I’ve always wanted a slim-profile belt pouch for carrying compact cameras. Most manufactured belt pouches have been too small or thickly padded for my cameras and taste. They created unattractive bulges under jackets and un-tucked shirts.
Then last week, Kate and I were doing a years-overdue garage clean-out, when I found this dusty old jacket in a plastic storage tub:
For about 20 years, I wore it when snow-blowing our previous home’s driveway. And since we moved to our condo almost a decade ago, the jacket is now nearly 30 years old. Translation: It no longer fits.
The denim itself is thicker and tougher than the material in my Levi’s jeans. But after so many decades of heavy winter use, the jacket’s insulated lining had mostly shredded away. So I almost tossed it into a rag bag… but instead, decided to turn one of its pockets into a good-sized camera belt pouch.
And I did it without sewing.
In the Operating Room
Using strong, sharp scissors, I cut out the pocket as outlined in white above. Since my largest belt is 1.25 inches wide, I figured that leaving a 4-inch strip above the pocket would give me more than enough material for its belt loop. Here’s how the pocket looked after surgery:
Then, instead of sewing that strip into a loop, I folded it back and tightly wrapped two 4-inch lengths of 16-gauge brass wire around it. I then used needle-nose pliers to press the wires’ cut ends into the back of the loop to hold its material in place:
And a Surprise!
But then, I noticed something I’d forgotten. The jacket had “secret” side-opening pockets hidden behind the main ones. When snow-blowing, I usually stored tissues and extra glove liners in those slots. Here’s this pocket’s hidden side opening:
In the opening photo, you can see that the resulting pouch is actually large enough to hold both of my travel digitals side-by-side (though I’ll separate them with a little bubble-wrap when doing so). The camera peeking out on the left is my “normal” Lumix DMC-ZS100, and the one on the right is the Lumix DMC-ZS3 that I converted to shoot digital infrared (as described here).
NOTE: The main pocket could instead hold my Yashica T4 and lots of film.
You can also see that the secret pocket is big enough to store a memory-card wallet behind the cameras. (Actually, it’s big enough to hold the card wallet and my iPhone side-by-side!)
And since this is a no-sew project, I’ll use tiny binder clips to close the secret pocket:
Next, I plan to similarly turn the jacket’s other pocket into a pouch that attaches to a standard neck strap.
Perhaps you too have an old jacket, shirt, pair of pants or shorts with fabric and stitching strong enough to “upcycle” in this way. If so, give it a try (even if it doesn’t come with secret pockets).
–Dave Powell is a Westford, Mass., writer and avid amateur photographer.
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