my first sling, I used the method described in “20
Steps to A sling”, which I found on the internet
and to which I give full credit for most of the following.
I found it difficult, however, to get a nicely balanced
pouch using the “20 Steps…” procedure.
Hence I redesigned the pouch somewhat to make balancing
easier. Out of that process came the instructions and
sling to follow.
This sling is made of nylon seine twine, has a retention
loop plaited into the cord and the cord itself is laced
through a pouch of supple but strong leather. If you
don’t have access to a leather store or some old
leather clothing, a local furniture store may have some
leather swatches from furniture that has been discontinued.
I used AutoCAD, a drafting software, to lay out the
pouch. I then printed it onto drafting appliqué
film. This film peels off the backing and sticks on
the leather (suede side is best) and then comes off
easily when I am finished. All the necessary holes are
located on the pattern by a center dot and circle. This
reduces my layout, cutting and punching time dramatically.
The appliqué film is available from drafting
supply stores and web sites.
There are probably many ways to make this sling nicer,
though they would certainly mean more work. I am a minimalist
in many ways and don’t like to embellish something
which will likely be ruined in the process of use. That
said, if you can figure out a way to improve the design,
then please do, and please let the rest of us know how
you did it.
Expect this project to take more than one day, even
with time saving measures. It is only about five or
six hours work total, but plaiting this small cord is
hard on the fingers and hands and I usually have to
take a rest.
Seine twine: Braided, #18 minimum (#24 or larger is
Paper covered twist ties
Leather for pouch (see diagram below)
Torch or candle (to melt the ends of the twine)
Hook (Over the door coat hook works well)
Cardboard bobbins (see diagram below)
Sewing Fid (optional but takes a lot of misery out of
1) Cut the pouch to the size and shape shown in the
2) Punch the holes along the edges. An even number of
holes is necessary so the strands go back out the side
they came in through. Space the holes approximately
3/16” apart. In my diagram they are a bit closer,
but I had the advantage of letting the computer space
them for me.
3) Optional: cut holes in the center to allow the leather
to stretch. This is only for stiffer leathers which
don’t want to stretch on their own and can be
done after the sling is complete if necessary.
Make the bobbin from stiff poster board or chip board.
Follow the diagram.
A) The sling is plaited beginning at the retention loop.
B) Use round four strand plait. It is very important
to keep the plait even and tight.
1) Measure out four strands of seine at least 10’-0”
long. Longer strands are better in case you mess up.
You can always cut the strands off, but never lengthen
them. If they are too short, you won’t know until
the sling is finished and then it is too late. You will
find that slightly different diameter strands consume
Measure off twelve inches from one end of the strands
and bind them together with a twist tie. Wrap the long
ends the bobbins, one strand to a bobbin.
3) Begin at the twist tie and plait about four inches
of the short end of the strands. It would be better
to do a little more here than a little less. If the
loop is too small for your finger, you can’t use
the sling. If it is too big, you can whip off the bottom
of the loop and make it smaller.
Fold the plaited part in half and twist tie the ends
of the plait together and make a loop. Hook the loop
onto the coat hook.
5) At this point you will have the short, plaited part
folded over a hook and four short strands hanging alongside
four long strands. Double up the strands and plait the
short ends into the long ends or use a round eight strand
plait if you know how. Continue plaiting until the cord
is about 32” when stretched. Twist tie the end
of the plait to hold it together while you weave the
strands through the pouch.
The length here is really up to you. I am 5’-8”,
have a 32” sleeve, and put the retention loop
on my ring finger. The sling hangs almost to the ground
when I load it and let my arm hang mostly straight.
I could make the sling longer, but don’t find
any need for the extra velocity in general. The sling
shown here has a 23” cord length. I made it short
for the sake of time and my eight year old has lost
hers and needs another one.
Also, while plaiting you will have to let the bobbins
out periodically. This can be done easily with one hand.
Just remember, it helps to keep the bobbins at different
lengths to cut down on tangling somewhat.
6) When finished with the length you want, take the
strands off the bobbins and lace them through the holes
in the edge of the pouch, two strands per side. This
could be done in a variety of ways. Using a small sewing
fid works very well. A medium fid allows you sew in
both strands at one time, but be careful to not over
stretch the holes. If you don’t use a fid or needle
of some sort, this part is very slow and tedious. If
you don’t have a leather shop you can get a lot
of great stuff via the web from Tandy Leather at tandyleather.com.
This includes punches, fids, needles, thread, leather
and so on.
Make sure that the strands are pulled with equal tension
as they go through the pouch. Do this on each side and
make the sides have equal tension so the pouch will
be even when finished. Note: this is where the redesigned
pouch came in. By having the plait go directly from
the cord into the holes makes it much easier to even
out the pouch. The ears on the pouch keep everything
nice and tight and protect the end of the cord. The
ears also keep the pouch from slipping on the cord.
Since I use the suede side for the stone, I put the
strands in from the smooth side first.
7) When you finish lacing the pouch, loop the plaited
cord around the coat hook just above the pouch. Begin
plaiting the loose strands at the pouch and continue
until the release cord is six to eight inches longer
than the retention cord when both are stretched equally.
8) Whip the last inch of the release cord around the
plait itself and cut off the loose strands.
9) Melt the ends of the twine strands at the end of
the release cord and hanging from the retention cord.
Whip the end of the eight cord plait in the retention
cord. This is an extra measure to keep it from fraying.
If you made the retention loop too big, whip the bottom
of it to close it up some.
10) Sew the ears of the pouch around the cord.
11) Tie a knot in the release cord for a release node.
I tie mine so that it rests just under my thumb. The
knot I prefer is a figure eight stopper knot. It is
larger than an overhand knot and easier to untie later.
Tie up the remainder of the release cord to keep it
out of the way.