DIY – Phone/Camera Case . . . made from Frogg Toggs Pouch

If you buy the ultralight suit or poncho from Frogg Toggs, I bet you find it difficult to toss the storage pouch. A few years ago I started using one to store maps in my car. A friend said she uses one for her microspikes. Previously I used a dry bag to make a phone/camera case (blog link) but it didn’t last as long as I would have liked. With it worn out it was time for replacement so as I dug through my supplies I found these pouches and decided to give it a try.

The poncho pouch is larger and has more usable fabric. The ultralight suit pouch has a snap on the back which you need to work around.

Supplies:

  • 2 Frogg Toggs pouches (or other fabric)
  • 2-4 Pieces of thin plastic (size of phone)
  • Magnetic closure (or velcro) (Amazon Link)
  • Double fold bias tape or something similar (Amazon Link)

Step 1 – Construct Top of Phone Compartment

My phone is 6.25″ x 3″, so I made a double layer piece 8.5″ x 4″ with 2 thin pieces of plastic sandwiched between. Stitch together.

Step 2 – Construct Top of Camera Compartment

My camera is 4 x 2.5″ x 2″. I cut the fabric 6.5″ x 3.5″. I didn’t double layer this section instead I rolled over the top and stitched at about 1/4″. I ran a gathering stitch along the bottom so I could factor in the 2″ depth of my camera.

Step 3 – Create Closure

I had some double fold bias tape so decided to use it for the closure (Amazon Link). I reused the magnetic closure (Amazon Link) from my previous case. Each piece is 4″ in length. Tip: it’s much easier to enclose the magnet in fabric than it is trying to sew it on to the fabric. I tested placement of the magnetic with my camera in the pouch then stitched the magnet in between the tape then stitched it to the front of the camera pouch. Be sure the bump of the magnetic is facing outward.

Step 4 – Finish Camera Pouch

Mount the camera pouch on the top piece of the phone pouch. You’ll want to adjust margins to allow for the depth of your camera leaving a little wiggle room so you can retrieve and replace camera without too much effort. You can see how the magnetic is sewn on as well as the gathered bottom. This fabric doesn’t unravel so I didn’t need to finish seams.

Step 5 – Create Attachments

Once again I used the double sided bias tape as well as velcro. I wanted a loop so I also added a piece of cord. For each pack attachment, I used a 7″ piece of bias tape with 1.5″ of velcro.

Step 6 – Create Back of Pouch

This piece started as double thickness 6″ x 8.5″. I sandwiched the magnet tab between the two pieces, as well as a couple pieces of the thin plastic. I then cut the flap at an angle.

Step 7 – Connect Attachment Straps and Loop

Stitch the velcro straps slightly smaller than the width of your backpack straps. For mine that was about 2.5″.

Step 8 – Complete Pouch

Attach the front and back pieces. Trim edges and round corners for best fit.

Step 9 – TEST!

This new design needs more trail time. I’ll report back after I’ve used it for a while.

Link to more of Jan’s DIY/MYOG projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

DIY – Sleeping Bag to Quilt Conversion

What do you do when your sleeping bag is no longer meeting your expectations?

Obviously the easiest answer is to buy a replacement. But for someone like me who is both frugal and likes custom products, this wasn’t my first choice. In 2013 I purchased a Zpacks 10-degree down bag for $440. That was a huge investment for someone not yet a dedicated backpacker. I loved the weight but always felt cramped and as time went on less warm than I’d like. I initially added to the length of my bag by using a down throw I picked up at Costco for $20 (blog link) .

The additional length was an improvement so the next year I was inspired to customize further so I removed the zipper and added 6 more ounces of down (sourced from Ripstock by the Roll). After shaking all the down to one end you can see why I was having trouble staying warm. The down just wasn’t lofting sufficiently after about 6 years of use.

After doing some research I decided to use the bathtub method. I got in the tub with my bag and the down. Closed the door and shower curtain and got busy stuffing the channels. I used binder clips to close each section after stuffing. This worked quite well to contain the down and minimize loss (and mess).

The dimensions I determined optimal were based on the following calculations.

Length – Add 10″ to your height to determine length

Top Width – Add 10″ to your shoulder girth measurement to determine top width

Footbox Width – Reduce 10″ from the top width.

