While garage sale hunting this weekend, I bought some great vintage knit fabric at a dollar a yard. I've been working on several projects-ruffle pillows coming!- and am working on some tutorials. Here's the first!
This project is great, because it gives you two options. You can either make a ruched, elasticized best or a ruffly (also elastic) belt. The only difference is the ruffles, so you can even decide partway through making it which you want it to be!***NOTE: The measurements below are based on me, and on me the ruffle part stretches about 2/3 around my waist. To make your belt fit you, simply take the ratio of my waist measurement and the measurements below and multiply it by the measurement of your waist. My waist measures 26 inches. If this doesn't quite make sense, let me know and I'll try to clarify.
What you need:
-fabric for belt -muslin or cotton works well, 20 inches long and 4 inches wide
-66 inches of of 3/8" elastic (4 times 16.5 for four rows-adjust measurement as needed but keep same ratio!)
-For ruffles: 3 or 4 strips of fabric 32 inches long, 2 inches wide- I used a knit/jersey that worked perfect, because it didn't have to be hemmed. I used three ruffles, but you can use three or four.
-more of belt fabric for the straps: 4 strips 4 inches wide by how ever long you want.
There are two ways to do the ruffling on this belt. You can sew the ruffles on before you put the elastic in, or after. Both ways have their challanges, and I did the ruffles after-which I think is the harder way to do it. I'll describe both ways, and you can decide which you prefer!
Regardless, the first couple steps are the same:
1) Sew your two main belt pieces together, wrong side out. Turn right side out and press.
2) Next, you'll add the elastic casing. Place tick marks where you want the elastic to be seperated (so, divide the height of the belt in half, then half again for fourths). Sew a running stitch all the way down the belt, going in as straight of a line as possible. Note here: no one can sew a straight line. Mine was all over the place, partially because was making this up as I went. If you use the correct width elastic that I designate, than even if you wiggle around a big while sewing it shouldn't be an issue.
3) If you are putting ruffles on your belt before putting the elastic in, it's time to make the ruffles. Do the following for all the ruffles: Sew a straight stitch (on the largest length setting possible) down the edge the strip of fabric, tacking over one end but not the other. Then, on the untacked edge, gently pull the bobbin thread until the ruffle begings to gather. Continue to do this and adjust the ruffle so it's even down it's length until the total length of the ruffle equals the length of the belt piece. Now, pin the ruffle along a casing seam on the belt. Being very careful to follow the casing line, sew the ruffle on (you may want to do this with the ruffle facing downwards, so you can see the casing seam). Note: it's usually easier to sew the bottom most ruffle on, then work up. That way the other ruffles don't get in your way.
4) Now it's time for the elastic. Do this for each of the elastic pieces: Pin one edge of the elastic to one edge of the casing. Put a safety pin through the other end of the elastic, then insert the safety pin in the casing and work it through to the other end. The belt fabric should start to gather. When you get the safety pin out the other side, sew the edge of the elastic in line with the edge of the casing. Then, go back and sew the other edge of the elastic to the other edge of the casing (where it was pinned). If you unpin it first, bad things will happen! Leave it pinned while you sew.Now, if you haven't already sew the ruffles on, you can sew them on in between the elastic pieces. You have to pull the fabric straight on the elastic as you go, because you don't want to the ruffle to be sewn on the bunched up belt. This can be a little difficult; just go slow and stretch the elastic as needed while you're sewing.
5) Now all that's left is to make the ties. Fold the ties over so they form a long, skinnier strap. Sew along the length and one of the edges, then turn right side out and press. You should have one edge open and one closed, like a very long sock (only analogy I could think of...). Now, on the open edge, fold a small amount of fabric inward and press, so it looks like it's been hemmed and doesn't have a raw edge sticking out. Pin the edge of the belt inside of the strip so it's raw edges are also hidden. Do this on each edge, than sew down the edge of the belt connecting the belt and the straps. You're done!