Wayland's Ditty Bag

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A couple of years ago, at the UK Bushmoot I set myself a little project to make myself a new ditty bag.


I had seen one on an American web site that had a few nice ideas on it but was stupidly over priced and had lots of pointless decoration on it.

I decided I could make something more suited to my needs for a fraction of the price.

In fact it ended up being less than 1% of the price by my reckoning.

One of the things I did like about their design was the incorporation of a zip into the side which allowed better access into the bottom of the bag.


So, a couple of years further on and I’m getting a lot of enquiries about the bag and particularly what I carry in it.

The first part is easy to answer. I still have it, I love it, I will never part with it and I will not make another one because I don’t make stuff commercially.

The second part is more difficult to pin down because the contents change day to day according to my requirements.

I suppose I would define it as a portable craft bag, carrying the tools and equipment I need for whatever job is at hand.

That was part of the thinking behind the flexible division system inside. An idea that I replicated later on my “Boazu Bag”.

I wanted to be able to put large or small things in it with some protection from rattling around.


One fairly consistent item that is often carried is an old collar box that fits nicely above the divisions and holds a collection of smaller items.


I also usually carry a collection of fids and marlin spikes for rope working.

Always useful around camp.


A knife and sharpening steel are also pretty essential for a craft bag and I often carry a selection of brass hardware attached to the sides as well for use on all sorts of projects.


And of course, no ditty bag would be complete without that most useful of tools, a bottle opener.
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Anyone for sailing?
Mar 5, 2008
~Hemel Hempstead~
I really enjoyed watching you sew this together and am continually impressed with it every time I see it.

After 2 years of use are there any elements you'd change in it or wish you'd have added at the time?
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Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
Its a work of art.

I would like to make one but Im busy at all sorts now.

(Job applications at my level are rather complex...)

I found a similar canvas and leather handbag at the car boot last week; 50p is worth it, eh?

Im planning on remaking it to my requirements. The basic idea is nice but the fittings, well they look cheap.

Nothing says a tacky bit of kit more than cheap fittings...even simply replacing them works wonders if the rest of the item is sound.

I tested them with a magnet thinking they were plated...but no...I think they are actually die cast...its that bad.

Shame as the rest of the bag is respectable.


Traditionally, making their own ditty bag was almost a right of passage for a seaman in the age of sail.

I guess it was something like an apprentice piece in many ways.

I set out to make something that would stretch my own abilities to a degree and although it was not the most complex build I've done, it is probably the showiest. It is something that people look at and wonder how it could have been made.

After showing this on FaceBook yesterday, I received a message from another leatherworker who said someone had tried to commission him to make a copy. He had turned it down because he could clearly see how much work it required. He asked me if it was machine stitched, to which I replied that it was all hand made and some of the seams were too multidirectional to have been done with a machine anyway.

Having said all that. Something like this still only uses basic leatherworking stitches, saddle stitch mostly and some box stitch around the base. If you know how to do those, and have the time it requires, the rest is just down to planning and perseverance.

Ben Trout

Feb 19, 2006
Wiltshire, GB
My current ditty back is a crude modification of an old trouser leg. It does the job, but I have never come up with a design for a replacement. Your bag, and your boazu bag are fantastic source material. Mine won't be anything like as beautiful, but I will shamelessly copy some of the details :) Thank you for all the pictures.

I do have a stock of 10mm synthetic hemp at present. Would that be any good for the sling?

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