They ended up being perfect! I used a down throw to extend the size (Amazon link).

You’ll want to review quilt designs to determine which hardware system you think might work best for you. I started with the idea of attaching my quilt to the pad but found I didn’t need or like it (as shown in below photo). A few systems to review include Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, and Katabatic Gear. My preference is four flat buckles attached to the long edges with webbing. My placement is one at the top, another about 14″ below. Then one about 14″ up from the bottom and another 10″ higher. Most often I sleep with the lowest and highest buckled and only use the others on colder or breezy nights. I also tried several types of footbox closures. I found I preferred a sewn footbox to a snapped or tied version (early version shown in this photo).

I finished these first alterations in 2018. Since then I removed the elastic and just use the clips and created a sewn footbox. Having slept under this quilt for 150-200 nights in 2019, I think I’ve given it a fair evaluation and thus give it a resounding A.

Hardware:

  • Flat Buckles (sourced from Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Ripstock by the Roll, or Katabatic Gear)
  • Webbing or elastic to use with buckles

According to Zpacks, their current 10-degree quilt with similar dimensions weighs 25 ounces, nearly 9 ounces less than mine. I could easily drop some weight by remaking it with the same dimensions and amount of down.

It’s a really great 3-4 season bag and it’s rare I regret carrying it. The only time I wish I had a lighter bag is in really warm summer temperatures (> 50F) which I try to avoid as I don’t like hiking in the heat. However, to solve this problem I recently made a summer quilt from one of these down throws (blog link).

Link to More DIY Projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

DIY – Summer Quilt . . . how to convert a down throw

Many have heard of the down throws sold by Costco and other vendors (Amazon link). I used one to convert my zpacks down sleeping back into a quilt and another to make a skirt, slipper, leggings and mittens (blog link). Finding my three-season quilt too warm for the hottest summer months, I decided to use another to make a summer-weight quilt. I’ve heard these are comfortable to 45-50F. I’m a warm sleeper so I’ll amend with my experience after some use.

Materials Needed

  • Down Throws (60″x70″), most will need to use two. You can also use a down sleeping bag or blanket, etc.
  • Flat Buckles (sourced from Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, Ripstock by the Roll, or Katabatic Gear)
  • Webbing or elastic to use with buckles

Step 1 – Calculate Dimensions

Length – Add 10″ to your height to determine length

The quilt is 70″ long. I’m 64″ tall and found 72″ finished product length to be just right for me when I made my 3-season quilt. Mine is long enough I can throw over my face occasionally. For this project I decided to leave it 2″ short initially. I can add extra later if I find I want to option in the summer.

Top Width – Add 10″ to your shoulder girth measurement to determine top width

The quilt is 60″ wide. I’m have a loose shoulder girth measurement of about 45″. Adding 10″ makes my final top width 55″.

Footbox Width – Reduce 10″ from the top width.

For me that made it a 45″ width footbox.

Step 2 – Add Length and/or Width

Use the second quilt to add length or width to the base quilt. I included tips on a previous post when I added length to my zpacks bag before I converted it to a quilt (blog link). I still need to write my sleeping bag conversion post; maybe this will motivate me.

Step 3 – Measure Twice (at least), Cut Once

  1. Use a straight edge to create width angle. A sturdy tape measure worked for me. Mark the line. I use chalk.
  2. Sew on both sides of the chalk line leaving about 1/2″ in between.
  3. Cut between the sewn lines (this helps contain the down).
  4. Repeat for opposite edge using the initial cut as a template.
  5. Finish the edge. I zigzag and then roll and straight stitch to make a clean edge.

Step 4 – Create Footbox (optional)

I tried several methods when I created my 3-season quilt. I found I preferred a sewn footbox to a snapped or tied version.

  1. Verify you are working on the narrow end.
  2. Connect the sides by zigzagging together the lower 4-6″.
  3. Match the bottom edge, right sides together, placing your connected seam in the middle.
  4. Sew together the bottom edge. To eliminate air entry you want to have a good seal. I used a tight zigzag stitch, repeating a second time. I put the seam on the inside of my footbox.

