Don’t leave that banjo collecting dust in the corner- whip up a soft case for it from a pair of old pants. You can use it as a gig bag, too.
I made this one many years ago, and it’s pretty rough, but effective. You can make a neater version if you prefer!
Step 1: What You Will Need
You will need:
• A banjo that needs a case
• A pair of pants, probably small adult size- not too big, but big enough for the head of the banjo to fit in the top part of the pants and long enough to cover the whole banjo. The pants need to be made from fairly thick fabric (like cord or fleece) to protect your banjo, but not too thick to sew through several layers (denim may be too thick, but you could try it). It’s best if your pants have belt loops, or if you’re using track pants, a draw cord around the waist.
• A piece of cord (unless there’s one in your pants already), approx. 50cm/125cm long.
• Needle and thread, sewing machine if possible, scissors,
• Hook and loop tape if you want a secure pocket for your capo/tuner/picks (optional).
Step 2: Close Off the End
1. Measure your banjo against the pants, stretching out one leg. If the pants are much too long, cut the end off and fold in the raw edges.
2. Fold over one side of the leg at the end, so that the leg is now only 4 or 5 inches (10-12 cm) wide*, to fit the head of the banjo comfortably (not tightly). Sew the ends of the leg together to close off the leg.
*Note- you can cut the excess off and sew a nice neat seam if you prefer- I just did it the quick way, which also leaves extra padding inside. If you do the neat version, leave a space in the seam to insert the end of the strap (see step 2).
Step 3: Make the Strap
1. Take the other leg and tuck a wide pleat in* along the inside seam, so that your leg is now only 4 or 5 inches (12 cm) wide. Sew along the edge. *(Once again, this is the quick way- you can cut the excess off and sew a nice neat seam if you prefer but your strap won’t be as thick and solid). You have now made a wide “strap” for the banjo case.
2. Sew the end of this strap onto the other leg, about 9’’ (23cm) from the end. Note that the leg will be folded over a bit here, so sew over the fold, too (or if you are doing the neat version, insert the end into the seam of the other leg and sew closed).
Step 4: Add the Cord
1. Now thread your cord through the belt loops (if using track pants, you may already have a cord- if not, you will have to cut off the elastic, fold over the edges and sew a new seam, wide enough for the cord, leaving a gap at each end to insert your cord.)
2. Check the length of the cord- it has to be long enough so thsat you can put the banjo in without the cord ends disappearing back through your loops or seam, but not so long that it gets in the way when the case is closed.
Step 5: Tie and Knot the Cord
Put your banjo in the case, pull the cord tight and tie in a secure double bow.
Tie a big fat knot the ends of the cord so that they won’t slip back through your loops or seam when the case is open.
Step 6: Fasten the Pocket (optional)
If your pants have a pocket, you may want to sew or glue hook and loop tape inside the edge of the pocket so you can keep your tuner/capo/picks in it.
Note: The pocket on the back of the pants will be facing down when you carry the banjo in the case, so if you are a purist, you could reverse the pocket: open up the seam at the bottom of the pocket, neaten the edge to make this the “top”, open end – then sew other end closed.
Step 7: The Finished Carry Case
That’s it! Once you have some suitable pants to use, the whole process (the easy way) should only take 20 mins. max. – so go and practise your banjo (away from non-banjo fans) and keep it safe and clean when you’ve finished!
(Note that this case won’t protect your banjo from hard knocks, so still be careful!)
You can get a set of instructions for this carry case, plus song lyrics and chords and guitar tips from my website, http://cathyschords.com