Introduction: Sketchbook Shoulder Holster

About: Hi! My name is Hans, I live in Scandinavia where I build whatever pops up in my head, out on to my sketchbook and finally into my hands. My projects here are my favorites and I hope some might inspire you. Rem…

One of my absolute favorite tv shows is Peaky Blinders and Tommy Shelby is my man. The story is based in Birmingham post WW1, and we follow the gang, Peaky Blinders. I’ll cut it short, if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading and do so! (Netflix)

All characters in this drama wear shoulder holsters for their guns. I wanted to do the same, but without the iron. So I’ve manned up and made my first leather project, a shoulder holster for my sketchbook and pen/pencil. And I feel like a gangster all right:-)

This project is also a testament to how important I believe sketching is, Sketch or Die!


A thick piece of leather

Small buckle


Brass button stud

Metal clip suspenders



Elastic band (2 widths preferably)


Hole Punch Hand Pliers

Leather needle

Punch stitching holes (5 - 2 holes)

Metal ruler

Utility blade


Some soft underlay for hammering

Step 1: Reference Material!

The reference material was limited, but I was not after a replica build. Inspired by… is my take on this build.

Step 2: Peaky Sketchers

A short flick to show who rules the streets of Norway…

Disclaimer, no actors were involved!

Step 3: Templates

I made my favorite sketchbook the preferred size for the templates. Since I didn't find much imagery from the series online I just had to fooking start drawing up the parts myself:-)

In front, I wanted a pen/pencil holder on the left side for right-handed pull and on the right my sketchbook. Friction would hold the pencil but for the sketchbook, I added a closing mechanism.

For the back, I made one side first then flipped it for symmetry.

It is always daunting to make that first cut but I'm a Peaky Sketcher now so It had to be done.

Step 4: Shaping the Pockets

I wanted both the sketchbook and the pen/pencil to fit snuggly in their holsters. I made a wooden template, the size of the sketchbook, and made a quick jig for molding the pocket. I left the leather in lukewarm water until it was fully soaked before I fixed the molds. Some heavy weights held everything in place overnight. I used the pen/pencil in the mold for a tight fit but pulled them out before I left it to dry.

Step 5: 24 Hours Later…

When I left the molds overnight I was pretty anxious to see the result the next day. Oh, what joy to see they came out as I hoped. Now I could clean cut the excess material and fitted the two pieces to their base. After final adjustments, I could glue them both and prepare for the stitching.

And I made sure I had a second opinion, I got the bark ahead!

Step 6: Stitch Bonanza

I was not prepared for how long time this would take, but once I got into it I was in the zone. The hole punching tool was a time saver and a necessity for getting the needle through leather. Also it made it so much easier to get straight lines. I used a piece of wood for hammering the hole puncher so it wouldn't get blunt.

Being the first time stitching leather I wanted to experiment on different stitching patterns, pretty simple embroidery, but I found it visually more interesting this way.

Yeah, having my baker boy hat on was essential to get in character:-)

Step 7: Testing Testing…

A great deal of eyeballing was done. I had the possibility to adust later with the elastic bands, but I continually checked to see if the right placement made sense (used duct tape for testing in place). It was really useful to glue every piece before stitching, a little messy at times though.

A brass button stud was used to hold the sketchbook in place. It was threaded and easy to fasten.

I found some metal clips for suspenders where I cut leather strips to fit their size.

In the back, I put a small buckle I had leftover and made a small belt type closure with hammered studs for the flap to tuck into nicely.

Step 8: Paper Vs IPhone


the Sketchbook rules:

  • No battery needed
  • No lock code
  • Easy access
  • Works in heavy rain
  • Smells like paper = nice
  • Pencil, pen or marker, you choose…
  • Needlepoint precision

Hey! I'll take you on anytime for a duel!!!

Step 9: Sketch or Die!

I don't wear this nearly enough, but when I do… it's by order of the Peaky Sketchers!

The Peaky Blinders didn't just wear their shoulder holsters for protection, I know now, from first-hand experience… posture is key! I kid you not, putting this sketchbook shoulder holster on gets me all giggly and badass:-)

Thanks for scrolling through this instructable, I hope you find it inspiring and maybe the start of your first adventure into leatherworking.

You can follow this and a whole bunch of other projects over at

Step 10: ​And One More Thing…

I added a pencil sharpener for reloading the "gun" :-D

Clicks on with a metal snap fastener, epoxy glued to the sharpener.

Leather Challenge

Second Prize in the
Leather Challenge