Making Custom Dice and Benny Bags

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Jordan Peacock
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Making Custom Dice and Benny Bags

#1 Postby Jordan Peacock » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:43 pm

This weekend, for Necronomicon, after I finished prepping my minis and packing everything, I decided to sew up a few more themed dice bags to hold Bennies, dice, cards, etc., for my Savage Worlds games at the con. This time around, I modified my method a bit to be simpler, and took pictures at each step for later reference. There's nothing really sophisticated about the dice bags; in a sense, they're kind of sewn up like home-made pillows, with a gap left where the drawstring will go through, then turned inside-out, with one half of the "pillow" being tucked in as a liner for the other side.

I was able to do several of these bags in an evening (while catching up on episodes of Mythbusters on Netflix ;) ), using a few fabric pieces I'd gotten just for this purpose, and digging through my fabric scraps.

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First, I cut out two rectangles of fabric, about 14-16" wide, and 8" tall, taking care to have the top side of the pattern line up with one of the "long" sides of the rectangles. Getting an exact measurement isn't really essential, but however I do it, I take care to compare the two rectangles of cloth to each other, so that one isn't grossly taller or wider than the other, and that the edges are reasonably straight.

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For my "Wonderland" themed bag, I used the "Bleeding Hearts" novelty fabric I picked up at Joann Fabrics for the exterior (hearts, chess pieces, roses, and blood splats, with occasional silvery metallic flakes, against a black background), and a softer "red scale" pattern fabric for the liner. I used black thread and a black drawstring; I stuck to the same scheme for most of my bags, since I tended to go with darker fabric colors for the bags anyway.

I ordered cuts in multiples of 8" (though you have to be careful, as the cutter in the fabric store may be sloppy when it comes to getting a straight cut across the fabric - and it especially throws things off when getting shorter lengths of fabric such as this). In the case of both of these fabrics, they came in bolts 42" wide, so with one 8" cut each from two different fabrics, I could get three ~6.5" wide x ~7.5" tall drawstring bags (3 8"x14" rectangles). Of course, checking out the remnant section at a fabric store is a good option if you want to make these on the cheap.

I generally get "novelty" pattern fabrics from the quilting section of my local craft/fabric store. Many especially shiny fabrics have a tendency to develop runs (especially if you pack them with pointy-edged polyhedral dice). Faux-leather apolstery fabric is too thick and stiff to go through the "turn right-side-out" stage, and you'd need heavy-duty equipment to stitch it anyway. Beware of fabrics that are overly stretchy or have a tendency to curl at the edges; I find these to be a pain to work with, when all I want is a quick and easy little craft project.


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First, I line up the two top long edges together, pattern sides facing together (back sides up) and do a wide zig-zag stitch along the length, using the edge of the sewing machine's foot as a guide to follow the edge of the fabric (making the stitch averaging about 1/4 to 3/8" in from the cloth's edge).

To REALLY simplify the process, I could simply use the same fabric for exterior and liner at the same time, and thus start with a 14"-16" wide x 16" tall piece of fabric, and more-or-less skip this step. I just happen to like the idea of a different fabric pattern on the inside, and that, if I really wanted, I could reverse it and switch patterns on the outside.


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Next, I fold the combined cloth over, patterns still facing each other, so that I bring the two shorter edges of each rectangle together. I insert a pin (it has a yellow round-top head in the picture, and is indicated with the arrow) along the seam at the edge, to make sure it stays lined up. I then start stitching about 1/2 to 3/4" out from the seam down along the outer side, then stop at the corner, turn 90 degrees, and stitch along what will be the bottom of the bag. I repeat the process, mirrored, on the other side. In the end, I should have a section of cloth that is stitched together on all the edges, except for a gap that is around the pin I used as a marker point. That done, I remove the pin.


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Next, I carefully turn the bag right-side-out, by pushing in a corner of the bag, and taking care to work it through the gap I left. I have to be careful not to tear the stitches flanking the gap (and for this reason I stitch then reverse, then stitch again at each end of the stitches, to reinforce the point) or stretch the fabric. In this case, the "Bleeding Hearts" fabric is noticeably stiffer than the "red scale" fabric, so I work that half through the hole first, before working on the other half.


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I cut a length of sturdy cord (some macrame cord I got fairly cheaply in this case) to be equal to the width of the fabric rectangles originally used (14"-16") plus an added allowance (about 3-4" should do it), fold it in half, then stick it in through the gap, but keeping both ends outside. Next, I choose which side of the fabric is going to be my liner, and then push that fabric in, through the middle of the cord, and tucked into the outer bag. (In this case, the "Bleeding Hearts" is definitely the exterior fabric.)

Some fishing around may be necessary to get the drawstring in its proper place up near the top of the bag, just under the seam. This done, I take the two ends of the drawstring extending out of the bag, and knot them together. (Optionally, with a bit more length to the cord, I might loop in a bead.)

Voila! I have my drawstring bag for dice or Bennies, with a "red jabberkin hide" interior, for a Wonderland No More theme.

For Slipstream, I used some "starry" novelty patterns, for Deadlands I found some Western-themed and horse-themed fabrics, for Pirates I found some "skull and crossbones" fabric and some "leather"-patterned fabric, and so forth.

Here are a few of my older dice bag experiments (though not necessarily done using the same method as shown here):

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chugosh
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#2 Postby chugosh » Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:33 am

Very nice!
That is a very clear tutorial.

Withered
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#3 Postby Withered » Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:35 am

Those look really cool.
I am unclear. Are you making these for yourself to hold your dice and bennies, or are you giving them to the players?

Or are these part of step three: Profit?

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Jordan Peacock
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#4 Postby Jordan Peacock » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:23 pm

Withered wrote:I am unclear. Are you making these for yourself to hold your dice and bennies, or are you giving them to the players?


I've made them as gifts for players, but I also made them to replace the zipper-lock bags I've been using to hold my sets of "loaner dice" (and now my custom Benny sets) for conventions. It just looks a little nicer than a bunch of sandwich bags (though those still have their general uses for organizing stuff, of course, since they're cheap and transparent).
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