Introduction: Make a Chalk Bag

Picture of Make a Chalk Bag

Anyone who climbs regularly needs a chalk bag.  As an added bonus, I integrated pockets into this one.  Next time you're out climbing and need a place to stash your cash and keys, here's your answer.

This instructable will be following how I made version 1.0 of this bag from an old pair of jeans.  It worked out OK, but the pockets aren't that useable.  The cargo one pictured third is definitely an improvement on my first attempt.  However both follow the same construction techniques, so this should guide you for whatever kind of chalk bag you would like to make, including a standard one without pockets.

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What You Need

You will need:

Outer fabric for your chalk bag.  I used an old pair of jeans for this one so I could integrate the pockets and belt loops into the design.  The second one I made (see third intro image) was from an old pair of cargo pants, and I used the cargo pockets as part of the design.  If you are doing a plain chalk bag, you can use whatever fabric you like, provided it is relatively sturdy. 

Lining fabric: fleece or something soft works best, because it will have a stickiness factor for the chalk.

Cord/elastic: to loosen and tighten the bag

Cord stop and large eyelet for the cord/elastic

Step 2: Cut Fabric for Outer Cylinder

Picture of Cut Fabric for Outer Cylinder

I wanted to integrate the waistband of these jeans for my first chalk bag, so I used that as the top of my "pattern".  I cut a rectangle of roughly 7" x 13" from the pants, measuring the 7" length down from the waistband, and the 13" wrapping around from front to back of the pants.  This caused the rectangle to be relatively uneven because of the shaping in the side seam of the pants, which is why I show in the 3rd and 4th pictures how I made a small dart to make the piece more uniform.  For a standard chalk bag, just cut a rectangle about this size from your fabric.

If you want to use more than one panel for your outer fabric that is also an option, as long as the total pieced together size is roughly 7" x 13".  This is where you can get creative, so have fun!

Step 3: Cut Fabric for Inner Cylinder

Picture of Cut Fabric for Inner Cylinder

The size of your lining fabric will depend on how you will be finishing the top of your chalk bag.  In the denim one I am making here, there is no binding on the top, so I cut my lining fabric to be 1/2" taller than my outer fabric (7.5" x 13") to allow for me to fold it under and create a clean edge.  However if you are going to bind the top with a separate piece of fabric (like in the cargo one in the main image of this instructable), you can make your lining fabric equal in size. 

Note that in this image I have the outer fabric and inner fabric folded in half on the fold - it doesn't matter whether you cut it out this way or not, but I realize this image could be slightly confusing at first glance.  You want one big piece, not two small ones!

Step 4: Sew Outer Cylinder

Picture of Sew Outer Cylinder

Fold outer cylinder in half, right sides together.  Sew along side seam.  Turn right side out. 

Step 5: Cut Fabric for Bottom Pieces

Picture of Cut Fabric for Bottom Pieces

Using your newly formed outer cylinder, trace around it to get a rough size for your bottom pieces.  You want your circular bottoms to be slightly bigger (1/4" or so) than the circumference of your outer cylinder.  Once I had a general size traced, I found a jar top that matched in size, and traced that to clean up the circle. 

Once done tracing, cut one circle pattern piece from both your inner and outer fabric.

Step 6: Sew Pieces Together

Picture of Sew Pieces Together

You already have your side seam sewn on the outer cylinder.  Turn it back inside out, and pin circular bottom piece you just cut to the bottom of your cylinder, also wrong side out.  Sew it together, removing pins as you go. 

Do the same procedure for your lining fabric.  Fold the rectangle in half, wrong side out (if there is a face to it).  Sew the side seam.  Then pin and sew the bottom circle. 

In the next step you will be working with your lining inside out, which is why it is shown that way here.

Step 7: Add the Eyelet

Picture of Add the Eyelet

Cut a small hole in your outer shell, and hammer in a large eyelet.  It should be roughly 1.5" down from the top of the bag.  It will only be through the outer shell.

Step 8: Add the Cord

Picture of Add the Cord

Now for the tricky part - the cord.  For a chalk bag to work properly, it needs to cinch smoothy from all sides in the lining only, which keeps your chalk safely inside when you aren't actively using it, and allows for easy access when you need some.  The mechanism behind this is a double loop of the cord, which makes it cinch evenly instead of off to one side. 

