How I Made These Dice Bags

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    I made these dice bags myself and am still secure in my masculinity.  Rather than have people E-mail me (and surprisingly TWO people actually have!) I finally decided to just put it up.  Just as an explanation of where the whole project came from I happened to be thinking about buying/obtaining a new dice bag.  I've used a Crown Royal bag for years and have also had a few other store-bought dice bags. But all the "new" dice bags I could find were A) stupidly pricey, B) not all that great looking - especially considering the price, and C) extremely SIMPLE in their construction.  They were so simple that I realized pretty quickly that even I could do that much, probably even at a cost of $0 using stuff around the house.  I thought about ordering one from The Gamer's Bag on the internet.  But while they were obviously going to be much better quality the price was even higher and would then include shipping charges.  Having nothing better to do and knowing that even having no ranks in the sewing arts I could do better than what I saw in local gaming shops I decided to see what I could do in making one of my own.  I ended up making three and I'll probably undertake to make one more as a masterwork. :)

    If you need more detail than what you find here just let me know.  The cost for the grommets and grommet tool will probably be around $15 but if you're going to make more than one bag the cost per bag will be pretty low.  Also, of course, if you're buying fabric, thread, etc. the cost goes up but if you're making more than one bag then the costs rapidly drop below what you'd end up paying for them in a game store for MUCH cruder results.  I mean that too.  No offense to whoever it is makes those simple game-store-bought bags but they're cheap-ass stuff.  Whatever.  It's a fun, easy, interesting little project.

    The place to start is finding what fabric to use.  I used just what I happened to have on hand which was actually a thin, light-kakhi denim from a pair of pants that no longer fit.  It was a little difficult to hand-stitch it in a couple places where it folds over a few times but it's not impossible.  Still, I'd look for something a little less heavy than denim and probably something more colorful.  Go to a fabric store.  They've probably got all kinds of small scrap pieces intended for quilters and such that will do.

    Pick whatever thread you like.  Depending on the style of closure you're going to be using for the bag it may not really matter what color it is, you might not even be seeing any threads.  But if the thread will be visible then either pick a color to blend into the chosen fabric completely, or one that stands out clearly and offsets it.

    Included below is a "pattern" for each of the three styles I made.  I put that in parenthesis because it's not as if you can print this stuff out on normal sewing pattern paper.  You;ll have to make your own actual pattern or mark the fabric for cutting yourself.  For the ones I made I just adjusted dimensions and made it up as I went along but it's not hard and I drew the pattern later just for grins.  You can scale the patterns up or down or in any dimension you like depending on what you want. These just happen to be close to "standard" sizes for dice bags.

    There are three styles as I said.  I've named them the Sack style, the Box style, and the Crown Royal style (since that is the style used for the purple, velvet Crown Royal whiskey bags that a lot of gamers use).  The Sack style is really simple to make.  It's smaller and is probably best for just one or two sets of dice.  The Box style is very roomy, it holds tons of dice, and by having a "flat" bottom will actually stand vertical fairly well if the fabric has any stiffness to it (my denim bag does).  The Crown Royal style is just as roomy as the Box style, maybe a little bit more as it tends to fill out and sit more like a true bag or sack.

    For each of the bags you will need to decide what kind of closure you want to use.  The picture you see above shows two different approaches.  The two on the ends use a simpler method.  They have 8 metal grommets each that the drawstring passes all the way through from the inside to the outside of the bag.  The bag in the center has four grommets and they only penetrate the outer face of the bag to allow the dual drawstrings to pass through an enclosed loop at the top of the bag.

    The grommets are probably the one thing that'll cost any real money and you really do want to use them.  The store-bought dice bags I've always gotten don't have them and that's where they always start to fray and fall apart because that's where they see the most use/abuse.  You can buy grommets and related stuff at larger craft stores like Michaels.  They come in various colors, styles, and sizes.  In addition to the grommets themselves you'll need an "anvil" and post set.  This is just a pair of metal pieces that are used to hammer the two halves of the grommets together.  The ones I used were star shaped so I was careful to try to keep the stars all pointed up the same direction.  Others I saw were simple round ones, and daisy/flower styles and they all came in a choice of at least a gold-ish or silver-ish tone.

