How to Make a Belt and Use Quilting for Your Fashion Inspiration

comments (5) September 12th, 2008     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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This obi-style belt borrows from traditional quilting to make a fashion statement.
Leather hexagon shapes are sewn together, a la Grandmothers Flower Garden, using a decorative machine stitch and some variegated thread.
Sew the leather hexagons to a piece of stable woven fabric.
This obi-style belt borrows from traditional quilting to make a fashion statement.

This obi-style belt borrows from traditional quilting to make a fashion statement.

Photo: Mary Ray

Last week I showed how to piece by hand similar shapes with many corners using a technique called English Paper Piecing and a pattern known as Grandmother’s Flower Garden. It’s a great method, but what if you wanted to sew these hexagonal shapes together by machine? Seaming the pieces together is almost out of the question. I’m sure it can be done, but the process could give you a headache—especially if you want to keep the pieces small. However, if you can get away with leaving all the edges raw, why not just butt them up together and use a machine zigzag or decorative stitch to connect them? Well, that’s exactly what I did to create this stylish leather belt.

Leather is a great choice because you don’t have to worry about the fabric fraying. But you could also consider a faux leather or suede, like Ultrasuede. Or use a stable woven fabric and let the slightly frayed edges be part of “the look.” Another possibility is to fuse the back of the fabric, before you cut out the individual pieces, with a lightweight fusible knit interfacing. This should prevent raveling on most fabrics and add a little extra support to the piece as well.

 

Leather hexagon shapes are sewn together, a la Grandmother's Flower Garden, using a decorative machine stitch and some variegated thread.

What you'll need:

  • Enough leather to cut the belt's front section in one piece plus the extensions, ties, binding, and some of the hexagons
  • Additional scraps of leather in at least three additional colors (so you can alternate them “randomly” across the piece) for the remaining hexagons
  • A piece of stable woven fabric that's not too heavy for the belt front
  • A piece of fusing material such as Steam-a-Seam or Pellon's Wonder Under
  • Thread
  • A leather needle (optional—I've used a regular sharp needle with leather, too)
  • A Teflon presser foot (it glides along the surface, making it easier to sew)
  • A press cloth

To construct the belt:

1. Take your waist measurement and make a pattern to resemble the shapes I’ve included below. The belt wraps around the front of the body with the extension seams about a quarter of the way across the back. Before you cut the leather, make a "muslin" from some scrap fabric to determine the best fit and the exact length of the ties.


Measure your waist and draft a pattern using these shapes.

2. Cut out the pattern, as shown, from the leather. Cut as many hexagons as you'll need to cover the front section. Cut one front from the woven fabric. The hexagons will be sewn to this fabric.


Cut enough hexagons, exactly the same size, to fill the front section.

3. Place the first hexagon in the center of the foundation fabric. To hold it in place, dab a tiny bit of glue on the back of the piece, use a spray adhesive, or cut a piece of fusible bonding material—such as Wonder Under or Steam-a-Seam—and fuse in place. Be sure to place a press cloth on top of the leather when fusing.


Sew the leather hexagons to a piece of stable woven fabric.

4. Place another hexagon next to the first. You don’t need to glue or fuse the remaining pieces in place; just be careful to hold the edges tightly together while you sew. Use a decorative machine stitch that crosses over between the pieces, or a zigzag stitch, and sew the hexagons to the foundation fabric.


Use a zigzag or decorative machine stitch to sew the pieces together.

5. Continue adding pieces until the entire foundation piece is covered with hexagons.

6. Turn the pieced section over and trim away the excess leather using the foundation piece as a guide.


Cover the entire foundation piece with hexagons, then flip it over and trim away the excess using the fabric section as a guide.

7. Cut a piece of fusing material such as Wonder Under or Steam-a-Seam the shape of the front and fuse it to the back of the pieced front section. Remember to use that press cloth on top of the leather.


Fuse some fusing material to the back of the pieced front, remove the paper backing according to directions, and fuse the pieced front to the wrong side of the remaining front section.

8. Fuse the pieced front to the whole leather front.

9. Sew the binding strips to the top and bottom of the front “sandwich,” right sides together, with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.


Sew a binding strip to the top and bottom edges of the front "sandwich."

10. Press the binding up and then wrap it over the edge. Use clips to hold it in place. (You can’t pin through leather.)


Finger-press the binding away from the front.


Fold the binding over the edge and use clips to hold it in place.

11. Stitch in the ditch close to the binding.


Stitch in the ditch to secure the back of the binding in place.

12. Trim away the excess from the back.


On the back, trim away any excess binding.

13. Finish the belt according to the instructions on the pattern shown below.


Follow these instructions to finish the belt.

posted in: wearable, chic, leather

Comments (5)

Silhouette_Darling writes: How cute! I may have to make that one of these days! my list just keeps getting longer!
Thanks for the Fun class Thursday and telling me about this website!
abby
Posted: 4:17 pm on September 26th
LindaPermann writes: this is really cute, and i love the color combinations!
Posted: 1:54 pm on September 12th
Sister_Diane writes: Beautiful! This really gets my wheels spinning. Love the stitch pattern and thread combined with the leather colors.
Posted: 12:05 pm on September 12th
kaytet writes: i love this!!! such a great idea
Posted: 11:25 am on September 12th
Tina_Hilton writes: Congratulations on yet another stunning project!
Posted: 9:53 am on September 12th
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