Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Belt making tutorial for vintage dresses


Sadly my vintage dress I toiled over so much last Summer is too big for me this summer. I mean it is good in one way but I loved that dress. It was always missing a belt last year but I don't really like shopping so I didn't muster up enough motivation to go and find a belt to go with it. Now it really NEEDS one.

My friend warned me that belt kits were like hens teeth to find but I didn't believe her - now I do. I tried my trusty Minerva Crafts and all manner of other sites but no one made a kit of the components with instructions. I had an old one by Newey from my house clearance mate but not all the bits were there or how to make it so I purchased a buckle and had a go with the bits.

You need a buckle, some stiffener(pelmet stiffener would be good), eyelets and some fabric with matching or totally contrasting thread.

Measure your waist plus 3cm for the buckle join and about 12 - 15cm overhang depending on how you like your belts. This belt is 2.5cm wide. So I cut a strip 6cm wide. 2.5 for each side of the belt and 0.5cm seam allowance for each side. Got it... 

Fold your fabric in half and press with right sides showing. Then sew the strip with right sides together with a pointed, flat or curved end, your choice. Next turn it right side out and give it another press.

Now trim your stiffener 1mm less than 2.5cm width. Put a safety pin on the end and thread it through. Use an unpicker to cut a tiny opening at the end so that you can remove the safety pin. Don't worry, top stitching will close this up in a minute. The stiffener does not need to go all the way to the buckle end it needs to be about 4cm short to enable you to bend the fabric through the buckle.

Take care to top stitch accurately, it will make the finished belt look professional. Top stitch the belt all the way around.

Next either hand stitch or machine stitch the buckle to the end of the fabric (the soft end without stiffener) making a small hole for the pin to go through.

Ensure it is neat and flush on the back. Make a small loop for excess belt length when you are wearing it.

Now try on the belt for size. Mark a comfortable place for an eyelet then place eyelets either side of this one for adjustment. I used four but use as many as you like.

That is just what I wanted in the first place now I can gather in a bit of the excess dress. So if you have a burning desire to start a craft business there is certainly a gap in the market for belt kits because I couldn't find one. 

My belt buckle was from my local haberdashery at £2.05 but they don't stock online but you can get eyelets from Minerva Crafts. Good luck finding a buckle. The buckle shown is 25mm.

This post is for my 2015 Vintage pledge because I now feel a matching belt is a must for any vintage dress. Let me know if you make one.

Jo xxx


  1. What a lovely dress, with an even lovelier belt :)

  2. Great idea and 'how to' Jo thanks so much I have been intending to have a go at this for ages!
    best d xx

  3. Great belt and tutorial. You couldn't have found a more perfect belt if you had actually gone shopping.

  4. I agree with Una it is perfect, you couldn't have done better had you bought one.

  5. I love the colors of the material, the dress style, and your hard to source but perfect belt you made, Jo. Thanks for sharing how you made it, too! xx

  6. You're so clever Jo, I think I must say this every time I reply to you :) What a great tutorial, thankyou for sharing :)

  7. It looks fantastic and the eyelets really give it a professional finish. I have a button down dress I love which is too big round the waist (but it was the only way I could get it to fit well over the bust) and I always wear it with a slim tan leather belt and it transforms it. But if the belt was in the same fabric as the dress, like yours, well that would be ever better. xx