Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chain Gang & Company

Chain belts are some of the easiest to make. Crafts and jewelry supply stores have a wide variety of chain suitable for the scale of the doll. And if that weren't enough, you can always your own outdated costume jewelry into something dolly will be thrilled to wear around her waist. Right now we are seeing lots of 1970's inspired fashion trends, all of which lend itself to.....chain belts.

Over her palazzo pants-jumpsuit, Roshumba wears a simple hoop link chain belt. Snip off a length of chain then add a claw "catch" to one end. This belt can be worn by all of my dolls since the catch can clip onto any of the hoops. For other types of chain, you should decide how you want the belt to hang on the doll, then add a eye ring where you want the belt to close on the body. You'll also need to think about what goes on the opposite end. For that you can add a tiny charm, pendant or even a tassel.

The "CHANEL" chain belt
In the halls of high fashion, when you think of chain belts, the name Chanel comes to mind. Keep in mind, this is a fashion company, so there is no one style fixed in stone for the belts or the bags. That said, there are a few iconic looks your fashion maven always wants and any of these featured below will fit the bill. Moreover, they are pretty simple to make!

Here is a simple chain belt with a tiny strip of leather threaded through the chain. Cut the chain so that it fits around the doll's hips plus extra (about 1.5 inches or 4cm) for the overhang. Cut the strip of leather (or narrow ribbon) roughly 1-1/2 times the length of the chain. Thread it under and over each loop of the chain. Hold the chain flat and try to keep it from twisting as you work. When you get to the end, fold the leather strip under and glue in place. (Sometimes I will thread it back through two loops on the underside and then glue.) Here I've added a small leather tassel to the end of the belt.
Many of the Chanel belts have one or two tiers of chain that drop over hips from the waist.
I work directly on the doll. I cut enough chain to go around the waist plus an equal amount for the overhang. For this belt, I used a claw catch, then wrap the chain around the waist of the doll, again allowing for an over hang. Place an eye ring where the belt should close. On the other side the hips, attach another eye ring. Pick up the excess chain and attach the mid point of the overhang to the new eye ring you've just added. Add a charm to the end point of the chain.

You can add as many tiers to this "bib" using the same principle. Looking for the purse to match? You'll find it here.
Don't be shy about getting creative. Here, I found my mother's old chain link necklace. By itself, it makes for quite a nice belt. But since my dolls like bling, I took it one step further, and linked a second chain to the original belt.

Check out the multitude of novelty chains available in crafts stores and jewelry supply shops. If you can't find something similar to the one featured below, make your own by adding tiny charms to a regular chain!
Here, Carla was happy enough with a single strand chain belt of tiny Buddha heads. However, remembering how much fun I had wearing "belly dancer belts," I decided I'd make a double strand belt. As you can see, I hung the belt directly on the doll and pinned it in place as I worked.
It's a Wrap!
Corset belts are big for Fall. And it's no wonder...Silhouettes are getting bigger, looser, longer. Dolly could become quite overwhelmed with such voluminous clothing. So it makes sense that corsets, waist cinchers, and wrap belts would be a popular accessory to feminize cool weather looks or give an edge to urban styles. Here, I show you two ways of making this corset belt.

 The easiest way to create the pattern is to drape it directly on the doll.
1. Take two small scraps of fabric and press it close to the doll's body. pin at each side.
2. Draw a line indicating the center front. Mark the sides. Turn the doll over and mark the center back. Now draw the shape of the corset.
3. Remove from the doll and trace the pattern onto paper (center front to side). For the front, fold along the center front line to make sure your pattern is symmetrical. Adjust if needed. For the back, cut along the center back. You will need to do the back in two parts.
4. Since I'm working in leather, I only need to add seam allowance to the side seams and the back center seam. You can also reverse and have your center front open (with lacing up the front,) if desired.

I decided I want this corset to fit all of my 12-inch dolls. So instead of adding Velcro or hook and eyes down the back, I punched in eyelets, then threaded a tiny strip of leather which wraps around the back and ties in the front. You can leave it like that, or give it an extra zing by adding a fob watch chain.

