You’ve done it–you’ve made a great shirtdress, but now you’re in need of a belt to go over it. You head on over to a thrift store and find a cute belt for a couple of dollars, but it’s got one problem–it’s too big.
While it can be difficult to find a belt that is just the right size, it is not hard to alter a belt to fit you.
Shorten a Buckled Belt
Here’s what you ‘ll need:
- a belt that’s too big
- marking chalk
- small piece of paper
- seam ripper
- double stick tape
- sewing machine with leather needle or a hand needle with heavy thread
- To start, try on your belt, latching it on the smallest hole. Fold out the excess and use pins to secure it. Keeping the pins in place, unlatch your belt.
- Lay the belt out flat, then measure how much excess you pinned out (note that the fold means that the length is doubled. So if you pinned out a 3″ fold, you’ll need to cut off 6″ total).
- If the end of your buckle is shaped, use a small piece of paper to trace the shape of the belt end and how much is stuffed into the buckle.
- Make a vertical mark with chalk where the end of the belt meets the buckle.
- Using the seam ripper, undo the stitches securing the belt to the leather pieces.
- Measuring from this first mark you made, make another mark with chalk the length of the excess belt you need to remove.
- Cut around the edge of your paper template. Before you cut the belt, lay the piece of paper on top of the belt, even with the end of the second mark. Cut away the belt around the paper (along the aqua line).
- Tear off two small pieces of double stick tape and tape them on each side of the inside of the buckle.
- Stuff the end of the belt back into the buckle.
- Stitch the ends of the belt back into place. Since every needle hole shows in leather, try to sew exactly in the old holes. If your leather is particularly thick, a hand needle and thread are probably a better option than a sewing machine. Go a few stitches beyond where you unpicked on each side to secure the stitches.
- If you’re stitching with your sewing machine, practice on some scrap fabric to set the length of your stitch to the right length you’ll need to match the holes perfectly…note that you’ll want to test a scrap of something that’s similar in thickness to the leather because it takes more thread to sew thicker thread, so shorter stitches appear teeny tiny on leather vs something very lightweight like cotton voile.
With very little effort, you made a belt a great deal more useful!
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.