I love buying a new dress, skirt or pair of slacks. I don’t always like the belt that sometimes comes with it. My collection of belts doesn’t always coordinate with the new item, but that doesn’t bother me. I’ll make a belt for the item.
One particularly fun thing to do is braid my own belts. I have belts made from leather strips, cording of different sizes, yarns and fabric strips. Sometimes beads or other adornments embellish my creations.
With the approach of each holiday season or birthday, I will receive “subtle” hints from friends with their “new” waist sizes. I’ll happily make a new belt to celebrate losing weight, birthdays, friendship days, and any other day.
It’s easy to make a belt. This belt, inspired by a braid pattern I found in a craft book that my sister bought me many years ago, is one of my favorites. It’s sturdy, adjustable and lends itself to just about any material you choose.
This is a 5-strand braid. There are other ways to braid this strand. Once you’ve completed this pattern, feel free to experiment.
You will need:
• Buckle with or without tongue- two one-inch D-rings or one-inch rings will work as well
• Cardboard and heavy T- pins
• Cording- macramé weight, lighter or heavier as you choose
• Strips fabric or scraps of lightweight leather
• Buckle, D-rings or other type of fastener
• Sewing equipment, if desired
• Measuring tape
To make your own cording:
• Cut strips of fabric and cover purchased cording.
• Braid or crochet yarns or smaller cords together for a multi-colored for an interesting texture.
• Make denim strips by cutting two- inch strips. Fold the centers into the middle and press. Fold over with the folded edges on one side and stitch 1/8″ on each side. Braid the strips as they lie flat.
Measure your waist accurately. Add three inches or more, depending on your design. Some of the braid will fold over the buckle while enough needs to pull through the buckle and at least through one belt loop.
Measure your cords. You’ll need at least three times the length as your measurement. Wrap each cord up into a ball- this makes it easier to control each cord.
Lay your cardboard down flat, and using heavy or upholstery T-pins, pin one end of each cord in place.
Number each strand on the cardboard. This will help you to keep each cord in place. I found that attaching the cord’s number to each strand with a pipe cleaner or yarn so that the number can be moved as the cords are braided further helps, particularly when I am working with multiple strands.
Now for the braid. Read through the instructions, and follow them closely. Do not unpin the top row. The positions of the strands will change, and the changes after each row are given.
Cross strand number 5 over strands 3 and 4 to the left, moving 3 and 4 to the right slightly.
Your strands after this braid are: 1, 2, 5, 3, 4.
Cross strand number 1 over strands 2 and 5 to the right, moving 2 and 5 to the left slightly.
Your strands from left to right are- 2, 5, 1, 3, 4.
Cross strand number 4 over strands 3 and 1 to the right, moving 1 and 3 to the right slightly.
Your strands from left to right are: 2, 5, 4, 1, 3.
Cross strand number 2 over strands 5 and 4 to the right, moving 5 and 4 to the left slightly.
Your strands from left to right are: 5, 4, 2, 1, 3.
Cross strand number 3 over strands 2 and 1 to the left, moving 2 and 1 to the right slightly.
Your strands from left to right are: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Cross strand number 5 over strands 4 and 3 to the right, moving 4 and 3 to the left slightly.
Your strands from left to right are: 4, 3, 5, 2, 1.
Continue on with this pattern, crossing the outside strand over the two next to it from the outside to the inside until your belt reaches the desired length.
Pin the ends together, and seal as you desire. One method is to cut a piece of leather or fabric, fold it over the ends of the braids and stitch in place. Another is to weave the ends of the braids back through the belt and stitch in place. Purchase colorful rope clamps at craft stores. They are used to clamp the ends of your cords together. Whip the ends of the braid or cords together with thread or wire, and tuck the ends into the whipping.
Attach the desired buckle to your belt and embellish as desire.
Wear with pride.
In my collection, some of my favorite belts are white cording with one or two braided strands in a contrasting color. It’s fascinating to see how one or two cords travel through the braid, making a pattern of their own.
These make terrific gifts for anyone’s list.
Source: Judy Brittain, (1979) The Bantam Step-by-Step Book of Needlecraft, Covent Garden, London, Dorling Kindersley Ltd.