Friday, May 25, 2012

.45 ACP Magazine Pouch

How about something completely different!  This is a belt-held magazine holder for 8-round .45 ACP magazines for a 1911.  Probably not something you'd expect to see on a sewing/craftsy website -- but it's useful, functional, and solves a problem!

Here's where we start -- with magazines (by the way -- they are not clips).  I like to shoot a .45 ACP 1911 semi-auto pistol.  It's a proven design, easy to shoot -- especially if you have small hands.  The 1911 is a single-stack magazine -- not a double stack like many 9mm pistols.  This means the magazine (and pistol grip) is thin.

I typically use Wilson Combat magazines -- they work great and rarely have feeding issues.  I prefer the 47D model,

The problem is -- carrying multiple magazines in a pouch.

Why carry multiple magazines at all?  Well, if you're in a shooting competition, you'll need to carry several magazines.  If you're punching holes in paper at the shooting range, it's convenient to have easy access to multiple magazines.  If you're hunting in the woods, you'd like easy access to multiple magazines.

Most magazine pouches I've seen store the magazines with the wide side against your body.  This works well -- but it takes up a lot of space!

Suppose you wanted to carry 4 or 5 magazines.  You can see how much space they take compared against these 8 1/2" dressmaker shears.

Plus, it's hard to find that long a space on my belt where I can attach something.

Note what happens when we stack the magazines with the narrow side down!

Much less real estate required -- plus I've got plenty of room to add a fifth magazine if I want!

So -- what I want to do is construct a belt-attached magazine pouch -- but with the pouches designed to carry the magazines with the narrow side against the body, not the wide side.

I could sit and do some measuring and math, but this one is easier if you figure it out as you go!  I know I'll need two pieces -- a back which will attach to my belt and an "accordion" holder for the magazines that I'll attach to this back.

I started with a piece of canvas about the size of a sheet of typing paper -- 8 1/2 x 11.  Canvas is strong and stiff -- it'll work fine as it is.

I sewed a double-fold hem along three sides of the canvas, then set five magazines on it to check the fit.

Looks like the 8 1/2" width works great for five magazines!

I'm going to fold over the top of the canvas to make a flap -- a belt will slide through this flap to hold the backing.

Hmm ... I want a strip of velcro on this flap ... but there's not much room for velcro, belt, and a fold-over hem here (I had left this side raw).

Okay, I can fix this.

(BTW -- note that I did a small piece of embellishment along the bottom of the backing.)

I'll move the fold a little close to the middle of the back ... plus I'll just do a zigzag stitch over the raw edge rather than a foldover hem.

The canvas is thick and stiff enough that it takes about 1/2 inch of fabric for each fold!  By doing a zigzag over instead, I'll save some space for the fit.

Great -- this fits just right!  I've got the fold moved over a bit ... it's about 6 inches from the bottom, 3 inches from the top.  This gives me space for the belt (you can just barely see it under my hand), the velcro strip (that I'm holding), plus a little play.

I'm using sticky heat-attached velcro.  One word of warning -- after you iron the fabric to set the velcro, wait till it cools before you try and open it up.  Open it when it's still hot and the glue is all gummy.

Here's how I attached it:  I unfolded the flap (by the way, note that we're looking at the back-side of this piece.  The back-side will go against the body), then cut a strip of velcro that just fit in between the two hems.  Place the hook side velcro on the top of the flap (IMPORTANT!  You'll have to sew through one of the velcro pieces -- if you sew through the hook side, your thread will break constantly.  If you sew through the furry piece, your thread will only break some of the time!)

Now, cut a furry piece of velcro to the same length and press it against the hook piece to lock them together.  If you're using sticky velcro, be sure and remove the plastic backing strips first.

Now, close the flap.  Be sure and fold it along the fold line you've identified.

Iron the vecro from both sides to set the heat-activated glue.  Get it good and hot.  Once you're, done, set the folded piece down to cool.

While it's cooling, we can get ready for the next piece -- the accordion-style magazine holder.  I slid my belt through the flap to check the fit (works fine).  I then set a magazine against the backing to check the sizing.

I'm using 1911 .45 ACP magazines -- if you're using another size magazine, you'll have to experiment here to get your sizing right.

First, I turned the backing so that the front side faces up.  Then I positioned five magazines to see how to fit them.  Note that I positioned the magazines in the proper orientation -- with the baseplates up.

Looks like five magazines will fit fairly well.  I don't think I could squeeze in a sixth on this size backing piece.

I'm not cramming them tightly against each other -- I want a loose pouch fit so that I can slide magazines in and out very easily.

Now -- the fun part.  Frankly, I cut a waste piece of canvas and played with it for a while to figure out: 1) How wide should a pouch slot be, and 2) how closely should I sew the edges against the backing piece.

