I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of carrying my prop around the con and get jealous of anime and game characters who can just stick their prop to their hip. I’ve found myself thinking about this for a while, and when I planned a cosplay that would have several swords and a stick, I needed a solution.
Enter the prop holder. It works for pretty much anything from short staffs to swords. As long as it has a lip or some kind of bump and doesn’t scrape the floor when resting at your hip, you can make a prop holder.
I got the idea while browsing stuff for Ren Faire. There are all sorts of faux leather sword holders, but they presented a problem. They didn’t quite work with a stick and they didn’t have the flexibility in shape I wanted. (I also didn’t want the stick facing directly back so I accidentally trip someone at the con either).
This prop holder uses a few materials and snaps to make it easy to pull props on and off (which is especially useful for sticks) or weave the holder straps through a sword sheath for extra support.
This holder is fabric, so the prop must be lightweight. You can’t stick a real metal sword and expect it to stay.
Skill level: intermediate
- Duck canvas, less than ¼ yd
- An outer layer. I used suede but you can use faux leather, vinyl, or any durable utility or heavy-weight fabric you can sew through. Materials like cotton will shed far too much unless you pink or serge the edges.
- Two pairs of large metal snaps, about 3/4 – 1″ in diameter
- A prop
Supplies and tools
- Large straight pins. Quilting pins work great here
- Sewing machine with a heavy-duty needle, such as one for leather
- Sharp hand sewing needle
- Thimble (recommended)
- Thread. Can be matching or contrast
- A belt (for finished holder)
Constructing the base
The base for this holder needs to be super strong, and folded duck canvas will support a lightweight prop pretty easily. For sticks and swords, the prop will generally sit near vertically but lean forward just slightly so you don’t end up with a sword hilt in your armpit.
I found a good size to be about 8″ x 5″, folded in half hamburger style to be a 5×4 rectangle. If you aren’t sure this size will work for you, cut a piece of paper and fold it in half, placing it against your hip. It should be just slightly wider than it is tall to give you a good amount of support for your prop at your hip.
Open your duck canvas and cut a piece of outer fabric slightly larger than the canvas, giving yourself at least an inch around all sides. With the canvas centered on the wrong side of your outer fabric, fold everything in half, sandwiching the canvas in the middle. Curl one side of the outer fabric over the raw edge of the canvas and tuck the other side of the outer fabric inward to make a seam.
By folding one side of outer fabric over the canvas, you ensure that the canvas doesn’t fray all over the place at the con (and canvas likes to fray a lot).
Pin the side and repeat this for all sides. When you reach a corner, you can simply fold the fabric inward and tuck it down with a pin. As the shape you’ve cut is a rectangle, it should fold over nicely and fit snugly inside the other folds.
Once you have all the sides pinned (except the fold. it’s already folded), stitch up the sides using a standard straight stitch. Make sure to use a leather or heavy-duty needle as this layering is very thick. A universal needle might snap or simply refuse to punch through all the layers of fabric.
For my project, as I was using contrast stitches, I also stitched along the folded side to ensure that the holder looked even the whole way around.
Adding holder straps
Having a base is great and all but you need some way to hold the prop to your hip. To properly support a prop at an angle, you want two straps that are removable. Loops might work if you’re slipping something like a sword sheath into them, but this tutorial covers the removable version to make it easier to place any sort of lightweight prop at your hip.
Place the prop and the holder on your desk, setting the prop at a slight angle from vertical where you ultimately want it to sit. Take a small strip of canvas, about 1½” wide, and lay it over the prop to test the length.
Ideally, you want the strap to sit flush on one side (hold it with a finger to test this out) while the other side hangs over the other side by a little bit. With the extra length, you can sew the non-removable end underneath the prop so it isn’t visible when you’re wearing the holder.
Now it’s time to make a canvas sandwich again. Cut a strip of outer fabric twice as large as the canvas plus about an inch wider and an inch longer.
You can sandwich the edges much like you did with making the base, or you can simply roll the outer fabric over the edge and sew a raw seam down the back. I did the latter since I knew it wouldn’t be seen from the outside.
Regardless of method, only one side will have a seam and only along the top. By leaving the bottom open, it’ll be easier to sew into the base.
Once you’ve sandwiched the canvas inside your outer fabric and pinned it down, sew the outside edges. If you are using a contrast thread, you may want to sew all the edges to create a decorative seam. Sew both straps.
Take the base and your prop and lay them out at an angle. Tuck the straps underneath and pin the raw edge down against the base underneath the prop. Make sure the top strap is beneath the top stitch line since we’ll need that spot for the belt loops.
After you’re satisfied with the position, wrap the strap around your prop to make sure you have at least an inch of space that sits flat against the base for the snaps.
Once everything is good, sew the straps down to the base and remove the pins. You’ll want two sets of stitches, one at the edge and one about ½” in to ensure that the straps do not move when supporting the prop.
Next, we need a way to secure your prop, and giant snaps are perfect for the job. You can get them pretty big and around 3/4″ or so is pretty easy to find online or where notions are sold.
Start by sewing your first snaps down to the base right next to where the strap meets the base.
Set your prop inside the straps and wrap the straps around it, meeting the snap on the other side. Likely the edge of the strap will be pretty close to the edge of the snap, but if it’s not, take a pen or pencil and lightly mark the edge of the snap to use as a guide.
Unwrap the straps and move your prop to the side, sewing the other half of the snaps to the inside of the strap. The snaps should be on the same side of the fabric for the base and the straps.
Making belt loops
You could feasibly sew the holder to a part of your cosplay, but with the weight of a small prop and the movement of your body, you likely want to put it on an actual belt underneath your shirt. And for this, we need loops.
Cut two strips of canvas several inches long and about 1″ thick. Place your belt an inch or two above the top of the holder and wrap a strap fully around the belt, leaving a little room to sew it down below the belt, about an inch will do, and a little bit of room so you don’t have to yank your belt to get it in.
Match the strap up to the top stitch line, giving yourself some leeway for the seam below that. Take note of how much extra space you’re leaving for yourself. Trim off the excess. Repeat for both straps.
Cut some outer fabric double the width of your canvas plus about an inch. We’ll be using the same method to sandwich the canvas inside the outer fabric, but this time, neither the top nor bottom edge will have a folded edge. This will make it easier to sew the loop down and sew the whole thing to your base.
Place the straps on the back of the holder base, leaving the same leeway under the top stitch as when you placed the canvas earlier. Stitch both straps down at the top seam.
With the holder still face down, loop the loops around the belt and pin them down on the backside of the loops. This hides the raw edge of the loop in the back.
Sew the loops down and that’s it! Enjoy your new holder!
I hope you found this simple belt holder tutorial helpful! It’s a great way to carry a stick or a sword and keep your hands free for things like snacks and browsing the dealer’s hall or artist’s alley. All you need is a few materials, a sturdy belt, and some snaps! And of course a prop. Can’t forget the prop.
This tutorial can be adapted for a number of different props. As long as it has a lip to rest on when the snaps are closed, you can use this idea for it!
Let me know what sort of holder you make and what materials you use for the outer fabric. @ me on social media so I can admire your work!