How to Make a Fabric-covered Belt Buckle

Maxant fabric-covered buckle kit - csews.com

I love fabric-covered belt buckles! So when I saw this kit at Lacis in Berkeley, I bought it right away. I had only seen some vintage buckle kits at second-hand places. If you don’t live in the Bay Area, you can order this kit and other styles and sizes (square, circle, rectangle) from Lacis’s online catalog. Just go to this page and type in “hand cover buckle” into the search field and several buckle styles will appear. (Prices range from $3.20 to $9.)

It’s very easy to cover a buckle with this kit. However, I think it works best with lighter weight fabrics. My fabric was medium weight cotton and going around the corners was a little tricky. The metal of the buckle is very light and easily dented so be gentle!

Here’s what you’ll find inside once you open the kit: two buckle pieces (fabric goes over the larger piece and the other piece fits inside the back, holding the fabric in place); the metal prong goes into the belt holes/eyelets; and that white thing is a double-sided piece of adhesive that you stick to the fabric.

Fabric-covered buckle kit pieces - csews.com

Instructions are on the back of the kit. You remove the center part and then peel off one side of the double-sided sticker and place it on your fabric. I placed my sticker on the bias so it would go around the curves more easily.

Fabric to cover belt buckle - csews.com

Then I cut around it and removed the remaining bit of paper, revealing the second sticky side, which goes over the buckle.

Adhesive on fabric for belt buckle - csews.com

Then I placed the buckle in the dead center of this piece of fabric, clipped the inside corners, and began sticking the fabric to the buckle. I began with the corners and stuck them down. I didn’t think about clipping the curves until I stuck the corners down. Oops. Note: clip your corners so the fabric isn’t so thick in those areas.

Sticking fabric to belt buckle - csews.comAttaching fabric to belt buckle - csews.com

Then I went around the edges and stuck the fabric to the buckle like so.

Back of fabric-covered buckle - csews.com

After that’s done, you put the other buckle piece on top of the fabric-covered one…

Back of fabric-covered buckle - csews.com

and then you put the circular part of the metal prong in the center and use pliers to close it and you’re done!

Fabric-covered belt buckle - csews.com

I bought a yard of cotton/rayon Petersham ribbon for the belt. It’s rather thick, which was perfect for my purposes. And I loved the royal blue color. A couple of years ago I got this Dritz plier kit (on sale!) to install eyelets and snaps but I never used it. So I finally took it out of its packaging, discovered that it came with a few blue eyelets, which I then installed on the ribbon, about an inch apart from each other.

Pliers for eyelet installation

It’s pretty easy to use. Just mark where you want the eyelets to go, use the pliers to punch a hole, place the eyelet on the pliers and then put it over the hole and squeeze the handles.

Pliers for rivets - csews.com

I was nervous I was going to screw it up but I just took a deep breath and squeezed and it worked! And in case you’re wondering, here’s how I finished the belt…

Finishing ribbon belt - csews.com

which then needed a snap installed to keep it from flopping down because of the added weight of the folds on the end.

Eyelets in ribbon belt - csews.com

Have you made a fabric-covered belt buckle before? I made one once but I was totally fudging it. It looked fine on the outside but it was a total mess on the other side. I just cut some fabric and hand sewed it on the back – thus the mess.

How to make a fabric-covered belt buckle - Maxant buckle kit

How to Add a Patch Pocket to a Skirt – Tutorial

Patch pocket sewn in place

I started making this skirt (Butterick B5756) in August (how time flies!) using this cotton voile, which I got at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. I’m making version C but a little longer (mid-calf length), which has gathered fabric below the yoke. But this version doesn’t have pockets so I decided to add one. I didn’t think side pockets would work because I’m using a lightweight fabric and I thought it would put too much strain on the side seams. Plus I didn’t know how it would look with the gathering. So I decided to add a patch pocket and see if I could line it up with the fabric design, which I haven’t done before. Here’s my brief tutorial on how to add a patch pocket to a skirt.