Step 5 – Add Hardware

You’ll want to review quilt designs to determine which system you think might work best for you. I started with the idea of attaching my quilt to the pad but found I didn’t need or like it. A few systems to review include Enlightened Equipment, Zpacks, and Katabatic Gear. My preference is four flat buckles attached to the long edges with webbing. My placement is one at the top, another about 14″ below. Then one about 14″ up from the bottom and another 10″ higher. Most often I sleep with the lowest and highest buckled and only use the others on colder or breezy nights.

Final Weight: 14 ounces.

Ready to test! It should be good for temperatures around 45-50F. I’ll update post once I have more experience using it.

Link to More DIY Projects

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

DIY – Turning Socks into Mittens

There’s no getting around it. If you hike lots of miles, your socks are going to wear out. There are a few companies who offer lifetime replacement like Darn Tough, but really how many days, how many miles are reasonable life? I tend to get a couple years of wear out of most of my socks. Even at $15-$20 per pair, that’s a minimal replacement cost as compared to shoes. Inevitably I find myself with a pile of socks that for some reason I can’t bear to toss. Side note: “Bare means naked, but to bear is to carry something. A bear is also a brown furry animal.” The english language is very strange indeed!

I’d been searching for some soft wool mittens. I just couldn’t pull the trigger on the price. One day I took a pair of socks and made an X cut at the heel to stick my thumb through. I wore them like this for a couple of years always meaning to add a thumb. Finally this year, I completed the task. LOVE my reuse, repurpose, recycle project! 

While my toe socks wear out in the toes, my regular socks wear thin in the heals which make the rest intact to keep my hands warm. 

I used the top cuff of another pair of socks to make the thumbs.

Are they perfect? No

Are they functional? YES

Do I love them? YES

Links:

DIY – Custom Phone/Camera Case

Finding the right size pouch to attach to my backpack shoulder strap proved impossible. I wasted so much time and money searching for and trialing a variety of products. Finally I gave up and decided to make my own. 

Version #1:

I made this version a few years ago combining two pockets off an old backpack waistbelt. It worked well until the end of last year when one of the zippers starting failing. When I got a new larger phone, it was time to make a new case.

Version #2:

I used an old stuff sack to beta test a new version. It worked okay but a few revisions were needed. 

Version #3:

I started with a dry sack. 

To maintain the integrity of the dry sack, I used tape instead of pins to test fit and prepare for sewing. 

At the bottom of the sack, I ran an elastic cord to provide a little stretch but security for the camera section. 

I found on my previous beta version the divider between the camera and phone sections needed some stiffness. I had a sheet of plastic on hand so I cut it and sandwiched it between two pieces of silnylon. 

I cut the dry bag and covered the raw edges with bias tape prior to adding the orange stabilizer piece. The phone would go in the slit with the orange piece on top. The right end with the elastic cord would fold up and become the camera slot.

I attached two pieces of cross-grain ribbon to the back as attachment points to my backpack shoulder strap. I also added a loop on the top for an s-hook, another pack attachment point.

I attached velcro to the ribbon. I found the sew-on variety works best.

I overlapped the edges to create the phone pocket.

I attached sew-on magnets for the closure and completed the camera pocket. 

Initial finished product. 

After testing it, I quickly found the flap was too large. I removed the black strip and logo, reshaped the closure end of the bag and now have a product that is working quite well. It’s not 100% waterproof, but it’s better than most. I have quick and easy access with the magnetic closure. The elastic camera section is secure and allows me to leave the flap open without the camera tumbling out. The phone is also secure but can be removed quite easily. Note: magnetic closures can cause reverse polarization with your compass so be sure to maintain adequate distance.

Links:

DIY – Increasing the Length of my Sleeping Bag

My sleeping bag is sized to go to the neck. My preference is the option to sleep with it over the head (yes, I know about the condensation issues). As suggested by the manufacturer I ordered up a size to accommodate that preference. Well since there was only a few inch difference and I was at top of height, it was insufficient (duh, why didn’t I measure?). I’ve always struggled with this issue. My friends recommended buying a new bag as I’ve certainly paid for this one many times over with the number of nights I’ve slept in my bag. Well, that’s just not my style. When an item is still in perfectly good condition, I don’t see any reason to upgrade. 

