Christmas in…August? Custom Needlepoint Belt

I’ve been meaning to post about this since Christmastime…and now that Christmas has come and gone, and Christmas in July has also passed us, I better get this post up before Christmas this year. I wanted to get Matt something really nice for Christmas since he always goes out of his way to spoil me. And lets face it, guys are REALLY hard to buy for.  Last summer we were out and saw a guy wearing a needlepoint belt, and Matt mentioned that he thought it was really neat. That’s where the adventure began!

I contacted an online company called Smathers & Branson. They specialize in all things needlepoint and have really great products. They sell pre-made belts, but will also help you design something custom. I sent them a few of my original ideas, and they sent back the below mock up, with the cost associated. I was shocked. I had no idea how expensive these things were, and figured I could do-it-myself cheaper.

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Please note that I had extremely lofty plans when I decided I would be able to needlepoint my own belt.  I am the person who has to YouTube “how to sew a button” – worst homemaker ever? Probably. I started at Po’s Po int in Phillips Place. This is a needle pointing utopia. They have a plethora of threads, designs, etc. From there, they put me in touch with a  lady name DeElda Wittmack. Dee and I had a phone conversation about what “icons” I wanted on the belt, and she gave me some advice on spacing, number of icons per belt, colors, etc.  From there, she mailed me a mock-up on a piece of paper and drawn in pencil (unfortunately forgot to take a picture of this step). I was able to approve the design and make tweaks before sending it back.

A couple of weeks later, I received the below design. Dee draws the icons you request, and then paints them on a canvas. This makes it a lot easier to know where what colors go where. Once this was received, it was time to head back to Po’s Point and purchase all of the thread colors I would need.  I originally thought I wanted a navy background, but Dee informed me that a neutral background would help the icons pop. Plus, tan can be worn with khakis, jeans, etc.

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My mom and I (mainly my mom) worked tirelessly from October until almost Christmas Eve to get the belt needle-pointed. It was a lot more time consuming than I think either of us had ever imagined it would be. The icons are so small and have so many details that you have to be really meticulous and focused. We got the entire belt needle-pointed just in the nick of time for me to wrap it up and put a bow on it.

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Matt loved the belt and was so surprised to find out that I had designed, and sewed it myself. However, the belt wasn’t complete yet. We had to take it back to Po’s Point to decide on what color leather we wanted the belt bound in, and the buckle color and style. Once those decisions were made, the canvas was sent to Kentucky to be wrapped in leather and made into an actual belt.

Below is the final product, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out. The icons I decided on for the belt were: Matt’s initials (MRH), a bill fish since he loves to fish, fleur-de-lis for his love of the New Orleans Saint, bourbon bottles and tumbler, shotgun and shell, the state of Louisiana with a star on Baton Rouge for where he was born, American flag for his love of the US of A, a crown for the Queen City (Charlotte) because that’s where he lives, and where we met, golf ball and tee’s, and finally the University of Florida’s logo.

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The belt ended up costing more than if I had sent it Smathers & Branson, and took significantly more time than I think we had ever imagined. All that considered, I am so glad that I decided to do it myself. It was a great learning experience and now I can say that I needlepoint. Plus, it’s a very personal gift that Matt will have forever!


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