Rey’s unique 2-section belt is a prominent piece of her costume. She not only wears it with her Jakku desert scavenger costume, but also with her resistance costume later in The Force Awakens. In this post learn how to make your own iconic Rey belt from genuine leather!
First, I studied this very helpful pattern made by Division6 from therpf.com which shows the basic layout and construction of the belt. Although it appears to be 2 pieces, it is actually made from a single piece of leather that is split into 2 sections, but remains 1 piece for about 6 inches on Rey’s left waist area. The upper section circles Rey’s waist and the lower section is a hip belt used for accessories such as her hip bag or holster.
Both sections connect on Rey’s right side and fold back onto themslves after becoming narrow and passing through 2 rectangular rings. I decided to make the upper section 1 1/4 inches high and the lower section 1 3/4 inches high for a total of 3 inches. I started by making a pattern from file folders to ensure I had the layout and length correct.
Once I was satisfied with my template I purchased a half shoulder of leather from Tandy Leather. Not wanting it to be too thick at the ends where it folds back, I went with 4 / 5 oz weight leather. I was able to find a piece that had a long section in the middle, over 50 inches, to use for the belt. Next I cut a 3 inch wide strip from the leather hide using a sharp utility knife and a board as a straight edge.
Next, I marked and cut the 2 sections of the belt, being careful to leave the left 3 inch high area of the belt intact. Then I marked the ends of each piece using my template and carefully cut those sections, leaving some extra material so it could be adjusted as needed.
The ends taper down to allow the belt sections to be connected through the rings. I used 3/4 inch rectangular rings from Hobby Lobby – Sew-Ology item # 206805, but they are also available from Tandy Leather and other retailers. One end of each section on Rey’s belt goes through 2 rings, folds back and is stitched with cord in an X. I marked these spots for the stitching, made holes in the leather with an awl, and glued them with contact cement for extra strength. With the rings in place, I could then properly fit, trim and finalize the smaller ends.
When I was happy with the length and fit, I marked and cut out the 2 sets of slots in each section that secures the folded back end of the belt. I smoothed the raw edges of the belt with some medium grit sandpaper and then used a wooden slicker tool to finish the edges. You can purchase these online or at Tandy Leather, but I made a simple one by notching out a wooden dowel. The wood is quickly rubbed on the edges of the belt to burnish and flatten the raw leather.
Using 2 applications of Eco Flo Dark Brown Eco Leather Antique Gel Dye, applied with a rag, I dyed the belt to a rich color. I also dyed the back side of the thin ends of the belt that are visable where the belt folds back onto itself.
To seal the dyed belt I coated it with acrylic satin polyurethane, available at Walmart or any hobby store. With the antique finish complete on the belt I stitched the two Xs on the ring ends using a large needle and some thin hemp cord from Hobby Lobby.
Finally, I added the twine sections to the belt. Rey’s belt has a twine type cord that goes around the upper and lower belt on the front and around the lower belt on the back. For this I used On-a-Cord # 154781 – #20 hemp jewelry cord in natural from Hobby Lobby with some added watered down acrylic paint to break up the color.
The idea of working with leather was a bit intimidating at first but it turned out not to be as difficult as I originally thought. You do need a steady hand and dexterity to cut the leather in a straight line. Otherwise you risk ruining your leather piece. The most important skill you need for this is probably patience. Of course you will also need the leather. But if you purchase a half shoulder of the leather, then you should have enough leather left over to make both a holster for Rey’s resistance costume and the wrist cuff bracer for her Jakku costume. (I’ll cover the wrist cuff in a future post so stay tuned!)