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CRAFT: DIY Fashion
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Many times the perfect look all comes down to the details. Stylists will tell you that even if you have the best jeans and the hottest sweater, the shoes and the belt and the purse are still totally crucial. Do-it-yourself fashionistas make their own jewelry, and can sew up a cute bag for any outfit, but did you know it’s not as daunting as you think to make your own custom leather belt?
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My good friend Obie Beaver is a talented leatherworker, and he taught me the simple steps for making my own belt. Leatherworkers spend a lifetime collecting tools for carving belts, but Obie developed an amazing pattern using found objects. With just socket wrenches, nuts, and bolts, he stamped a pattern that is reminiscent of honeycomb and organic molecules. Then we dyed the belt a stunning “ox blood” color. For a fraction of the cost of purchasing one, the end result is a custom accessory that is endlessly chic and perfectly unique.


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Materials

1 leather belt blank*
1 buckle
Tape measure
Scissors
X-Acto blade
Hole punching tool
or awl
Assorted metal socket wrenches, bolts, and nuts
Dense piece of wood to use as a hammer
Scrap of marble or granite to use as a base for hammering
Leather dye
Paper towels
Gloves
Neatsfoot oil
Leather conditioner
Water

*I ordered my supplies from Tandy Leather. When choosing your belt, be sure to pick a belt blank, so that the buckle will snap right in. If you order a plain leather strap, you will have to mount the buckle yourself.

Directions

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Step 1: Prepare the belt blank for tooling by moistening it. Dip it in water for a moment or two, then wrap it in damp paper towels and leave it overnight. This makes the inside of the leather damp and soft, but allows the outside to dry out a bit – the perfect consistency for tooling and stamping.
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Step 2: Determine your belt size. Snap the buckle into the belt blank before you measure, because the buckle will add length, and you want to get the sizing precise. The fastest way is to use a belt you like as a reference, but you can also use the tape measure. Belt size generally is your pant size, plus 2″. Take that number and then add 6-8″ for the holes and spacing at end of the belt.
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Step 3: Cut the end of the belt using heavy-duty scissors. You can cut it square, pointed, or rounded. We trimmed the corners off for a unique shape.
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Step 4: Use the X-Acto knife to mark the points where you will make holes in the belt. Start with a hole in the exact place where you want to wear the belt, then add additional holes on either side, spaced 1″ apart. This is so you can adjust it, or so that someone else could wear it.
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Step 5: Use the punch tool to make holes in the leather at each one of your marks. Be sure the holes are large enough to accommodate the buckle. Once the holes are punched, remove the buckle from the blank for the rest of the steps.
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Step 6: This is the most creative part: Decorate the belt! Set out the piece of marble, then lay the belt face up along the top. Choose a bolt, and hold it in place on top of the leather. Keep it as still and straight as possible, and then hit it evenly and forcefully with the wooden mallet. To make the best impression, strike the bolt only once, very deliberately. Cover the entire length of the belt with as many stamps as you like.
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Step 7: Dye the belt. Set out paper towels to protect your work surface, and wear gloves to keep your hands clean. Wipe the dye onto the leather until you like the color saturation. Hang the belt and let it dry per the dye manufacturer’s instructions. This will take at least two hours.
After the belt is dry, buff it to remove the excess dye. Rub and agitate the leather with a clean, soft cloth, until the dye stops coming off on the cloth. The best way is to buff the belt dry, but if necessary you can rinse the belt with water to help remove the dye. If you do use water, be sure to let the belt completely dry (at least overnight) before moving on to the final steps.
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Step 8: When the dye process is complete, coat the belt with neatsfoot oil. Rub the oil in with a towel until it is fully absorbed, then wipe it off. If the leather is still tough, wait one hour and then re-oil the belt until you reach the desired level of suppleness.
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Step 9: Give the belt a few hours to fully absorb the oil, then seal it with a leather conditioner that contains beeswax. This final step protects the belt and gives it a nice shine. To apply the conditioner, coat the belt, wait a few minutes, then wipe the excess off. Buff the belt multiple times over the next hour until it is no longer tacky and has a perfect shine. If any dye comes off, continue buffing until it has all been removed.
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Step 10: Add the buckle back to the belt, and voila!


