Rise of the Tomb Raider Holster
This holster was a fun project to work on, since it required me to try some new techniques in leather crafting that I haven’t used before. A little bit about the design… thanks to a friend’s help I was able to identify the design as reminiscent of the old hollywood style western drop holster, which includes a holster that attaches to the belt (or backing) via a flap at the top of the holster that folds down and tucks into a slot on the belt (or backing). That was the design I chose to use for this and I feel like it worked out very nicely.
Thick Leather Hide- $100
(this will leave leftovers for other projects)
3x 1.25″ Belts- $42
1x 3/4″ Belt- $10
(this will leave leftovers for other projects)
Waxed Brown Thread- $5
(this will leave some leftovers for another project)
3x 1.25″ Square Half Buckles- $18
1x 3/4″ Square Half Buckle- $4.50
Dyes (Dark Mahogany and Dark Brown)- $13
(This may leave leftovers for other projects)
Leather Conditioning Sheen- $7.50
(This will leave leftovers for other projects)
3x 1.25″ Belt Keepers- $4.50
1x 3/4″ Belt Keeper- $1.50
Speedy Stitcher (sewing awl)- $27
Razor or Box Cutter
Riveting Tools- $6.50
Bleach Water in a medium bowl
Plastic Scrubbing Brush
HOW IT’S MADE
Meagan Marie was able to draft up a holster pattern that looked excellent for what we wanted to accomplish. The backing took a few minor tweaks but eventually we came up with something that would translate to leather very nicely. We patterned the holster and the backing seperately, with the backing having two lines to cut out for straps for the holster to tuck under, as per the reference material.
Leather Transfer and Cutting
For this we had some medium/heavy thickness leather that we wanted to use but we wanted the backing of the holster to be very sturdy so we doubled up on the layers of leather for it, making sure to flip the pattern over when tracing the second layer so they would be able to sandwich identically. I also made sure when cutting the holster out to leave at least 1″ of extra room for my next step. You can always trim leather but if you cut something too small you unfortunately have wasted valuable (and expensive!) leather and will need to re-do.
After cutting out the pattern pieces it was time to wet form the leather to the holster. There are many ways to wet form leather but the technique I used involved just a spray bottle of warm water and a hair dryer.
I sprayed the water so that the leather got soft but not drenched. After it was at a pretty malleable state I wrapped it over the gun to the exact shape I wanted it to look like and held it while blow drying it. After that was done and the leather was only mildly damp, I let the whole thing dry completely for about 12-18 hours.
Once that was finished I repeated the process on the top flap to bend it over, taking care to only get water where I wanted the leather to bend. Then I let the whole thing cure another 12-18 hours.
Sewing the Holster Shut
Now it’s time to close the holster.
After having wet molded the leather to the gun I traced a new line where I wanted the seam to be. This is why I cut extra leather, to make sure I had enough room to do this. I made sure to keep the gun in the holster the entire time to make sure I wouldn’t sew too small and have the gun not fit.
I began the sewing with my handy sewing awl, aka The Speedy Stitcher. There are many different tutorials on youtube on how to use this awl. The one I used was this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doSNwF86YvQ
After I sewed the holster closed I trimmed the excess leather to about 5-8mm away from the stitches. Careful not to cut too close!
Cutting the Slots for the Holster
The backing needs to have slots for the holster to slide into so I’m using a box cutter (razor) to do this on one later of the leather backing ONLY. I cut 5 lines total. One for the holster flap and 4 for the two strap slots towards the bottom. I cut very carefully, making sure not to make them too long or the holster will sit too loosely. I want it to be snug.
Tooling the leather
The strap slots on the backing of the holster (where the holster slides in) have tooling along the edges. I used a spray bottle with water and a screwdriver and a hammer to hammer the screwdriver into the leather to create these decorative lines.
Attaching the legstrap
After carefully measuring the leg strap and where I wanted the buckle to be, it was time to attach it to the BACK layer of the holster backing. (The side I didn’t cut or tool). Making sure to keep the rough side of the leather up, I made my strap placement and stitched them in place with the sewing awl.
Assembling the backing
Now it’s time to sandwich the two backing pieces and sew them together, leaving the leg strap sandwiched inside. I sewed all along the edge of the backing, saving the top for last, after I attach the belt drop straps.
Dying the Leather
This was a very tricky process since all of my leather was slightly different and took dye differently. Some soaked up the dye and got very dark while other more finished leather pieces took many many coats to get the same darkness.
I was going for a dark mahogany so I took a dark mahogany water based dye and threw in a little dark brown water based dye. Probably too much, since the leather turned out black, which made me panic.
To counter this, I took a little bit of household bleach and mixed it in a big bowl of water and used a plastic scrub brush to scrub the leather outside in the sun to try to lift some of the color out and brighten it a bit.
I am very glad this worked because it added a very aged rustic look to the leather. If I had to go back and do it again, I’d probably still do it this way because it turned out so beautifully.
Sewing the top of the backing
After the dye job I decided to sew the top edge of the backing to prep for the drop belts to be attached.
I created some belts with square half buckles on them for the holster and determined where I want them to sit on the holster backing.
Here I created the other side of the holster belt drops and included many holes to make them fully adjustable (for comfort). Lara’s belts appear to have pointed tips so I cut those as well.
To attach the belt drop to the main waist belt, I decided to use a rivet so that the belt can swivel and conform to my hips a lot better. Sewing it in place would give it a fixed angle and that may not work if you’re changing outfits and/or want to wear the belt without the jacket.
I wanted to use rivets for the belts that attach to the holster backing but unfortunately it would’ve looked very inaccurate so I tried my best to attach them at an angle that will work for different configurements.
After doing a finishing gloss protectant coat on the leather, here you have the finished result!