December 19, 2014

The Dior belt

I hope you're going to like this. My earlier post about this outfit didn't inspire any enthusiasm but on the other hand, tutorials tend to be popular...

Just imagine this: The year is 1957, the month February. Of course, you've seen the new designer fashion in magazines since the start of winter and of course, there was a new line by Christian Dior (which would be his second to last because he died in October of that year, but there was no way to know that in February). And then as now, such reports in ladies' magazines are purely 'aspirational'. There's just no way a normal woman could afford such exquisite garments. But it's nice to see the direction in which fashion is going (the influence of Paris on everyday fashion was much stronger back then) and maybe to take some inspiration for your own sewing.
By February, it will be clear which elements of designer fashion have crossed over to a larger audience and the 'Dior belt' is a clear winner.

It's a wide gathered belt most often seen worn over full pleated or gathered skirts (the belt in this picture is actually not a Dior belt, it's a regular smooth one). But, contrasting or matching, it can be paired with other clothing as well.

The trend has been eagerly taken up by the RTW industry and everyone, who can pull off the look, seems to be getting in on it. And now, thanks to your friendly weekly, so can you. And now in December 2014, thanks to this vintage-loving blogger, so can you.

In fact, this description (my how-to here is based on the one in the magazine but that one is so vague I've changed it quite a bit to allow you to actually follow it. Which is also why I don't feel like I'm breaking their copyright) is the earliest designer rip off pattern I've ever seen. Some magazines occasionally bought couture designs and offered those to their readers as patterns but this is different. This didn't come down that official route.

For the belt, you need about 90 by 90 cm of fabric, 3 or 4 pieces of boning of 8 cm long (the poly stuff is fine for this, in fact, better than something you can't stitch through. Just don't forget to meld the ends they can't unravel or prick through the fabric) and 4 hooks and and eyes.

Fold your fabric diagonally. You have to draw the belt along the fold, so it will be on the bias. For the width, measure 27 cm from the fold, the length should be the same as your waist length (do not add seam allowance to these measurements. Fabric stretches on the bias and this belt needs to be a bit snug to look good).

Cut out the rectangle and sew it together along the open sides using a small stitch (so the stitching won't break when the fabric stretches out). Leave a small hole to turn the whole thing. I made mine at one of the sides so the stability of the belt edge is not compromised by hand stitching. Turn the belt right side out and press.
Now, you have to decide whether you want your belt to close at the side or at the back (the closure on a Dior belt should be hidden so it is never at the front). Mine is at the side and I think it is easier to open and close that way. 

For a side closure you will need to gather and insert boning at three places: Both ends and the middle. At each of these places, machine baste two vertical lines, far enough apart to accommodate your boning. At the bottom of each of those lines, unpick a few stitches of the seam you made before. Insert the pieces of boning and gather the fabric on them. Fix in place by sewing over the gathers and the piece of boning. To stabilize everything and close the little holes, I then stitched around the pieces of boning, over the lines of basting and the top and bottom of the boning channel. 
Then, sew the hooks and eyes to the ends of the belt.

The belt is supposed to be worn from the waist up and because of that, I prefer to wear it with the seam on the bottom because that edge will stretch less.

I hope can follow this and I'll show you my version this weekend, when I've had a chance to take pictures.


  1. Oh thanks so much for this Lauriana! I actually have a Harper's Bazaar magazine from 1957 featuring some of Dior's work, and I had no idea that that was the year Dior died! Thanks ever so much for sharing!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  2. Thanks for this very clear set of instructions. I love that first image. The mix of colours is gorgeous. And the belt is very Dior. Wish my waist was defined enough to pull that look off!

  3. Perfectly clear thankyou so much! I will be trying it :) can't wait to see your finished outfit pics too.

  4. Thank you for the tutorial! I shall be saving this for the future!

  5. MUST HAVE THIS BELT! Thank you so much; I would never have been able to find a pattern or figure it out myself. Just got a vintage Dior jacket from his ready to wear line...I am so excited! You are so fabulous!

  6. Thanks for this tutorial! I have this picture of a Vogue 1947 knitting book where the model on the cover is wearing a skirt with a similar belt or waistband which I'd love to copy. I wonder if it was done in the same way? Anyway, your tutorial will come in handy!

  7. I just made this, very simple and effective. It's for a wide skirted dress, and I have had to fiddle around with boning more than I wanted but it's worth it.