Laura Nash is the owner, designer and instructor behind the Sew Chic Pattern Company. Laura creates patterns that are “stylish, flirty, glitzy and retro all rolled into one!” Laura’s new Craftsy class, Sewing Vintage: The Flirty Day Dress, shows you how to create a classic dress that complements your figure. Learn vintage sewing techniques as you create a lovely bodice, flared circle skirt, custom petticoat and more on your way to the perfect Flirty Day Dress.
- Learn to sew vintage-style garments and make a day dress complete with 1950’s-era details. Vintage sewing expert Laura Nash guides you through pattern preparation and personalized bust and length alterations. Laura will be there every step of the way as you construct your timeless bodice with a lining, gathered sleeves and a contrasting trim. Then, sew your flared skirt with patch pockets, and gather it into your bodice before adding a waist stay and lapped zipper. Hand-finish your skirt in retro fashion by easing in the wide circle skirt hem in one simple step. As a bonus, you’ll learn to create a custom petticoat that gives your skirt perfect vintage flair.
Laura joins us to share her clear instruction and vintage style with today’s “Made to Match” Belt tutorial. Enjoy, and be sure to check out Laura’s new Sewing Vintage: The Flirty Day Dress class.
Fun fashion accessories? We need only go back in time to the 1940s to 1950s when everyone paired their dresses with a “made to match” belt.
This trend is quickly coming back and, in either contrast or matching fabrics, creating your own “made to match” belt accessory is easily accomplished with a covered buckle or belt kit and a few household tools.
What you will need for this project:
- A sewing machine
- One on-grain length of pre-shrunk woven fabric, about 6” longer than the waist
- A covered belt and buckle kit OR
- A covered buckle kit
- Belting by the yard
- 5/32” eyelet kit with tools
To make a hole in your belt for the eyelet, the instructions on these kits suggest scissors; however, making a 3/32” hole with scissors is something I haven’t quite mastered! Instead, I use a metal hole punch (at one time, the kits came with these), and a pine block (soft woods are best) of wood:
For this purpose, I have also used a nail and a ¼” paper hole punch, so look around and get creative!
The buckle kit has four parts: Top frame (larger) and bottom frame (smaller), sticky back pattern and prong.
Cut a square of fabric larger than the included pattern. Peel both sides of paper from the pattern. Carefully place the pattern, sticky side down, on the wrong side of your fabric. Repositioning throughout this process is not possible, so take care that it’s where you want it the first time.
Cut away the excess fabric, trimming away the center hole and cutting down each slit to make an exact copy of the pattern with fabric.
Peel away the second layer of paper. Carefully positioning the buckle top to be centered over the pattern, press the buckle into the fabric and begin to ease the excess up and over the inside lip.
Continue shaping until the edges are smooth and all tabs are to the inside.
Snap the back into place.
Using pliers, squeeze the prong around the center bar of the buckle.
Cut your belting 5 1/2” longer than your waist. To make a point at one end, use a ruler to mark a 1” line parallel to the end, and then draw an X. Trim away the three outer sections.
With the length of the grain following the length of your belt, cut a piece of fabric 2” longer and 2 ½ times the width of your belting. I tear my fabric to make sure it’s on grain, then press. You might be tempted to save fabric and put your belt on the cross grain, but because of the stretch, your belt may look rippled.
With wrong sides together (shiny side of belting down) lay your belt over fabric leaving 1” at both ends and ¼” extended to the right. Sew through all layers down the center of the belt from tip to end.
Press fabric over the top of belt, pressing fabric under along both edges to match the belt edge.
Press the fabric over the point, folding the tip down to cover. Trim the fabric to ¼-3/8” of tip.
Pin in place.
Trim the flat end to ½”. Begin by sewing at the flat end (not the point) a scant distance from the edge, sewing through all layers down the length of the belt, around the tip and back along the opposite edge. Remove pins as you go.
Folding under the extra fabric, and with a minimum of ½” beyond the buckle edge, fold back the flat end. Make a buttonhole in the center of the belt, and centered on this fold. How long to make it? An easy rule is to set your machine to make the buttonhole the same length as the prong.
Thread the belt under and over the bar with the prong through the buttonhole. Pin in place and sew a double row of stitching at the fold, and ¼” inside the fold. I’m going to switch to brown thread because I don’t want this stitching to be as noticeable.
To mark the belt for eyelets, try your belt on, pulling tight as if you were to put it through an eyelet. Place a pin in the back of the belt at that location.
With this pin at the center, space two more pins 1” apart on either side, for a total of five pins in all.
Centering your mark on the width of the belt and pin spacing, make holes. With my hole punch over a wood block, about three whacks with a hammer should do it.
From the belt front, fill the holes with the eyelets. Eyelets also come in colors, so I’m going to use brown eyelets to make them more invisible.
Using these tools that came with the eyelet kit, position the belt between, centering the right side of eyelet over the bottom tool and fitting it into the groove. Place the long tool over the top, also with the eyelet in the groove.
LIGHTLY tap the top with the hammer, gently bending the eyelet. Progressively tap a little harder at the end. It’s a good idea to do a practice eyelet on a belting scrap first to get a feel for this.
Eyelet pliers will also do this job for you, but they are expensive and I don’t get a better result.
If you like, remove the basting from the back of the belt. Your belt can handle a spin in the washer too!
If you like to hunt around for vintage supplies like I do, be aware that some overly aged buckle kits may have lost the sticky backing, but in my experience, most age very well.
Both new and vintage buckle kits and belting are available at these suppliers:
- Maxant Button & Supply
- Haberman Fabrics
- Albert Zoll, Inc.
- Sew Biz-Fabrics: Covered Buckles & Belt Kits, Belt Backing & Boning