Rock Collecting Pouch Directions

Alan Silverstein, ajs@frii.com
Last update: March 16, 2008


Purpose:

This webpage illustrates and gives directions on how to make a field-tested, "Mark III", sew-it-yourself rock collecting pouch for carrying small stones. I documented and shared my design just for fun.

I do a lot of hunting for small rocks to tumble-polish. Once upon a time I started using a carpenter's pouch with a tie-on cloth-string waistband. The capacity wasn't great, the string was painful when the pouch was full, and it wore out and broke fast. I improved on the pouch through several models until arriving at the design explained here.


Features:


Pictures:

Old rock pouch My old, well-used, third-generation rock pouch made from recycled jeans material.
New rock pouch A brand new pouch, not yet used, made of fresh rather than recycled fabric, following the same design.
(PDF) A sketch of the pattern for the fabric for the pouch.


Parts list:

Item needed Approx cost Notes
Fabric, indigo denim, stretch, 19x22"
(97% cotton, 2% lycra)
$1.00 Vary to taste. Some people recommend canvas, but I don't think this would be as easy to sew, nor last as long.
Webbing, 1x60' $1.84 Color of your choice.
Buckle, plastic, no-sew, 1" $2.32 Color of your choice. A "no-sew" model is easier to replace later if it gets broken, say by being caught in a car door. (Guess how I discovered this, as you can see in the picture of my old pouch where I had to replace the buckle on the short side.)
Loose end clips, 2-pack, 1" $1.29 Only needed with no-sew buckles. These hold the loose ends of the webbing straps out of the way and keep the buckle adjustments from working loose.


Directions:

  1. Cut the fabric to the size and shape shown in the pattern, overall 19" wide at the top tapering to 17" wide at 9" down, continuing 17" wide for another 13" (a 17x13" rectangle).

    You can vary these dimensions to taste. I've found these numbers to work pretty well in terms of pouch size and capacity, neither too big nor too small, and with enough slack on the pocket fronts.

  2. Decorate: If you want to sew a cloth patch or other decorations to the front of the pouch, now's the time to do it. I didn't happen to think of this for the pouches illustrated above.

  3. Fold and hem the top edge down 1/2" or less, good side out. This hem becomes the top outer edge of the pockets. Use one or two folds as you prefer, but beware two folds unless you and your sewing machine can handle a lot of fabric thickness at the corners later. With a single fold the raw edge inside the pouch frays a little, but this doesn't bother me.

  4. Sew basic shape: Fold vertically 8.5" down from the top (9" less the hem), inside out. The horizontal fold (at the top of the rectangular lower portion of the fabric) becomes the bottom of the pouch. Overlap the sides such that the edges align, although this means extra fabric on what will become the front of the pouch pockets. Ensure the sides are symmetric; measure if necessary. Sew a sturdy hem 1/2" wide or less in the overlapped material. Overstitch at the tops for strength.

  5. Finish sides: Invert the pouch right side out and hem the remaining 4" of non-overlapped sides, now at the top of the pouch, for strength. Note: I failed to do this right in the new pouch pictured above. Instead I had to over-sew some extra material for strength. These upper outer corners take a lot of the weight and are the first places to wear out and rip, so make them strong.

  6. Sew centerline: Fold the pouch over horizontally to find and crease the middle. If necessary measure to find the middle of the slack material on the front of the pouch so the pockets are symmetric. Unfold and sew down the centerline where the front and back overlap, dividing the pouch into two halves. Overstitch at the top for strength.

    Yes, you can skip dividing the pouch into two halves, but I find this convenient in some ways, such as dividing rocks into two types as they are collected. Also it's more comfortable than a single large pocket would be.

  7. Sew inside corners: While the pouch is still on the machine from the previous step, sew a U-shape on each side near the centerline to close off the inside corners of each pocket. How big a U is up to you. This optional step prevents small stones from getting stuck in the corners.

    On the new pouch pictured above it's hard to see this stitching because my new wife convinced me it's gauche to use wrong-color thread like I did on the old pouch.

  8. Sew outside corners: Now do the same thing to the outside corners to finish each U.

  9. Sleeve over webbing: Lay the webbing horizonally across the top of the pouch above the pocket. Fold the top "flap" over the webbing and sew it into a sleeve without yet attaching it to the webbing, so it can still slide left and right.

    Whether to fold the flap forward or backward is up to you, either way is OK depending on the finished look you want. Bringing it forward means the nicer outside of the denim is mostly what you see, but the raw edge of the material also shows (shrug).

  10. Attach to webbing: Slide the webbing through the sleeve until it's placed where you want it, probably not in the center. Think about it for a moment before sewing. I like the buckle to end up on my left side, somewhat behind, but not in the very middle of my back, so it's easier to reach. Also 60" is more webbing than you should need, depending on your waist size. Figure out how much you need on the "short side" to go through one half of the buckle, put it in the right place, and leave a bit of loose end.

    Once you have it where you want it, sew the heck out of the sleeve to firmly attach it to the webbing. Especially overstitch at the corners near where the webbing leaves the sleeve. I also like to run a vertical line in the center.

  11. Finish belt: Cut unneeded material off the long end of the webbing. With a 36" waist I found I could cut off about 8" and still have a good length of loose end. To determine this I put the webbing ends through the buckles, put on the pouch, and fiddled with adjustments until it felt right.

    After cutting off the extra webbing, seal the ends over a match, lighter, or candle to melt the threads a bit so they won't fray. Remove the buckles, add the loose-end retainers, put the buckles back on, and set everything how you like it.

  12. Add hammer loop: If you want a hammer loop, sew some of the short piece of webbing to the long side of the "belt", on the outside of course, near the pouch. Be sure to make the loop bigger than you might think.

    Start by attaching one end near the pouch, then while you're wearing the pouch, hold or pin the other end of the loop where you think you want it, and try inserting and removing the hammer. You'll figure out how much loop material to use and how far out from the other end to attach it for best results. Then sew down the other end of the loop.

  13. Go have fun: That's it!

    To put on the pouch, bring the belt around your waist so the buckle halves are in front. Connect them, then slide the pouch around (in my case, to the left) so the pockets are in front and the buckle ends up out of the way but still in reach (on my left rear). Being on the longer side, the hammer loop ends up on my right hip.

    If you need to adjust the straps to make the pouch looser or tighter, you might be able to do it while wearing it, if it's empty, but usually it's easier to take it off first.