Our ditty bags are made to order. Each is unique but shares the basic construction of the one shown. They are all completely handmade using the traditional techniques of historical sailors. We sew them with a sail needle from 19th century England and the bags feature all natural materials including hemp from Sweden. The fancy lanyard used as a handle includes traditional knots such as Turk’s head knots, Mathew Walker knots, and Star knots. The particular knots used will vary.
– The body of the bag is 11 inches tall, the diameter is 6 inches.
– The length of the lanyard is about 26 inches.
About the Tradition:
Ditty bags are a traditional and very personal part of an historical sailor’s possessions. They were used by sailors as a portable place to keep smaller items and tools. In making them, sailors practiced the important skill of sewing canvas. The stitches used were the same as those used for sewing sails. Their construction also involved the making and sewing of grommets, which was an important part of sail making as well. Sailors would use seam presses, which were typically small pieces of wood to make the seams flat.
The lanyard, or handle, of a ditty bag was a place where a sailor could practice and show off his fancy rope work. Making a ditty bag taught practical skills(sailors also spent time on board making and patching their own clothes, so sewing was an important skill for more than just sail making), was an avenue for self-expression(sailors often stenciled their initials unto the bag and used custom rope work), and resulted in a practical item which the sailor would use daily.