12th century belt,  12th century projects,  Hand-Sewing,  Herringbone stitch,  Projects

12th century belt for my 12th century wedding dress :)

2015-12_Racaire_12th-century-belt_1I recently managed to finish nearly all of the hand-sewing for my 12th century wedding dress. And after looking at some pictures showing period 12th century clothing, the thought in me arose that it would be really lovely to also have a nice 12th century belt for my 12th century dress ensemble.

I have never made a fabric belt for my 12th century wardrobe before but well, I think there is a first time for everything – it would be boring otherwise, wouldn’t it… 😉

So, well, like always, when I am starting something I have never done before, I am not quite sure how this project will finally turn out but I am willing to take this project on and to find out. And like always I hope that it will turn into something lovely – or at least usable and nice. However, please keep your fingers crossed for my project. 🙂

And now let’s take a look of what I have accomplished so far for my new 12th century fabric belt project – enjoy! 😀

I decided to use a sturdy hemp band for the inner core of my new 12th century fabric belt. After measuring the needed length – about two times the circumference of my waist line – I cut the desired length of the hemp band. Then I decided to alter the ends of my belt from a flat border to a little bit more “pointy” look.

To achieve the desired pointy look at the end of my belt I folded both sides to the inside and sewed them into place:


To add more stability to the borders, I added some “blanket stitches” along the edge.
(A blanket stitch is basically just a button hole stitch with more space in between the single stitches as you can see on the picture underneath.)


When I came to the newly formed point, I doubled my blanket stitches to catch all loose hemp threads as you can see on the picture above.

And here a picture of the belt end after I completed all blanket stitches:


After finishing the second belt end, by following the same procedure as described above, I thought about the fabric layer for the outside of the belt. As I saw that I still had a good sized piece of the lovely yellow silk fabric on stash – the same yellow silk fabric which I already used for the embellishments on my dress – I quickly decided to use this silk for the outer layer of my new fabric belt.

The belt is about twice as long as the width of the silk fabric, therefore I cut two long stripes of silk fabric (hemp width + seam allowance) and sewed the two pieces together along the narrow end. The location of this seam will be later in the middle of my belt and can be easily covered up with some nice embellishment.

A very first try revealed that the hemp band underneath was visibly “darkening” the appearance of the silk surface as the yellow silk is quite thin and slightly transparent. To prevent this effect I decided to add a layer of white fabric between the hemp band and the silk.


After lining up the seam of the fabric and the middle of the belt, I started to pin the silk fabric and the white lining in place – working from the middle towards the belt ends:


With the help of the “herringbone stitch” (in German: Hexenstich) I mounted the silk fabric on top of the hemp band. The herringbone stitch is perfect for work like this as it can easily   be used to distribute tension evenly between two borders/fabrics – but like always you have to be very careful not to apply too much or too little tension to avoid bulky spots.

The stitches along the border of the silk fabric only go through the silk fabric and sometimes also through the white lining underneath but not through the hemp band – this allows me to tighten or to loosen the tension of the fabric while I am working at it. To add a little bit more stability and to prevent the hemp band from bending to the outside and towards the silk fabric because of the applied tension, I also stitched through a little bit of the hemp band in the middle while I was working my herringbone stitch.

As you can see on the pictures underneath, the difference between just the right amount of tension and too much tension is literally a tightrope walk:


Well, I think my 12th century fabric belt project looks quite promising so far, doesn’t it?! 🙂

Now I only have to decide about the embellishments I want to add to the surface – and maybe some pearls too? However, an idea is already growing on my mind and I think that I will be ready for this step quite soon… 🙂


I already picked some fabric for the inside of the belt. Though my first thought was to also use some silk for the inside, I dismissed this idea quite quickly. Silk fabric on silk fabric can be a very slippery solution and as I don’t really want a belt which slides up and down my waist all the time, I decided to line the inside of the belt with some nice dark blue linen fabric with a little bit more “grip”. 

I hope you enjoyed my new 12th century fabric belt project so far. Though it is still missing further embellishment, it already looks quite promising. I can really not wait to finish it as it should bring me one step closer to a more complete and perfect looking 12th century attire – at least I hope it will… 🙂

Best regards Racaire