I was excited when I finally came up with the perfect solution!

After using the down skirt I’d made from a CostCo down throw (related post link), I found it much too long. 

So I removed the bottom two rows and added them to my bag. WOW, what a difference those 9 inches make! I sleep so much better, and I don’t feel stuffed into the foot box. Yes there’s a slight weight penalty but do I care? Nope! As a side note, I removed some of the bulk from the skirt which offset some of that weight gain.

I’ve also semi converted my bag into a quilt by adding a snap closure at the neck. It’s been a good way to see if my next bag will be a quilt. The answer is a resounding YES! 

Sometimes little accidents happen. What do you do? Replace the bag or repair? 

I applied this tenacious tape patch a couple years ago. It’s still holding strong even after a few times through the wash. 

Links:

DIY – Hiking Skirt and Tall Gaiters

I never thought I’d be one to wear a skirt hiking, heck I didn’t even wear them in my other life. But after developing a fabric sensitivity to my favorite pants, and subsequent rashes, I was motivated to make a change. Hemlock was my exemplar. She’d been wearing skirts and tall gaiters for several years while hiking in varied terrain and conditions. 

I trialed a skirt during my 90-day, 9,000 mile, 20 national park trip earlier this year. I could wear shorts or tights under it, shoes or sandals, and heck it was only $5. #$5skirtadventures

I even hiked in it occasionally. I was a convert! 

Although extremely comfortable, it really wasn’t trail worthy. So before I started the Arizona Trail, I upgraded to this Dollar General dress I converted to a skirt. 

It was certainly more durable than my $5 skirt, but still snagged on the stickery prickeries of the Arizona Desert. I liked the length and simple A-Line design of both skirts. It was time to find some fabric and make a real hiking skirt. Lucky for me, my friend Penny introduced me to Mill End Fabrics where I found the perfect fabric for $4 a yard. 

Step 1 – Determine length and bottom width of your skirt.  My dimensions were Width=58″ Length=25″.

Tip: Add 3-4″ to finished length for elastic casing and hem line. It’s easier to cut extra off then add it back.

Step 2 – Determine waist/hip width, then cut angle to form “A-Line” shape. I loosely measured around my hips, added a few inches and used that as the waist width. In my case that meant reducing the sides by 3″ each on this double thickness fabric (total of 12″ reduction). I then made an angled cut from the waist to the hem line. My new dimensions: Waist Width = 46″ Hem Width = 58″)

Step 3 – Stitch side seams, finishing edges as desired.  I used a flat-felled seam technique.

Consideration: Occasionally I find my stride slightly inhibited by the hem width. Side slits or a kick pleat would resolve and will probably be included in my next version.

Step 4 – Create casing for elastic, insert and determine fit. I used 1″ elastic, and created my casing by folding over 2.25″ fabric and stitching at both fold and hem edges. 

Step 5 – Determine length of skirt and hem accordingly. I used the rolled hem technique. 

Consideration: If you don’t already have a favorite length, I recommend making it longer initially as you can always shorten later. On my first hike, I thought it might be too long, but I got use to it by the third hike and I now like the length. It keeps my knees from getting burned and invites fewer bites, scrapes and scratches.

Step 6 – POCKETS? I elected to forego pockets after wearing my previous two skirts. I liked the freedom vs feeling my phone or other items banging against my legs.

UPDATE: I added pockets after using the skirt for a while.

When I wore pants, I rolled the legs up when I was hot and down when it was cold or buggy or I was bushwhacking. I decided to follow Hemlock’s example by making tall leggings for this purpose. 

Step 1 – Determine length.

Step 2 – Determine width at top and bottom. My dimensions: Top Width = 23″ Bottom Width = 15″

Tip: I used the factory edge for the bottom so I wouldn’t need to hem and would have a little extra stretch. Bottom width needs to include sufficient room to stretch over foot and ankle. I pinned and tested several times before sewing.  

Step 3 – Stitch the seam, finishing the edges as desired. I used a flat-felled seam technique.

Step 4 – Create a casing for elastic at top. I used rolled elastic and a toggle.

