Ever since I finished my Star Trek uniform last year, I've had the chance to wear it for both conventions and LARP scenarios. In both situations, bags can be annoying. I usually tote around my pink ita bag backpack at conventions, and I found that it wasn't exactly ideal with this costume. I wanted something that could hold the essentials while looking like it belonged with my costume, so I decided to make a utility belt! I made this right before my first 10-hour Trek-inspired simulator experience in March (before intense social distancing rules were put in place.) I wanted to share my process because this is a very simple design that anyone can make, as long as your machine will sew through leather fabric. This design uses a simple webbing belt and features interchangeable pouches.
The one thing that does complicate this process is that using leather means you can't make any mistakes in the sewing, as each stitch will leave behind holes. If you're a beginner, you could opt to use a heavy woven fabric instead that is a little more forgiving. Make sure any fabric you use is very sturdy, because you don't want to be walking around an event and have any of your pouches tear.
Total time: ~3 hours (if you include all the sketching and struggling with measurements!)
Definitely set aside a good chunk of time to avoid rushing too much, but this could probably be made in under 2 hours if you're quick at visualizing and making patterns.
Here are my supplies! I used a remnant of upholstery faux leather that was a little less than one yard, but I could have easily done with only about half a yard. I also got some webbing and a buckle closure. I liked the look of the matte silver for use with my Star Trek uniform. Not pictured is the stick-on velcro I used to close the pouches.
You will also need a sewing machine and thread that matches your fabric color of course, and a pen or pencil for marking (depends on your fabric, I just used a Sharpie since the wrong side of the fabric wouldn't be visible), some paper for making patterns (or be chaotic and make your patterns directly on your fabirc, I can't say I've never done that), fabric clips or pins (depends on your fabric, you can't use pins on leather like I used!), and Fray Check. Fray Check is a liquid product that makes it very easy to prevent edges from fraying. I swear by this stuff for almost everything because even if I zigzag stitch my edges, there is still a chance of fraying in a lot of cases since I don't have a serger. In this case, Fray Check was the only option to reinforce cut edges on the type of fabric I used.
First, I did some quick sketches of my ideas. They don't make a lot of sense, but it really helped me visualize what I wanted. I noted an idea for an elastic holster, but I ended up not making that this time.
I used lined paper to cut out my pattern. The size of your pouches is really up to you! I figured out my sizes by making a list of everything I needed to carry. For example, I measured one pouch (the narrow long one) specifically to fit my phone. I only drew the body of the pouch on paper, then measured directly on the fabric to extend the pattern to make the flap. The white lining of this fabric made marking very easy!
The front piece of each pouch should be the same size as the main body, and the back piece should contain the flap. I cut each separately instead of in two layers so I could make sure I had all the right pieces.
After I cut out my pieces, I measured where to cut so the webbing could be slipped through on the back part of each pouch (the one with the flap portion)
On my largest pouch, I added an additional panel on the bottom for some extra flair and a sort of "reinforced" look. It didn't add much extra reinforcement, but it looks nice. You could really do this on all your pouches if you wanted the extra step.
I sewed each piece together with a zigzag stitch for maximum security. Make sure to leave the top open and the flap loose!
I then cut the slits in the back of the pouches. I used Fray Check to reinforce the edges of the slits, since the webbing puts a lot of friction on the slits and the wrong side of this fabric is a felt-like surface that could become frayed/fuzzy over time.
I hemmed the flap edges with a straight stitch. I used velcro as my closures because I was in a bit of a hurry, but snaps (like the kind that can be hammered securely into the fabric) would also be a good option.
I cut the webbing to the appropriate length (I cut mine to about 40" to ensure I had plenty of extra room to tighten it around either my waist or my hips) and attached the buckle. I burned the edges of the webbing before sewing on the closure to prevent fraying. On one side (left), the webbing is simply woven through the piece and I hemmed the edge of the webbing to prevent it from ever slipping off if the belt is loosened too much. On the other side (right), I just looped the webbing through and sewed it securely. The package should include a clear diagram of how to properly attach each side!
Here is the finished product, with all the pouches on the belt and stuffed with a few things!
As you can see, the pouches droop a bit when they are full, so you do not want to skip that Fray Check step on the back slits. I find that on my figure this belt sits best at my waist, but you can wear yours however you like!
Be sure to let me know if this guide was useful to you at all!
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