All travelers worry about the safety of their credit cards, tickets, passports, travelers checks, and cash. Wearing a money belt for valuables under your clothing when traveling is a foil to pickpockets, purse snatchers, and careless loss, like a wallet dropping out of a pocket when you place your jacket in the overhead bin of a plane.
A home-made money belt is easy to sew and inexpensive to make. Surprisingly, it is also comfortable to wear. My husband does not limit the use of his money belt to travel, but wears it daily. He keeps only a few bills in his pockets knowing that he has extra cash and credit cards in his money belt for unexpected expenses.
To sew a money belt, follow the directions below.
A 12-inch all purpose non-separating zipper
11½ inches x 18 inches of soft, durable, 100% cotton bottomweight fabric
3/4 yard elastic waistband, 1 to 2 inches wide
1. Fold the cotton fabric in half lengthwise. Center the zipper on the cut edge. Make a mark on the cut edge of the money belt fabric at the start of the zipper opening and at the end of the zipper opening.
2. Remove the zipper. Stitch the raw edges of the folded fabric together on your sewing machine. The stitch line should be about ½ inch from the raw edges. Use your regular stitch-length from the fabric edge to the first mark, back stitch ¼ inch, then forward stitch ¼ inch. Stop.
Change the stitch length to long stitches (for later easy removal). Sew to the second mark. Stop.
Change the stitch length back to regular stitch length. Sew ¼ inch forward, ¼ inch backward, then forward again to the fabric edge.
(The backstitching helps lock the seam on each end of the zipper.)
3. Press the seam allowance open.
4. Place the zipper wrong side up over the sewn seam line using your marks on the fabric as a placement guide. Baste the upper half of the zipper to the upper flap of the open seam allowance. Make sure that your basting stitches penetrate the flap only, not the money belt itself.
Baste the lower half of the zipper to the lower flap of the seam allowance. Check to make sure that your basting stitches do not go into the fabric of the money belt tube.
5. Machine stitch the zipper to the seam allowance (flaps only).
6. Turn the money belt tube inside out. The zipper is now hidden from view. Cut the seam directly over the zipper with sharp scissors or a seam ripper to expose the zipper. Check that the zipper opens and closes with ease.
7. Adjust the money belt tube so that the zipper is aligned near the top. Press the money belt flat.
8. Prepare to hem the raw edges at the sides of the money belt. Do so by turning the raw edges of the fabric ½ inch to the inside of the tube for a hem. Press.
Before machine stitching to close the sides of the money belt, insert one inch of the elastic waistband into one end of the money belt at zipper level. When stitching the side seam closed the elastic will be stitched in place. Do not cut the elastic to size or sew the second side seam until the eventual user tries on the money belt to measure the length of elastic needed for comfort.
For durability sew three rows of stitching on the right and left sides of the money belt. A row of stitching is also advisable along the bottom fold. It does not matter that the rows of stitching are visible. After all, the belt will be worn underneath clothing.
9. For family travel abroad a money belt made with two pockets joined by elastic, one worn in the back, one covering the belly, is helpful. Items you need infrequently, like passports and tickets, can be stored in the pocket worn in the back. The front pocket is handy for easy access to cash and credit cards.
California quilter, Donna Hussain, has exhibited in major quilt shows around the country, authored books, and is a regular contributor to Fiber Focus. Click on her name to see all of her past articles.
The photo shows Donna with her husband, Pascha.