Yeah I look like a dork in my modified Brownie uniform, but it’s been fantastic. The fabric couldn’t be more perfect. It repels water, dries quickly, protects me from stickery prickeries, and has survived several encounters with tree sap. The skirt is comfortable and flows well while hiking. I’ve worn my tights under the tall gaiters when it’s been cold (protects my merino wool). They’ve worked to protect my legs from undergrowth scratches, drippy bushes, and pesky mosquitoes and black flies. When I don’t want to take time to remove them, I quickly readjust them to ankle height. I’ve sprayed both the skirt and gaiters with Sawyer Permethrin.

Ongoing challenges of bare leg syndrome: I’d still like to find a lightweight shorts option, especially for those times when I might slip (been there done that . . . makes for some nice scrapes on the backs of the legs), when the bugs are bad (they like that warm soft flesh), or when I have to shimmy across and over logs. I tried the Jockey Women’s Underwear Skimmies Wicking Slipshort as recommended by several female hikers. They worked for a few hours before beginning the dreaded upward crawl. Surprisingly my biggest concern, chub rub, didn’t become a reality when I ditched the malfunctioning Skimmies. Maybe the recently recommended Bandelettes Elastic Anti-Chafing Thigh Bands are the answer? More likely though on me they’d quickly become rubberbands, a Michelin Man or Pillsbury Doughboy necessity . . . I can’t stop chuckling . . . and as a lightweight hiker, it’s important to think of multiuses for your gear, so slingshot bands?

Links:

DIY – Down Skirt, Leg Warmers, Socks, Mittens

This project was made from a down throw I purchased from CostCo for $20. The throw’s construction was 5″ squares with dimensions of 12 squares by 14 squares (about 60″ x 70″).

The goal was to keep it simple. There are much more tailored options but my goal was simply to have an additional layer when camping in frigid conditions, and potentially for use when snowshoeing in cold but not wet weather. I also have an older style sewing machine with limited stitches.

The CostCo throw came with a nice stuff sack. Filled with my new down wear, total weight is 15.7 ounces or nearly a pound. How often will I carry an extra pound in my pack? Better to be pound foolish than cold. (Update: I’ve since revised the skirt and the total package now weighs 12.5 ounces)

Layout:

Blue was used for mittens

Prep:

  1. Using the measurements as specified in each section, determine your layout for the desired pieces.
  2. Mark that layout on the reverse side of the quilt. I used chalk.
  3. Sew parallel straight lines on both side of the chalk line. If you use the squares on the CostCo quilt, one line is already sewn. #11 needle worked for my machine and this fabric.
  4. Cut between the sewn lines. This will help manage the loose down. Keep vacuum handy!
  5. Finish the edges. I used a zigzag stitch.

Skirt:

Materials: 12 squares (60″) x 7 squares (35″)

My objective was a long skirt I could wear in combo with my leg warmers around camp or in bed on especially cold trips. I also wanted the option to wear it occasionally for cold hiking or snowshoeing. I elected to keep it simple by making it a straight skirt with an adjustable elastic waistband. I wanted the width sufficient to tuck around me when sitting around and wide enough for my hiking stride. Weight 8.85 ounces. (Update: I’ve since shortened the skirt significantly by removing two rows at the bottom, and also removed about 18″ from waist by making two long darts and turning the skirt into more of an A-line pattern. The revised weight is 5.6 ounces.)

Instructions:

  1. Measure for length and width. Add 1-2″ for seams. Size over your clothing with adequate room to pull up over your hips.
  2. Cut using the factory finished edge as hem and side seams (depending on your personal dimensions).
  3. Sew side seam and top stitch to make a flat seam. Use french seam if you want to hide raw edges if you didn’t use factory finished ends.
  4. Make a casing for the elastic at the unfinished edge. Leave 1/2″ opening to thread elastic.
  5. I used round cord elastic with a toggle to adjust waistband.
  6. Pockets:
    1. Use the leftover fabric from making the diagonal cut for the leg warmers.
    2. Select your size preference. I used the angled 2×2 squares.
    3. Finish the edges.
    4. Decide where to place on skirt. I placed on sides one square down from waist.
    5. Top stitch pocket in place.

