Introduction: Leather Can/Bottle Holster
I picked a holster for cans or bottles because it was eccentric enough to draw artistic attention, but simple and convenient enough to be regularly used and straightforward to make.
Step 1: Determining What You Need
A lot of this can be done with improvised tools and a knife, but it's much better if you have the proper tools for working with leather.
First, you need leather, specifically full grain vegetable oil tanned leather, for it's firmness and to be hardened later. Anything below 3.5 oz in thickness will be too thin and weak, anything about 6 oz will become difficult to work with and unnessicarily tough for it's application. Try to use 4-5 oz leather for this.
Next, an utility knife, or very sharp, thin bladed knife of another kind is necessary.
You'll also need leather handsewing thread, preferably waxed, nylon is a good choice.
If you like lacing, you can also use leather lace at the bottom instead of thread.
The needles for sewing/lacing, you'll also need leather dye of your choice, i use Eco-Flo medium brown. Gum tragacanth to burnish, a burnishing tool, and mink oil to finish the leather are all optional, but will improve the end result and recommended.
A container to hold hot water
A groover to cut grooves in leather is a useful tool but not necessary.
A overstitch wheel is very useful as a guide for sewing, but not necessary
A ruler or measuring device.
A leathercraft awl for poking holes in leather, and optionally a burnishing awl will improve the result.
Pliers can be used to force stuck needles, and may be necessary to stitch the last of the cylinder.
Step 2: Cutting the Leather
Once you have your appropriately sized full grain vegetable oil tanned leather (hopefully near the 4-5 oz range), measure a 9 inch by 4 inch rectangle, and you can mark it lightly with a pencil, make sure the lines are light enough they can be rubbed away later.
Step 3: Trimming the Edges
If you have one of these tools, a edger.
And if you don't have one of these, but you do have a sharp precise knife, and a steady hand, you can achieve the same result.
If you have one of these tools, go down all the sides with a tilt to it, smoothly and try to do it in one pass.
Also do it to the bottom flesh layer as well as the top grain layer, the flesh layer is sometimes easier, but often much harder. The reason this is done is for the edges being burnished well later.
If you are using a knife, use whatever tools or objects you can to make it symmetrical and steady your hand, maybe use a hard ruler held in place to push against.
Step 4: Marking Where You Will Stitch
You'll want a groover, to cut a groove line into the leather, it helps with both alignment and the thread positioning later, but it is optional if you lack one, next you'll use a overstitch wheel to place dots where you will pierce the leather later for stitching. If you also lack one of these you can use a ruler to measure equal distances to poke with a sharp object like an awl or a pen tip.
You need to do this to both grain (smooth) 4 inch sides of the rectangle, leaving a small amount of space, somewhere near 1/4 inch on both sides.
Step 5: Forming the Cylinder
Next you'll need a container filled with HOT but NOT boiling water. Place the leather in the container of hot water and make sure it is fully submerged for about 10-15 seconds, then pull it out.
The water will have changed the color of the leather, now while it's wet, it's a good time to do any stamping you have planned, all I did was a decorative border on the top of the rectangle.
Immediately after that, you should roll the leather into a cylinder.
You can clamp it into that shape if possible, if not, as good as you can get it by hand alone, and then dry it with a hairdryer until it's color changes once again, or if not available, it can dry on it's own, but it takes a very long time.
The reason we even form the cylinder is because, while it will be made pliable by some finishes later, and by working it in sewing, this hardening will help it retain it's shape once it is completed.
It will have a tendency to "spring" back to this cylindrical position.
Step 6: Piercing Holes for Stitching
Next you'll need to use your awl, or similar pointy object.
You will pierce all the small holes left earlier by the overstitching wheel or put there by hand.
There's a few ways to pierce it, you should probably find a technique of your own which allows you to apply the necessary pressure, but is still comfortable.
Next if you have a burnishing awl, use that to wide and smooth the holes, this will help reduce friction and allow stitching to be easier later.
Step 7: Finishing the Leather
Now use a soft rag or paper towel to apply the leather dye of your choice, if you choose to dye the leather.
Leather dye darkens the longer it sits in one place, this will make spots, so to avoid it, as soon as the dye is on your leather, whether it is in gel form or liquid form, wipe it around evenly as possible over as large a surface area as possible, it could help to think of it as spreading butter over a large, sensitive piece of toast.