    The type of stitch I used... well it's probably called the bachelor stitch or something like that.  Just back and forth, fairly close together.  It needs to be close enough so that the stitching in the seam isn't going to show from the outside and keeps it strong, yet I kept it open enough that it didn't take all that long.  It's mostly going to be inside the bag where nobody will ever see or care, just so long as it works.  The stitches should be kept tight, obviously, but it shouldn't be so tight that the fabric actually bunches up. If you actually KNOW anything about sewing or care to get more detailed and involved in the project you could undoubtedly find a better/more appropriate stitch to use but that's out of the scope of my own knowledge and research.  Google is your friend.

    The seam at the top for the drawstring loop though, that IS going to be seen on the outside of the bag and needs to be done with more care.  If you look at the photo on the website you can see that although I still used a rock-simple stitch I did it at just the slightest angle and each stitch covered a bit of the same length as the previous stitch to achieve a sort of stretched angle pattern.  Use whatever stitch you think will look good and that you think you're actually capable of doing consistently.

    Overall, the more design planning, forethought, and time you put into it the better the final results.  If I were to do another one now I'd likely go to a quilting or fabric store to select fabric.  I'd probably try to get really extensive with the embroidery; a dragon or a really detailed design and maybe use multiple colors for the thread.  And for the stitching on the drawstring loop I'd do a much more visible pattern and take even more time to keep it consistent.  I still have 25 or so of the star grommets so I'd use them again.  I like them anyway.  And I'd probably put in a pen loop, dice fobs on the drawstrings, and the drawstrings themselves would obviously have to coordinate with the rest of the bag.


0. READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS THROUGH FIRST.  There are things you need to consider about your desired end result BEFORE you begin as they will change how you need to proceed.

1. SACK STYLE. Take the one piece of cloth and fold it in half so that the top edges align and the fabric faces IN. (Essentially all the bags need to be inside out as you make them.) If you need to do so, I suppose you can pin the fabric in place to make sure it doesn't slip as you stitch it, but I didn't find it necessary so long as I was reasonably careful. Stitch up the side seams. Seams should be about 1/8" or better so that you have something to work with.

2. BOX STYLE. Very similar to above.  Measure carefully before you cut the fabric for your panels.  Cut the "side" panel LONG rather than short.  You can cut off excess at the top if you need to but it's rather hard to add more fabric if you come up short.  Take one of the front/back panels and the side panel. Place the faces of the fabric pieces IN to each other. The top edges should align. I just started at the top edge of one seam and started stitching until I got all the way around to the other end.  I was reasonably close but was also careful about the positioning of the fabric as I went to make sure it was staying aligned, especially when I was beginning to stitch up toward the top edge from the bottom of the bag so that the side panel would not end up positioned over-long or over-short.  It might be a good idea to use safety pins to pin the two pieces of fabric together and keep them from moving out of place as you go, but I think if you're careful it's not all that necessary.

3. Once the front/back panel is sewn to the side panel you repeat for sewing the other front/back panel to the other edge of the side panel.  Again, make sure the fabric is facing IN while the seam you're sewing faces out.  It seems so simple but then I think it's the easiest thing to screw up (as I almost did).  The Box style bag is a bit more difficult stitching because after having attached the first panel things tend not to want to stay put where they should. Again, use safety pins if you think you need to, but if _I_ can do it then it's not as hard as it might seem.

4. CROWN ROYAL STYLE.  As above for the Box style.  It just doesn't have 90 degree corners.  That means you don't have to deal with the hard corners in your seams but you still have to be careful about keeping the fabric aligned as you go.  Also, because you're not following a straight line you need to be careful about your seam following a proper curve.

5. DRAWSTRING OPTIONS.  A suggestion first about drawstrings and grommets.  If you use grommets be sure that the drawstring will FIT through them (I almost screwed that up too).  A second suggestion - rather than threading the drawstring through after sewing you might want to consider having the drawstring in place as you sew the drawstring loop over it.  If you want the simpler drawstring option (as seen on the two sample bags on the ends in the picture) then you only have to fold over the top 1", make pilot holes for eight evenly spaced grommets.  I did it just by making a tiny snip with scissors that was just slightly SMALLER than the grommet itself.  Then use the grommet tool to seat them in place.  Naturally, you want to be sure that the decorative face of the grommet, if any, is facing OUTSIDE.  Those grommets are fairly permanent.  If you screw up somehow it's not like you can just remove them like you can pull out bad stitching.  Take a moment to be sure it's right before making pilot holes or hammering those two grommet halves together.  When done with that just run the drawstring in and out of the grommets, tie a knot, and that's it.  You won't need to sew a seam at the top of the bag because the grommets will keep the fold in place just fine, though you can put a seam at the top if you want one.  HOWEVER, if you want the fully enclosed drawstring loop there's a bit more work involved:

