How traditional Guatemalan belts are made

The traditional clothing of the Guatemalans is rich in color and culture. Learn how four sponsored youth and Unbound scholars weave a traditional ladies belt, and discover the twist when you read who receives it.

A group of Unbound sponsored youth and scholars created a small business to earn extra money. The girls weave traditional Guatemalan belts and sell them to the local Unbound project.

The money they earn goes for their educational needs, and Unbound gives the belts to young sponsored girls in Guatemala as a birthday gift. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

Claudia, one of the sponsored youth and scholars in the group, says it means a lot to her to make these belts for sponsored girls on their birthday.

“I mean, doesn’t everyone want something they like for their birthday? I have pushed my creativity in my designs, colors and patterns and I think the birthday girls appreciate this,” she said.

The weaving process begins with the simple step of choosing the right colors for the belt.

Weaving traditional Guatemalan belts
Here, Claudia selects colorful threads for the belt she’s creating.
Weaving traditional Guatemalan belts
Next, the girls use a warping board to lay out the design for their belts.

“We use a warping board to lay out the thread and determine the color combinations and thickness of the belt,” said Maria, a sponsored youth and scholar from the group.

Depending on the design, several colors will be used to make the belts.

Once the colors have been laid out on the warping board and the belt reaches the desired thickness, it is ready for the next step: the back-strap loom.

A back-strap loom is used to tighten and create the belt.

In the first picture, sponsored youth and scholar Lisbeth removes the threads from her warping board and begins to attach them to one side of the back-strap loom.

One side of the loom is attached to a fixed object and the other is attached to the weaver, usually by a strap across the back. Hence the name, back-strap loom!

In the second photo, Unbound sponsored friends and scholars Maria and Mayra are getting the back-strap loom ready to weave a belt. Maria is making sure the top is attached to the pillar and Mayra is preparing to attach the other side to a strap for wrapping around her back.


In the first picture, Mayra, right, leans back as she weaves to make sure the threads remain taut. This helps create a well-formed belt.

The other picture shows a close-up view of Mayra’s progress. You can begin to see the finished product of the blue belt as it wraps around the sticks.

Weaving traditional Guatemalan belts
Each belt usually takes 4 to 6 hours to make, depending on the design.

Thanks to this group of girls for making a young girl’s birthday an extra special one.

Want to donate to the Unbound birthday or scholarship funds? Click the links to donate today!

Luis Cocon, Unbound communication center liaison in Guatemala, contributed information to this report.
By Veronica Batton, Unbound writer/editor

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8 thoughts on “How traditional Guatemalan belts are made

  1. Thank you for including so many photos! It is so helpful to see into another culture along with reading about it. Great details, and what amazing young women!

  2. I’ve always been interested in weaving, so I loved this blog. My sponsored friend in Guatemala tells me about weaving a lot in her letters and it’s very neat to see weaving in action. My fingers are tingling wanting to help them as they create those pretty belts!

    • Thank you for your comment, Claudia! I know what you mean by wanting to help. The belts are beautiful and the process is fascinating. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. – Veronica Batton, Unbound writer/editor

      • My mother is a traditional basket weaver too.I like weaving very much. I deary Cograturate this group for their idea on weaving as a way of meeting their basic needs.

  3. Lovely photos and information. We have several weavings from our trips to Guatemala and treasure each one. It is such a time consuming process and truly an art. Thank you Luis for the story!

  4. hello, these belts are beautiful, by displaying this website, I appreciate more the fine work that is dedicated to produce these belts. The color are bright and colorful, anyone would be happy to receive them as a gift. thank you Chicas for the fine work.

  5. What a lovely page. It’s great to see others taking interest in Guatemalan belts. De Mano supports artisans in Guatemala creating belts and helping local communities through our nutrition campaign known as Tummy for Tummy. With every belt we sell, we give food to children in need back in Guatemala.

    De Mano designs and sells belts in the UK – please take a look at our website http://www.demano.co.uk if you’re interested in supporting the Tummy for Tummy campaign.

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