Sami pouch

What attracts me to bushcraft is the huge range of subjects that it covers and thanks to the Woodland Ways ‘Wayer’ course I’ve had the opportunity to try many things that I wouldn’t necessarily have picked from the courses available. My favourite element of bushcraft is crafting items and during lockdown I’ve had to focus on crafts away from the woods. Making your own equipment fills the time and I enjoy the design and build process of these projects; one such project was this Sami style pouch. Mainly known as a Sami pouch, these small pouches are traditionally used by the Sami people of Lapland to store meat, coffee, salt and flour. I’m increasingly aware of having bags to hold bags but there is definitely a need for organisation, especially when trying to locate a specific item inside a large holdall or rucksack. Traditionally these bags are made of reindeer leather, but I’ve made mine from some thin leather I had in the house already, the leather I am using is chemically tanned leather and started life as a dull grey colour, it’s not something I plan to store food in and if you do want it to store coffee or other food, ensure you know the source and preparation of the leather you are using. Another option would be to use canvas and mixing different colours can give some fine looking pouches.

When making leather projects I normally make a cardboard template of the pieces first and my go to source is cereal packets which provide the right thickness and flexibility for most of the leathers I use. To make this pouch you will need:

  • Cardboard for the template
  • Pencil, compass & ruler
  • Thin leather (0.8 – 1mm) or canvas
  • Scissors or knife
  • Needle (glovers needles work well on leather)
  • Thread

This design can be scaled as you desire but I found this size of bag the right size for my usage. The first job is to create the two side pieces of the pouch; use a compass to create a circle with a radius of 2.25”, next draw a horizonal line through the centre of your circle, next draw a vertical line through the midpoint of your circle 3” high. Next create a horizontal line 4” long with 2” each side of the line. You can add two vertical lines for the ends to check this is parallel to your centre line if desired.

Making the template
Making the template.

Next connect the outside edge of your circle to the ends of the top line. Cut around the shape to create your template. You will need to cut two of these pieces from your leather. For the bottom and top of the bag you will need two strips of leather, the bottom piece of the bag should be 3” x 14” and the upper piece 5” x 14”. I only created a template for the outer panels as the top and bottom edges are easily measured and cut. You’ll also need to cut a strip of leather to make a small loop 2.5” x ¼” and a long piece of cord to tie the bag 1/8” x 25” (or use some cord to keep the top closed).

For the stitching thread I used a strong linen thread, but a nylon thread would also be fine. I used a glovers needle which has a triangular point enabling them to pierce and pass through tough materials such as leather, suede and vinyl without tearing. We will be using a running stitch so the thread should not be visible. Place one side piece and the bottom piece together, with the sides you want facing out touching. Start by first stitching one side panel to the bottom panel, the closer you stitch to the edge the bigger the bag will be, but you will want to stitch around an 1/8” inside each edge so that no holes form when you turn the bag inside out. Next stitch the other side piece onto the other side of the bottom piece. You may find that you have some excess material above the height of the join and you can trim this off once it’s joined. Next stitch the long edge of the top piece to the top of the pouch you have just created. Position the join midway along the bottom piece and begin stitching at the side piece as you will need to trim the top part as you approach the ends. Continue stitching around the edge of the pouch until the ends meet, you can then trim off any excess material leaving enough to stitch up the join of the top piece to create a long neck to your pouch.

Sewing together
Sewing together inside out.

Around half way up this piece you can create a loop with the small piece of leather you cut, placing the loop so that it will be on the outside when stitched together. Finish stitching to the top of the top piece.

Finally, turn your pouch inside out and you will have a completed pouch. You can use the long cord to pass through the loop you stitched in to close the neck to the pouch and secure your contents.

Finished pouch
Finished pouch.
Finished pouch
Finished pouch.

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