Leather Pouches For Beginners
First, you need some leather or vinyl imitation leather. The thrift store is a great place to find old leather jackets that you can cut up to make your own pouches. Try to find one that is thicker/heavier weight and has fewer stitched seams.
Working with thin leather
If you’re working with leather from a cut-up coat or if your leather is too thin it might not hold a shape well. There are a few options you can try to give your leather piece more structure.
- Line the leather with another layer of leather or suede to double it up.
- Line the leather with felt or other suitable non-fraying fabric.
- Apply iron-on interfacing to the leather. Use low heat and a pressing cloth. Interfacing also helps strengthen weak areas and minimizes unwanted stretching.
Stiffen Thin Leather With Glue
Soak the leather in water with some Elmer’s white glue mixed in. Try a ratio of 1:5 Elmer’s glue to water. Depending on how thin your leather is or how much hold you want, you might need to alter the ratio. It will look like milk, and some of the glue chunks might not dissolve but that’s ok. Let it soak into the leather for a few minutes. Remove excess water and place some paper, cardboard, or some other item inside the pouch or holster to help hold the shape or mold the item. Leave to dry in a sunny spot.
Tips for sewing leather or vinyl
Leather and vinyl tend to want to stick to the sewing machine presser foot. To make the foot glide over the material better, try adding a piece of frosted scotch tape or painter’s tape to the bottom of the foot.
Avoid using pins since they make permanent hole marks, use clamps or double-sided tape instead.
Use polyester thread instead of cotton. Polyester is stronger. Upholstery thread can also be used for strength, especially on leather.
Use longer stitch lengths, short stitches can create tears or weaken the integrity of the seam.
And lastly don’t backstitch leather. Secure the start and end threads by tying them in a knot. Backstitching can tear the leather if the needle doesn’t pierce the exact previous hole location.
Easy Belt Ammo Loops
One of the easiest ways to customize your Mandolorian Belt is to add ammo loops. You don’t even need to have sewing skills. All you need is some scrap leather and your choice of prop ammo cartridges or cylinders. Ammo loops are either made by the sewing method, snap method or the weaving method. With the weaving method, you just need to cut out 2 pieces, a backing piece, and a longer strip piece. Measure the width of your ammo and mark/cut the slots on the leather backing piece. Then weave the strip in and out. When you get to the end, tighten the strip so it holds the ammo snugly, then glue the ends. And lastly, glue the finished piece onto your belt. This is just a small ammo holder for a test sample, but you can obviously make it as long as you like and space it closer. The video below shows the basic construction.
Easy Jango Pouches
Now let’s try making some classic Jango Fett pouches, my easy version. The screen used pouches don’t show seams so these pouches will be glued, but you can sew them if you like. Here again, heavier weight leather will look nicer but it’s not necessary. The pattern for the Jango pouch (thanks to Dented Helmet Wizardoflight). Print it and cut out the 4 leather pieces. Then add the belt loop, I sewed the loop but you can glue or rivet the loops also. These pouches are sometimes difficult because of the curved side areas. To avoid this frustration, just remove the curve from the pattern. Glue the side pieces and secure with clamps. You’ll end up with a bit of an opening at the sides. If you plan on using these pouches you can insert fabric or a felt lining bag inside so nothing slips out the bottom. Sticky velcro is used to open/close the pouch. When glueing leather, if you are attaching to the grain side (outside) of the leather, you’ll want to sand the area to ruff it up before applying the glue.
Another option to make the Jango pouches easier to assemble is to make the template pattern as a one-piece, as seen in the photo below. Fold over and glue on the sides. I love one-piece patterns, they are easier to assemble and are a stronger design.
Custom Pouches For Equipment
There are some items that Mandalorians carry that need to be disguised. I like to carry a few accessories on my costume that need custom fitting pouches. A Bluetooth speaker/mike amp lets me be heard without needing to shout from under my helmet. If you normally speak softly I recommend getting one, especially for large noisy conventions. I’ve lost my voice in the past so this is a must-have for big events for me. I also carry an mp3/old Blackberry player for chatter/background sound effects, a cell-phone, and a Beskar ingot. The Beskar bar is a fun prop for photos. I think fans enjoy being able to hold a prop. I’ve also let fans hold thermal detonators and data cards. They seem to get a kick out of holding a Star Wars prop, and I think it makes them feel more comfortable when posing for photos.
Making custom pouches is pretty simple, just watch the video below. It shows a laptop case construction but the same process can be used for smaller items. I place my equipment on the leather to figure out the sizing, cut around it, and sew as shown. I used soft leather that my home sewing machine could handle since I don’t have the patience for hand sewing. But if you’re motivated, the saddle stitch looks great on leather. I also added belt loops to the back and cut out areas where the speakers are. And to make the pouches look a bit more Star-Warzy, I shaped the folding front flap like Boba Fett’s leg pockets.
Easy no-sew pouch
This pouch below is as simple as cutting the pattern and adding snaps. There is no sewing and no glue used in its construction. Since the leather for this test pouch was very thin, I reinforced the snap hole area. you could make this pouch with snaps that open or a bunch of rivets. The most time-consuming part is measuring and neatly cutting the leather to the size you want.
Here is another great pouch design that is no-sew, using rivets instead. This small pouch would look great for Mandalorian costumes, and it’s quick and easy to make. The creator has even generously provided the free pattern for you to download and print.
Here’s another super easy Mandalorian pouch pattern. This design is no-sew, no-glue, and you don’t even need to worry about the belt loop, since the belt slides in between the snaps. The nice thing about this pouch is that it’s 2 pieces which lets you use smaller scraps of leather.
This pouch requires 4 rivets and 1 snap (or velcro). Cut out pattern on leather and add interfacing if you like. Fold at bottom and sides, and rivet together. I like to soften/burnish the edges by rubbing in mink oil.
Another option for a Star Warzy pouch is to use tin boxes. You can choose to either spray paint them or wrap them in leather or fabric. The candy tin boxes below are wrapped with frayed hockey tape and a dirty decal was glued on top. They can be screwed or velcroed to the belt. Here is an aluminum cigarette case that would also work.
And lastly, if you would like to make a pouch similar to Din Djarin’s, here is a pattern I quickly prototyped on paper. I estimated the dimensions to look similar to the screen version. If you know the proper dimensions please comment below. Click here for a free Mandalorian Pouch Pattern that you can print out, size up if needed.
Try testing out different sizes and shapes on paper using this basic pattern shape. With it you can create any custom pouch you want, like the amp speaker pouch below.
I hope this helps you or gives you some new ideas for customizing your belt and pouches. Questions can be added to the comments below or keep reading: