I've made it to my life's goal - the old age pension. Now I write for fun. Hope you enjoy reading.
Published July 25th 2014
Haute couture for the masses
Several years ago, at a workplace send off, I was presented with a fantastic belt buckle. Ever since it sat in my drawer because I never found a belt big, perhaps I should say long, enough where I could replace the buckle without destroying the belt. Finally, I decided if I couldn't buy it, I'd make it and I'd make it from scratch. So here's what I did:
I went out into the paddock and selected a nice, big, fat cow – whoa! Just kidding I didn't go that far back in the process, here's what I really did:
Step 1: The Fit-Out I needed everything, including advice, necessary to successfully complete the project. So I went to Mac-Lace Leather at 5 Natasha Street, Capalaba where I found the staff to be really helpful and willing to provide all the advice and parts necessary.
My buckle best suited a 38mm leather belt blank. To make the holes for doing the belt up and to secure the buckle I needed a hole punch. So I could secure the buckle to the belt without any specialised equipment I was advised to use Chicago screws (could've been confusing had they been invented in Cork!).
To finish off I selected 'Saddle Tan' leather dye and a bottle of dye sealer.
Other necessary equipment I already had, such as, a rubber mallet (never use metal on metal), a very, very sharp craft knife and some clean cloth for applying the dye and sealer.
Not much really, to end up with a piece of haute couture fashion.
Step 2: Buckle Up I made sure the end was square and trimmed the corners to give a slightly rounded appearance. With the buckle in position I looped the blank and marked out two spots for where the screws would make it secure.
Then I punched two holes into the topside of the blank, the first 2cm from the end and the second 3cm further along. I made sure the loop was straight and marked two corresponding holes on the underside. The two sets of holes must align perfectly to form the loop for the buckle.
Step 3: Digging the Post Holes
Leaving the buckle on, I wrapped the blank around me (who would have thought you could get a single piece of leather that long!) and marked where to put the hole for the buckle's post when the belt is worn in the usual position.
Mac-Lace Leather staff had advised that after I made the 'best fit' post-hole I should make several others on both sides to accommodate any future expansion or contraction of my waistline – of course, in my case, it will only be future contraction when I start that diet and exercise regime I've been 'gunna' start for ages. I added another eight holes; both sides – just in case.
Punch Holes to Cover Future Movements in Waistline
Step 4: Sharpen the Point
I severed the rest of the blank 8cm from the last hole. Then, using my craft knife, and my own best guestimate I cut the end into a point. You'll need to be careful here because smeared blood could affect the final appearance of your belt.
Step 5: Dyeing in the End
Dyer by name and dyer by nature. No problems here, this step is a real doddle. I applied five coats of dye using a clean cloth and waited a good two to two and a half hours between each application for the dye to properly dry – just think what that means, five times two hours for a nap, some TV, a coffee, the possibilities, as they say, are only limited by your imagination.
Once the dyeing was over I wiped the belt with a soft damp cloth to smooth out the appearance and remove any dye build-up that might be present.
Finally, I wiped over the dye sealer with a clean cloth and waited for it to dry.
This project has broken the mould - most DIY projects I've ever started are still waiting to be finished but making my belt was both enjoyable and satisfying. As you complete each step your progress is obvious and actually makes you want to keep going.
I can assure you, this is something you can do. I didn't find it difficult and am really happy with the result. Any half-good DIYer/crafter worth their salt will blitz the belt!
If you have ever thought about it – do it; and remember to enjoy your weekend.