B5756

This fabric has a rather large repeat design so I decided to make a pocket that would line up with the pattern.

I needed to determine its size. So I thought about:

  • the purpose of the pocket, how I would use it
  • the weight of the fabric and how it would look.

When I’m at work, I often go to a cafe around the corner and I pay with my phone using an app called LevelUp. So I  wanted something that could fit my iPhone and building access card. However, my fabric is lightweight and because the skirt would be gathered, I didn’t want it to gape too much. This meant the pocket couldn’t be too wide.

Also, I knew I would be placing the pocket below the yoke but near the gathering because I didn’t want it to be too low on the skirt. Thus my pocket is narrow (X inches wide finished) – about the width of one “family” (yes, that is a family in the design!) – and wide enough to fit my hand. The height was determined by the fabric design. The family was about 8 1/2 inched tall. I added an inch to that measurement.

So I drafted a pattern with rounded corners, which seemed appropriate for the fabric design. I made it big enough to fit my hand.

Patch pocket pattern

I cut out the fabric.

Patch pocket cut from fabric

Then I ironed a strip of 3/8 inch double-sided fusible tape (I like “ultra soft double sided fusible” by Design Plus) to reinforce the fabric around the sides and bottom of the pocket and to make it easy to fold over. It’s paper-backed on one side so you iron over the paper strip, fusing the other side to the fabric, then remove the strip, fold over the fabric and iron. It’s tacky enough so the fold easily stays in place.

Patch pocket reinforced with double-sided fusible tape

I folded it over about 1/4 inch, ironed it and then folded it another 1/4 inch. Though I think I could have made a little narrower – 1/8 inch. I folded (and ironed) the top over 1/2 inch and then another 1/2 inch. Then I sewed the top fold down and checked how it would fit on the skirt front.

Patch pocket lined up

Then I pinned and basted the pocket in place (big enough for my iPhone!).

Baste patch pocket in place

Finally I was ready to sew!

Patch pocket sewn in place

And it matches!

Have you added pockets to anything? Have you ever lined up pockets to your fabric’s design?
 

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Tutorial: Centering Fabric on a Covered Button

Covered buttons are a really nice detail. You can buy covered button kits at any fabric store or online at Joann Fabric and Craft or from Etsy sellers [search “covered button kit”]. But how do you center an image on a covered button when the kit doesn’t let you see the fabric on the other side?

This post assumes you already know how to cover a button. But in case you haven’t done it before, here are some handy tutorials I found online: “How to Make a Fabric Covered Button” from Cass Can Sew; “How to Cover Buttons with Fabric/Ribbons” from Ribbon Unlimited. They each include plenty of photos. The only difference is that they each cut squares of fabric whereas I used a circle.

My challenge was that I wanted to center a little flower on the button – and my Dritz covered button kit included a white (opaque) rubber mold piece that wouldn’t let me see whether the flower was centered after I pushed the fabric and front button piece into it.

There are covered button kits with a clear rubber piece but that wasn’t for sale at my local fabric store. But I really wanted to finish my top and I didn’t want to wait and order something online. (The Cutie Stuffs Etsy shop sells covered button kits with the clear mold piece. I ordered a larger covered button kit from Cutie Stuffs last year.)

My fabric and the covered button pieces
My fabric and the front and back button pieces

 

Covered button kit
Covered button kit

So I thought about how to solve this problem. I drew two lines perpendicular lines through the center of the button pattern (see above photo, my blue lines are a bit faint). The back of the Dritz kit included a circle on the back of the package that you cut out and use as a pattern for your fabric.

Then I drew two perpendicular lines through the center of  the flower I wanted to center on the button.

Mark center of fabric

Next I placed my button pattern on the marked fabric and lined up my markings.

Line up pattern with fabric

I traced my circle, cut it out and placed my front button piece in the center of my fabric circle, pushed it into the white rubber holder. Then I put the button backing piece on top and pushed those pieces together with the blue plastic tool.

And voila! Covered buttons for my top – the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes (a Craftsy sewing class).

