Welcome to Craft & Dragons, a semi-regular segment here on The Worst blog, where we explore the adventure of making cool stuff!!
When coming up with this season’s D&D craft idea, I wanted to design a project that would challenge people to try something new (well, new to some people) – sewing! I wanted to make it simple enough so that it could serve as an introduction to sewing construction, but at the same time be perfectly practical for any gamer.
For me, there was only one answer – the ubiquitous dice bag!
Every RPG nerd needs one; however, the problem I see with a lot of dice bag patterns is that they lack proper structure to stand on their own when loaded. And as much fun as the conversational ones are, like the giant dodecahedron or character-shaped ones, I find they are more gimmick than anything else – ADORABLE gimmicks, mind you, but most gamers need something that can be tossed in a back pack and roughed up a bit if necessary.
The pattern I’ve designed for y’all rests flat on a table when standing, is fully lined, and is simple enough to make that you can crank out plenty of them for gifts. Feel free to make as many of them as you want. Heck, you can even sell them if you want. I only ask that you don’t go into full production with them (like shipping them to a manufacturer to produce), that you don’t sell the pattern (I mean, come on, it’s free on this blog), and that if you list them on a site to sell, like Etsy, you give me credit for the pattern.
I genuinely hope you all will try this out. I guarantee you it’s super easy, and I am nothing if not overtly descriptive in my instructions. I have provided a .pdf that has the pattern pieces AND all the written instructions (without pictures) if you prefer to read them on paper instead of a screen.
Get the .pdf pattern and instructions here: gilsdicebag
(Make sure you have ACTUAL SIZE checked when you print otherwise, your bag pattern will print smaller than it should.)
I am not a professional photographer (clearly!) so I apologize if any of the images aren’t as sharp or bright as they should.
Please read all instructions before beginning any new project!
Let’s get started!
This project is rated:
For this project, you will need (NOTE: I’m going to drop some names here for brands, but feel free to invest as much money in any brand you want. The suggestions I’m giving are meant as a relatively low-cost options for people just starting out, not a full-on endorsement of any of these brands.):
A sewing machine – If you’ve been on the fence about getting a sewing machine, I hope this project will convince you to take the plunge. Yeah, there are sewing machines out there that cost well into the thousands, but you don’t need them. If you are starting out, you can easily go get a functional machine at a big box store for well under 100 dollars. A Brother sewing machine from Wal-Mart was my first machine, and it worked well enough for me when I was learning to sew. Just follow the instructions on winding a bobbin as written. Each machine is different, and you’ll need to get used to it.
Sharp fabric scissors – You just need a pair of scissors that aren’t going to chew through the fabric as you cut it. You need them to glide through the fiber. Fiskars makes a good, solid pair that will last you a while if you take care of them.
Steam Iron & ironing board – Any iron brand will do. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions on operation.
Pins – Just get a box of glass head sewing pins. Dritz makes a decent pin that won’t break the bank.
1/3 of a yard of 42/45” wide fabric (I refer to this fabric in the instructions as “fashion fabric”) – I suggest you work with 100% cotton fabric often used for quilting and general purpose craft sewing. It’s available in a million different prints at any Joann’s or Hobby Lobby stores. You can, of course, use any fabric you want, but if this is your first time sewing something, stick with my guidelines and you’ll be fine. NOTE: if you want to have a contrast lining, you’ll need another 1/3 of a yard of a different color/print. You don’t have to do this at all because the required 1/3rd of a yard is plenty for both the outer shell and lining.
Matching thread – Your best bet is to stick with Coats and Clark‘s dual duty thread. It’s a general purpose thread that works fine for most projects. It’s cheap, functional, and comes in plenty of colors. One regular sized spool will be more than enough for both a bobbin and the sewing of this project. Try to find a color that blends into your fabric.
1 ½ yards of ¼ inch ribbon or some king of string/cording – This is going to be the closing mechanism on this project, so get something that is strong enough to tug on, but not so thick that it won’t fit through the cord stops. I use a cording called rattail. It comes in lots of colors and since it’s polyester, you can melt the ends with a flame to ensure they won’t ravel. You can use paracord for this, BUT make sure you get a cord stop with a big enough hole so the paracord can glide through it without struggle.
2 cord stops – You can find these on the notions wall. They are used to prevent coring from slipping out of place. Heck, if you have an old garment with some, you can grab them from there too.
Tape – This is for making the pattern pieces.
Spray starch (optional) – I really recommend this though. You can get the heavy/professional Niagara brand starch from the grocery store. One can will last you forever.
Pencil – This is to mark the fabric for construction. You can get a fancy fabric marking pencil if you want, but really, you don’t need it for this project.
Seam ripper (optional) – If you follow my instructions, you won’t make a mistake, BUUUUUUT on the off-chance you do make a boo-boo, a seam ripper is a handy device to get your stitches undone.
