General discussion > Contemporary Accoutrements

My First Shot Pouch

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Hi all,

Though I have been a "lurker" for about a year now, this is my first post on the American Longrifles forum. I just wanted to offer a quick thanks to those who came together years ago to get this started and to all of those who have contributed since then. As a 20-year-old with only 4-5 years of active involvement in historical interpretation, it is truly an honor to have a window into your work and conversations.

Yesterday I finished working on my first shot pouch, and I am looking for some constructive criticism. I built my first flintlock, a .50 cal Kibler kit in extra fancy curly maple, this past June at the NMLRA seminar at WKU, under the tutelage of Wallace Gusler. Wallace had brought his original Virginia pouch along, and I had the opportunity to see it firsthand and handle it VERY briefly. I am a college student, so I returned to my dorm and was thus separated from my flintlock at the beginning of the school year. Since then, I’ve picked up T.C. Albert and Madison Grant’s books, and have spent more time looking at putting a bag together. I plan to unite the bag with my gun and horn when I return home at Christmas.

Anyways, into the nitty-gritty… I want to begin by bulleting out my construction process, then by showing a few pictures. I am seeking as much constructive criticism as possible… given that this is my first attempt at making a bag, and that I put it together on a desk in my dorm room… I imagine there is quite a bit of room for improvement. Evidence and references to originals or generally accepted PC examples is much appreciated.


1. Designed and cut out a pattern in thin cardboard, based loosely on inspiration from T.C. Albert’s 1770-1800 example (p. 81). Made several personal adjustments to this point of inspiration based on exhibits from Grant’s book: Plate 9 (p. 22, dated 1795-1815) inspired the flap shape, Plate 7 (p. 19, dated 1790-1800) led me to lengthen the flap to extend below the base of the bag, and both Plates 9 and 7 inspired the curved figure seen on the corners and middle/sides of my bag.

2. Traced and cut out my pattern from 3-4 oz. vegtan cowhide purchased from Tandy. I cut the strap directly from this hide as well, which puts it on the thinner side.

3. “Broke” the leather cutouts by crumpling, bending, and rolling them in my hands. I did not “break” the strap in this way, choosing to leave it rigid.

4. Worked Fiebing’s neatsfoot oil into both sides of the leather with my fingers, applying two coats liberally until the leather did not drink the oil as rapidly. Let dry for several hours. I am told this (1) softens, (2) allows dye to penetrate deeply, and (3) adds a deep and long-lasting water resistance beyond an application to the outside of the finished product.

5. Dyed the leather using Fiebing’s dark brown alcohol-based leather dye.

6. Poked all holes using a 3mm diamond-hole shape pricking iron, resulting in 8.5 stitches per inch. Poked all holes on the main body prior to stitching. Tied off a small loop of thread every few inches and placed several binder clips to hold things in place.

7. Saddle-stitched the main body together using Tandy’s 5-strand unwaxed linen thread. I heavily waxed the thread on a block of pure beeswax prior to loading it onto my needles and it passed easily through the holes. I had a harder time with the needles, having to pull each stitch through from the other side with pliers. Finished stitches by stitching back several holes and tying off the remainder with a tight square knot for added security.

8. Dyed the stitching with a q-tip, then folded the bag inside out and used the handle of a tool to push the stiffer parts into place from the inside.

9. Cut the very fine 1/4 in. scallops on the back of the flap using an Exacto knife and an appropriately curved woodcarving gouge.

10. Binder clipped the top flap into place, leaving at least 1/4 in. of solid leather on all sides of my row of stitches. Punched holes using the aforementioned pricking iron and stitched the flap together. Finished the stitching once again by first backtracking several holes, then with a small square knot on the interior of the bag for added security.

11. Added thin lines along the strap with a stitching groover and re-dyed these grooves. Attached the strap at one side of the bag with two lines of vertical stitches with the same thread and stitching techniques used throughout.

12. Added cuff-link style buttons made of deer antler to the other side of the bag. This is very similar to the way Wallace’s Virginia pouch was assembled. Referenced Mark Elliott’s work for button placement, as I did not take photos of Wallace’s bag at his request.

13. Tried on the bag for size and marked a comfortable fit on the strap, then punched and cut button slits into the strap and cut away excess strap material that hung below the bag. Left enough material and button slits to accommodate 7 in. of adjustment. Attached the strap to the antler button at the most comfortable button slit, two from the top.

14. Dyed all remaining white thread using a q-tip and rubbed away excess dye with a paper towel so as not to darken leather surrounding the stitches anymore than the rest of the bag.

15. Rubbed two light coats of Fiebing’s mink oil (for additional waterproofing and softening) into the smooth sides of the finished bag with my fingers, paying special attention to all edges of the leather, the decorative scalloping on the back, and all stitching. Leather drank first coat and about half of second coat. The remaining mink oil dried for an hour before I rubbed smooth areas aggressively with a paper towel to remove excess oil, which had solidified.

 - Finished product measures about 6.5 or 7 in wide by 7 in. tall.

 - I ran the bag directly under the sink for a few minutes and water did not gain any traction on the leather at all.

 - I did not make any attempts to artificially age the bag. God willing, I have 50-60 active years ahead of me in this hobby, and I intend to put my own gear through the wringer authentically.

 - I let the bag sit in front of a fan for 8 hours to remove any remaining moisture from oils or dye. It now feels soft and slick to the touch and does not leave any film on the fingers.

 - The white oak leaf on the flap is of personal significance to me and I am perfectly willing to incorporate it without a direct historical example for reference. I attached this to the flap at the beginning of the project.

 - The pouch hangs at my ribs so that the bottom gently brushed the top of my belt, which I wear around the belly button area to keep my hunting shirt closed and tomahawk handy.

 - I did not attach a powder horn because so far I have found it easiest to wear them separately and because I am separated from my horn being in college/horn is at home.

Attached are several photos of the bag. I am happy to post more as necessary. Please pepper me with constructive criticism. Historical and contemporary PC references are much appreciated… even better if you can provide a link to photos/descriptions, etc. I run a small passion project YouTube channel called Frontier Trading Company and I intend to make a video demonstrating bag-making techniques as I get more comfortable with the art. If you have tips and tricks worth sharing, please include those as well, and they may make their way into my videos.

Thank you all in advance for your mentorship as I begin my journey into taking this hobby more seriously and seeking true historical accuracy with my projects.

-Alex from FTC

Nicely executed young man!

I like that bag a lot and have no criticism to offer. Your YouTube videos are a treat, as well. Thumbs up to both!

Well done, look good

That is one fine looking pouch. Good job, young man! Keep it up! --JB


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