Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Running Belt (with tutorial)

The day before Ottawa Race weekend (last week) my husband and I went to pick up our kits (me the 5K and he the marathon). While we were there we checked out the booths at the Expo, and this is where I saw the FlipBelt running belt. It is cool! After looking at one for a bit, I wondered if I could make this.

The neat thing about this belt is that there are 3 ways you can wear it, I’ve just pictured it here in 2 ways. The third way is to flip it with the slot openings on the inside (first pic) hence the name, so everything is totally secure.

My copy of the FlipBelt

My copy of the FlipBelt

Right after I got home I went to Fabricland and scoured the place for some really thick polyester knit. I have no idea what else you’d use this stuff for, it’s a pretty bright lemon/lime colour. Not quite as thick as the real FlipBelt, but good enough.

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I also found some dark grey, sturdy, stretchy stuff (nylon?) that feels something like Spanx, it has a high lycra content, stretches well but it’s tight and bounces back quickly. It was the best colour/fabric I could find for the contrast piping. Just look at that shine (left side)! I used the more matte side.

Then I spent a few hours thinking about how to make this work!

I measured the width of the phone to make sure I made the belt wide enough for the phone to fit inside. I stretched the yellow fabric (across the grain) to see what the stretch ratio was, it seemed to be about 20% -25% or so. For the back piece, I marked a strip 4/5 (or 80%) of my high hip measurement, and the width of the phone plus 5/8 inch or so (depends on how “thick” your phone is). To check the length, I stretched it around myself, it was snug, but not too tight.

My copy of the FlipBelt

The contrast piping is just 1 inch strips cut to the same length as the back, again aligned across the grain for max stretch. I pressed them along the length before stitching the sandwich, it helped a lot. The two front pieces are the width of the back plus 1 inch for the seam with the 4 openings/slots.

My copy of the FlipBelt

I tested the seams with the contrast to see how the serged seam would handle. With 4 layers of the fabrics, and a 4 thread overlock stitch set for heavy knit, it worked perfectly. The other seams I stretch-tested took a LOT longer to get the right settings. I also tested a twin needle top-stitching with hand-wound wooly nylon in the bobbin, and loosened needle tension. A cover stitch would be ideal for this application, but as there are only 2 seams here I didn’t feel like converting my serger to cover stitch and then back again to overlock, too kafuffly!

The layers are sandwiched:

  1. back, RS up
  2. contrast piping, folded edge towards the middle of the back, so raw edges are aligned
  3. front, RS down, raw edges aligned

My copy of the FlipBelt

I just couldn’t help the top layer slipping like that. ARGG! Here the back is serged to one of the fronts. And below you see the second front attached, outside and inside seams.

My copy of the FlipBelt My copy of the FlipBelt

Next the top-stitching, on the back piece.

My copy of the FlipBelt

I also serge finished the front edges with a 3 thread overlock stitch. This was the worst! It took forever trying different settings to get it so the stitching wouldn’t break when I stretched it.

My copy of the FlipBelt

The openings on the front need to be about 3 inches wide to accommodate slipping the phone inside (wider if you have a bigger phone). So, with 4 openings that’s 12 inches total, then divide the remainder of the band length by 4 to get the length for the closed sections. I marked the openings so that the final connecting seam (ends of the band) would be halfway in one of the closed sections. For my belt, the closed sections would be 5 inches, so I started marking at half this, 2.5 inches from one end, then 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 2.5. For this seam I just used a small zigzag (width: 0.75, length: 1.5 or so), so it would lay flat. I pressed it hard too!

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Now after stitching the front slotted seam, it looks like a long tube with slot openings. My pink clover chalk pen really left an imprint! Now this is important, all the stitching results in the fabric being stretched, when I measured it, it ended up being about 1/2 inch longer! The best thing to do is wrap it around you and mark where to stitch the ends together.

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This is where it’s exactly like the method for making a neck warmer (tutorial here if you ever need one). You just push one end into the tube all the way to the other end, right sides against each other inside…

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…and line up the ends. Here I say *definitely* PIN all the intersecting seams/piping to eliminate slippage; on my first belt I had to unpick tiny zigzag and redo, major hassle! Then stitch ALL the way around using the same tiny zigzag.

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You don’t need to leave an opening in the end seam (like the neck warmer) because you can use one of the front slots to turn it right side out.

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Just reach inside a slot and pull!

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Here’s the second belt I made a few days later, this one is a teensy bit wider, the first belt was just a bit too tight a fit for my phone.

If this looks like too much, there’s an excellent alternative. After seeing Maria’s running arm band pocket, based on Melissa’s, I made one for myself.

copy of the Yfumbl arm band pocket

The upper opening you see is actually for your arm to slide through. The front flap near the top is where you can slip your phone/gels/stuff. It’s so simple and quick to make, and works fairly well. I’ve been running with it now for the past month. When the heat comes I’ll be running in my Jalie running skort, and probably won’t need either band. But it’s great to have the choice.

I’ll end with a couple of our race pics! Cheers!!

Ottawa Race Weekend 2013

L to R:  Renee (niece), Carol (Conrad’s sister, Renee’s mum), Steph and (my) Oliver

Ottawa Race Weekend 2013               

L to R: Donald (Conrad’s brother), Conrad (my hubby), (our) Henry (holding medal) and Oliver

10 comments:

  1. I have seen or heard of one of these before, thank you so much for posting it. I will be making one of these for the gym.

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  2. I just heard of those belts last week and thought they looked great. I have been thinking about how to make one too but couldn't wrap my brain around it!! Thanks for posting this. I hope to give it a try soon!

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  3. Thanks! I hope this was helpful.
    If I ever make another one, I'll make a short test belt about 8 inches long, just to make sure my phone fits!

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  4. I just discovered the Flip belt yesterday, but it looks too simple to make to spend the money on. They do get good reviews and most say they don't bounce. Do you find that yours bounces?

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    1. It's actually a great belt for running in, as long as it's a snug fit (where it won't roll/ride up) there is no bounce. My husband has been using one of the belts I made and he also really likes it. Hope this helps!

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  5. Awesome post! Just got some fabric to make my own. I'm not sure that my fabric is thick enough, do you think is worth doubling up the fabric?

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  6. Awesome post! Just got some fabric to make my own. I'm not sure that my fabric is thick enough, do you think is worth doubling up the fabric?

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    1. It's hard to say without seeing how your fabric handles, you could test both a single and double version out. If you make a tube about 8 inches long for each, or a couple of inches longer than the biggest item you'll put in it (like a phone), and stretch it to see if it holds snuggly or sags. The thickness of the fabric might not be as important as the stretch recovery. Try it anyway! I'd love to see how you get on.

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  7. Do you think this would be doable without a serger?

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    1. It's worth trying! If you've got a fairly modern machine (<30 yrs old) with a stretch stitch, do some tests by all means. I've been seeing more and more articles on sewing sites and blogs that go over how to use a regular sewing machine on stretch fabrics.

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