Thursday, 6 June 2013

A belt, a belt! My t-shirt for a belt!

I have a whole slew of old t-shirts that are way too big on me. So naturally, I've been turning over every stone online to find DIY projects that I can use my t-shirts for. This has yielded a few really useful things that I've been enjoying using around the house and beyond. Meet the newest additions to the upcycled family.

The mat (pictured to the right) was made from the scraps of the other projects. I'll talk more about those later. The mat came from a tutorial found here, although I modified it somewhat in that I made the base piece of fabric more into a lattice to do latch-hook-style threading of the t-shirt scraps through the holes. I wanted to be able to just throw it into the laundry, which you couldn't do with the original.

Another project (which is largely what supplied the scraps for the mat) was making my t-shirts into tote bags. I know, it sounds really, really obvious, and I was a little embarrassed that I didn't think of it myself. There are a number of great tutorials on-line, but I used this one. Then I also did a version where I chopped the t-shirt in half down the middle and made two taller, thinner bags with only one handle. I liked both styles a lot--the half t-shirt style for the size of it, and the full t-shirt style for the double handle. I do like a double handle. And I do like a smaller bag better than a larger one.

And of course, then there's the belt. Is it ever a sexy beast. My favourite part is that not a scrap of it was new. To be honest, I owe a debt of gratitude to several people on-line for the inspiration and (in some cases) actual instruction that led to this baby being born. It's really not hard, and you don't need a sewing machine. Actually, you don't need much more than a pair of sharp scissors and a t-shirt. Even the rings are optional.

So here's how I made it.

Let me start off by saying that I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel if someone's already done a really fine job of it. So there's practically nothing novel about the process of me making this belt. I started out with an old t-shirt that I used this tutorial to make into a beautiful, strong t-shirt yarn. From there, I wrapped the yarn around my waist, and then used 3 times that to make one strand. I did this 9 times in total.

From there, I used this tutorial as inspiration for the closure rings, but I knew I wanted more of a tassel look for the tie end. All I needed now was rings. But I didn't have any belt rings, and I wasn't about to go to the fabric store in the rain. Then it dawned on me: I have old, clear plastic shower curtain rings. I used two.

So I threaded the strands through the rings, until the strands were doubled and then I knotted them firmly in place around the rings. (In hindsight, I should have done what the tutorial did, and threaded through the rings by pulling the ends through the loop in the strands, instead of knotting them. It would have given me a much less bulky closure!) I then had 18 strands that were about 1.5 times the length of my waist measurement. I divided them into three clusters of 6, and then did a regular 3-strand braid out of them (holding the braid taut by putting my big toe through the rings, if you must know!). When I got to almost as long as my waist measurement (maybe 4 inches shy?) I stopped braiding and tied the strands in a knot, because I wanted to be sure I wasn't tying the braid itself, and the t-shirt fabric is quite stretchy. You can trim the ends, so they're all the same length, but I didn't bother!

And that, my friends, is how you make a belt for zero dollars.


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