Leg Warmer/Sock Combo:

Materials: 10 squares (50″) x 14 squares (70″)

My objectives were slippers/socks and leg warmers to wear in bed or around camp in cold conditions. I wanted the ability to get up in the middle of the night without removing socks or having to put on overshoes. I also wanted something I could wear over my tights when hiking if it was really cold but dry. These are designed with an open toe that tucks under the foot for socks or slides up to the ankle when used with shoes. If I want to wear them walking on snow, I can use a shower cap or bread bags as moisture barriers. Weight 5.25 ounces.

Instructions:

  1. Measure for the largest circumference area of your lower leg/calf over whatever you’ll be wearing. I measured over my jeans just to ensure I had plenty of space.. Add about 5-7″. For me that was about 25″. Finished width is 23″.
  2. Measure length from below knee to floor and from heel to toes. Add another 5-7″. For me that was about 35″. Finished length is 33″.
  3. Measure largest circumference area of your foot between arch to toes. Add another 5-7″. For me that was about 15″. Finished width is 14″.
  4. Fold the fabric inside out for each leg.
  5. Starting at the finished edge end, draw a diagonal line from the smallest width to the largest width. In my case from the 15″ (3 squares) to the 25″ (5 squares).
  6. Pin on the discard fabric area, otherwise down may leak through the pin hole.
  7. Sew along the diagonal line (start at the factory finished end).
  8. Cut about 1/4 – 1/2″ from the sewn line. (Keep the piece you cut off if you’d like a pocket on your skirt)
  9. Finish the cut edge. I used the zigzag stitch.
  10. Flip the leg warmer, finished side out, and complete a modified french seam if you’d like to hide the raw edges.
  11. Make a 1/2″ casing on the largest width end for the elastic. I double rolled to hide the raw edge. Begin and end on both sides of the seamed section leaving about 1/2″ to pull through the elastic. I used round cord elastic. Package doesn’t indicate diameter.
  12. Test fit and either finish with a toggle adjustment or fixed length by tying knot.
  13. Measure from the floor over the top of your foot (at your arch). For me that was 8″. Cut a section of the round cord elastic. Attach to each side of the toe end of legging. Looks like a stirrup. I knotted each end of the elastic and attached with a zigzag stitch (stitching over vs through so I could adjust).
  14. Test fit by tucking the last section (about 5″) under your foot. Place elastic over your foot to hold it loosely in place. Adjust knot/length as necessary.

Mittens:

My objective was a warm-up around camp mitten, definitely not intended to hike in. I wanted them to be roomy enough I could hold a cup. The design is a lopsided balloon. Weight 1.2 ounces

Materials: 2 squares (10″) x 7 squares (35″)  NOTE: If I had more fabric, I would extend the 10″ length.

Instructions:

  1. Along the 7 square factory finished edge, about 1″ from the edge, attach elastic cord leaving about 1″ on each end. I used a wide and long zigzag stitch.
  2. Bring the ends of the long piece to the center creating essentially two sections 3.5 squares each. You should be looking at the inside of the mitten fabric.
  3. Create a pattern with plenty of room for seam allowance and down puff. I used about 1″.
  4. Trace onto the folded sections. I use chalk. Place the baby finger side of pattern on the fold. This will not be cut nor sewed.
  5. Pin the pieces together outside the pattern area. Otherwise, the pins will create holes in the fabric allowing down to escape.
  6. Test that you can easily insert hand through the opening.
  7. Starting about 1/4″ away from the elastic cording, stitch around the hand shape.
  8. Leaving about 1/2″ margin, cut around the shape being careful not to cut tail of elastic.
  9. Finish the cut edge. You can finish all the way to cuff. Just don’t catch the elastic cord.
  10. Pull the elastic cord on both ends exposing about 2-4″ length. Finish the straight stitch from the 1/4″ above cord to the cuff. Be careful to go over the cord but not through it.
  11. Put hand in glove and adjust elastic to desired fit. Tie a square knot. Turn glove to finished side and refit hand/wrist. Adjust elastic as needed. Tie several knots leaving about 1″ tails for future adjustment.

Function is more important than fashion!

Hard to tell in photo, but I have a leg warmer on my left leg with the the sock portion pulled up into walking position.