Updated October 1, 2019
You might think that needlepoint belts are the ultimate preppy accessory, but they can be so much more. Before we get into looking at how to make a needlepoint belt, let’s think about ways you can use them:
- turn them into a purse, camera, or guitar strap
- cut them up and use them to make sandal straps
- let them decorate the top of a purse
- finish them to be trim on a basket
- make them the edge of a tray
- cut the in sections & sew together to make a purse or pillow
There’s lots of things you can do with these long skinny canvases.
Needlepoint belts are usually about 1.25 inches wide or 21 threads on 18-mesh canvas. That’s the finished length. When stitching you need to add a row of binding stitch, or overlapping cross, on each side. The overlapping layers of binding stitch help because the edges get the most wear. Here’s a video on how to do this stitch. Binding stitch provides much better wear, however if you don’t want to use it, stitch two extra rows of Tent on each side for finishing.
You may be wondering something about how long to make your belt. Yarn Barn has an excellent page of information on this.
Now you’re probably wondering about threads and stitches. Most belts use Tent Stitch because it wears so well. If your belt will be worn avoid stitches that cover more than three threads intersections or that are layered; these will wear poorly or snag. If your belt will be used less heavily, as basket trim for example, you can use any stitch.
Belts that will be worn need threads that stand up to wear. The best choices for this are wool and pearl cotton. Avoid stranded threads because they can snag. Blends can wear unevenly and avoid any thread that pills for you. These threads will junk up the belt quickly.
When I’ve stitched belts I have found the narrow canvas hard to hold. Because the canvas is so long, only scroll frames will work. I have learned from experience to be careful. Do not stitch near the rolled ends, You can easily stitch several layers together. K’s Creations makes frames just for belts that have a frame around the scroll frame to hold them rigid (reviewed here).
You know you want to stitch a belt, but you want it to be more personal than the canvases out there. It’s time to consider making a custom belt. If you want a belt in a tartan or plaid you can use my tartan charting service and I’ll create a plaid that will look perfect on this narrow size. You can also create a belt by using initials or motifs or both placed at regular intervals around the belt. There are also some pre-charted tartans just for belts.
Just be sure the motifs are no more than 19 stitches high and that you stitch them so the margins are even on both sides. There are many alphabets charted for free on the Internet, check out my Pinterest board for many.
If you are looking for specific designs, poke around the Internet, recently I’ve been finding more and more small charted designs for everything from Yoda to sushi.
What belt tips, charts & stories can you share with us?