Friday, September 11, 2009

Belts, Part One: Have One Custom Made!

Vintage dresses often feature a matching self-fabric belt and buckle. I adore this look, don't you? Vintage sewing patterns will direct you in making one, or more cryptically, instruct you to "have one made." I suppose in the 50's, there must have been places you could easily go to and have a belt made. Well, times have changed. Now there appears to be only one business that offers this service (that I know of).

Pat Mahoney is the proprietress of Pat's Custom Buttons and Belts, a mail-order business out of Lodi, California. According to this fascinating article, "Mahoney began as a home-based dressmaker, but when Singer Sewing Co. discontinued its button and belt covering service in Lodi, she bought the associated equipment."

There's no website, so you either need to call or write to get a catalog. (How quaint!) I read about Pat in Threads magazine a while ago, and being desirous of some fancy custom-made fabric belts, I gave her a call. She was enormously sweet and nice to chat with, and she sent out a catalog on the double. (Note that there is a five dollar charge for a catalog.)

The catalog is, in a nutshell, a seamstress's dream. Just look at some of the fancy buttons you can have made!

So, having just bought the red silk duchesse for the sheath dress, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try out the service. I was very pleased, all around. All you have to do is find the style buckle you want in the catalog (there are a whopping 127 styles!), and choose from a few other options (thread or metal eyelets, etc.). I mailed out my form and fabric and received my belt back in under two weeks. And it was gorgeous, all for the low low price of $17.50.

If you'd like to try out this service (and I highly recommend that you do), you can contact Pat as follows:

Pat's Custom Buttons and Belts
(209) 369-5410
537 York Street
P.O. Box 335
Lodi, CA 95241

If you'd rather DIY, check back soon(ish) for a post on making your own self-fabric belt!


  1. How practical! It's a bit far sending things to California from Sweden though, so maybe I'll try making my own belt sometime. Looking forward to the how-to! And the belt is just lovely!

  2. Bless you! I've been looking for some kind of "belt kit" in fabric stores, and not finding one. I've been putting off some projects because I haven't know what to do about the matching belt. Thanks!

  3. I've had luck finding belt kits on ebay -- i got a load of them when an older seamstress was selling her stash. I haven't tried them out yet and am looking forward to seeing your DIY belts and method!

  4. You should check out sugardale's blog. Her designs are 50's inspired with self-covered belts. Recently she posted on whether she could go into business custom covering belts. If you ever need another one maybe you could support a fellow sewing blogger!
    Post can be found here:

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this information! That belt was well worth the $17.50. I can't wait for an excuse to use her service.

  6. I can't believe you got quite a deal at that price! It is lovely!

  7. Thanks for the info. I have saved it! And your belt is terrific!

  8. That belt is fabulous! I have several sources for self-covered buckle kits, but honestly, the work she does on those eyelets is worth $17.50!! I could never do such a nice job. It's a great deal!

  9. What a great link, thanks so much for posting it!!!

  10. Hi Gertie!
    I really love your blog - it's oh! so inspiring! I've been looking for those self-covering belt buckles, and wonder if you've got more info about the DIY? I've found them on ebay, but do you know of any suppliers elsewhere?

  11. I have no words. You have just changed my vintage wardrobe life.

  12. Gertie: I've just ordered the catalog and I intend to use fabric covered buttons on my Starlet Suit Jacket. As always, you are a wealth of information.

  13. I really love your blog - it's oh! so inspiring! I've been looking for those self-covering Wholesale Belts buckles, and wonder if you've got more info about the DIY? I've found them on sammydress

  14. Thanks for the info, Gerie. Just to let you know, I called today and she informed me the zip code is 95240.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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