Monday, November 1, 2010

Santa costume - belt - part 5

Santa's belt

The idea was to use some near new automotive seatbelt material taken from one of the cars we'd cut up in training. Based on the that material, I designed a large brass buckle to suit.

Since I didn't have any suitable material to make the whole buckle from one piece, I decided to use some thin brass shim stock for the face of the buckle, and build the bulk of the buckle from thicker, but smaller brass material. Why couldn't I cast a buckle??? That's a story for another day....grumble and mutter.

I cut up the shim stock sheet to give me the shape I wanted, plus folding pieces to cover the joints.

Figure 1 - brass shim stock, and other material

I then cut up some 3/16 x 2" strip to give me the shapes I needed to fill in the back of the buckle. I then folded the shim stock up over the inserted pieces, and sweated it all together with soft solder. My torch is a Primus (Seivert) propane torch with a pencil tip.

Figure 2 - cutting the shim stock with a jeweller's saw

Figure 3- folding in the pieces prior to soldering

Once finished I tested the buckle only to find it didn't "grip" the material well enough to give me confidence. I considered adding a small barb in the buckle so it would grip, but figured it might pose a hazard. Determining the issue resulted from the excess clearance in the buckle openings, I drilled the buckle in four places and inserted some 1/16" stainless steel wire to close up the gaps. In fact it allowed me to double the material through the buckle, adding security and improving the appearance. The wire was cut from an antistatic dissipator from an old CO2 fire extinguisher

Figure 4- Buckle - Mk 1 - not suitable

Figure 5. Buckle Mk2 - with wires inserted

Figure 6. The good buckle threaded onto the belt material

I also made a smaller version of the buckle - reminiscent of a military buckle for capturing the excess belt length (tail as it were) - together they both hold the belt up nicely, and I need not fear the jacket coming open. (I started the smaller buckle while trying to think of a way to salvage the first buckle - thankfully I was blessed with some inspiration there... it would have been a shame to waste it.)

Figure 7. Both buckles on the raw material

Once it was all together, I noticed the seatbelt material would shine in certain light, and it looked distracting. To make the belt more consistent, I over-sewed it with 3 layers of black poly-cotton, and sewed rows of stitching the full length on 6mm (1/4") centres. This added a nice touch to the fabric, and allowed me to taper the open end of the belt making it easier to thread and prevent fraying.

Once the brass was polished up, the belt came out wonderful... the buckle adds a bit of weight, in fact the entire belt weighs in at around 1kg (~ 2 lbs)

Next installment - the hats.

1 comment:

  1. After selecting Santa suits from BuyCostumes, one of the accessories you shouldn't miss aside from his hat would be his belt.