Making a custom leather belt

Making a custom leather belt

We got a message from a dear customer that he would like a custom leather belt for his jeans. His requirements were clear from the beginning. Thick and sturdy 10oz vegetable tanned leather to start with.This would last for ever! Next he wanted a black iron cast buckle, not the usual bronze of chrome one. I would like to say that this was a challenge to find. Finally with the help of some trusted providers we found a grunge style iron cast buckle that fitted our needs.

The grunge style buckle
 Talking about the making of the belt took us a couple of days, and ideas were coming and going! To my surprise, our dear friend requested a stitch on the perimeter of the belt to minimize the belt from wrapping when used. Every detail was discussed, so we reached the point on how to make the belt ending. The requirement came in a hand drawing and the the shape resembled a snake in an abstract form. I admit I was impressed and started working on transferring the design on a piece of leather to see how it would look like and how the it would match with the whole of the belt.
The belt ending prototype
After finalizing the design, stitching, personalization/stamping and yes, even how the keepers would look like, we started work.We took out our favorite 10-12 oz vegetable tanned shoulder and cut a clean 1-1/2 inch stripe.

10-12 oz shoulder
The 1-1/2 inch strap

The belt was cut to fit 33 inch waist. We need to take into account the buckle stitching and the spare strap at the end of the belt. Custom belts have the advantage that they are cut according to the customers waist size, achieving a perfect fit.
Cut lengthwise
Next step would be to attach the buckle to the leather strap. In this case our customer liked the buckle loop to be stitched lengthwise with a pointed design and not vertically, therefore we needed to have more leather strap in the inner side.

Fitting the buckle to the leather strap
 After fitting the buckle we need to work on the belt end too. So we cut the snake like ending as it was tested on the scrap piece of leather, opened it's "eye" where later we will install a brass rivet and finally open the belt holes. Seven holes by one inch spacing was OK.
Belt end design

Per our initial request the belt should be stitched all along it's perimeter to avoid wrapping when used. To have a clean and strong stitch we need to groove the leather were the stitch will take place.
Grooving wit the groove tool
Grooving complete!
Next step is our favorite! Personalization! This is one more advantage of a custom leather design as you can add your personal touch on your item. For the specific case, we had already done a personalized Military keychain for our customer so he requested the same personalization for his belt too.
Personalized  Military keychain
Personalization prototyping...

...and finalizing.

 One of the most crucial elements of s belt is burnishing it's edges. This process makes the edges of the belt more round and smooth so the leather will endure the friction with the trousers. In order to get a nice burnishing effect we use a burnishing stick and some gum tragacanth.

Burnishing gave us slick edges

Calling it a day
Next step would be do all the stitching. We use a pricking iron to have uniform stitching pattern. So we started from the perimeter
Marking the stitching holes
 Although we are a fan of linen thread and use it in almost all our products, for the specific product we chose heavy nylon waxed thread. We were afraid that it would fray with use and eventually brake.

Stitching using heavy waxed nylon thread
Stitching complete.
Next we needed to reinforce the stitching around the area of the buckle. So we chatted with our customer and came up with two parallel lines leading to a point. We prototyped it on paper and then transferred it to the belt.

Reinforcing the buckle section.

Time to put our firm stamp on the belt too. This usually means, close to done...

The Rits & Rits logo stamp.
To finish the belt we used leather wax. This gives a mellow finish while it protects and waterproofs leather.

Finishing with leather wax.
 Job Done! We have completed the belt and it is ready to ship. We add our handmade canvas case, our hometown candy and ship with our wish that our customer will enjoy it for a long time.

The belt.






1 comment:

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