DISCLAIMER: For the sample, I am using a black marker to transfer markings so you can see it in the pictures, but please understand, YOU NEVER MARK ANY PIECE OF FABRIC WITH A BLACK MARKER!! LIKE, EVER!! I’m also using a contrasting thread so you can see where the stitches are going. For best results on your project, use a thread color that blends into the fabric. Also, for this example, I am using a different color fabric for the different parts of the bag so you can see where everything goes.
The monkey print is my fashion fabric, the red solid is for the casings and the polka dot is my lining.
First, let’s assemble our pattern. Just print out the pages from the .PDF and cut along the solid black line. You’ll also need to cut along the light dotted lines on the bag pieces. Once the pieces are cut out, align the stars on the bag pattern pieces and tape them together. This will give you one main pattern piece to work with. Using a push pin or a sewing pin, poke holes on the PLACEMENT POINTS FOR CASING so you can transfer these markings to your fabric later.
I suggest you wash your fabric before you start any sewing. You can omit this step if you want, but washing fulls the fibers a bit and prepares them for repeated washings in the future. You can just toss the fabric in with your towels or any like colors when doing the laundry.
Once your fabric has been washed and dried, you’ll need to press it with some starch (I’m going on the assumption that you are using 100% cotton as suggested, at this point). Using the appropriate setting on your iron, have the fabric face down and spray some starch on the back of the fabric. Let it soak in for a sec then using a little steam, press the fabric until dry. This will give your fabric a nice, crisp feel and it will be much easier to work with.
We need to cut out 2 CASINGS, a FRONT, a BACK and two LINING pieces of fabric. To do this, fold the fabric in half (wrong sides together) and make sure they are aligned along the finished edges. This will let us cut out two pieces of fabric at a time. I don’t recommend you cut out more than two at a time with scissors, as too thick of a stack and the scissors will warp the cut angle.
Following the grain line on the pattern pieces, lay out your paper pattern pieces on the fabric as shown. You can change the direction of the paper pieces on the fabric in any 90◦ angle, but do not place it at a 45◦ angle as this is the bias and the fabric will stretch too much. If this is your first time sewing, follow the lengthwise grain as pictured. If your fabric has a directional print, make sure the top of the pattern piece is at the top of the print.
Once you’ve placed the pieces in your desired locations, pin through all layers (paper piece and two fabric layers) as shown. Carefully cut along the edge of the paper piece with sharp scissors.
Repeat pinning and cutting the pattern pieces out for the lining. NOTE: When finished cutting, you will have 2 FRONT pieces, 2 LINING fabric pieces, and 2 CASING pieces.
The lining does not have a casing.
Once you’re all cut out, on the right side of the fabric, make small, light pencil marks through the holes for the PLACEMENT POINTS FOR CASING holes you poked. It’s best to do it now as it will be more difficult during construction. On the casing piece, you’ll need to transfer the FOLD LINES to the wrong side of the fabric using a pencil. You are also going to need to mark the 5/8th seam allowance at the top of the FRONT and BACK pieces, on the wrong side of the fabric.
Now for some sewing explanations.
Seam allowance is the extra fabric we allow around the actual sewing lines to give us something to hang on to for construction. I have given this pattern 5/8th inch seam allowance because this is a standard in commercial sewing patterns, and I think most people are used to seeing that measurement. There are four places on this pattern that switch to ¼ inch seam allowance, because it makes sense in construction. I have elected to not have you all trim away any excess seam allowance when construction is done. I think the weight of the 5/8th seam allowance adds structure to the bag. So, if any of you are used to sewing, feel free to do as you please, but if this is a first-time project, follow the instructions and you’ll do just fine.
At the beginning and ending of each stitching line, you’ll need to backstitch. This is just going in reverse a few stitches to lock the thread in place so it doesn’t unravel on you. Follow the instructions on your sewing machine to backstitch correctly.
Before you begin any new projects, make sure your sewing machine is in working order. Make sure you have a properly wound and inserted bobbin, a sharp needle, and the correct thread for your fabric. If you’ve followed my suggestions for fabric and thread, you’re good to go.
It helps to have your sewing machine in relative proximity to your ironing board. There are places that require you to press seams open, and getting up and down is going to be taxing, even on a small project like this.
When you are sewing, if this is your first time tackling something like this, GO SLOW! This isn’t a race. I hope you have fun with this project and you’ll continue to sew afterwards.
I’ve included pictures of how I hold the fabric while sewing. You’ll want to control the fabric as much as possible with your hands, constantly keeping it in check. It’s going to be a nice, even feed while the machine makes stitches. This will help keep everything aligned as you’ve pinned it.
Once you have finished sewing a seam, clip any excess thread relatively close to the backstitches. You can leave about ¼ inch of a thread tail.
When sewing a seam that you have pinned, do not sew over the pins. When you get to a pin when sewing, just stop, remove the pin, and then continue to sew while keeping the fabric under the sewing machine foot even. It helps to have your pins at a perpendicular angle to the seam, so they can be more easily removed.
If you’ve never sewn anything before, the yardage of this project will yield plenty of scraps to play with on the machine before you start sewing on the real bag. Practice, practice, practice!!