To keep the cord in place, you will sew a loop for it to go through on the lining, which will be on the opposite side as your eyelet.  The loop should be sewn on the same distance down from the top of the bag as the eyelet, about 1.5". 

Wrap the cord around the liner bag, and through the loop twice.  Place the lining bag inside the outer shell, with the loop for the cord on the opposite side as the eyelet.  Thread the two loose cord ends through the eyelet.  See the images and diagram.

Step 9: Finish Top Edge

Picture of Finish Top Edge

Almost done!  The last bit of sewing is to finish the top edge.  In this particular bag, my outer shell already has a finished edge as it is the waistband of pants, so I made my lining fabric a bit taller to allow me to fold it under for a clean finish. 

Pin the lining under, and sew around the top of the bag.

If you choose to bind the top of your bag like the cargo one in the third main image of this instructable, take a 1.5" strip of fabric, lay it down along the outside of the bag and lining aligned to the top and, sew 1/4" from the edge.  Then fold around to inside and tuck under, and sew again for a clean bound finish.  Also, many commercial bags use nylon ribbon folded in half as a binding, this is an option as well. 

In both bags I made, I had a belt loop integrated into the design to clip it to my harness.  If you are making yours from yardage instead, you will need to add a loop on the opposite side as the cord so you can clip the bag to your harness.

Step 10: Add Cord Stop, and Finished!

Picture of Add Cord Stop, and Finished!

Thread the two loose cord ends through the cordstop, and tie the ends of the cord so it will not un-thread.

And you're finished!  Climb on!


ChrisC446 made it! (author)2018-01-02

Needed a project to learn how to use the sewing machine.

Natalina (author)ChrisC4462018-01-04

So glad this worked out as a good starter project - looks great!

arpruss made it! (author)2016-05-12

Thanks for this great instructable!

I used the bottom part of the leg of a kid's old pair of jeans. One less seam to sew, but it made sewing on the pocket (which I moved from another location on the pants, and added a hook-and-loop fastened flap made from a second pocket) harder. The lining is an old microfiber cleaning cloth with quite rough texture.

I used an old guitar string looped twice in the opening to make it nice and round.

I didn't have any grommet (and I am stingy and like the challenge of doing this without buying anything but chalk), so I covered the denim around the hole with Shoe Goo to keep it from coming apart, and then glued on a fiberglass washer.

Any suggestions on the best household materials to make a chalk sock for it (our gym doesn't allow loose chalk)? Is fabric from an old T-shirt porous enough?

Halen Ray (author)arpruss2017-10-26

I loved your idea of using the guitar string in the opening of the bag, I have done it too and it works wonderfully!

Natalina (author)arpruss2016-05-13

Nice job adapting with what you had around the house. Maybe pantyhose would be a good option for a chalk sock? I doubt a tshirt would be porous enough unless it's really worn and lightweight.

arpruss (author)Natalina2016-05-18

The T-shirt and old sock weren't porous enough. They worked, but not as well as commercial chalk socks. Turned out my wife had some old pantyhose, and that worked great.

Natalina (author)arpruss2016-05-19

Cool I'm glad that worked! Good to know about the tshirt and socks not doing the trick.

arpruss (author)Natalina2016-05-19

Now if only one could solve A2 pulley and knee problems in as simple a way as using pantyhose. :-)

arpruss (author)Natalina2016-05-13

No old pantyhose around, I think.

I made one with an old threadbare sock and one with a T-shirt. Hard to tell if they will work until we climb, since right now they're both covered with chalk from the stuffing.

TanytaR made it! (author)2017-02-17

Thank for this! Was able to make one myself from your measurements and directions. Cant wait to use it!

Natalina (author)TanytaR2017-02-21

So glad you made it! Is the map a patch? I like your embellishments :)

AlexS98 made it! (author)2016-06-16

thanks for the ideas, i made mine from some scraps of leather and an old curtain for the lining.

Love the pockets

Natalina (author)AlexS982017-02-21

Nice! That's cool to use leather, it will be durable :) Thanks for sharing!

zymurgeneticist made it! (author)2016-05-13

Great 'ible, thanks!

