Saturday, June 23, 2012

Battery Bandolier

My three year old grand-daughter loves her battery powered games and toys.  Unfortunately, she's not too great at keeping track of her spare batteries.  They fall out of the packaging and get scattered and lost.  Then she comes to grandpa -- and all my batteries are scattered and lost, too!

So -- I decided to make her a battery bandolier (think Rambo strapped with belts of batteries rather than bullets).  I decided I'd use elastic rather than making cloth pockets -- the elastic will keep the batteries from falling out.

I figured this would be a good one-yard project.  I'm going to use three fabric pieces -- a front, a back, and a canvas interfacing for stiffness.  I'm also going to use a 1-inch wide piece of elastic (length depends on number of batteries you store) as well as two 3" metal hoops ... since I want to hang this on a doorknob.

I wasn't going to buy any fabric -- I was just digging scraps from the scraps bin.  But, when I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up the metal hoops, I saw some bandannas sitting in a bin -- 99 cents each and I figure I can use these as well!  Didn't use them for this one -- but will for the next one (I've got grand-sons, too!)

I'll start with the first two pieces -- I'll measure a 3 1/2 wide strip of my "inside" piece (the purple piece above).  Not too sure how long to make it, so I'll just cut it 18" long.  I'll then cut a piece of my dark blue canvas (more scraps) the same size.

Next, I'll just sew the two pieces together.  I'm using about a 1/2" seam allowance.  Don't worry about finishing hems -- this will all be enclosed before we finish.

Be sure and match wrong-sides if your front piece has a pattern.  You want the good side showing.  The canvas backing doesn't matter because it'll be completely enclosed.

Sew along all four edges.

Once you've sewn the inside and canvas pieces together, you'll want to attach your 1" wide elastic to the "front".

I'm using it to hold AA size batteries -- it looks like it'll take about 1 1/4" of elastic for each battery.  I want to use at least 12 batteries -- so that's 12 times 1 1/4" ... or about 15 inches.  I cut an 18" piece of elastic just to make sure.

Next, I joined the elastic to the front.  I wanted the attachment to be very strong, so I began by sewing one straight seam with the elastic hanging off the side.

I began about an inch and a half from the end of my front strip and positioned the elastic in the center of the 3 1/2" width.  I sewed a straight seam to attach the elastic -- with the length of the elastic going off one side of the front.

I then folded the elastic back over the front side ... and sewed another straight seam.  This doubling should give this seam a lot of strength -- considering that little determined fingers will likely be tugging on it!

Now that the elastic is attached, I want to mark where I want to sew.  I've already determined from a scrap strip that it takes about 1 1/4" of elastic per battery (don't want it too tight, but don' want batteries to slip out too easily).  Each battery slot looks like it'll take about 3/4" of space.  So -- I drew a series of lines across my elastic ... 1 1/4" inches apart.  I then drew a series of lines on my fabric -- each about 3/4" inch apart.  Finally, I drew a straight line down the inside fabric -- so I wouldn't "wander" when attaching the elastic.

Time to start with the slots -- I sewed the first two and then checked the fit.

Note how the elastic bends outwards, but the canvas-backed fabric strip stays stiff and straight!  This is exactly how I wanted it to work.

Checking for fit -- okay, it looks like the batteries are snug enough to stay put, but loose enough so that it's not hard to "load" the batteries.

Time to continue sewing battery slots...

... take your time and stop every now and then to check for fit.  Make sure your elastic doesn't wander -- keep it aligned with your straight line.

Count the number of slots as you sew -- I wanted to use 12 slots.  When I got to 12, I still had some elastic left.  I also had a lot of fabric left ... since I had cut extra because I wasn't sure how long a piece I needed.

"Stop" the end of the elastic and double sew it.  I sewed it once, then clipped the elastic, folded it under, and sewed it again for the doubling.

I also "trimmed" the extra off my fabric piece.  I cut about two inches from the end of the elastic, then sewed a straight seam 1/2 inch from the edge. (so now my top and bottom match).

A final fit test -- load up all the slots and see if any of the batteries are too loose.  Shake the bandolier -- remember, a three-year old will be tugging on this!

I found one slot that was a little loose.  It's the one with the copper-top facing the opposite direction.  I need to "tighten" it up a bit.

I'll remove the batteries, then sew another straight seam about an 1/8 inch from the original.

This will make this one slot fit a little tighter than it did originally, but won't affect the other slots at all.

Now for the outside cover.  I found some "monkey" pattern fabric in my scraps pile.  My bandolier portion is about 11 inches long and 3 1/2 inches wide.  I want about 1 1/4" inch on each side of my width and 6 inches on each end of my length -- so I cut a monkey piece about 6 inches wide by 23 inches long.

Sew about a 1/2 fold-over on all four edges of this piece.  You want your bandolier piece to fit just inside the raw edges of the outer hem.

I'm positioning my piece I trimmed off earlier to check them hem on the outside cover.

Now, place your bandolier piece on the inside of your outside cover.  Center it, then fold over the outside ends about 3 inches to just cover the edge of your bandolier.

You can pin the bandolier in place if you'd like.

Now, let's attach the first metal hoop.  Open the fold-over at one end and insert the hoop.

Now, fold the hem over, then fold the entire fold over again.  Position it so that it covers one raw edge of your bandolier (including the straight seam edge).

Note how the outer "monkey" piece is wider than the bandolier.  We're going to fold over these edges to cover the raw edges of the bandolier.

First, sew along the 3 1/2 inch side to lock that folded edge in place.

Next, fold the edges of the outside cover over.  Make sure the folded edge covers the edge of the folded end containing the hoop.

Once you've done this, fold over the outside piece and sew it in place.  When you get to the bottom, leave a gap of about an inch -- we'll use this to insert the folded opposite edge underneath the folded edges.

Sounds screwy, but it looks like this:

Then, the edge trickeration:


Work it so that the edge slips underneath that inch gap you left when you were sewing along the long side.

Sew along the folded over opposite edge to get to the other long side of the bandolier ...

Then leave the needle down, raise the foot, rotate the work 90 degrees, lower the foot, then fold over and sew along the other side of the bandolier.

You're enclosing all the raw edges you left when you built the pocket-side of the bandolier.

And -- you're done!

Hoops on both ends -- check!

12 battery slots -- check!  You can just extend the piece and sew additional slots if you'd like.  I was concerned that more than 12 batteries might be too heavy -- but it wasn't.  My next one will have 16 batteries.

You can "close it up" to hang it over a doorknob ...

Or leave it open to expose the batteries!


  1. Great idea! I think I'll add a pouch, too, so I can use it to store my charger!

  2. Great idea. I have been thinking about something like this for traveling with good colored pencils and paint brushes.