Fabric-covered buttons - finished

Here’s a detail of the finished top with the buttons attached. Soon I’ll be writing a post about making it.

See the covered button in between the collar pieces?
See the covered button nestled in between the collar pieces?
Tutorial - How to center fabric on a covered button, covered button kit

Tips on Tracing Sewing Patterns

Pattern Tracing Tools

Over the past several months I’ve traced a few patterns for various garments I’ve made so I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my experiences. I’ve mostly been tracing sewing patterns from books but in once instance, I traced a PDF pattern.

I’ve mostly been using a 60″ wide roll of pattern tracing paper (10 yards for $22)  from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley (love this store!). But I also used a few yards of Swedish tracing paper that I bought online a couple years ago but never got around to using it until last year. This tracing paper is sort of like interfacing and can be sewn. However it’s more expensive than paper. I’ve also read that the paper rolls used in doctor’s exam rooms could be used as pattern paper. You can buy it medical supply stores – and it’s fairly inexpensive. I”ll have to look into that when I’m done with the roll I’m using.

I like using a drawing pencil to trace. I’ve been using a Derwent sketch pencil from an art supply store — grade HB. Drawing pencils are graded by H (hardness) and B (blackness) — 9H is the hardest and 9B the darkest.  An HB is right in the middle of the range.

If you use a pencil that is too soft, your line will likely smudge and your pencil would get dull pretty quickly. You need a precise line for pattern tracing. For example, if you used a 5B pencil, you’d have a nice dark line but you’d have to sharpen it constantly.

You could use a 1H or harder pencil but I personally don’t like the feel of H pencils. B pencils are great for drawing, the higher the number the blacker the pencil.

My favorite eraser is this white Mars plastic eraser by Staedtler. It erases very cleanly and gently. You don’t have to worry about leaving ugly smudges or tearing anything when you use this eraser. The company also makes a great metal pencil sharpener – the blade never seems to dull. It’s just the sharpener – it doesn’t come with a container to catch the shavings.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Before you begin tracing, be sure to find out whether a seam allowance is included. Some patterns don’t include a seam allowance so you must remember to add that a 1/2″ or 5/8″ to your pattern or you’ll end up with a garment that’s too small. (After you trace out the pattern, use a ruler to measure out and mark the seam allowance. I pencil in little dashes every inch or 1/2 inch so and then draw the cutting line.)
  • Pay attention to the lines for your size. Look closely at the pattern piece before you put your pattern paper on top to trace it. Though you can see through your pattern paper, sometimes it can get a little tricky on those multi-sized patterns, especially on curving lines. I usually end up counting out the number of lines to get to my size (for example, if a pattern is sized from 0 to 18 and you’re a size 12, then you count four lines over (18, 16, 14, 12) from the largest size to get to size 12).
  • When you’re tracing the lines, it’s very handy to use a transparent ruler with a grid and a french curve, which makes it easier to trace hip and armhole curves. You could trace pattern lines freehand but you might not be as accurate unless you’re one of those people who can effortlessly draw a straight line without a ruler.
  • When you’re done tracing the pattern piece (be sure to include darts and other markings) don’t forget to draw a line indicating the grainline. This is critically important. I forgot to do this on an asymmetrical pattern piece and there was no way I could approximate where it would go. So I had to take out the original pattern, lay my traced pattern on top, line it up, and then draw in the grainline (so annoying).
  • When you’re done with the tracing, copy the words listed on the pattern piece. For example, write the name of the pattern – or your shorthand nickname for it – on each pattern piece (for example, “Cool Cape”) and then identify the piece, such as Front Facing, Sleeve, Skirt Front, etc. Also, write down the cutting instructions, such as Cut 2 of Fabric, Cut 1 of Interfacing. Then if your pattern pieces get mixed up with others, you’ll know which pattern it belongs to.

Soon I’ll be writing another post on the different patterns I’ve traced. I was going to include that here but it was getting too long so I decided to break it up.

In the meantime, please share what your favorite pattern tracing tools are.