Wide, tie-front belts - sometimes called obi belts, are a top fashion trend this season. Our unique design is a great way to use a few of your favorite pretty scraps. Choose a fabric with a dramatic motif, like the striking Gypsy Bandana we used by Pillow & Maxfield, because you'll use long quilting stitches to outline and accent the designs. Complete the bohemian look with sparkling beads and large accent buttons to provide a huge amount of interest in a very small space.
We decided this was not only a very fetching belt, it could double as a darling curtain tie back.
Our thanks to Michael Miller Fabrics for providing the beautiful Gypsy Bandana fabric. You can find it in store and online now, including at Fashionable Fabrics and The Ribbon Retreat + Fabric. Take a look at our interview with Val Pillow and Anne Maxfield to find out more about the creative spirits who bring these fabulous collections to life.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Memory Craft 6300)
- Walking foot (optional)
- Darning foot (optional)
- Satin Stitch foot (optional)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Our belt finishes at 30" with approximately 27" of leather ties on each side. This is considered a 'medium' size and fit our slim model well. Adjust the length accordingly to your size and shape.
- ¼ yard (or scrap) EACH of 44-45" wide PRINT fabric in TWO coordinating designs: we used Gypsy Bandana in Orange Tonal Kaleidoscope and Red Gypsy Paisley by Pillow & Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics
NOTE: As we did, pick a fabric with a large, interesting design that you feel you could 'trace' with your quilting stitches (as we will describe below). Depending on your skill level you can choose anything from very simple geometric shapes to more complex medallions.
- ¼ yard (or scrap) of 44-45" wide SOLID accent fabric: we used Moda's cotton velvet in Brown
- ¼ yard (or scrap) of lightweight batting: we used Kyoto Bamboo Batting from Fabric.com
- 1½ yards of suede thong or soft cotton cording: we used suede thong in a russet brown
- 9-12 small, glass beads to best coordinate with your fabric: we used 7mm faceted bicone Czech glass beads, which are inexpensive and easy to find at most craft stores
- TWO 1-1¼" buttons to best coordinate with your fabric: we used 1¼" wooden buttons with cork accents
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- All purpose thread to match beads and buttons for hand sewing: we used orange for our bead sewing and brown for our button sewing
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Hand sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Download and print the Belt End Piece pattern.
IMPORTANT : This PDF file is one 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
- Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
- Using this pattern, cut FOUR end pieces from the solid accent fabric (brown velvet in our sample) .
- Fussy cut the fabric for the belt front, centering the design along a 4" x 25" strip.
- Fussy cut the fabric for the belt back, again centering the design along a 4" x 25" strip.
- Cut a 4" x 30" strip from the lightweight batting.
- Use one of the belt end pieces you cut above, to round the ends of the batting strip.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Assemble the belt layers
- Place an end cap piece, right sides together, at each end of both the front and back belt strips. Pin in place.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Press seam allowance towards the end cap.
- Flip each strip over and topstitch close to the seam line on each belt end piece through the seam allowance.
- Layer your pieces as follows: batting, belt front right side up, belt back right side down.
- Pin the layers together, leaving a 3" - 4" opening along one long side. Be especially careful to perfectly align the end cap seams.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together around the entire piece, starting and stopping at either end of the opening, which you will use for turning.
NOTE: I used a Walking foot to help keep my layers from shifting. Whichever foot you use, go slowly, especially around the curve. To help with the curve, stop as often as need be, with your needle in the down position, and pivot ever so slightly, then resume stitching.
- Trim the seam allowance back to about ¼" except along the opening; leave the opening at the full ½". Clip the curve, being careful to not clip into the seam.
- Turn the belt right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt end tool to push out the seam and smooth the curve.
- Press well, turning in the seam allowance along the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam. Place a couple pins along the opening to hold it closed.
- Edgestitch all the way around this belt. This has two functions: 1) to help keep the layers from shifting and 2) to close the opening.
NOTE: Edgestitching over the seams where the end caps join the main belt will be a little tough. As I always mention, one of the reasons I love my Janome machines is the penetration power they have... even when stitching very close to the edge. Just be aware that this bulky point is coming and know you will need to power through it. My seam wavered a tiny bit, but you know what, I didn't lose any sleep over it.
Motif quilting and hand-stitched accents
- The main quilting of the layers of this belt is what is traditionally called 'free motion quilting.' This normally entails a darning foot (shown in the ingredients shot above) and the ability to drop the feed dogs on your machine. So, instead of the feed dogs controlling the motion of your fabric, YOU are controlling the motion with your hands.
- Okay... I sense some of you have already run screaming from the room. Come back! This is only one option.
- Another option is to NOT drop the feed dogs and use your regular foot or, as I did, a see-through Satin Stitch foot. Because we are quilting a very thin set of layers, the 'true' free motion quilting is not mandatory.
- Increase your stitch length. Choose a highlight thread color that best coordinates with your fabric. I chose a bright red.
- Start and stop each line of quilting as close to the perimeter edgestitching as possible.
- If possible, use a lock stitch rather than a backstitch to secure your seams. It will look much neater. If you don't have a lock stitch, leave your thread tails long and hand-tie the tails to secure.
- It is totally up to you how much quilting you want to do. The diagram below shows our motif outlines (as well as our bead placement).
- Here is what our sample looked like from the front and back after all the quilting was done.
- Hand stitch the small beads at several motif focal points along the belt. Again, you can refer to our diagram above to see how we balanced our nine beads across the fabric.
- Be very careful with your stitches and your knots. To best hide my knots, I used an orange thread to stitch on the beads since the final knots would be against the orange fabric used for the back of our belt.
- Hand stitch a button 'buckle' to the front side of the belt close to the curve on each end cap.
- Again be very careful with your stitches and your knots so the hand stitching looks tidy. For my button sewing, I switched to a brown thread to match my brown velvet. Sew the buttons securely as they well take a bit of stress.
- Cut the length of leather thong (or soft cording) into two equal pieces.
- Loop one length around each button and knot securely. I tied two knots. The tails of the leather thong should hang free. Make a small knot at the very end of each tail.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5200 and the Baby Lock Melody.