Pouch Design for Every Day Carry Items





Introduction: Pouch Design for Every Day Carry Items

In this Instructable I present a tutorial to built a protecting pouch for small every day carry items like a multitool, a folding knife, a flashlight, etc. The initial project was to build a sheath/pouch for my multitool. The design was so effective, simple and cheap that I used it for other items. This instructable reflect that general versatile aspect so the readers can get a feel for other potential applications.

You can find a multitude of sheath/pouches on the market but you typically find yourself in two situations:
- either you can find and buy one custom made for your item with varying quality and price
- or you buy a general product but it's very likely that the size won't fit. Hence your item will not be well protected and you will loose some precious space in your backpack.

I found online a very nice sheath for my multitool from Skinth (see last two photos), but at $25 a piece (excl. shipping) I figured out that I could build my own. The entire project was completed within a week-end and cost roughly a dollar per pouch.

The main criteria I selected for this project were:
- Low cost
- Easy to build with limited skills and equipments
- Versatile application so I can re-use the same design for various items.

The key features I was looking for in the end product were:
- Light & Robust. The pouch is build out of a strong nylon strip.
- Accessibility. A velcro (hook and loop) fastener is used for quick and easy access to the item in the pouch.
- Secured pouch - I found an effective way to secure the item in the pouch even when the lid is open.

Not really knowing what I was heading to I decided to test the concept with a very small item: a button compass. I was very pleased with the result so I build a second pouch for my multitool and then a third one for a flashlight. Each time I followed the same identical steps. In the following tutorial I will present each individual steps and will use the multitool pouch for illustration.

After nearly a year of every day carry, the pouches show no sign of fatigue.

Updates after questions/comments from readers:
. Note that I didn't use a press stud like in the online example because the inside part of the stud would damage the multitool. My aim was to keep the design simple so I used some velcro.
. Note as well that I purposely didn't included a belt-loop on the back of the pouch. The multitool is too small for this. It fits in my pockets or in my backpack along with my keys. If I have to build a larger version I will definitely include a belt-loop.

This Instructable was accepted for the 'I could make that contest' so if you wish to vote for it I invite you to use the small voting button on the top right corner of the page.

Step 1: Supplies

What material you need:
- a nylon strip at least three time the length of the item.
- a small velcro (2" will do)
- 1 eyelet ring (optional). You can replace that by a D ring.

Cost (at least at my local store):
Around 2$ for 20" of nylon and 4" of velcro. Enough to do my 3 sheaths.
Around 5$ for a box of 40 eyelets and a hand press. Or around 25 cents if you choose the D ring option.
So you can get your pouch for roughly a dollar, which is 10 times cheaper than some equivalent products on the market.

What equipment you need:
- a sewing needle
- some thread
- a lighter or some matches

Step 2: Starting the Pouch

Melt gently the end of the nylon strip to stop it unravel.

Cut a small piece of velcro roughly 1/2" long and 1" wide.
Take the velcro loop part (the soft one) and save it aside for later.
Take the velcro hook part (the hard one), place it at the end of the nylon strip and stitch it.
Don't be lazy on the stitching. If you have a good velcro you will have to give a good pull to open.

Do not use the velcro loop part for this step. The soft part of the velcro can worn out after regular use and you won't be able to replace it on the front of the pouch. However, it you use it for the lid, you will be able to replace it easily if need be.

Step 3: The Body of the Pouch

Fold the nylon strip and place your item in it to test the required length for the body of the pouch. Make sure you leave some space to pick up the item. For me 1/2" works fine but this entirely depends on the morphology of your hand so just test this.

For a very small item like a button compass, don't leave any extra space. Because the nylon is a soft material you can squeeze it out easily.

Once you are happy with the length stitch the two sides. For esthetics, do the knots in the back.

Take some spare nylon and melt a drop on top of the knots to give extra strength against material fatigue.

Step 4: The Top of the Pouch

The top part of the pouch has two important use:
- it will enable you to place an eyelet or a D ring so you can clip your sheath on a carabiner
- it will form a locking mechanism to keep the item in place in the event that the lid is open

To build the top of the pouch, simply fold the lid over the body of the pouch and take 1" extra to form the top. This should be long enough to place an eyelet in it at a later stage. Use a bulldog clip to hold the two parts together when you stitch them. Only stitch the sides and the bottom part. Leave the top edge free so when you place the eyelet the fibers can stretch without breaking (see step 6).

If you decide to use a D ring put it in place before you stitch the two parts of the nylon together.

The locking mechanism is very simple. It's based on the distance you leave between the top of your item in the pouch and the row of stitches at the top of the lid. The bigger the distance the more chance your item will fall off if the lid is inadvertently open. If the stitches are very close to the top of your item it will form a natural locking mechanism. To access it, just bend the lid backward. It might not be the perfect solution, but this little tweak in the design gives a surprisingly effective result. I tested the concept with my multitool: I opened the velcro lid, held the pouch by the body and shaked it vigorously for a good 10 seconds. Nothing came out.

The photo in the following step shows how the lid, even left open, keep the item in place in the pouch with little chance of movements.

I recommend to use a D ring instead of an eyelet. It's a lot easier to put in place.

Step 5: The Lid of the Pouch

Take the velcro loop part (the soft one) that you saved aside, place it inside the lid of the pouch opposite the velcro hook and stitch it.
Again, don't be lazy on the stitching. If you have a good velcro you will have to give a good pull to open.

