Le Cheap-ass Sash

Like most people, I have a few deep, abiding loves for things that I’m a little embarrassed to admit in public. One of them is American Apparel. Now, we can either get into a long conversation about their ads demean women by sexualizing them, or we can remember that being sexual isn’t a bad thing and that women have agency and we can move on. Good? Good. Anyway, they make products in the USA and pay their factory workers a living wage of $12 an hour, so if you feel like running out and buying some of their merchandise, I’m all in favor of it.

Anyway, back to my point. They have this neat thing in their online store called The Sash:

I looked at it and I was like “Well, that’s exactly what I need for (insert list of clothing items here.)” And then I looked at the price tag, and thought “Well, maybe I DON’T want to spend $16 plus shipping and handling for a long piece of cloth.”

So here’s my tutorial for making your own sash. It’s superbly easy.


  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Pair of kinda-shiny, kinda-stretchy dress pants you don’t want anymore. You could use any material for this, mind you. I just went with pants because I had a pair of tiny-ass ones from when I was 12.


  1. Lay pants out flat. Cut up through the crotch to divide the pants into two pieces.
  2. Lay your pieces of fabric out in front of you. Now, figure out how wide you want your belt to be. On the American Apparel website, they say that The Sash is 5″ wide. It’s doubled over, so that would be a little over 10″ of fabric, plus seam allowance. You might not be able to get that out of this pair of pants.
  3. Separate the front of one of the pant legs from the back. Now, you can do this quick and dirty with a pair of scissors, or be really fancy and use a seam ripper. It takes forever with the seam ripper but it saves you some fabric.
  4. Lay your two long, narrow pieces of fabric out side by side. These are going to be the back ties for your sash. Even them up so that they are uniformly wide.
  5. Cut a piece from the other pant leg that is either as wide as, or wider than, your sash ties. If you go wider you’ll have a wide band at the front and some little ties that loop around–like a Japanese obi, almost. Like this one: If you go wider, fold the fabric over and cut it so that it’s wide in the middle but only as wide as your ties are at the ends.
  6. Lay pieces end to end, with the new piece in the middle. Pin edges and sew.
  7. With the wrong side outside (i.e. the ugly side, with the visible stitching), pin up your tube and sew it. Then turn it right side out.
  8. Turn under the edges of your sash and pin them. Then sew up. You should probably use matching thread; I didn’t because I’m too cheap to buy new thread.

Voila! Your sash is done!

I used mine to fix a problem I’d been having with a dress that I won on the Internet. The dress showed up and it was too big through the waist but fit fine elsewhere. Solution? Le Cheap-ass Sash.

You can make versions of this out of all kinds of different stuff. I have one that I made out of red and gold brocade, as you saw–although in retrospect I can’t remember why I thought that wasn’t tacky. This project is just about free, and best of all, it’s guaranteed to have no sweatshop labor. Unless you’re a really harsh boss of yourself or something? Anyway, go easy on yourself.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kat
    Jun 23, 2010 @ 15:18:01

    I really love the red and gold sash. Neat.


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