Soooo a while back, I had the chance to work on this fun project for my Ichigo Kurosaki (Default) Cosplay – Ichigo’s Shikai (sword) sheath, necessary if you intend to have any free hands at all when you go to a convention and want to have his Shikai sword. So today I thought I’d walk you through the process of how I made this wonderfully, functional, useful thing. The best part? You can modify this project to fit ANY sword that requires a ‘wrapped up’ look, as Ichigo’s does in BLEACH.
A heads up, I took some photos while making the sheath, but I also went back and took more detailed photos of ‘how’ I created the sheath using different colored fabrics so you could all see exactly what I did. However, that does mean some images will have different colored fabrics. (I did this again so it would be more obvious as to what I was doing). I’ll do my best to thoroughly explain though exactly what I did to make it as easy as possible for you to follow along. 🙂
That said, let’s grab some supplies!
Materials for Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial:
Fabric for your lining (I’d keep this the same color as your ‘wrap/layers’ fabric)
For the length of fabric, get a cut about 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) longer than your sword’s full length. (hilt included)
Check the tip in Step 1 to make this more affordable if you’re short on cash!
Fabric for your ‘wrap/layers’ (This is what you’ll see on the outside; specifically for Ichigo’s sheath, I recommend using a cotton fabric)
(For both of these, I recommend using fabrics that DON’T stretch)
I’d recommend the same length of this as you do for your lining. If you need more, thankfully, you can always get more!
Pleather or Leather for the bottom. (I’d recommend using pleather as leather can be rather thick and difficult to use. Only use leather if your sword is particularly sharp! See my notes in Step 2 for guidance.)
You only need about 12 inches (30 cm) of this.
Thread to match your lining/wrap/layers fabrics as well as your shoulder strap fabric.
Fabric for your shoulder strap. (I recommend using something with a bit of stretch to it to make it more functional-friendly!)
For this, get a cut about 4 ft (121 cm) long (Go to Step 8 for tips here). If you plan to use a fabric with stretch, you’re going to want the fabric’s long side (the 4 ft) to be in the stretchy direction. This way it can expand and contract. Cut it at 4 ft when it’s not being tugged.
Normally, I use patterns as bases in my work and then modify them. But this Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial thankfully doesn’t require one. I started off by folding a piece of white fabric in half and placing on top of it the sword. (Use something made of strong, non-see-through fabric is preferred for this. It doesn’t matter if it’s shiny or matte. It will be covered later.) From that, I cut out two pieces of fabric, leaving about 3-5 inches (7-12 cm) on each of the long sides of the sword, to create your lining. Where did I stop the sheath on the short sides? With the tip, I stopped about 4 inches (10 cm) from the point. At the top, I tried to give myself as much extra length as possible. So I stopped it at the edge of the tip of the handle.
Note: My white fabric wasn’t long enough for one whole piece, so I ended up sewing two pieces of the white fabric together to have something long enough to cut out. This is okay for this project. However, try to keep the division horizontal to the top and bottom of the sheath if you do this! Also, when you later sew the two pieces of lining material together, make sure the fabric at the seam of where the two pieces connect is aimed towards the bottom of the sheath to avoid it getting snagged on the sword’s sharp tip when putting it inside!
Step 2: Attach Pleather/Leather at the Bottom.
A bad habit of sharp things or things with pointy tips is that they easily cut through fabric. Swords are no exception. My Shikai is made of wood and thus the tip isn’t as intrusive. But it’s still a tip and capable of producing holes. For that reason, next in our Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial, at the bottom of the wrong side (or inside side) of the lining for the sheath, I sewed on a piece of pleather on each side and then covered it with cotton. (The extra cotton layer is there to keep the sword from sticking to the pleather once inside as if you take it out in heat, it might want to stick to the blade of the sword otherwise). These two layers will provide a more sturdy hold for your sword when it sits at the bottom.
Note: I used pleather which is sturdy and relatively easy to use in sewing projects, but it’s not very thick. The sharper your Shikai/Sword, the thicker you’re going to need your protective lining layer to be. If your sword IS very sharp, consider using real leather or thicker upholstery type materials. You can also double up on material to be safe, but it will make for a thicker bottom of your sheath if you do.
Step 3: Sew on Your Fabric Strips.
Ichigo’s sheath is magical, meaning it’s technically a long piece of cloth wrapped around his Shikai sword that re-wraps around it when he’s done using it. Typical. Now, we’re not going to be wrapping one long piece of cloth around our shikai – we’re going to create a mimicked look.
