Introduction: Hidden Clothing Compartment, AKA Fast, Easy and Cheap Travel Pouch

This is a quick and easy how to for a hidden and strapless pouch to be worn under clothing. Comfortable, light, water resistant and ultra thin, keep essential documents, emergency credit card, and "mad money" out of sight and away from typical hiding places. Ideal for long travel when staying in Hostels or hotels without safes.

Estimated time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Estimated cost: $1 to free

Skill level: Low

Often given, and very good, travel advisers often say that the wallet that you use when in public should not be all of your money or have your travel documents in them. Most travel pouches leave the pouch in a predictable location at the hip and leave a visible strap along your neck.

This pouch can be clipped onto any waist band, under shirt, or bra and leaves little to no evidence once you have a shirt on. I consider my "get home no matter what just happened kit" to be a passport, 1 credit card with room on it, and about $100 cash in local currency (represented in the photo by my library cards). Baggage lost, mugged, pick pocketed, stranded, these items are what you need to get back to the hotel, back on a plane, or just out of the city. This pouch is sized to fit these items and not much else, but a larger pouch could easily be made with just a bit more fabric and a larger plastic pouch. 

Please excuse my paranoid preparations :-) But it's a good precaution

Step 1: Materials

For this project, most of what is needed is sitting around the average house, namely:

Fabric: I used and old t-shirt, but anything comfortable, washable and thin is fine. Aprox: 1/4 yard, or 10'' by 6'' will do

paperclips: I used two novelty hand shaped ones for their wider grip, but two normal large paperclips will also work, or any low profile clip

1 plastic folder, small size. I used one with a snap, but a zip top one would probably be better in retrospect. Needs to be just large enough to fit a passport and a few papers.

1 pair sewing scissors with sharp end, or a large bore needle

1 sewing needle and about a yard of thread

glue: just a bit, anything that will adhere to plastic and dries clear. This is for waterproofing more than actually holding.

Regular or fabric scissors

Step 2: Cutting

Rather than measure the fabric precisely (but by all means do if you prefer) I used the plastic folder as my template since the fabric will form a snug sleeve for the pouch to fit in. Cut the piece fabric to just slightly larger than twice the size of the plastic folder. I cut so that the hem edge of the fabric made up one side so that I wouldn't need to hem the opening later. If your using fabric rather than recycled clothes, you'll need to allow an extra inch for hemming on one edge, whichever way you want the sleeve to open. 

Step 3: Sewing

This step is where the time goes, at least for me. With a sewing machine sewing or iron on webbing, this step would take 10 minutes tops. For hand sewing, it took me approximately thirty minutes doing a basic whip stitch, although a cross stitch or any other basic stitch would be fine. 

Folding the fabric over length wise, lay the pouch over the fabric to make sure it will be the correct size, with about a quarter inch on all sides (plus hem if necessary). 

With the pouch still over the fabric, place the clips your using at an even distribution over the pouch. Lightly mark the fabric to either side of the clips, so that two gaps big enough for the clips to pass through are marked out. 

Sew two open edges closed, leaving the marked clip gaps untouched for now. 

Returning to the marked gaps, Sew the raw edges down, but not to each other, so that you now have two secure "button hole" style openings.

Hem opening if necessary. 

Turn so that seams are now inside, check seams and check the plastic pouch for fit. 

Step 4: Fastening the Clips

Setting the plastic pouch on top of the sleeve, set the clips on the pouch to check alignment with the two openings in the cloth sleeve.

Using the sewing scissors or large bore needle, puncture the upper edge or flap of the plastic pouch, so that when threaded halfway through, the clip will be upright and in a position to clip to something outside of the plastic pouch. (see below)

Once both clips are in place, use a small dab of glue to seal the hole around the clips. This is optional but will help preserve the "water resistant" aspect and make sure that the clips stay more firmly in place. 

Step 5: Attach and Wear!

Now all the work is done! 

Once the glue has dried, tuck the plastic pouch into the cloth sleeve, pull the exposed portion of the clips through the openings left for them, and you're done! 

This secret clothing compartment/ travel pouch can be clipped onto waste bands, under shirts, bras, any garment or undergarment and leaves little to no profile when covered by normal clothing. 

Since the cloth portion is detachable, it can easily be separated washed or rinsed out if soiled or wet.

One alternative would be to just use a heavy zip top "baggy" which would allow it to be smaller and possibly flatter, but wouldn't offer structural support to prevent creasing of contents. 

Thanks for reading and happy travels! 

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