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.