Complete Guide: Girth Belt

Boba Fett's ROTJ/SE Girth Belt

A girth belt is typically used to keep a saddle secure on a horse. Costume designers for Star Wars repurposed it as a belt for Boba Fett to wear around his waist. It is made from rope and dyed red. The shade of red differs slightly from Empire Strikes Back (ESB) to Return of the Jedi/SE (ROTJ/SE). Both belts are red however the color is much more dull on the ESB costume. This could be due to lighting of the studio vs in the desert as he is seen in ROTJ.

The belt wraps around the waist covering the top half of the cod plate and most of the kidney plate. Each side is connected by a black strap, approximately 1 inch wide. The original strap is leather but nylon can also be used. The straps are not even as the top part of the belt is not overtop of the plates. This causes the top strap to be roughly 2 inches shorter than the bottom strap.

Items Needed

  • Girth Belt [Size Guide] - What I am using is a white/natural "Centaur Non-Slip Mohair Girth". These can be found on Amazon, eBay, or specialty websites.
  • Red "iDye Poly" synthetic fabric dye
  • Leather or Nylon for a 9x1 inch strap and 11x1 inch strap. This can be a precut strap or a large leather scrap that you can cut yourself.
  • Black spray paint
  • Expendable container capable of holding hot/boiling water (the dye will stain anything)
  • Expendable towel that could be ruined (the dye will stain anything)
  • Expendable stirring utensil
  • Heat source (Such as a stove top)
  • Disposable gloves
  • E6000 Glue or Sewing machine
  • Two clamps
  • Drill or hole punch
  • Bleach
  • Clothing Detergent
  • Washing Machine

Length

Girth belts are measured from buckle to buckle. When you go to buy your belt also keep in mind that the dying process will shrink the belt up to two inches, and the belt can be stretched up to two-three inches. For example, my 40 inch belt is 37 inches before dying when in its natural state. 36 inches after dying but can be stretched to about 38 inches. It would be advantageous to buy from a seller with a good return policy incase the belt is not the right size.

You want your girth belt to wrap all the way around and almost touch. About 6-8 inches from buckle to buckle. Below are two reference pictures to give you an idea.

It is better to have a gap that is slightly too small than too large.

Girth belt back strap length
Screen grab from "Return of the Jedi"

girth belt straps in the movie

Strap length example
Image taken at the "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" exhibit

girth belt straps on display

The bottom set of buckles has the bigger gap and is about 8 inches because of armor plates. The top set of buckles has a smaller gap and is about 6 inches. Use this to judge what size belt you need. The image below is from the 501st Legion CRL.

Dying

This part is very messy. This is synthetic dye so it will permanently stain just about anything, and is very hard to clean spills. BE CAREFUL.

Also, I should mention that the synthetic fabric dye is not odorless. It will smell odd, so turn on fans and open windows. Have air freshener ready.

Girth belt dying process

  1. Fill a pot with water that is large enough to hold your entire girth belt with room to stir.
  2. Rinse your girth belt in the sink, do not dry.
  3. Set the heat on high to achieve a rolling boil (rapid boiling with lots of bubbles).
  4. Drop in the dye packet and pour in the color intensifier. Stir until dissolved.
  5. With the water boiling and the dye in the water slowly put in your wet girth belt.

boiling girth belt

  1. The belt will be in the pot for 30 minutes. For the first 5 minutes stir constantly. After that you can either continue to stir or come back every 8 minutes or so and stir. The more agitation the more even the color.
  2. After 30 minutes remove your belt and place it into an expendable towel or bucket. Caution: HOT!
  3. Allow the dye bath to cool BEFORE pouring it down the drain. If you pour it hot it can stain your sink. Immediately rinse your sink after.
  4. Hang the belt by the buckles and let it drip dry. Place something under the belt to catch the drops of dye water.
  5. Leave hanging until mostly dry (24 hours or so).
  6. When dry, wash in the washing machine on warm, gentle, and with mild amount of detergent. When the cycle is done do not let the washing machine sit with the belt inside.
  7. Remove the belt and immediately run your washing machine again with no fabric just warm water, detergent, and bleach to remove any dye residue.
  8. Hang the belt by the buckles until it is completely dry. Do not put in dryer.

Color Correcting

Depending on how vibrant your belt is, and how many loose fibers there are after washing, you may need to mist with black spray paint to bring down the shine. You can see below one side of my belt is a vibrant red where the other side is much darker because of spray paint.

  1. Lightly mist the belt with black spray paint. Take your black spray paint and hold at least a yard away from the belt. Spray the entire belt evenly. Slowly move the can closer until the color resembles reference pictures. You do not want to make the belt look dirty, just darker. This means you do not want an uneven spray.
  2. Let dry for about 2 hours.
  3. This process should also make the little synthetic fibers that the washing machine exposed darker and harder to notice. If not, simply cut off as many as you can find.

girth belt painted

Straps

With the belt dyed you can now attach the straps.

  1. Cut an 11 inch x 1 inch strap and a 9 inch x 1 inch strap of either leather or nylon. These straps will be trimmed later so feel free to make them longer if you wish.
  2. 1.5 inches on one side of the straps create a hole big enough for the buckle rod to fit though.
  3. Feed the straps though the belt buckles and secure with the rod.
  4. Fold the excess strap over the buckle and glue it together with E6000 and clamp it to cure for 8 or more hours. Alternately you can sew the strap together.

Straps looped and glued to themselves

  1. Do the same on the other side of the straps - punch a hole 1.5 inches from the end. This side will be how you loosen, tighten, and take off the belt.
  2. Put on the belt for a test fit. You want the girth belt to be nice and snug around you. Remember: You will have a kidney plate and cod plate underneath the belt that you must leave room for.
  3. I put a few extra holes in close proximity of each other to allow for size adjustments. When you feel you have a good amount of holes for adjustments cut off as much excess strap as you can leaving about 1.5 inches of extra.

How the strap is configured
Screen grab from "Return of the Jedi"

Girth belt strap attachment

Removable side, secured with prong

Girth belt buckle

Removable side, secured with prong

Girth belt buckle

  1. You want the girth belt to be nice and snug around you. Remember you will have a kidney plate and cod plate underneath that you must leave room for.
  2. When you find the right fit for the belt, punch a hole in the strap to feed though the buckle and rod. Cut off as much excess strap as you can.
    I put a few holes in mine fairly close together to ensure a snug fit regardless of how everything sits on me.

Extra Tips

If all fits well you are ready to go. You want the belt to cover a top section of the cod plate and half of the kidney plate with your amo belt covering the top half of the girth belt. The ammo belt should start at the bottom of your vest.

If you are finding that the rope is not staying together in a neat manner while wearing, place a piece of fabric on the back side of the belt and glue each rope next to each other onto the fabric.

Front placement of the girth belt
Image taken at the "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" exhibit

front angle of girth belt on display

Rear placement of the girth belt
Image taken at the "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" exhibit

girth belt kidney placement

bh51512

My name is Brandon Owens, 501st Member BH/DZ-51512 and MMCC OM#1793. I have an approved Tusken Raider (ANH) and a Boba Fett (ROTJ) that I spend years researching and building. I'm here to share my progress, methods, and findings.