Make sure to dye the edges carefully, and it is not necessary, but I dye the back as well.
Once this is done, if you have it, and if you have edged all your edges properly, use a burnishing tool, like the white plastic wheel seen, and gum tragacanth to burnish the edge. Apply a light coating of gum tragacanth, make sure it's a light coating and not a lot, if it's more than necessary, wipe the rest off, a thin layer will be "melted" into the leather fibers from friction of the burnishing wheel, which I rub across the edge by hand, but some people have wheels hooked to power drills for more efficiency.
Next, put whatever finish you like on the leather, i choose a mink oil solution because it helps to make the leather water, and dirt resistant, while deepening brown colors, adding a gloss, and making the leather softer, while remaining smooth and strong.
Step 8: Making the Bottom
Now that you know how the precious leather is cut and finished, cut a 3 inch diameter circle out of leather, you can use a compass or however else you want, I drew lines while holding a ruler, and you can see I pressed too hard with the pencil, resulting in lines staying on the leather - avoid that.
Edge the leather like before, dye it, burnish the edges, and apply your finish.
Step 9: Making the Belt Loop
Cut a 10 inch strip, mine was about 1 inch wide, you could make it wider, such as a 1.5 inches and it would still look appropriate.
Edge, dye, burnish, and finish the leather same as before. Then pierce holes in the strap, symmetrically through both sides of the strap at the same time, to the best of your ability matching the holes in the cylinder, the strap is shown with one side done in the picture.
When putting holes in your strap, make sure the strap is low enough to be strongly attached to the holster, but make sure enough of the top is open so that it can fit a 1.5 inch or 2 inch belt in it, you don't want a holster you can't wear.
Step 10: Stitching/Lacing the Bottom
Next, we need to put the bottom on the cylinder, we do this before putting the belt loop on because then it will be almost impossible to reach inside the cylinder with our hands.
I chose lacing because I thought it looked more appropriate with how the bottom is attached to the cylinder, however if you do not have lace or lacing needles, use sewing needles and thread to do the same whipstitch.
If you are lacing, start from the inside, making sure the grain (smooth) side of the lace is facing outward as you lace, and leave slack on the instead at the start, stitch as the picture shows in example, pierce holes with your awl by hand as you go, it is easier to do this by eye than do this in advance with measurements for me.
If you are using thread and sewing needles, start from the inside, leaving about 1.5 to 2 inches of slack hanging inside, then loop your thread around the first 2 holes, then tie the slack into a knot on the loop, proceed as normal with the shown whipstitch.
When finishing the whipstitch with lace, look at how the last picture shows the lace shoved under other tight lace loops, cut slack and that should hold it, a lace knot is too large for use inside the tight container.
If sewing, feel free to tie a knot on the inside to finish the sewing.
NOTE: If unsure how much thread/lace you need, always guess on the higher side, rather than lower.
Step 11: Stitching on the Belt Loop
Stitching the belt loop also involves closing off the cylinder, completing the project.
This is for thread only, not lacing. Start on the inside at the bottom of the cylinder, leaving a inch and a half or two inches of slack, loop around the first two holes, tie the slack into a knot around the loop, and begin stitching up and down every other hole, this is known as a running stitch once you get to the point where your belt loop will be attached to the cylinder, at this point, continue the running stitch, this time you will be going through 3 layers of leather, it may be difficult and time consuming, it will be harder the more misaligned the holes you made earlier are from each other, but it should be possible, even with error.
Once you get to the top of one side, continue the running stitch all the way back down, this time the running stitch will cover the gaps that previously were left exposed every other spot - this is considered a durable stitching technique.
Once reaching the bottom of the cylinder, having completed the double running stitch on one side, jump the thread across to the other and continue, on the way back down that side, the cylinder will be closed, and maneuvering may become difficult, if you have players, you may stick those down into the cylinder, holding the needle to continue and finish stitching, fortunately, this is only for the last bit.
If you are able to tie a knot on the inside at the bottom, do so, if not, tie it on the outside and flatten it to disguise it.
A small gap under the belt loop between the cylinder edges is okay.
NOTE: If unsure how much thread you need, always guess on the higher side, rather than lower.
Step 12: Complete!
Your Holster capable of holding cans and some bottles is complete, and should be durable!
It is my hope you will embellish your holsters with your own personal touches, or custom designs and artwork.
Participated in the
Leather Goods Contest