Tool Belt

Noticed a handyman standing outside an apartment building holding a large wooden door. He wore a canvas tool belt. On a quest to make a belt to hold daily supplies (keys, phone, pens, etc.) my attention has been drawn to examples of belts with pockets, fanny packs or bags worn around the waist of a passersby. His tool belt looked pretty great--useful and with a soft patina of wear to prove it.

Tool Belt from Home Depot

Tool Belt from Home Depot

The tool belt came from Home Depot he said. In the photo is an identical one found there. It is well constructed (in India), made primarily of heavy canvas. The bottoms of the pockets and the edges are bound in suede, the corners reinforced with rivets. An adjustable nylon webbing belt is stitched and riveted in place along the back length of the canvas.

It was a good taking off point.

Tried it on. It was heavy. The nylon webbing used for the actual belt was stiff and scratchy making it difficult to adjust. The belt had to be removed to work the webbing through the plastic fastener. The cotton canvas--a natural, sturdy fabric was ideal. The pockets were spacious and varied in size. That they were open facilitated accessing tools. Having previously made a belt with open pockets, however, decided for the urban landscape it is more practical to have ones that close.

Belt Sketch, 2014

Above is a sketch of the bag I was thinking about. Lidded pockets in a variety of sizes. A hidden back pocket. Water resistant canvas fabric. Two loops for the bag to hang from any belt.

VSL Belt. Water resistant cotton canvas, leather, 2014.

When it was partially sewn I realized the center of the bag would pull away from the body if it only hung from a belt at either end. Decided instead to follow the Home Depot model: sewed a belt to the bag. Made of leather it adjusts easily; the bag may be worn at the waist or slung low around the hips. The pocket edges are pleated so they can expand [think cargo pants pockets]. The entire length is backed with heavy canvas--another echo of the HD belt. 

Athletes use the mind to envision the performance they wish to achieve. (Hurrah for H.A. Dorman's

The Mental Game of Baseball

.) Is it very different for the artist? There are identical components: acquired skills and practice, planning and spontaneity. Removing the finished belt from the sewing machine and clipping the threads was sort of astonished. Had long been thinking about the design, planning it, paying attention to examples, drawing different versions. Now here it was!

Combining Eras

Detail: Linen Tunic, 2014
Am attracted to aesthetics of different eras. Accordingly, here is a linen tunic that harkens back to the late 1800's with a lace edged neckline and long sleeves. The sleeves are full and airy at the shoulder then taper to the wrist. Linen is wonderfully cooperative to work with, moving in tandem with one's hands as it is sewn. Dressed in linen the body seems to inaudibly whisper, "Ah, this is what I was meant to wear." 

In the photo below the tunic is paired with leggings made of a wool pique knit from Italy. This material achieves winter’s trifecta: warm, non-scratchy and stylish [take that, Polarfleece]! Gravitate to wearing them so often that I made a second pair.

The belt. It is draped from the hips. Adjustable. It combines the appeal of a weightlifting belt with a style own.

Linen Tunic, Wool Leggings, Leather Belt, 2014
(Jacket in progress on the left.)

Kindergartner All Grown Up

Linen Shift with Belt (leather & metal), 2012

At age five dressing myself for kindergarten one morning, hesitated to change out of a buttercup yellow, lace trimmed nightgown with an aura of prettiness, into school clothes. Considered: "It looks like a long dress, doesn't it? I could, couldn't I?"

Wore the nightgown to school, triumphantly confessing to a schoolmate: "It's really my nightgown!"

The memory emerged this summer in Lithuania when Agne and her sister-in-law were surprised that the linen shift made while staying with them was intended as a nightgown. "It's too nice! Wear it as a dress." Hum...

To transform it sewed a deep hem and made a contour belt from a design that had been on the drawing board. It's like a "wrinkle in time", a kindergartner gleefully in cahoots with the grownup she's become.

Kilt and Sporran?

Pouch: wool with cotton lining, 2011

(Skirt: cotton; Belt: leather, metal buckle)
Small pieces of fabric, too tiny for garments are gathered in a cardboard shoebox. Treasured pieces, some hardly more than an inch wide.

A square of black, white and maroon wool plaid had a destiny! Sewed it into pouch/coin purse and lined it with maroon cotton batiste (from the shoebox).

Carried the pouch in a shoulder bag, filled with a little cash, a metrocard and a bank card. Then an idea: belt loops. Slid the pouch onto a belt, et voilà, a quasi kilt and sporran!

   Pouch: cotton, 2011

Also sewn from the stash of fabrics: white stars on navy with cornflower blue pinstripe lining. 

Fusion Belt

Based upon a hybrid of a weight lifting belt and an Obi sash, this design has been on my mind for several years. Like the belts below it is comprised of three layers.

First I drafted a pattern and made a cloth version with a layer of interfacing. This is the leather prototype. There will be other modifications as the design evolves. So fortifying to wear!

Refined or Rugged

Belts made this winter.
One happens to match the terra cotta pots in the background. Simple and sleek, with a smooth texture.
Another, with a more rugged look, a work-a-day belt.

To assemble, belts require a sewing machine with a powerful motor. These are made of three layers--the outer leather, a lining and a structural material between the two.