6. For a single-drawstring type just make pilot holes for two grommets. WARNING! Make sure that these grommets will be in the correct position. They should be close to each other on the OUTSIDE of the bag, centered in the band that will be the drawstring loop at the top of the bag, and positioned appropriately at the middle of one side/face or together on opposite sides of a seam. They will NOT pass through both layers of the drawstring loop fold at the top of the bag, just one.  Use the tool to attach the grommets.

7. For a dual-drawstring type of bag you'll need four grommets at opposite sides of the bag.

8. Once grommets are in position, fold over the top 1". Sew a seam all the way around the top of the bag to seal the drawstring loop.  When you get to the first side seam you'll have to fold it over however seems best and then stitch through several layers of the bunched fabric.  You might keep in mind that when you have to thread the drawstring through it'll be easier to do if you're going WITH the fold at these seams not against them.  One more time, if you need to, use safety pins to hold things together while you stitch.

9. The drawstring itself will now need to be threaded through the drawstring loop after you've finished sewing it up. I was able to do so using a thin, but stiff piece of wire, fishing that through the inside of the loop, taping the drawstring to it, and then pulling the drawstring back through. You might want to experiment a bit first to be sure that you will be able to get the drawstring in there.  As mentioned before you might even want to consider having the drawstring in place BEFORE you sew the loop closed.  It was a little tight for me but I didn't have too much trouble fishing through the loop with the wire.

10. FINISHING TOUCHES.  You might have noticed that a couple of the drawstrings have dice on them as fobs.  This is pretty simple to do also but requires the use of a drill or Dremel tool.  Secure the die to a good clamp so that it won't move while you're drilling it.  You want a hole that is JUST large enough to accomodate the drawstring, but not slip through if the drawstring is knotted.  Otherwise, pick the corner or face you want to drill through, and... drill.  As an extra touch, if you bore one end of the hole a larger diameter than the other then you can knot the string, cut off the excess, and then pull it so that it seats inside the hole so that you can't see the knot.

11. Another idea to use is a pen loop.  None of my bags had them as I came across the idea from The Gamers Bag after I'd finished mine.  Again you need to first choose the fabric.  This fabric should be thin and strong and possibly won't work if it's the same fabric as the bag itself.  In fact, what might work best is a short piece of stout ribbon.  Just fold it and sew it into the seam of your bag not too far from the top.  Obviously, if all your seams are already done it's a bit late to be thinking about adding a pen loop now - I TOLD you to read everything first. :)  Just be sure that the loop will FIT the pen and the pen probably should fit ALONGSIDE the bag, not stick above or below the bag when clipped in the loop.

12. Last thing is embroidery. Just as an experiment, on one bag (the center one in the picture) I outlined a symbol. It's supposed to be a stylized "D" but as I proceeded it turned out to look a bit more like a crescent sort of design. Whatever. For being the first ever such thing I'd even thought about trying and without putting too much time or effort into it I thought I did amazingly well.  Anyway, look at any jacket or shirt patch to see what I'm talking about here.  You simply start at any given point on the outline and stitch from one side of the outline edge to the other keeping the threads close and tight (but not enough to bunch up the fabric).  Not even hard to do really, just time consuming more than anything else.  But it's the one way to REALLY personalize the end result.  If you can trace or draw an outline you can probably embroider it onto a bag.  You might want to embroider first before stitching the bag itself together if it's going to be something really large and detailed.  In fact, try a bit of experimentation on scraps before actually diving in on your finished bag.  Just be sure it'll be right side up and centered when the bag itself is finished.  Also, the larger and simpler the design the better it'll turn out.  If it's really small and intricate then you'll likely lose all the detail you wanted - the more detail, the larger it will need to be.  Use a somewhat larger thread.  You want to keep the stitches close and for the threads to fill in right next to each other and block out all the background.  If you look closely at the picture above you'll see that my stitching on this was just a little uneven, and the thread just a little too thin.  With heavier thread it would have filled in better and might well have disguised the very slight unevenness of the stitching.



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