If you’ve been keeping up with our monthly blog posts, you’ve probably noticed a theme. We’ve been covering the basics of getting your new leather crafting hobby started. As part of the series of posts, we’ve been including simple, beginner projects to help you jump in. This time we want to share with you some tips on crafting a leather belt! If you remember, we’ve shared on this topic in the past but it’s time we bring you an updated tutorial!
To get started, as always, you’ll need to make sure your workspace is clean and ready and that you have the necessary tools for the project. For crafting a belt we recommend cutting tools, a cutting surface, a leather belt blank, rivets, a soft tape measure, and a belt buckle. The cutting tools should include your utility knife or X-Acto and a cutting mat for your work surface. We also recommend having tools for edging. Additionally, you’ll need to have punching and riveting tools. If you plan on dyeing your belt, you’ll want to purchase leather dye and a sealer. However, the specific design tools will depend on your skill level and what you hope to achieve with this project. The steps below will help you create a basic belt; however, feel free to add your own design if you feel ready. Be sure to check out our belt selection for design inspiration!
Okay, now that you have everything you need for completing the work, let’s talk about your leather blank. At Texas Saddlery we use the vegetable tanned leather as it’s more environmentally friendly and provides a more rigid, thicker leather with a natural hide color on the surface. This tanning process has been used for ages and is a great leather option for belts! Just make sure you purchase a long strap that is able to be easily converted into a belt and we’re ready to get creative!
Measuring and Cutting
Your first step will be to measure your waist size and don’t forget to add a few inches for the belt overlap. Our belt sizing chart may help you when deciding the belt size you need. Mark the desired length on the backside of the leather strip using a ruler or tape measure. Then use your utility knife or X-Acto to cut the leather strip to the desired length. For a more polished look, try cutting the end of the belt at an angle.
Adding Holes and Smoothing the Edges
Once your belt is cut to the preferred length, use a leather punch to create evenly spaced holes along one end. Start with a smaller-sized hole and gradually increase the size to ensure a snug fit. A helpful tip: align the holes with an existing belt or use a belt hole punch as a guide.
For the next step, using an edge beveler, carefully shave off the sharp edges of the leather strip, creating a rounded and smooth edge. This step adds a professional touch to your belt.
Dyeing and Finishing (Optional)
If you prefer a different colored belt, this is the stage to dye the leather. Apply the leather dye evenly, following the instructions on the dye package and allow it to dry completely. Next, apply a leather finish or sealer to protect the belt from moisture and wear. Allow the finish to dry according to the product instructions. We recommend starting out light on your dye, and then adding additional coats of dye if you prefer a darker color. Remember to do this before applying the finish/sealer!
Attaching the Belt Buckle
For this step, you’ll want to slide the belt buckle onto the non-holed end of the leather strip, leaving a small portion of the leather protruding. Fold this protruding portion back and mark spots for your rivet holes to make sure they align. Then, use a leather punch to create corresponding holes on the marked spots. With your riveting tool, you’ll want to press the rivets into each other through the holes and hit them together. You can use a hammer or anything that will result in the rivets being solidly connected. At this point, you can add a belt loop by creating a circle with a flat strip of leather. Then rivet the piece together in the middle, slide it onto the belt, and rivet the loop to the belt. This should hold your loop securely in place. If you notice excess material from the foldover on the buckle, feel free to rivet that as well.
Completion and Conditioning
Your first handmade leather belt is now complete. Go ahead and try it on to make sure it fits!
While optional, at this point you may want to apply a leather conditioner which will maintain the longevity and suppleness of your leather belt. Gently rub the conditioner into the leather with a soft cloth and ensure it covers the entire surface. Allow it to dry per the conditioner's instructions. Once dry the leather should feel soft and smooth to the touch.
Crafting your own leather belt allows you to showcase your creativity and personalize your style. At Texas Saddlery, we take pride in everything we produce but especially our carefully crafted belt collection!
By following the steps above, you can create a beautiful and durable leather belt that will elevate your wardrobe. Remember to choose high-quality materials, take your time with each step, and enjoy the process. With a little effort and attention to detail, you'll have a leather belt that will withstand the test of time and become a cherished accessory in your collection.