Once you are done, cut the extra nylon and melt gently the end to stop it unravel.

Put a small piece of duct tape on the velcro hook so you can position the velcro loop easily.

Step 6: Placing the Eyelet

In principal, all you have to do is to punch a hole in the top of the pouch so you can press the two sections of the eyelet in place.

Since I didn't want to damage the structural integrity of the nylon mesh I decided not to 'cut' a hole but instead to 'open' a hole. Take a small phillips screwdriver and pass it through the nylon without cutting the fibers. Move it around to stretch open the fibers, than repeat the process with larger screwdrivers until you reach the size of the eyelet. Then you can press the eyelet onto the nylon.

To help you get the long section of the eyelet through the nylon, mount it on one of the screwdriver and slide it in position.

Step 7: Step 7 - End Product

Your pouch is completed. You can place your item in it and clip it on your backpack or your belt.

For additional illustration I show a small red pouch (just over 1") designed for a button compass and a larger black pouch (just over 3") for a small multitool. In both cases I show the open position to illustrate who the item is kept in place if the stitches have been placed properly.



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    Why did you steal images from Skinth? You didn't even give them credit for the pictures, and made them look like you made those pouches. I think this is a cool, interesting project, just wondering about the photos.

    1 reply

    Fare comment. I do mentioned in the introduction that my project was inspired from a sheath available online and shows the two photos but I forgot to mention the brand. I've corrected that. Note that this project was submitted to a contest where you show that you replicated a product available on the market and it was compulsory to put a photo of the original product. Initially I didn't put the photos and I was told off. Anyway, there was not bad intention. Thanks to your feedback I've corrected that.

    You know that you can get sheaths from some kitchen knives that work well for multitools, right? Personally, I didn't want to go buy a sheath either, so I just grabbed a piece of fabric I had and sewed a pouch. Anyone could do that sew job, as it was really easy. (That was my third or fourth time sewing, ever, and it's more customizable in color.) Still, this is cool since it is durable. TIP: Add some paracord or utility cord on to that thing so you will be prepared in a survival situation. (LEATHERMAN IS AWESOME)

    Nicely done! I think this would be a good project for cub scouts. Think I'll give it a go!

    1 reply

    You will be surprised how easy it is to work with nylon. You can cut it and stitch it very easily. It add to the safety factor. It's not like working with leather where you need expensive and very sharp tools.
    I'm preparing another project that might interest your scouts, so watch this space.

    So very nice! Next, an instructable for your Instructables Avatar! *chuckle*
    But on a serious note again. I'm stopping playing on the internet RIGHT after this message to go make this for my any tiny USB Thumb Drive to hook to my keys! WTG!!

    1 reply

    Thanks and good luck with it.

    Elegant! So very elegant! Simple, functional, fetching appearance...it's a complete package! Your 'ible is top-rate...great photos, straightforward but complete instructions. Thanks for posting...keep 'em coming!

    Nylon straps...the new leather!

    1 reply

    Thank you for your nice comments!

    I like it! Personally I'd prefer a press stud for the closure of the flap, that way there's a positive feel for it being shut. I'd also prefer a belt-loop on the back rather than let it dangle.

    My pouches tend to wear off on the bottom bulge corner facing outwards, lasts about 5 years before you can see through it :)

    1 reply

    You are absolutely right, a press stud would give a more firm closure. In fact, it was my initial plan to use a press stud because it looks nicer than a velcro. However, I never implemented that idea because I couldn't find a coated one. The last thing I wanted was to have the inside metallic part making some scratches on my multitool each time I take it out.
    I have a concept in mind with a belt-loop on the back. The multitool is way too small for it so I will implement it for another item. I will submit another instructables if the result looks good.


    It seems that you can get any size. The biggest nylon strap available in my local store was 2", but I saw some 4" straps on the internet. You want to be careful with the nylon density. Large straps are often for heavy duty work and you will have a hard time stitching them together. If you really want large then you can find some 60" nylon canvas by the yard.

    Spreading the fibers is a very good idea. I made a very similar pouch for my Leatherman and I had punched a hole through the nylon. After some time, it started loosening and it started ripping near the hole.
    Nice job!

    1 reply

    Thanks. It's to avoid exactly your problem that I looked for an alternative solution. I initially thought that I could cut a hole through, place the eyelet and gently heat it up to melt the loose nylon fibers around. But this could go terribly wrong. On top of that after being melted the nylon becomes more brittle. So it was a no go for me. After having done 3 pouches I think a D ring would be even simpler.

    I really appreciate the advice to "open" instead of "cut" the nylon strap. Screwdriver trick is perfect!

    1 reply

    Just make sure the eyelet is long enough to go through the two layers of nylon. As the screwdriver go through the nylon it stretches the fibers open but also slightly upward. You want to make sure you can reach the other side.

    this is cool though i don't see the need to make a whole new pouch for the little button compass when you could incorporate it into the main pouch ...maybe at the top or velcro the back of it and stick it inside somewhere. seemed abit much effort for such a small thing.

    1 reply

    Very good point. This is a nice suggestion for a future project.
    Note that I did the small pouch first to test the design on something small so I could see the end result quickly before doing something a bit bigger. I had never worked with nylon, velcro, etc so I wasn't sure how easy it would be to put the whole thing together. The pouch is so small that it was done in no time. I could have saved the effort by buying the same compass already mounted on a keyring of some sort but then I would have missed some fun.