Thursday, May 03, 2012

another belt

I enjoyed making my first leather belt, and am experimenting with belt making a bit more. I bought a large skin of 2.5-3mm vegtan leather in a natural colour and had a play with my strap cutting tool.

The first belt was an experiment with the plaiting technique and had raw edges, so this time I wanted to  make a plain, thin belt but this time experimenting with finishing the edges properly.

I used a grooved tool to bevel the top edge of the cut strap. The left side of the above strap is raw edged, the right hand side has had the corner of the edge sliced off and is a rounder shape.

Once the edges of the strap had been bevelled, I rubbed natural coloured shoe polish into the leather. This shoe polish is clear and brings out the natural beauty of the leather whilst also giving it a protective coating. I had considered dying the leather, but for this belt I wanted to see how the leather in its natural state will change with age and wear. I also made a small leather loop, hand stitched it closed and gave it a coating of natural shoe polish.

I re-used a buckle cut off from an ugly vinyl belt from a charity shop, and attached it to the strap using a small rivet. I encased the belt loop next to the buckle with a bit of glue and another rivet.

I then spent a while slicking the edges of the belt using Gum Tragacanth. This is a clear-ish, non-toxic gloop that comes from the sap of a Middle Eastern plant. You can see it in the middle there in the black lid. I coat the edge of the belt with the gum and use the groove of that plastic wheel to rub along the strap. The combination of the gum and the friction of the wheel makes the fibres of the edge of the leather sort of moosh together giving a smooth finish.

The top section of the belt still has a raw edge, you can see the individual rough leather fibres. The lower section of the belt has been finished with gum tragacanth - it is a much smoother, slicker finish. 

I like this belt, I like that it celebrates leather in its natural state. I have already worn it a few times and will keep an eye on it to see how it alters with time and wear.


  1. This is so cool! I know so much about sewing but nothing about belt making. In fact, until now, I never wondered how they were made. Thanks for writing. Very interesting!

  2. It will be interesting to see how the color changes over time. Any concern that the leather will pick up denim / other dye from the fabric? The process is so interesting, thank you for taking the time to document. I especially like the gum & wheel for finishing the edge.