To do this, next in our Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial, we’re going to cut strips of cotton out and sew them onto our inside lining fabric that we just cut out in Step 1. As mentioned above, for Ichigo’s sheath in particular, I’d also recommend using cotton for these – it will have a better textured look that will best mimic the look of the cloth wrapped around his Shikai. When picking this fabric – think about what will make your finished sheath look best when picking out your fabric!
(Note in these next pictures, I used a shiny red satin to demonstrate instructions because it would show up better, but of course, as I said before, I recommend a white cotton type material for this normally.)
Do the following on both lining pieces (on their outer facing sides). Start at the bottom of the sheath and place/pin your fabric facing the top of the sheath – make sure the pins are on the short end of your cotton fabric and the long side is facing towards the top of the sheath. The right side (or outer side) of the material should be facing your lining’s outer or right side.
Sew along the pins and fold down towards the bottom of the sheath. Iron to help keep it in place.
Repeat this for every piece, making sure that no part of the inside lining is seen when you fold the fabric back down towards where the bottom of the sheath will be.
Repeat this process until you get to the top of the sheath.
Some tips! A good idea to give the semblance of wrapped cloth is to angle your cloth when you sew it on. Criss-crossing and changing the angle with each piece of fabric will give it a cool effect! Also, once you pin your fabric, fold the long side down to see where it will end up before you sew it on to save yourself some annoying seam ripping later in the case that you make a mistake.
Note: You determine the sizes of these cloth pieces – there’s no set way or size. I made my fabric pieces about 10 inches (25 cm) wide each as the material wrapped around Ichigo’s Shikai looked rather wide to me, but you can make it as wide or as narrow as you’d like. It’s up to your aesthetic preferences. The less wide the cloth pieces are though, the more thread and cloth you will likely need.
Step 4: Finish the Top; Pin and Sew the Cotton Pieces Down to the Lining.
When you reach the top, place the cotton down, angle it as you wish and simply sew across the top. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of the frayed edge at the top that this leaves behind later. The next part is fairly self-explanatory, but the important part here is that you sew down the cotton pieces to the edges of the lining and make sure they are flat! Ironing the pieces prior to doing this. Then pin the pieces in place is useful to ensure the edges turn out how you’d like it to. Once the pieces are placed, cut off any excess cotton fabric that protrudes past the lining (this will make it easier moving forward). And then just sew it down! We do this so they won’t move during our next step!
Tip! Before sewing down the layers, this will be the last chance to adjust the way your cotton pieces will lie flat – trim and adjust as you like, but be sure to keep the lining hidden underneath! Keep in mind, the “strips” or layers don’t need to “match up” on both lining pieces’ edges as you generally won’t see both sides of the sheath at the same time.
Step 5: Place the Two Lined Pieces Together; Sew Edges Together.
Once all of your cotton strips are sewn down, place the two lined pieces right-sides (the sides where the cotton has been sewn down to) together (Make sure the edges of the lining line up!). Sew along the edges and bottom (making sure to not do this at the top). At the bottom tip, I didn’t actually make a point, I made a flat edge with my seams. It will work either way, but I had more luck when I turned it inside out by doing it this way.
Step 6: Place Sword Inside of Lined Pieces; Pinch Edges Together and Mark.
For this next step in our Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial, do not turn the sheath inside out and instead slip the sword inside the sheath until its point hits the bottom of the sheath. Lay it into one of the long edges (where you sewed earlier) that it fits best with. On the “open” or loose side where there is now space along the other long edge between the sword and the seam, pinch the material together about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from where the edge of the sword is. Mark where you pinch using a fabric pencil. Repeat all along the long open edge. Remove the sword and pin the sheath where marked.
Step 7: More Closely Sew Together Lined Pieces.
Sew the edge along where you pinned in Step 6. Slip the sword back in to test for fit. It should be snug, but not tight – meaning easy to get in and out, while the sheath holds a good shape. If it does this, cut off some excess from where you sewed on the outside, but not too much! Turn the sheath inside out and test it for real by placing the sword once again inside. If it fits, great! Turn it inside out again and cut off the remaining excess fabric along the edge you sewed in these last two steps (I normally leave behind 1/2 inch or 1.25 cm of material from the seam).
Note: If you want a more snug fit/if the sword does not fit well when you test it either the first or second time, repeat steps 6 and 7 until you get a fit you like, pinching closer for a tighter fit or further away from the sword for a looser fit in step 6 (this is why you SHOULD NOT cut off the excess unless you like the fit, particularly if it’s too tight as you’ll have more difficulty fixing it if you do!). I suggest a fit where you can easily slip the sword inside (there’s no difficulty putting it in and pulling it out), but it’s not “lulling” inside (or rather, where it’s not obvious that it’s a slip and not a true wrap of fabric).
