Sew a Handmade Belt
Michelle Lucey attaches her handmade ceramic buckle to her stitched patchwork belt.
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Materials and Tools:
low-fire white earthenware clay (cone 06-04)
paper buckle template
Two 1/4-thick pieces of wood for spacers
ceramic glazes: light green and black under glaze, clear gloss glaze
fine and medium watercolor brushes
two-part epoxy (for bonding ceramic and metal)
2-inch wide belt buckle
Seven 4" strips of upholstery fabric
several small (size of a penny) pieces of thin leather
leather hole punch
medium weight leather rivet
1. Cut off a piece of clay from the block and wedge it on the table to remove air bubbles and to soften it. Place it between two 1/4-inch thick pieces of wood used for spacers to be sure the thickness is consistent. Roll out the clay with a rolling pin.
3. Smooth the edges of the buckle with a damp sponge and rib tools. Cut notches into the back of the center hole for placement of the metal belt buckle.
4. Allow the buckle to dry for four to five days.
5. Bisque-fire at cone 04, low 1-1/2 hours, medium 1-1/2 hours and high until kiln reaches temperature and cone melts through at 2008 degrees.
6. Draw a tree design on the buckle with a pencil. The pencil lines will burn off during firing.
7. Paint the entire surface with watered-down light green under glaze such that the pencil drawing shows through. Let dry.
8. Draw a tree design with black under glaze and a fine brush. Let dry.
9. Cover the entire surface of the buckle with clear gloss glaze. Apply three coats.
10. Place the buckle on stilts in the kiln. Glaze-fire the buckle at cone 06, fire at low one hour, medium one hour and high until the kiln reaches a temperature of 1873 degrees and the cone melts through. Remove the buckle from the kiln when cool.
11. Remove the bar and prong from an old belt buckle with a bolt cutter.
12. Wearing latex gloves, mix two-part epoxy and glue the bar to the back of the ceramic belt buckle making sure the pin is on the top side of the buckle facing the desired direction. Let dry overnight.
13. Cut seven 4" x 5" pieces of different fabrics using a rotary cutter and straight edge. Place the pieces right sides together along the 5-inch sides. Sew the strips of fabric together using a 3/8-inch seam allowance. Press the seams.
14. Using a rotary cutter, cut the sewn strip in half lengthwise to make two identical thin strips.
15. Sew these with right sides together end-to-end to generate a 46-inch belt.
16. Cut a 46" x 2-1/2" wide strip of heavier weight fabric for the back of the belt.
17. Sew this strip to the patchwork strip right sides together on one long side only.
18. Turn the belt right side out and topstitch along the first side.
19. Fold in the other raw edges and topstitch the other side of the belt.
20. Topstitch both ends of the belt to finish the edges.
21. Measure in 4 inches from the end of the belt and mark the first hole, then mark five more holes spaced 1-1/2 inches apart.
22. Cut six small pieces of leather in rectangles, squares and circles, to be sewn covering the holes for reinforcement of the fabric. Pin the pieces in place.
23. Topstitch these pieces over the marks for the holes.
24. Punch holes through the leather reinforcement pieces.
25. Punch a hole into the buckle end for the prong to go through and reinforce that hole with a piece of leather.
26. On the other end of the belt, punch holes where the belt needs to be fastened with a rivet to attach to the buckle.
27. Thread the buckle through the end of the belt and loop the fabric over. Insert the rivet through the two punched holes. Tap the rivet with a hammer on an anvil to secure.
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