Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

DIY wrestling championship belt props

Published by Manning on March 8th, 2022

My wife and I made these fun pro wrestling championship belt props to go with our skeleton tag team wrestler costumes. Here’s how we made ’em!

Pro wrestler skeleton costumes - close up of The Skull Krushers

Designing the leather shape for the belts

I researched pro wrestling championship belts online and made up a simple design, which I drew onto poster board and cut out; I measured and drew one half and then flipped it and traced it to make the whole design. I bought a couple yards of this thick synthetic fabric that kind of looks and feels like leather; it’s nice and heavy and when you cut it the edges don’t fray; perfect!

Pro wrestler belt prop - designing on poster board

I traced the belt shape onto the back side of the fake leather with a Sharpie and cut it out. I forgot to take a pic of the fake leather by itself!

Pro wrestling belt prop - poster board shape

Base shapes for the belt buckles

I drew the belt buckle shapes onto poster board and cut them out, and then I traced those onto a sheet of foam board and cut them out with my X-acto knife.

I used my usual technique for curving foam board; I carefully bent and broke the foam in my hands, inch by inch, basically rolling the foam up on itself. This works great with cheap foam board from the dollar store; it doesn’t work as well with fancy foam board from an art store.

Pro wrestler belt prop - buckle shapes, shipping tape

In order to get a nice uniform curve for each of the pieces, I took a big plastic trash can, laid it on its side, and then laid the foam pieces onto that. I used heavy duty shipping tape to cover the foam board shapes. The tape helps the foam to retain the curve shape of the trash can; when you lift the foam piece away it holds the exact curve from the trash can.

Next, I covered all the foam pieces with two layers of paper maché, for two reasons: The paper maché makes the foam shapes nice and solid, and it also gives me a good porous surface for glue and paint. I use Roman PRO-543 universal wallpaper adhesive (paid link) and alternating layers of newspaper and brown wrapping paper.

Something I suspected might happen, and it did: the buckle shapes became more curved when the paper maché dried. Paper maché tends to shrink as it dries and this can warp things in various ways. No big deal here.

Okay, so that’s the base for all three buckle shapes (well, six, because we’re making two belts at the same time).

Materials test

I knew I wanted to make the belt buckles out of a base of foam board and paper maché, but I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to attach the buckles to the fake leather. I cut off a small scrap of the fake leather and did a test with two different kinds of glue: Gorilla Glue (the clear kind that doesn’t expand), and my hot glue gun.

I cut out a small piece of foam board and covered it in three layers of paper maché. When that was dry, I tried gluing it to the scrap of fake leather with the Gorilla Glue. I let it set for 24 hours, and then pulled at it a bit, and… it peeled right off.

I tried the same thing with hot glue, and that didn’t work well either. It definitely stuck, but when I thought about how these belts are going to be worn and handled all day, I could tell the connection that the hot glue made would not be strong enough.

So my solution was to sew the buckles onto the belts. I bought a leather sewing kit (paid link), which comes with really thick needles and thick, strong thread. This worked out perfectly! Weirdly this kit didn’t have a thimble, which you really need for this kind of work, but my regular sewing kit (paid link) did.

Attaching the buckles to the belts

Pro wrestling belt prop - sewing the buckles onto fake leather

I started with the big buckle. I first taped it in place on the fake leather with a bunch masking tape on the back, just to hold it in the right position while sewing it on.

Then I used a big needle and some thick thread from the leather sewing kit to sew the buckles in place on the belts. I went around the big one twice to secure it really well. I was very pleased with how strong the whole thing felt once everything was sewn together.

Pro wrestler belt prop - velcro on the back

I also sewed some velcro onto the back of the belt. This is so I can wear the belt over my shoulder, hands-free, and it won’t fall off. (Of course I’ll sew the other side of the velcro onto the shoulder of my costume.) I just held the belt up on my shoulder to figure out which area needed the velcro, marked that with a marker, and placed the velcro there. The velcro I bought was 18″ long so I cut that into four 4.5″ strips and laid them in place. The piece of velcro on my shoulder will be really tiny—a 3/4″ strip that’s just 1″ long—but I wanted to put a much larger velcro surface behind the belt so I can just throw the thing onto my shoulder and that little piece on my shoulder will easily connect somewhere on this big piece on the belt. If I were to use just a tiny piece on my shoulder and another tiny piece on the belt, then I’d have to carefully line them up every time I wanted to connect them. Make sense?

Belt buckle designs

The design for each buckle is made from craft foam (paid link); this soft, rubbery foam you can buy at the art store. I have a ton of tan craft foam left over from a big project from several years ago.

Pro wrestling belt prop - tons of craft foam shapes

I first traced the base shapes onto the craft foam. I cut that out, and hot-glued it onto the base shapes.

Then I traced and cut out slightly smaller shapes for all three. I hot-glued them in place, to give the buckles a sort of border.

Pro wrestler belt prop - foam shapes glued in place

Then I drew and cut out all the other shapes—the skulls, the banners, etc. I hot-glued these into place. Easy! I used a hole punch to make the little dots.


Pro wrestling belt prop - marking the grommet holes

Real championship belts have snaps, but we didn’t have any plans to actually wear these belts, so I just used grommets to mimic the look of snaps. I bought a grommet kit (paid link) that lets you pound grommets in with a hammer. It’s fun, very noisy, and works like a charm.

Pro wrestler belt prop - installing grommets

I first measured out the pattern for the two rows of gromments onto poster board and used that as a guide to mark the spots for all the gromments. Then I used the grommet kit to cut out the holes and hammer in the grommets. It turned out the tube-shape cutter thing had a hard time making holes in the fake leather, but I figured out that putting two layers of craft foam underneath while hammering made it work a lot more effectively.


Pro wrestling belt prop - black spray paint on the back

The fake leather is a sort of light gray fabric mesh on the back, so I decided to spray paint the back of the belt black. I protected the velcro area with some masking tape and paper before spray painting.

Pro wrestler belt prop - silver spray paint on the buckles

When that was dry, I placed newspaper and painters tape (paid link) all around the belt buckles, going underneath them a bit, to cover all the fake leather. I then sprayed the buckles with a coat of spray gesso, waited about six hours, and then did a couple coats of silver spray paint. This craft foam stuff doesn’t take spray paint very well on its own, but the gesso really helps.

I used a Sharpie oil-based paint marker (paid link) to write the text on the banners.

Pro wrestler belt prop - completed!

Like I mentioned above, I sewed a little piece of velcro onto the shoulder of my padded muscle shirt so that I could easily throw the belt over my shoulder and have that big patch of velcro catch onto it. That worked out great.

These belts came out looking really cool and it was really fun to walk around with ’em and pose with ’em and stuff!

Pro wrestling belt prop - tag team belts on Mardi Gras day

2 Responses to “DIY wrestling championship belt props”

  1. Michelle Mashburn Says:

    I have never been to your site before. I’ve been here for less than 10 mins and I have to say you are insanely talented. The Violin skull mask is stunning. I am absolutely blown away that something made from paper mache could be so exquisite. You sir are a true artist.

  2. manning Says:

    Thank you so much! Halloween projects are in the works now; I’m excited!

Interested in commissioning a piece from me? Please see my page about custom paper maché pieces. Please email me; don't put your request in a comment below.

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