Now, LET’S GET CRACKING!!
We’re going to prepare the casing piece first. On the short sides of the casing fabric piece, fold in ¾ along the fold lines to the wrong side, and press with an iron.
Sew along the fold at 5/8th backstitching at the raw edges using the 5/8th marking on your sewing machine as a guide.
To the wrong side of the fabric, fold in ¼ inch along the long edges of the casing and press. Try to keep the little ends along the sort sides tucked in so they don’t show to the right side.
Following the marked PLACEMENT POINTS FOR CASING place the casing over the points on the FRONT and BACK fashion fabric pieces. They are not going to match perfectly, so center the casing over them as close to them as possible. (I made them just to the inside the casing so you wouldn’t have them show if the casing wasn’t perfectly centered.) Once you have them where they need to go, pin them in place with a few pins. Double check the placement by matching the front fabric piece to the back fabric piece. If they are relatively equal, you’re good.
Carefully stitch along the edge of the casing JUST ON THE LONG SIDES. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Do this for both long edges of each casing. Once again, SEW SLOWLY if you’re not used to it. When done, you’ll see that the sewn casing has formed a little fabric tunnel. D’awwww…
On the BACK and FRONT, you are going to press the 5/8th inch seam allowance on the top edge to the wrong side of the fabric. This is just to mark a line with pressing, this seam allowance will not stay pressed in during construction!
With right sides together, pin the FRONT to the BACK, matching the raw edges of the fabric, along the bottom edge.
Sew the bottom seam with a 5/8th seam allowance, backstitching at the beginning and end. Press the seam open and flat.
With right sides together, match the FRONT to the BACK along the raw edges of the fabric once more, and pin along the long sides. Make sure the 5/8th seam allowance you pressed at the top is not folded down when you pin. I promise it will make sense in a little bit.
Using a 5/8th seam allowance, sew the long sides, backstitching at the beginning and end.
With the sewn piece flat on the ironing board, fold open one long seam and press. Turn the sewn piece to the other side and do the same thing. Repeat these steps with the other long seam.
Match the open seam allowance of the bottom and side seams along the bottom square cut-out notches so that a straight seam is formed. Pin this seam. It’s best to just do one corner seam at a time.
Sew this seam using a ¼ inch seam allowance, backstitching at the beginning and end. Make sure you keep the rest of the bag free when swing this seam. Also, make sure it is flat against the sewing machine when you sew it. Repeat construction for the other corner.
Turn the bag inside out so the right side is facing the outside. Use your finger to poke out the corners.
Congrats! You just completed the outer, fashion fabric shell for your dice bag! Now, go do it again for the lining, omitting marking for and sewing on the casing. For the lining, you’re not going to turn it inside out.
Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to finish.
All finished making the lining shell?
WOOHOO! You’re a boss!! *high fives you*
OK, now to complete this masterpiece.
Remember when we pressed in the 5/8th seam allowance at the top of the FRONT and BACK pieces for both the fashion fabric and the lining? Good, because here is where it comes into play.
Make sure the 5/8th seam allowance at the top of the FRONT and BACK pieces ae turned in, and slip the lining bag into the fashion fabric bag, matching side seams.
Pin the two folded edges together, keeping them as even as possible.
CAREFULLY, SLOWLY sew just to the inside of the folded edge. This is technically called “edge stitching” and it’s about 1/16th to 1/8th away from the edge. I like to start sewing close to a side seam, because it’s less conspicuous, but anywhere you want to start is fine. Because the bag top forms a loop, you are going to start and stop at the same place. Be sure to backstitch when you start and stop to secure the stitch. When you’re done, clip the thread tail close to the stitching.
If you want, you can do a top stitch along the edge of the fold too. To do this, use the width of your sewing machine foot to stitch away from the first edge stitch. This is purely decorative and unnecessary.
Now, on to the closure.
Cut your yard and a half long ribbon/string in half.
Using a small safety pin, work one end of one of the ribbon/string lengths though one end of a casing and out the other end. With the same safety-pinned ribbon/string end, go directly into the adjacent casing end and come out on the other end. Your two ribbon/string ends should be both on one side.
Turn the bag to the opposite side and repeat the ribbon/string steps. When finished, you should have two sides that have loose ribbon/string ends hanging from the casings. This configuration forms a slide “knot” that will allow you to open and close the bag easily.
On one side, take two ribbon/string ends and thread them through one cord stop (Hold down the button on the cord stop to open the hole.) Slide the cord stop along the ribbon/string until there is about 1 inch between it and the bag. Repeat for other ribbon ends. Find a length you like and make a knot in the ribbon/string ends to prevent the cord stop from falling off. Repeat for the other side. Cut off any excess ribbon/string you don’t want.
YOU DID IT! YOU MADE YOUR VERY OWN DICE BAG!!!
Now go fill that awesome fabric creation with some well-loved dice!! Yes, even the D4’s…
If you have any questions, typo corrections, concerns or need any clarification or help with your sewing, please leave a comment in the comment section.