Here's what I did -- I took my waste piece of canvas and pinned together a couple of accordion slots.  I marked the boundaries of the pouch sides with a marker ... and also marked the distance of these sides on the backing piece.

I ended up with accordion slots widths of 3 1/4 inches -- and noted the sides needed to be sewed one inch apart on the backing piece.

If you're using a different caliber magazine, you can use the same method to figure where your sewing points should be.  If you're using double-stacked magazines (like a Glock), then you probably won't be able to fit 5 magazines on a 8/12 wide backing piece.

Before you make your backing piece really wide, make sure it'll fit in between your belt loops!

I figured I wanted 5 slots, each 3 1/4 inches (total 16 1/4 inches), plus a double hem on each side (need an inch for each hem), so an 18 1/4" should do.  I cut a rectangle 19" by 7" for the accordion piece.

I then double hemmed the top and bottom.

I also single hemmed the two sides.

Now, the tricky part -- attaching the accordion (and hoping my measurements and math would work out!).
We're going to attach it to the front of our backing piece.  Be sure and open the flap!  Since we're sewing down the face of the backing piece, we'll end up sewing the back flap closed if you don't open it first!

Also, we're going to be sewing through once piece of the velcro.  If you applied the pieces right, you'll be sewing through the furry piece.  Don't be surprised if your upper thread breaks a couple of times -- it always happens to me when I sew through velcro.  If you mistakenly put the hook piece on the bottom, your thread will break every time it goes through the velcro.

To attach the accordion piece, position it on one side of the front of the backing piece.  Since the backing piece has a double fold hem on one side -- and since the accordion has a single fold hem on the side, I decided not to place the two hems on top of each other.  Instead, I placed the edge of the accordion piece just inside the double fold hem of the backing piece.

I also made sure that the bottom of the accordion piece ended just above the embellishment stitch I had sewn on the bottom hem of the backing piece.

Sew a seam to attach the accordion side.  I sewed one seam down the hemmed portion -- and then sewed another seam just inside the folded hem.  This is where the accordion piece will bend.

Lock this stitch in really well at both ends of the accordion piece.

Now, note a point on the accordion top 3 1/4 inches away from your last seam.  Note another point on the backing piece 1 inch away from the last seam.  Fold the accordion top so that these two points match -- and sew a seam down the accordion piece.

This is what it'll look like.  You've sewn a pocket that's about 1 " wide, but that contains 3 1/4" of canvas.  This'll give you just enough fold to easily hold one magazine.

I left the bottom of the pockets open -- this will let dirt and such fall out.  The baseplates of the magazines are wide enough so that the magazine will not slip down inside the pocket.

Now, measure off your remaining sewing points.

Each accordion top seam will be 3 1/4" inches in from the next; each backing piece seam will be 1 inch away from the last.

This will make the accordion pockets fold so that they can hold your magazines.

Again, if you're sewing for something other than a 1911 magazine, you'll likely have to alter your measurements.

Here we are sewing the second pocket in place.

Continue sewing -- measuring in 3 1/4 " for the top, 1" for the bottom.

When you get to the last pocket -- let's check how it fits.

Uh-oh -- I've got an "oops".  My top accordion piece is about a half-inch too wide.  If I sew it like the other pockets, I'll attach it too far to the side.

Solution --

Just fold that single hemmed side under to make it a double-fold!

If I do that, then the accordion piece ends just inside the double-fold hem of the bottom backing piece (just like it began)

Sew two seams -- once down the edge of the folded over top piece, and then again just inside the folded down hem of the top piece.  This will then match the two ends exactly.

And that's it!  We're finished!

Here's the magazine pouch in use -- I've folded the flap over my belt to carry it by my side.  The five magazines fit just right; they're easy to grab and easy to remove for a magazine change.

The individual pockets are loose enough so that they can be pushed to different angles.  I think I like this -- but if it turns out to be a problem, it'll be no trouble to handstitch the sides of the pockets together so that they stay in place.

Five loaded magazines has some weight to it -- but a good sturdy belt helps hold them up.

Note where my belt loops are -- I'd have to do some redesign to make the pouch wider.   I think five magazines will do fine for me, though.

Also discovered that the pouch makes a handy way to carry magazines when I'm throwing them in a range bag.  Rather than toss them in loose, I stick them in the pouch and put the entire pouch in the range bag.

I think I'll add some more embellishing stitches on the edges of my next one.  Can also see different canvas prints (camo?  pink for the ladies?) coming into play!


  1. Thanks for the tutiorial.I have two guys in my life who will really enjoy several of these pouches.
    I wish I had come across this before Christmas but birthdays are just around the corner.

  2. Thanks for the tutiorial.I have two guys in my life who will really enjoy several of these pouches.
    I wish I had come across this before Christmas but birthdays are just around the corner.

  3. Great tutorial, I was looking to buy a multi mag pouch, now I will make this one.
    Rob, Australia