All I've done is to take a bit of chain then add S-links at both sides. The S-link is just that---wire fashioned into an S shape. Squeeze one end to close over a loop. Leave the other end open. This little chain-ette hooks onto the top of the corset and onto the belt.

 This is another (no sew) variation. Again, I've draped this directly on to the doll. It is a one-piece belt that wraps around the back and ties in the front. The widest part is in the front, but then it progressively gets narrower at the back. If your leather isn't wide enough to do this in one piece, then glue on extensions. She can wear it as is or.....layer on a straight black strap (as seen in the above photo).

The Waist Cincher
This is super simple and the perfect belt to wear with peasant shirts and full gathered skirts. Cut a rectangle of leather the width of the doll's waist. Add the metal eyelets and laces.

The Bow-Tie Belt

This looks like a single piece of leather wrapped around the doll's waist. However, look again and note how "perfect" the belt fits around the doll.
The secret is in the pattern (7-3/4 inch or 19cm) which resembles a double sided spoon. The narrow part (3/8" or 1cm) fits around the waist but the ends are cut much wider and shaped into petals with points at both ends. Cut the belt out in fabric first to be sure everything fits correctly. Then be sure you use a very lightweight leather, pleather or vinyl. You can make this in fabric but you'll need to hem or line it.

The Fringe Belt
This look combines two hot trends of the season--belts and fringe. Again, super simple, this is a 1/2inch (2cm) wide strip of suede (or ultra-suede). I've cut fringe into both sides. You can also cut it  bit longer so that the belt wraps around the doll's waist twice.

Finally, I wanted to add an edgy belt using unexpected materials. The black belt is made from a rubber (appliance) gasket. The white, from a wide rubber band. Both are cut in half on an angle. Then, using a blade, I made a slit in the middle parallel to the side of the band. Feed one side of the strip into the other and voila!!!!
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  1. Oooh these were really nice! Thank you for explanation and good pictures! ^_^

    1. Thank you, Uraru. Have fun making belts for your dolls!!!!

  2. I love these creative belt ideas. :)

    1. Thank yo, Allenoel. Have fun with this project!

  3. Fabulous post. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas and the instructions.

    1. Thank you, Vanessa. I'm happy you enjoyed this post as much as I did making all of the belts!

  4. Lovely belts, I've been experimenting a bit with chains, but as usual your posts are so rich with interesting tips!
    I LOVE the chanel belt!

    1. Thank you, Billa. As usual, I started out with about 6 ideas for belts then the more I worked, the more ideas I had! Plus, when I went out looking for chain, I was amazed by the amount of different varieties. And yes, me and the girls LOVE the Chanel chain belts as well!

  5. I love your chain belts! They take the Little Black Dress to a whole new level.

    I'm especially excited about the charms. I think my girls would love a belt or two with sequin dangles. I already make bracelets in this style, and it would be super simple to make them for dolls.

    Also, if you're ever looking to make your own chain, Blue Buddha Boutique sells anodized rings in all sizes and colors, and they also sell a variety of rubber rings. They also offer tutorials and kits, and they even have a few free tutorials on their website. Maille Artisans International League is full of free tutorials. And my friend Vanessa at Kali Butterfly makes chain maille clothing that is sleek and modern and gorgeous. http://www.kalibutterfly.com/galleries I do not know that I would be able to make things like this for dolls, but I can dream! ;)

    1. Thank you Sarah. Honestly, you could just do one black dress and make a whole wardrobe of chain belts!!! With your beading skills, I am sure your belts will be amazing!!!
      Also, thank you so much for the contact info of those resources. I'll check them out then add them to my Faves list. I saw some chain maille at a store the last time I went to NY. I wanted to buy a bit, but overspent on fabric. But I just need to play with some to figure out how to put a dress or top together. Dresses made from this material were quite popular in the 1970s.

  6. Now I know why I've been saving dinky clasps!

    Trying these is on my to-do list for the future.

    1. Have fun when you get around to this project, Smaller Places. Once you get started, it's hard to stop!!!


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