I love my new chalk bag! Tried it out yesterday and it was great. I even added a loop of armature wire around the top for a "stay open" design. The patches are patches I screen printed using Lumi from designs I made!

Natalina (author)zymurgeneticist2016-05-13

That's awesome, I love the patches! The wire is a nice addition.

erikthekillian made it! (author)2016-05-08

Followed almost to the T, great instructables!

Natalina (author)erikthekillian2016-05-09

Nice! Enjoy your new chalk bag!

blubutterfly (author)2016-03-30

Fantastic Instructable! Just finished one from a pair of my late Husband's cargo shorts, now he will be with me whenever I climb:) Thank-you!!

Natalina (author)blubutterfly2016-04-29

You're welcome! Glad that he can be with you in this way. <3 to you!

Moonlight Maker made it! (author)2016-02-07

I love this project. Can't wait to start using mine!

Natalina (author)Moonlight Maker2016-04-29

Thanks for sharing! Hope you're enjoying using it.

JoshuaB8 made it! (author)2016-01-19

This is great, thanks!

Natalina (author)JoshuaB82016-04-29

You're welcome, glad you are enjoying your chalk bag!

ClimbersR made it! (author)2016-01-03

Awesome, thank you !

Natalina (author)ClimbersR2016-04-29

That turned out great, nice reinforcement along the inside. Thanks for sharing!

pyrofreak7 made it! (author)2015-06-21

Great instructable! I made one for my dad for fathers day.

Natalina (author)pyrofreak72016-04-29

What a great gift, hope he's enjoyed it!

andhobbes90 made it! (author)2015-05-17

My girlfriend and I made these out of Cargo shorts we found at Goodwill. They turned out amazing. The pockets are a nice addition. Thanks for the tutorial!

Natalina (author)andhobbes902016-04-29

You're welcome, glad you are enjoying your chalk bags :)

alomsimoy made it! (author)2015-05-08

Just perfect!
Thanks for the instructable :)

Natalina (author)alomsimoy2016-04-29

Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

kress.tatjana made it! (author)2015-02-12

A wonderful present.
The instruction was really helful.

Natalina (author)kress.tatjana2016-04-29

So glad you made one! Thank you for sharing.

mchau2 (author)2016-03-01

wow so cool,this is my first time seeing this ible!! i made one similar before!!

vivek.balachandran.9 made it! (author)2015-01-04

Awesome instructable!!

Is this product for sale?

Thanks, so glad you made one!

JoshuaB8 made it! (author)2016-01-19

This is great, thanks!

Schmidty16 (author)2012-08-01

do u think guys would get made fun of if they carried this around and this would make a goood survival bag

JamesA75 (author)Schmidty162015-11-04

Nah. really anymore, society is pretty accepting.

jordon.a.huisman made it! (author)2014-12-26

Was actually impressed with how well it turned out and that I had all the materials laying around. 100% free to make.

Nice :)

dottie.byrne.5 made it! (author)2015-01-18

Great instructable! I made this one for my son for his birthday.

Natalina (author)dottie.byrne.52015-01-18

Awesome! What a great gift.

B°Art (author)2014-11-16

i'm gonna try this we need some presents for the kids climbing club i teach but there's like no budget so i need to get creative need to make 12 for the kids and if they turn out good i think 4 more for the trainers

NathanielA made it! (author)2014-10-21

Great Instructable :) made my own, and hand-sewn for my brother. Thanks!

Natalina (author)NathanielA2014-10-21


oraxia made it! (author)2014-09-25

I'd been saving a pair of torn embroidered jeans for something special for years, and when I saw this, I knew what to do (especially since I'd just gotten into climbing)! I ended up deconstructing one of the back pockets and a couple of belt loops off so I could use the embroidered part of the pants rather than the waistband (and modifying the measurements ever so slightly for the sake of that embroidered panel), but the tutorial is pretty straightforward and I love the idea :)

Natalina (author)oraxia2014-09-26

That turned out great! Thank you for sharing!

Gabeuse (author)2014-04-03

Wow!! A good idea, I was wondering what to do with upper jeans scraps!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.
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