Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just BELT Her!!!!!

With longer hemlines and wider shapes, it stands to reason that belts will be taking on a much more prominent role where accessories are concerned. From straight leather straps to wide corsets, we saw all shapes and sizes of belts worn. Okay, so what's the big deal when making belts for dolls? How about.....buckles!

Yes, you can order them online or, if you're lucky, you might find them at doll fairs. Most of what you'll find, however, is a choice of oval or square basic buckles. carries a better selection than most ranging in price for about .50 - $1.00 + shipping. When you make as many clothes as I do, that can get rather expensive!

With that, I set out to make my dolls a variety of belts. I had so much fun, I ended up with enough content for two posts. This one features ideas for belt buckles, straight or curved belts. The following post will feature corset belts as well as a couple of ideas for chain belts.

Basic Belts

There are two types of belts, straight and curved. The straight belt is a narrow rectangle which will fit around the waist. For that you only need to cut a strip of material or use a ribbon.
On the other hand, for a pair of low riding pants or jeans, you will need to make a curved belt that fits flat against the hips.
I make the first pattern using tape, right on the doll.
1. I apply tape around the hips of the doll, then press in place so that it hugs her curves.
2. Mark the top and the bottom edge of the hips, center front. Here I've marked a rather wide area since I will use this as my curved belt sloper. I can always cut this down later.
3. Mark the sides.
4. Mark the center back.
5. Now, very carefully cut the tape away from the body, being careful not to distort the shape. I used a toothpick to move the tape away from the body just enough for a tiny pair of manicure scissors to slip in and cut.
6. Flatten the tape pattern onto graph paper.
7. Depending on the type of belt you make will depend on how much you should extend your belt from the edges. Be sure to maintain the arc of the curve. Remember to leave a margin to fold the belt over the belt buckle as well as the overlap on the opposite side.
Basic Oval Buckle.
You should invest in basic jewelry pliers available at most crafts stores. I've used 16-20 gauge wire for this post, but you can use whatever size depending on your needs and the scale of buckle appropriate to your doll.

1. With the flat edge jewelry pliers, cut off a small piece of wire then catch it in between the blades. Bend around one side.
2. Continue to bend around the back and around the second blade.
3. Clip off the excess.
4. Adjust it so that the buckle is balanced and clip away any additional excess. You could stop there, but if you want a more substantial buckle, continue with the next step.
5. Take a hammer and smash your buckle flat.
6. . One end of your belt wraps around the center spoke. The other end feeds through the oval.

Double Loop Buckle
You can also make variations of the basic oval. Instead of stopping your oval at the bottom of the buckle, continue to wrap the wire around the first oval. The top (black) belt shows what it looks like with the wire wrapped a couple more times. I wanted to make something even fancier, so I made a double oval buckle, but with irregular loops, I later hammered flat.
1. The leather strap wraps around the center spoke.
2. Fold over the edge and glue flat.
3. I added grommets. If you're wondering where I found grommets so tiny, take a trip to your crafts store and look in the "Scrapbooking" aisle. I puncture the leather with a big needle, then widened the hole until the grommet fits through. A quick squeeze of the pliers will set them in place.
4. This is a straight belt that I wanted to hang off the doll's hips. So instead of threading the belt through the loops, I made a small hook which I added to the buckle so that it can hang onto either of the holes.

Square Buckle

1. I find it easy to draw a box before I begin as a way of guiding me on the size of the square I want to create. Bend the wire at a 90 degree angle for each of the four sides.
2. Now, lets make the center spoke which serves as a small hook. Cut off another small piece of wire. Using the round nose pliers, make a loop on one end.
3. Attach to one side of your square.
4. The spoke should extend slightly beyond the width of the buckle. You can leave it straight or bend the end under slightly.
5. Prepare the belt. Make a slash in the middle of one side.
6. You will slide the spoke in the middle, then fold the edge over and glue down at the back.
7. I cut two tiny strips which I made into belt loops. Using a large safety pin or needle, poke holes in your belt so that the mid-spoke can pass through and be held in place.