Related

Comments

  1. Mizdragonfly says:

    Way cool! Been looking into making leather bracelets lately. Will try incorporating some of the techniques shown here with my own technique and style.
    Thanks for sharing! xo

  2. Ken says:

    I make leather belts for a living and I have to say that I like this belt. I especially like the color.
    If you are thinking about purchasing a belt blank for your project you can find suppliers that will custom make it to your specification. You can select type of leather, thickness, width, specify if you want tongue slot punched, strap end punched , etc. Just a thought.
    ken
    http://www.custom-leather-belts.com

  3. stephanie derry@custom leather says:

    hello,
    As I have seen and read the post, I was amazed with it. Every details and the materials that are being used. I just wanna thank you guys for having posting this one.

  4. jaoepmch says:

    Europe’s leading human rights watchdog has urged Germany to quit offering sexual offenders the alternative of surgical castration.
    The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee said within a report issued Wednesday that the practice, which aims to help convicted sex criminals rein in their sex drives and lower their threat of reoffending, could easily be regarded as “degrading remedy.” According to Germany’s 1969 Law on Voluntary Castration, a person over the age of 25 might be subjected to surgical castration if he “displays an abnormal sex drive, which … provides cause to suspect that he will commit a single or a lot more criminal offenses.” The controversial process is not mandatory and a consensual offender can only have the operation right after being informed of all the implications in the selection and after medical approval has been obtained, Germany mentioned in its response, adding that it would take into account reviewing the concern.
    But Berlin also cited the treatment’s effectiveness, saying that from the 104 individuals who underwent the procedure inside the 1970s, only three individuals committed sexual crimes once again. Almost half from the 53 other people who refused or were denied remedy eventually reoffended.
    Voluntary castration is nevertheless extremely uncommon in Germany, with fewer than 5 instances per year within the final decade.
    The only other nation inside the 47-nation bloc from the Council of Europe that provides the process is the Czech Republic, which has also been the topic of criticism in current years for permitting sex offenders to opt for castration, a procedure it utilizes far much more often than Germany.

  5. Keever says:

    Thanks for sharing, I would like to start making leather belts myself in the near future. As a child I used to see my Father making and repairing real leather shoes, I found the craft interesting.
    Forgot to say, Nice Belt, creative design.

  6. tofail says:

    Its very easy to make a fine beautiful belt.
    thanks for your sharings.

  7. michaelhiltoms says:

    you ok beverley if your still knoking around i think this is the link
    and details,ring them for advice ,just say mick told you to ring

  8. Ayinde ademola says:

    Wat a beautiful stuff

  9. paper hand towels says:

    Wow, awesome blog post. The articles are really interesting. I am going to check back later. Hope you put up new content soon!!!

  10. IanM says:

    Hi, Seems to be a couple of minor steps missing here (unless of course Tandy already does this to their blanks?). I would personally run a fine bevel along the edges before stamping. I would also burnish the edges after stamping. Either rub the edge vigorously on something hard and smooth (like a stainless steel surface, the “joint” in a smooth deer antler, the back of a butter knife etc.) or use an electric burniser. The latter can be easily made from the nylon pully off an old blind. These pullies are around 1″ diameter and typically have a rounded groove which perfectly matches the rounded edge of a belt. Poke a long, fine bolt through the centre hole of the pully and hold it in place with a spring washer and bolt. Leave plenty of thread on the bolt so you can attach it to an electric drill. Fix your drill securely in a vice and set it on a fairly low speed. Rub a small amount of beeswax evenly around the groove of the pully and along the edge of the belt. Lock the drill in the “on” position. Position the belt edge in the groove and move the belt edge gently back and forth. Test on scrap first.

  11. John says:

    Nice tutorial! It reminded me a friend of mine who does leather crafts for a living. It seams an easy to follow tutorial and I may give it a try.
    Thank you

  12. John says:

    Nice and clear instructions! I make leather jewelry myself and I may use some of the techniques used in the tutorial.
    Thanks

  13. Sharon H. says:

    Love this belt. Could you post the color of dye used? Thanks so much!

    1. Sharon H. says:

      Sorry – found it. Oxblood by Lincoln (http://www.macphersonleather.com/linc179.htm).

  14. Cruz says:

    I am still looking for a ring type of holder to hold silver dollars in a belts does any one knows where I could find them? I want to make special leather belts.

  15. I am a leather worker and I make quite a lot of belts. What really impressed me about this one is the clever use of nuts and bolts to make the pattern on the belt. Great job!