Wide, tie-front belts - sometimes called obi belts, add a touch of bohemian style to your wardrobe. We used long quilting stitches to accent our fabric's design motifs, then placed a few pretty seed beads at focal points. Faux suede end caps provide the background for the wooden buttons that combine with long suede ties to create the belt's closure. We've packed a huge amount of interest in a very small space.
Need a quick fashion fix? Start with a monochromatic outfit or two contrasting solids, then tie on this belt and your street style is complete.
Traditional obi belts often wrap twice around the waist; we opted for a modified style with suede accent ties in the front. However, if you'd like to achieve an overlap loop, simply extend the center portion so it's long enough to wrap around more than once.
This is just one of the ways to vary the size and embellishment options for this belt design. Our sample belt finished at 3" wide x 30" long. The double ties at each end are approximately 16" long. This is considered a medium size and fit our slim model well. Adjust the length accordingly for your size and shape, testing the wrap with a flexible tape measure to get the best fit
Experiment with different sizes, colors, and quantities of beads to increase the texture. Crystal or stone beads in clusters would upscale the look for an elegant evening out. The double layer of fabric with batting between is sturdy enough to hold the weight of additional beading.
As we did, we suggest choosing a fabric with a large, interesting design to trace with your quilting stitches. Depending on your skill level, you can choose anything from very simple geometric shapes to more complex medallions.
To match our look, we recommend a fabric with a strong horizontal motif. Our chosen fabric (Tucson Desert Stripe in Light Turquoise from Elizabeth Studios) was diverse enough to fussy cut two unique stripes from within just one half yard cut, making the front and back of our belt appear to have been made from two different fabrics
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for the thicker layers and the quilting
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Scrap or ¼ - ½ yard of 44"+ wide standard weight cotton for the center of the belt; we used Tucson Desert Stripe in Light Turquoise from Elizabeth Studios
NOTE: As mentioned above, we recommend a fabric with a strong horizontal motif. Depending on the width and variety of the fabric's motif and its repeat, the size of your cut may vary. If you decide to use a double wrap you would, of course, need additional fabric.
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of 44"+ wide faux suede similar in a solid accent color for the end caps; we used Passion Suede in Cloud
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of lightweight batting
- 2 yards of suede thong or soft cotton cording for the front ties: we used suede thong in a rich brown, purchased locally
- 9-12+ small beads to best coordinate with your fabric: we used size 6 (4mm) seed beads in brown, which are inexpensive and easy to find at most craft stores. Make sure your hand needle will pass through the hole in the bead. If not, you may need a thin beading needle.
NOTE: The number of beads will depend on your final embellishment pattern as well as the final length of you belt's center.
- TWO 1-1¼" buttons to best coordinate with your fabric: we used 1" dark wooden buttons, purchased locally
- All purpose thread to match fabric; we used turquoise thread for construction as well as to sew on our buttons, adding a bit of accent color at the center of each button
- All purpose thread to match beads for hand sewing; we used brown
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Hand sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Download and print the Belt End Piece Pattern
IMPORTANT: This PDF is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
- Using this pattern, cut FOUR end pieces from the solid accent fabric (turquoise faux suede in our sample).
- Carefully fussy cut the fabric for the belt front, centering the design along a 4" x 25" strip.
- Repeat to fussy cut the fabric for the belt back, again centering the design along a 4" x 25" strip.
- The drawing below shows our front and back fussy cuts along with the finished measurements of all the elements on our sample belt.
- Cut a 4" x 30" strip from the lightweight batting.
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.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the end cap in the top and bobbin.
- Stitch each end cap in place, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press each seam allowance towards the end cap.
- Flip each strip over and edgestitch very close to the seam line within the end cap, securing the seam allowance.
- With the end caps sewn, place the belt front on top of the batting strip and use it as a pattern to round both ends of the batting strip.
- 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 for turning. Be especially careful to perfectly align the end cap seams.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch together around the entire piece, starting and stopping (and locking your seam) at either side of the 3" - 4" opening.
- Go carefully in order to maintain an even seam allowance; this will help keep your fussy cut motif straight and even.
- Also go slowly around the curved end caps. 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. A shorter stitch length can also help you make a smoother curve.
- Clip the curves and grade the seam allowance.
- Turn the belt right side out through the opening. Use a long, blunt end tool, a long knitting needle or chopstick works well, to push out the seam and smooth the curves.
- Press well, turning in the seam allowance along the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam. Use a pressing cloth on the faux suede. Slip stitch the opening closed. As you can see in the photo below, we stitched the opening closed on our sample belt after quilting and attaching the beads, however, we suggest doing it at this point instead.
- Edgestitch around the curve of each end cap, starting and stopping at the horizontal line of edgestitching you made above when stitching the end caps in place.
Motif quilting and bead accents
- Increase your stitch length.
- Choose a highlight thread color that best coordinates with your fabric. We chose to continue using our turquoise.
- It is totally up to you how much quilting you want to do. The diagram below shows our pattern (as well as our bead placement).
- Because our quilting pattern was very straight and simple, we used a regular presser foot and did not drop our feed dogs.
- If you'd prefer more elaborate quilting, you may want to try free-motion work, dropping the feed dogs and changing the presser foot. Now, instead of the feed dogs controlling the motion of your fabric, you are controlling the motion with your hands and can literally "draw" on the fabric with the thread.
- 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. Use this pattern or create your own design to best match your fabric.
- Be very careful with your stitches and your knots. For our bead sewing, we used brown thread to match the beads, hid the starting knot under the bead, and hand-tied the thread to finish, trimming the tails close to and under the bead. We stitched just through the top layer and batting, not through to the back of the belt.
- Hand stitch a button at the apex of each end cap. The center of our button was 1" in from the edge of the curve.
- Again be very careful with your stitches and your knots so the hand stitching looks tidy. For our button sewing, we hid the knot of the thread under the button, by taking a stitch in place prior to laying down the button. We then stitched the button in place through only the top layer of the end cap so there would be no visible stitches on the reverse side. 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. We used a double knot. The tails of the leather thong can then be tied into a bow or knot to secure the belt.
- With a starting length of two yards, you have a yard to tie at each end. After knotting around the button, this yields ties of about 16" - 17" in length. This is plenty of length of make a generous bow. The ties can be trimmed should you prefer a smaller bow or knot.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild