Compass Pouch DIY


No one wants to get stranded outside in the winter, right? Here’s your chance to sew up a handy compass pouch before you embark on any winter treks. This idea was sparked after talking projects with Michael Williams from A Continuous Lean, who recently visited our shop. He’s published the full post here, and it’s incredibly exciting to be on ACL.

I don’t get too crazy on my adventuring these days, but there’s a few canoe spots near Portland that you could easily get confused and not realize where you put the boat in. Throw in some bad cell reception and maps won’t save you either. What’s a better way to not get lost? Having a compass and mini light on your belt should help. I made this with a small piece of Horween Chromexcel and some simple hardware. The template is provided and should snugly fit your AAA sized flashlight and a standard sized compass. I’m using a Suunto MC-2 and a Fenix E01.

Start by printing out the template file at 100%. It won’t fit on a single page, so you’ll need to select the tiling option and then add an inch of printing overlap. Tape the pieces together securely and trim them out. Find a piece of leather large enough to cut both panels from and trace them out with an awl or pencil. Be sure to mark all your inner holes indicated on the template as well.

Cut the pieces and punch the holes for snaps and the belt loop. I’m using a #3 sized punch tube. Once your parts are cut and inner holes punched, it’s time to mark your stitch holes.

Using a #5 overstitch wheel and a ruler, I marked location of all the stitch holes. Make sure to start at the bottom of each size in the same place, so when folded, your stitch locations will line up.

After marking the stitch holes, I like to punch them out instead of using an awl while stitching. It makes things a little easier and I can stitch faster this way. I’m using a hand-sewing leather punch, but you can also use regular tube style punch or even a thick awl.

Once every sewing hole is punched, you’ll need to assemble all the hardware parts. Add your snaps, then using copper rivets, you can attach the belt loop.

Now you’re ready to sew the pouch together. I’ve made some stitch ponies for the shop that we use, but you can easily purchase a simple one from leather hobby shops as well. The stitch pony will hold your pieces together securely, keep your holes lined up, and make sewing so much easier. The hand sewing method is detailed on my post here if you want to learn.

After stitching through your piece, give it a couple back stitches and tie off your threads inside. Then you’re ready to attach to your belt and get lost!

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18 Responses to “Compass Pouch DIY”

  1. Norman says:

    Bravo! Thank you for this post. I dabble in leather work and this project adds some valuable insight to my limited knowledge.

  2. Great writeup, thanks for sharing. How can one get their hands on the quality material like Horween Chromexcel? Seemingly it’s tough to track down in small quantities.

    Love your blog, it’s my favorite thing on the whole wide web. Thanks.

    • Matt Pierce says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Joshua. Sorry to say, I’m not sure of a place to get small pieces of Horween. We buy from the tannery in pretty large quantities now, and I was never able to find a place before that carried it.

    • Morley says:

      I buy Horween scraps from sellers on Etsy. Many of them send nice sized pieces that have plenty of potential for small leather goods.

  3. Kaspervikke says:

    Super products you make.
    Where do you buy snaps, rivets and moore
    And I am starting making your champ chair.
    I live in Denmark and it is hard to find the,
    brass acorn nuts
    Three brass washers
    Three brass finishing washers
    Three brass 1” wood screws
    Do you know an American website Where I can buy it.
    And the precise dimension lenght, diameter
    Thank you

    • Matt Pierce says:

      Hi Kasper, try and see if they ship to Denmark. You can also use yellow zinc items that match brass pretty well and are much easier to find sometimes. Good luck!

  4. Sean says:

    Hi Matt,

    Long time follower of your website. Love your products.

    I’ve noticed from this DIY and the products in your shop that you don’t really do much to finish your edges. Maybe a small bevel and light sanding? Would that be correct? Is there any reason for this? I’m guessing aesthetics.

    Personally I prefer your edges to the super shiny and round edges commonly found in leather products, but any time I try to leave my edges slightly raw like yours it always looks unprofessional. Somehow you manage to have beautiful, professional products without too much edge work. You are a magician.


    • Matt Pierce says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Sean. Certain leathers behave differently and when we die cut the Horween, the oils smooth that edge nicely. As for belts, we have a slicking procedure, but that’s for veg tanned leathers.

  5. Tiffa says:

    Hi! I don’t have a compass or ever worked with leather, but I’m glad I found your blog. I like the photos you post and reading about the process on how you hand make everything. Very wonderful work you are doing here. Keep it up!

  6. Ray says:

    I love the projects on your blog.
    What size/brand thread is this, I’m trying to order some waxed linen thread but not sure what size I should get for general projects like this, axe sheaths, etc.

  7. Katie says:

    Holy shit Matt – this took my breath away. Just incredibly, simply, beautiful.

  8. Morley says:

    I reworked your idea here to make a case for my external hard drive.
    It worked Beautifully.

  9. HRME says:

    Fantastic pouch! I’m copying the template for my compass, and like somebody else has said, an external hard drive!

    Just one boring question – having not worked with leather much, how come you took some of the colour away from the leather (top/bottom of pouch)? is it from areas likely to rub on clothes?

    • Matt Pierce says:

      Good question – that leather changes color on the bends, it’s referred to as ‘pull-up’.

      • HRME says:

        Ah, I see – it looks like quite a stretchable leather as well, is this a feature of pull-up or is it more specific to the chromexcel? What oz did you use? (if you can remember haha)


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