The making of a dice bag, a how-to!
All right, it’s time for me to put my pen where my mouth is and write about that immortal tabletop gaming accessory, the dice bag.
Let me start by acknowledging that any container can be used to corral dice. Several of my friends and colleagues keep their collections in latching boxes, Tupperware containers, and Ziploc bags. (A gallon Ziploc stuffed entirely full of dice is a spectacle that demands respect.) As long as you can securely carry your dice to and fro, all’s well. The dice bag just adds a touch of style and personalization to the affair.
That said, specialized dice bags are readily available commercially. Store-bought bags are usually simple drawstring satchels made of velour. Very utilitarian. A larger proportion of bags are handmade and extremely personal. Take a look about the web and you’ll find all manner of bags in a wide spectrum of materials. I’ve seen ones made in simple fabric, leather, chainmail, knitting, crochet, pretty much anything you can think of. (I’ve seen ones made from kangaroo scrotums.) There’s also a tradition of using scavenged bags, most commonly the bag from bottles of Crown Royal whisky.
These are my dice bags. A traditional Crown Royal to hold the first half of my collection, a travel bag made of repurposed black linen pockets, a tiny leather bag from a garage sale, and the hex patchwork bag I made for this ‘tutorial’ which now holds the second half of my dice.
Now, to make one.
At the most basic level, a dice bag is naught but a drawstring bag. Because there are so many patterns and options when making such a thing, this won’t be a how-to so much as documentation of how I made mine. I have, however, gone seeking out upon the web and found a solid selection of tutorials for making various types of drawstring bags. If you’d prefer having clear, step-by-step instructions to my documentary zip on over and check these out:
A basic drawstring bag, by Allisa Jacobs of Quiltish
Drawstring bag with two strings, from the purl bee
A reversable version, from Ayumi of Pink Penguin
Tibetan drawstring pouch tutorial, by Rumi. See it in action here.
A cylindrical version reinforced by a tin can, by queenofdiy
The bag I made is similar in design to a Crown Royal bag (I ripped apart a spare one to get an idea of the pattern.) with two main panels and a long strip sewn along the side in order to get a larger inside volume and put less strain on the seams. (The strip’s not exactly a gusset, but since it serves sort of the same function I’ve been calling it that.) I also used up a good number of the hexagons I made, which added a few steps of preparation to this normally simple pattern.
(These steps were only needed because the main fabric of the bag is patchwork. If I decided, like a sane person, to use solid pieces of cloth for each panel, I would have skipped all this and one straight to construction.)
This is one of the panels I used, though I cut a curve on the bottom edge before sewing so the finished bag has a rounded bottom.
Thanks to the patchwork, the back side of this panel, its twin, and the gusset all have the raw edges of seams exposed and need a lining fabric to make sure the inside of the bag won’t deteriorate with use. A lining also helps strengthen the bag by supporting the hand-stitched seams between hexagons.
The first thing I did was cut a pieces of my lining, natural cotton muslin, and baste the pieces to their corresponding patchwork sections. Then I basted them and added lines of hand stitching across each panel to ensure that, should the bag ever need washing (pop does get spilled after all), the seams and raw edges under the lining will stay in place and not make the bag lumpy.
When all that was done, I moved on to…
Step one, as in any sewing project, was cutting out the pieces. My panels and gusset were already cut out so I was practically ready to go. All I needed to do to finish them was draft an arc onto the bottom of each of the panels and cut them to size.
(Note: Technically, I needed to finish the panels completely and, after cutting the curved bottom on each, take a sides + curve measurement in order to know how long to make the gusset. This means the steps I’ve showed you here are a wee bit out of order. I actually ran through the preparation steps for the panels all the way to cutting up there^, measured, stitched together the gusset from hexagons and prepared it, then went on to construction. It was a loop! Still, by the time this step rolled around, all the pieces were finished.)
The next step, since this design doesn’t include a drawstring casing, was to add the loops that retain the drawstrings to each panel. You can make these by hemming strips of cloth or doing what I did and salvage belt loops from old pants.
(Normally a drawstring bag has a casing, which is a hollow hem/space for the drawstring to run through, around the mouth of the bag. In designs like that, making the casing is one of the very last steps. I think casing are massive pains in the duff, so I avoid making them whenever possible.)
Once the loops were on, the panels were finally, totally complete and I could start slapping pieces together. This part had two steps.
One, I pinned the gusset to a panel and stitched it on, then clipped the seam allowance and bound the raw edge with a zigzag stitch.
Two, I did it again on the other side.
After that, only the finishing touches were needed. I trimmed the edges of the bag’s mouth until the opening was even, then pinned an inch-wide strip of muslin to the right side of the bag around the edge.
The reason for the strip is the lined patchwork panels are very thick, too thick to make a neat, finished hem. Instead, I used the muslin as a facing. Stitched it on, flipped it over, hemmed, and whipstitched it down to create a smooth, finished edge on the bag’s mouth.
The final step was to make the drawstrings. To make a cloth drawstring one usually takes a long strip of fabric, folds it in on itself, and sews the open side shut, making a nice cloth cord. I saved myself the time and effort by salvaging some ties off an old garment. All I needed to do was hem the one raw end on each tie, feed them through the bag’s loops, and sew the end together into two continuous loops that could stand up to lots of pulling.
Ta-da! A lovely home for my new dice.