The first time I knew anything of obi-belts was when member Nadia made one for Caroline for her secret santa present in 2009. It was very pretty but I kept my ignorance as to exactly what it was to myself until I got home. There t’internet told me that an obi-belt is a Japanese sash which is worn around a kimono. They were worn by both men and women but from the seventeenth century women’s obi-belts started to become increasingly wide and ornate, and were a symbol of status. Obi-inspired belts are very popular now and I’d thought about making one of my own, but like so many other projects it had sat on the back burner.
What prompted me to get on with it was the sad news that Nadia had died suddenly. Like everyone who knew her I was totally shocked. Nadia had joined Sew Make Believe at the same time as me, at a time when our admission had swelled the club’s numbers by almost 50 per cent. My first impression of her as we sat in the Sausage that night was her striking beauty, fun and self-possession. She was always colourful, totally confident in her own style, and always ready to laugh. Her creative projects were always based on her own inspiration and often had an imaginative quirk – like the clutch bag she made for Lauren this Christmas, complete with dividers marked ‘bits’ and ‘bobs’.
I’ve found myself thinking of Nadia a lot since I heard the news, and it prompted me to finally make my belt, using some of the brightest patterns I could find in my stash. I based mine on a pattern in a back issue of Sew Hip which is actually the one Nadia used for her inspiration too. You can find other tutorials on the web, for example, here (scroll down to the comments) and here, but you can make it up easily enough – it’s just three or four strips of fabric sewn together with a decorative machine stitch if you like, with a long sash at either end. The whole thing should wrap twice around your body and tie at the front. I have no idea if Nadia would have liked my belt – she was at least twice as cool as me, after all – but whenever I see it instead of remembering what we’ve all lost I’ll think of her fun, her brightness and her craziness. It seems much more fitting, somehow.