One of the biggest issues involved in making a custom belt is getting the belt blank cut to the right length. Everyone has their own way of coming up with that measurement, but this is how to measure belt size.
Getting a Proper Measurement
“How do I figure out how long to cut the belt based on the belt size the customer gives me?”
“Can I use their pant size to figure belt length?”
“Is there some kind of belt size chart?”
First, I don’t accept a pant size or a marked size off the belt they wear. This leaves too much to chance and more times than not will leave you remaking a belt. The belt they are wearing may be a 36” but they may be wearing it in the tightest hole. This would mean, depending on the hole spacing and number of holes on the belt, that they are probably closer to a 34”.
I’m sure there are some useful belt size charts that you can find on the web. The problem with these charts is like I said above, the chart doesn’t take into account what hole the person is using on the belt. I don’t feel comfortable using a chart to produce a belt for a customer. It leaves too chance and I feel more confident with an actual measurement like the one I will show you here.
For all my customers, I make them measure the belt they wear currently. This is important! Not a belt they use to wear or one their husband wore in high school, but a belt they wear now. Many a wife has been trying to surprise hubby for an anniversary and snags a belt out of his closet and brings it to me to measure and he hasn’t worn that belt in 15 years. Now, in her eyes he is still the slim waisted stud he was then, but based on the fact that his new belt I made him didn’t fit, Mr. Stud put on a bit of post marital mass. Keep your remakes to a minimum and demand a good measurement period.
How do we get a good measurement? I measure, whether me doing it or letting them do it, from the bend to the hole they wear the belt in with the buckle style they will use. Let’s define some key terms:
- Bend: The point where the belt bends around the buckle hanger and snaps closed. This does not include the flap that folds behind the belt.
- “The hole they wear it in”: This doesn’t matter if it’s the tightest hole, loosest hole, or a hole they added in the belt. Whatever hole they wear it in.
- Buckle style: This is important because a trophy buckle will demand a shorter belt than a small ranger style buckle. It does not have to be “the” buckle so long as it is of similar style. All buckles are a little different but the style is the main thing here. Trophy buckle or ranger style.
Cutting Blank to Belt Size
Once you have stripped the belt blank off the blocked side in the width you want for the belt, you need to cut it for the customer’s size. I figure this by adding 10.5” to the measurement from their belt. So if they gave me a 34” measurement then I would cut their blank 44.5”. The 10.5” comes from 3.5” for the flap that folds back at the bend and then 7” from the center hole to the tip. If you want more tip to hang out past the buckle then you can make the tip measurement 8”… if you do this you would add 11.5” to their measurement instead of 10.5”.
I have used this technique for many years and aside from a bad measurement here and there I have had very few problems and my fit is good every time. This becomes very important when putting names in the back of belts or making tapered belts and keeping things centered and balanced.
For more information on making and designing custom belts follow the link below to purchase our new eBooklet! This booklet touches on topics from sizing to finishing a custom belt.
For Free patterns and patterns available for purchase, visit our Leather Tooling Patterns page often. We are adding to this page as fast as we can!