26, 2011 at 15:44

This is so adorable I must try it!!

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Carrie at In the Hammock Blog May 26, 2011 at 15:53

Gorgeous!! thanks for the tute!!

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Rachel May 26, 2011 at 15:56

SWOOOOOOOOONNNN!!!!! I am definitely going to do that. I am a sucker for bow and now I can have a bow belt in every color.

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Rhia May 26, 2011 at 15:56

Yaay! I have actually secretly admired your vintage patent leather bow belt and have been thinking that I should “steal” the design and make that kind of belt for myself (since I love bows and am lacking pretty belts really bad). And now you’ve actually saved me from going through the thinking process. Now I just need to take the time and actually make it :D I happen to have some pretty metallic red leather waiting for good idea, I think I might use some of it for this, although the black patent leather is also fabulous. Thanks for sharing, you seem to have the best ideas for making great vintage-inspired accessories.

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:11

OOOH! I love the idea of metallic red for a belt–it’s going to be fantastic!!! :)

♥ Casey

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Debi May 26, 2011 at 16:23

FABULOUS tutorial! I love this soooo much!!

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Wanett May 26, 2011 at 16:26

This is brilliant!! I am adding some faux leather to my fabric order RIGHT NOW!

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Rachel May 26, 2011 at 17:00

Yay! I’m so excited to make this! When I saw the snipet on Facebook I picked up some bows I found at a shop that sells crafty odds and ends in anticipation of making some.

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Tessa May 26, 2011 at 18:41

Brilliant! Thank you!

T.xxx

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April May 26, 2011 at 18:58

Thank you so much for posting this! This is definitely something I will try.

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lap May 26, 2011 at 20:47

Yay! I have some amazing gold/platinum faux leather from Hancock’s remnant pile that will be great for this belt! I can use the leftovers to make more bows and fasten them to barrettes or ponytail holders..

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:12

Oh my… that is going to be such a sophisticated belt! I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled with the remnant bins for bits of fake leather… So far they haven’t yielded anything. ;)

♥ Casey

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Chie May 26, 2011 at 22:06

Love this belt! Thank you so much for the tutorial!

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amy dame May 26, 2011 at 22:55

oh, this is brilliant! i love structured bows too. i like the contrast of the soft. floppy bow made out a hard or firm material

i’ve done a ton of sewing with vinyl, and one thing i tend to do with long strips that need topstitching (like straps, etc) is cut them 1/4″-1/2″ wider than needed, and then trim them after i’ve topstitched them. that way you get a perfect lovely edge, even if it didn’t stay perfectly lined up. you didn’t look like you had any problems (you didn’t even use a teflon foot! i’m so impressed!), but i thought one of your other readers might!

i’m thinking that it would be super fun with snaps at the back as well, if you couldn’t find a buckle… hmmm! too many fun ideas!

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:13

That is such a great tip, Amy! I didn’t have any trouble with this particular material I was using, but am keeping that in mind for ones that slip around a bit more. I think I might need to get a Teflon foot if I keep this up though–I think it would have been loads easier to sew! ;) (Not that is was hard with the regular foot, but could have been a bit smoother.)

Snaps are a great suggestion too!

♥ Casey

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Ali May 26, 2011 at 23:04

wow! super impressive!

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christine May 26, 2011 at 23:37

this is awesome! I’ve been drooling over your vintage belt every time I see it, and now I can make one for myself! thank you!

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Carrie May 27, 2011 at 02:10

What a treat to visit Elegant Musings and find this tutorial waiting! Since seeing the pretty leather belts worn by the models in a 1942 edition of the Fleisher Yarns knitting book (http://www.ivarose.com/inc/sdetail/73/9552), I’ve been on the hunt for something similar. This is just the thing.

For another wonderful tutorial, Casey, thank you so much.

Best,
Carrie

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:15

Oooh… Those belts in the knitting book you linked to are so pretty. I have sketchbook pages just filled with doodles of vintage belts I’ve seen in images–I’m sure I could spend quite a bit of time figuring out how to make them. (Which now that I’ve done one, might not be such a tough project… ;) )

♥ Casey

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Sunny Buick May 27, 2011 at 03:07

This season Prada has a belt exactly like this, but it’s 300 euros! I refuse to pay that much so looks like I will be on the lookout for fake patent leather! Thanks so much for the tutorial.

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:15

Oh wow–then this is definitely a great way to save your pennies! ;)

♥ Casey

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Miss Lindy lee May 27, 2011 at 04:21

Aaaaw that so cute! I´m totally gonna copy that! I work at a fabric store in Norway and we have ALOT of faux leather called “skai” in several colours! If you want, you can contact me and we can arrange something, maybe I can send you some? :) Have a great weekend!

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:17

Thanks so much for your kind offer! I’m going to canvas a couple of the other fabric stores around here to see what I can find, but if it’s lacking, I’ll be sure to send you an email! :)

♥ Casey

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Contour51 May 24, 2013 at 03:35

Hi,
I am searching for ‘Skai’ F641-0185 Bordeaux from the discontinued ‘Flor66 range .
Can you help please?

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Kristen May 27, 2011 at 04:23

I never would have guessed something like to be so simple! I have used my machine for leather before so I think it could handle this! Thanks for sharing.

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Joen May 27, 2011 at 08:38

You have certainly set my wheels in motion. I have an old leather jacket that has seen better days – belt repurposing sounds like just the thing! Your idea for a robins egg blue or lime green belt would be awesome for the summer!! Thanks for the great tutorial and repurposing idea. (leather jacket was thrifted to start with-hehe)

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:19

I LOVE that idea of reusing a leather jacket! I think I actually may have a purple leather skirt I thrifted years ago (to reuse) around here somewhere… Although I may have already sent it to the thrift store because I never did anything with it. I’ll have to hunt through the bin!

♥ Casey

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YarnUiPhoneApp May 27, 2011 at 10:04

Faux leather vinyl could work too….I see plenty of leather masquerading as leather. Yes, I think a whole stable of belts in an assortment of colors would be groovy. Don’t forget trying a stretch elastic version sometime. Do the front part of the belt the normal way…make the back all stretch elastic, matching the width of your leather part. This makes your belt easier to wear!

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:20

The elastic idea is a good one! Will have to keep that in mind… Especially since I see a lot of the higher-priced belts that use elastic in a classy way (usually covered with a fabric tube that is a similar color to the leather front).

♥ Casey

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Corinne May 27, 2011 at 10:13

Absolutely wonderful, such an inventive person you are! I have never tried faux leather for belt making. Great tutorial.

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Lisa May 27, 2011 at 10:38

I like this BETTER than a patent leather – it can me dressed up OR down whereas the patent really doesn’t dress down and can be a bit too dressy – especially for summer items. (And even if you follow no black after Memorial day, summer for you is about 10 months out of the year so you would still have 7 months of summer-like weather!)

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Casey May 27, 2011 at 11:20

I kind of like it better than the original patent too! Although I’m not really a “shiny” girl to begin with anyway. :) haha!

♥ Casey

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marmielu May 27, 2011 at 15:58

I never cease to be amazed by hour resourceful you are!
Mom

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