Ok, it is my ONLY fused plastic belt, but I’m loving it. I made one for Sienna too but I ordered a vintage “seat belt” buckle for it, so I’ll post photos of hers when finished.
I was brainstorming ways to recycle the rice bags we use in a fun way (we eat a lot of rice and stir-fry)….. and I remembered some fused plastic products I had seen. That gave me the idea that I could use the plastic bag fusing to “thicken” my rice bag enough to be durable, as well as make it opaque enough so the writing would show up. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but this might be one of my favorite projects ever! My husband is waiting for me to make one for him now (with something else besides rice bags)!
Before starting you’ll need the following materials:
:: 1.5″ cotton webbing (or polyester or nylon)
:: Plastic grocery bags or other plastic packaging
:: Fray Check or thread glue
:: Belt buckle (I took one off an old belt)
:: 3/16″ metal eyelets and eyelet tool (make sure your belt prong will fit through this size)
:: Coordinating thread (and heavy duty thread if you have it around)
Tools needed: sewing machine, scissors, and hammer
Before starting you’ll also have to measure your waist or hip area….(where you like for your belt to sit) and add 8″ to that measurement. This is your “belt length” that I refer to in this tutorial.
Step 1: Cut your top layer plastic (for me it was a rice bag) into 2″ strips making sure to concentrate on the areas that are most interesting. Note: Some plastics shrink more than others, so you may need to test some first. The rice bags are perfect because they barely shrink at all.
Step 2: Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly longer than your belt length, fold it in half, waxy sides together…..
…..and then fold it in half again. This is going to be your ironing “pocket” to melt your plastic in.
…and cut them into 2.5″ strips. I only used the white parts for my belt because my design was dependent on the colors of the rice bag and I didn’t want other colors showing through.
Step 4: Open the freezer paper “sleeve” (no waxy portion should be showing) and lay the grocery bag strips on one side, several strips thick, overlapping them slightly.
Step 5: Lay your top layer of plastic (for my project it was the rice bag strips) on top of the grocery bag strips, overlapping the strips about 1/2 inch. You’ll lay enough of these strips to create the length of your belt.
Step 6: Close the sleeve carefully making sure that the strips do not shift any……
….and iron (no steam, medium setting) along the freezer paper sleeve to melt the bags together. You’ll have to do this for about a minute…. keeping the iron moving slowly at all times.
Let your sleeve cool. This is important** because plastic tends to curl when it cools.
**Note: The thick double freezer paper sleeve will help your plastic stay flat as it cools. Because of the thickness though you’ll need to check to make sure all the plastic melted. If not, close the sleeve again and repeat your ironing.
Step 6: The white plastic grocery bags tend to shrink considerably so check for “voids” like below (which means your iron was probably a little too hot)……
….but you can place more plastic grocery bag layers under that area and re-iron to fill it in.
Step 6: Cut a piece of cotton webbing as long as your belt length. You can use cotton, nylon, polyester webbing, or even jacquard…. whatever your preference.
Use a long straight edge to cut one side of your fused plastic piece…….
…..and then measure from that side 1 3/8″ so that your resulting plastic “belt” is 1/8″ smaller than your webbing width.
Here is what my two pieces looked like before I attached them together.
Step 7: Place your plastic belt piece on top of the webbing (I don’t pin them, it jacks it all up), and sew carefully down one side.
Note: You’ll want to use a longer stitch than normal (I use a 7 on my machine). A short stitch will weaken the plastic by punching holes too close together.
Step 8: Carefully stitch the other side of your belt and you’ll have the main belt piece finished!
Step 9: Notch both ends of your belt piece as shown below and zig-zag stitch the edges so that it won’t fray. I also like to coat the ends in Fray Check or thread glue.
Note: If you are using nylon, you can use a match to seal the ends.
Step 10: Cut a 1/2″ slit in one side of your belt for the buckle prong….
….and finish the edges using a narrow zig zag stitch. Be careful not to sew the hole closed!
Step 11: Insert your buckle prong through the hole……
…..and sew the end of the belt backwards by hand using a needle. I used a heavy duty thread for this step.
Step 12: Try on the belt and see where the buckle prong will hit and mark this spot and mark 2 other points at 1″ increments from each side so you have a total of 5 holes marked.
Step 13: At each of the holes marked, take the a sharp object such as scissors to poke/cut large enough holes through so that you can fit one of your 3/16″ metal eyelets through.
Note: Try to disturb as little of the fibers as possible so the holes won’t fray and weaken.
Place the other side of the eyelet in place……
……and use a hammer and your eyelet tool to lock the eyelet in place. Repeat for each eyelet.
And you are done!
I had the HARDEST time getting a photo of the belt myself since my husband was at work. I don’t trust my 2-year-old with my camera….no way. Here was the first attempt….using a mirror:
Note: I am not 7 feet tall….I was standing on a stool. Please don’t send emails asking if my inseam is 64 inches.
Then I went outside and took some by pointing my camera backward….it worked a little. Good thing I have long arms….
And finally I gave up and just took photos of the belt…..
Pheww….that post took a while! Now I’m off to straighten up the house… and maybe get back in the painting studio, I’ve got a portrait to work on!