How to Make a Belt and Use Quilting for Your Fashion Inspirationcomments (5) September 12th, 2008
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
11. Stitch in the ditch close to the binding.
12. Trim away the excess from the back.
13. Finish the belt according to the instructions on the pattern shown below.