Easy to Make Ditty Bags...and Groundhogs Day

I mentioned awhile ago that David had asked me to make some new ditty bags the next time I had the sewing machine out. He uses them for holding various parts and tools. I use them for things like clothespins and sewing supplies. I had cut up the old bimini and salvaged some good-sized chunks of useable Sunbrella fabric which provided ample material for the half dozen new bags he'd requested. For those of you who don't know what a ditty bag is, here's Wiktionary's definition. Though the origin of the term ditty bag is not clear, it appears to be a nautical term used in the 1850s as a slang for the cloth bag which sailors used to carry their personal items. It might derive from the British naval phrase commodity bag. Not sure how “housewife” got mixed up in the definition. Anyhow, David uses ditty bags lots and needed more.

wiktionary definition

When there's a dearth of ditty bags, David uses Zip-Loc bags which wear out quickly. The ditty bags eventually wear out, too … but after several years, rather than weeks. In particular, he needed a new ditty bag to hold his vast collection of sockets (you can never have too many!). He also needed one to manage his supply of stainless hose clamps in various sizes. If I make more, he'll always find a use for them. This is about the easiest project you can do using used or leftover fabric and you can make one, from start to finish, in 15 minutes … max.

make a ditty bag

This is not rocket science. I don't even get out my measuring tape. I eyeball the size and cut, providing for a ½ seam allowance and a 1” tube along the top edge for a drawstring. In this case, David wanted a couple of bags about the size of a ZipLoc gallon bag, so I got out a bag to figure the approximate size. I fold the fabric in half to save myself cutting and stitching on one side.

measuring the ditty bag

Fold over and stitch the short ends of the rectangle first to give a finished edge. Then fold over about 1” along the top edge and stitch it so there is a long tube for the drawstring.

finished edge and drawstring tube

Stitch the side and bottom seams starting about 1” down from the top, so that you have access to the drawstring tube.

stitch side about one inch down

Turn the bag right-side out and then draw a piece of small line through the drawstring tube using a large safety pin. We usually tie the ends of the line together in a knot.

use a safety pin for the drawstring

Voila! You've got a ditty bag.

Notes: I had a shortcut because the finished bimini edge provided a built-in drawstring tube for a couple of the bags.

Sometimes the bags are leftover fabric from another project … like pillow covers, etc., in which case they become rather colorful, but easily distinguishable.

For sake of identification, David sometimes labels the bags.

labeled ditty bag

By the way, in case you forgot, it's Groundhog's Day. Not from the USA? It's an fun holiday to determine if we'll get an early Spring or not. Check out Punxatawney Phil's official website. We plan to watch the movie, Groundhog Day, tonight to celebrate. Any opportunity to celebrate!

punxsutawney phil