Step 8: Create Three 2 Inch Wide Tubes for the Strap.
Now admittedly, in this Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial, this is where we deviate a bit from the original design of Ichigo’s sheath- where the shoulder strap appears to be a ‘hard’ material – not sure what it is supposed to be made of exactly (something to research for another day!). However, in truth, any shoulder strap is more likely to be made with a fabric of some kind, so the following process is going to give it a more realistic vibe in my opinion. Start by cutting 3 strips of red fabric. Fold each one in half and sew together to make three 2 inch (5 cm) tubes (see example below). Push all three tubes right-side out.
Step 9: Braid Together Strap Fabric.
Layer and sew the three strips of fabric together at the top ends – I like to keep the seams along the same edge or in the middle so that they’re relatively hidden. Have a friend hold one end (for extra steadiness) and braid the three strips together. You can make it as tight or as loose as you want – I think a middle ground looks best. Once it’s braided, sew the three strips together on the other end, finishing the braid.
Step 10: Place the New Strap.
To do this next step, place sword inside of sheath again (with the sheath right-side out this time though!) and hold it up to someone’s back (you can also use a mannequin lying with its front on the floor!). Determine where to best place the red strap along the seams of the sheath on the long sides, with one end on each side and one strap being placed high with the other being placed low on the seams. Don’t forget to accounting for tightness of the strap and where it will best hold the sheath up to look correct on your back.
Note: You don’t need to start from the actual top and bottoms of your braid, you can use less of the braid if it will better secure the sheath to your back).
Pin/use a fabric pencil to note these placements, both on the sheath and also on the braid. DO NOT CUT THE BRAID SHORT. When you mark these on the sheath, mark where you want the braid to be both just above the braid and below it (I find pins work best for this). This will be a big help later.
Helpful Tip: Specifically for Ichigo – How should you place the sword? Ichigo’s blade goes across his back at a steep angle, with the top near his right shoulder and the bottom near the inside of the left side of his hip, if he stands up straight. The sharp edge of the blade is facing his left shoulder.
Helpful Tip#2: The top part of the strap attaches best on the side of where the dull edge of the blade would land inside the sheath. The bottom part of the strap attaches best on the side of where the sharp edge of the blade would be lying inside the sheath.
Step 11: Seam Rip Between Where You Just Marked.
Time to get that seam ripper out! Remove the sword once again and turn the sheath inside out, making note of where your marks on the outside of the sheath were on the inside of the sheath now. Rip out the seam between your marked points, so that once you finish, you can slide the red braided strap between the two lined pieces.
Step 12: Place the Braid Inside and Sew.
Once you have created slits in your seam by using your seam ripper, place your braid inside of the sheath. Push the ends of the braid through the holes, matching where you marked the braid in Step 10 with where the seam was. Pin the braid in place and sew the lining back together, this time with the braid in between. If you feel comfortable with it, you can cut off a bit of the braid sticking out from the lining now. Turn inside out and test it by placing the sword back inside. Adjust as needed.
Step 13: Finish the Top of the Sheath.
Next in our Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial, turn your sheath right side out again and place the sword inside. Determine where you want the top of your sheath to reach relative to the sword with the sword inside. For my part, I picked just above the edge of the sharp side of the blade. A little above where the hilt started. Mark around the top edge where you want your sheath to end as you desire. Measure 2 inches (5 cm) or so vertically above where you marked. Cut off excess fabric from beyond that point.
Now, take the edge from where you just cut off the excess and fold about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the fabric down against the wrong side of the lining. Pin and sew down (you can also baste here instead if you’d like). Repeat this again and sew down the 2nd fold. You should have a clean inside hem now.
Step 14: Turn Inside Out and Enjoy! 😀
And you’re done guys!! 😀 😀 😀 Check out the finished product!
Now, best of all, it’s time to wear it and use it! (And most importantly) ENJOY IT!! 😀
Things I like about this project:
You can use scrap fabric! It makes a super useful tool for carrying your larger props, while also looking cool!
Things that are difficult:
You need to be prepared to adjust things – inevitably, you may need to!
Enjoying the finished product!
Anyway, I hope you found this Fabric Sword Sheath Tutorial to be useful. I had a lot of fun making both the sheath and this tutorial for all of you. If you use this to make a sheath, be sure to PM me or tag me. I’d love to see the finished results!