Decorative Buckles

While searching for ideas to create more interesting belt buckles, my "ah-ha" moment the moment I stepped into a jewelry supply store. Those little clasps used as closures for necklaces make for some very interesting buckles for both your girls and your guys. If you want a bejeweled buckle, simply glue a flat sided jewel on top of the clasp.

You should also look out for "claw closures" and round eyes. You can get quite creative with your belts.
 1. Using a round nosed pair of jewelry pliers, wrap the wire around the pliers.
2. Make random loops.
3. I wanted to trap a bead inside, so I slid a bead onto the end and finished my loops. Be sure you have at least one loop for easy access.
4. Add your claw clip.
5. Take a strip of leather or ribbon and cut a point on one side.
6. The broader side is wrapped around one of the loops, turned and glued underneath.
7. The other side will be threaded though the hole at the base of the claw clip, turned under and glued in place. You could stop there. But I decided to add a tassel.
8. I took a tiny scrap and cut in a little fringe.
9. I fold the top edge over one of the loops and glue down underneath. Then I wrapped a bit of wire around the base.

Stay Tuned for Part II: Corset and chain belts.

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  1. You are a freaking genius. I've been meaning to make buckles but somehow I never got around to that. I can't wait to see the second part. Is the purple belt on a Barbie? If so, those grommets aren't the tiniest! You can find 1/16" grommets on I have them and they look like this on a Barbie boot: I know there is a shop where the 1/16" eyelets are even smaller, but I haven't seen them myself and I don't remember the name of the shop either...

    1. Thank You, BlackKitty. This has been something on my mind for awhile. You really never think about belts until you need them. When I started collecting the male dolls, I realized I needed to find a solution for belt buckles. And yes, the purple belt is on a Barbie and the grommets are about 1/8". Thank you soooo much for the info on the grommets. I'll add your resource to my list of Faves. that little boot!

  2. Hi April, this is going to be extremely useful, I have tons of wire leftovers I used to tie fly-fishing flyes (some one hundred thousand years ago) . I agree with Black Kitty this is a pure stroke of genius. Also the idea of usig jewel buckles is excellent, I know where to find them!
    Thanks a lot!

    1. Thank you, Billa. Myself, I have worn all sorts of belts. But for the doll, I tended to think of belts more for their function. With the guys, you really need belts and the problem for me was that, more often than not, men's belts have a more decorative buckle. Hence, the search for a solution. I must say, I had so much fun with this project, it was hard to stop. And it reminded me of a time when belts were so popular and I had a drawer full of them!

  3. I love that you used jewelry findings! That's such a clever idea! Toggle clasps would be pretty on a belt, too. And my inner wire artist is squealing with glee that you made your own buckles. So clever. I can't wait to see what you do with chain. <3

    Susan Lenart Kazmer, a friend and former teacher of mine, used to sell really, really tiny tube rivets on her site. Might be worth looking into, especially for doll shoes!

    1. Thank you Sarah. I'm now in the habit of looking at small items with the thought of how they could be useful for dolls! As I began working on this project, more and more possibilities presented themselves to the point where I had to stop myself. Otherwise I would never get to post!
      Rivets, grommets and studs really add an edgy look to an accessory!
      Chain belts are super easy to do and, with everything you can find in a crafts store, they propose limitless possibilities.

  4. Clever and creative tutorial. I'm pinning this post. Thanks for sharing.

    Oh and those silver thigh high boots shown under Decorative Buckles, did you make them? They're fab!

    1. Thank you, D7ana. And yes, I did make the silver boots which were created over a pair of existing Barbie boots. It was part of a project for transforming Barbie footwear into something more stylish, I featured here on April 20, 2013 here, "If the Shoe Fits."

  5. You've hit another one out of the park and I can't wait to make belts! Thanks for your generosity!

    1. Thank you, KMQ--Warning...making belts is HIGHLY addictive! But wait.....there's more!!! Chanel belts for your dolls!

  6. Hello from Spain: a fabulous proposals. I love your belts. Keep in touch

  7. Thank you Marta. See you again soon.

  8. Totally awesome!!! I can see I am going to have a blast! Thanks for sharing!


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