Dice Bag Project

Inspired by the d12 and d20 bags at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories (thanks, Olivia!), I decided to try my hand at making dice bags that look like dice. Genius!

Unfortunately, I already have a totally awesome handmade dice bag I salvaged from an old dress. My husband is sentimentally attached to his made-in-China Jolly Roger bag (which now contains dice). My teenage cousin, who is of a suitably nerdy disposition, was coming up on a birthday, though. Target acquired. Originally I'd planned to make the d12 bag, but as my cousin is currently on a Warhammer kick, I decided to make a d6 bag instead. The fact that 6 sides is considerably less than 12 may have also factored into this decision.

I printed off the patterns from the Evil Mad Scientist website to use as a rough guide. I decided I wanted my d6 to be about 4 inches square (seems like a good size). I liked the numbers used in the d12 pattern, so I used Acrobat to enlarge and print them.

I wanted to retain the proportions of the numbers on an actual d6, so I measured. Turns out your average d6 is 1/2 inch tall, with 5/16 inch numbers. This means my numbers are 2.5 inches tall. Actually, due to the vagaries of Acrobat, they're a smidge over that, but I bet you wouldn't notice!

On to the fabric! I originally thought to use my cousin's Warhammer army's colors for the d6, but honestly, I didn't like the sound of his color scheme. After consulting with his mother, I decided to instead incorporate his favorite colors into the dice bag. I bought white felt for the numbers, black canvas for the exterior of the bag (since the Mad Scientist bag is made of canvas, it seemed like a safe bet), and a totally awesome blue and silver brocade fabric for the lining.

The instructions provided on the aforementioned website gave fabric amounts in square feet. As you may know, fabric can't usually be purchased in square feet. It comes on bolts. I bought 1 foot of the felt, and 2 feet of the canvas and lining fabrics. I also bought 2 feet of an iron on panel stiffener to give the sides of my d6 shape - I used Peltex 71F Single-sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer at the fabric-shop lady's recommendation. It looks like really stiff felt. I also got a 14 inch zipper, in black.

To start with, I made two templates. One is the 4-in square panel stiffener template. The other is the dual-purpose outer/liner template. It's 5 in. square (includes a 1/2 in. seam allowance), with the corners snipped off.

Using the templates I made, I cut out my numbers and canvas outer pieces. Then, I used Stitch Witchery to fuse the numbers onto the canvas.

Because I like to over-engineer things, I also sewed the numbers on, and later in the project, I was very glad I did.

Next, I fused the panel stiffeners to the back of the canvas outer panels. At this point, the outer panels are complete and I'm ready to start assembling things!

I wanted to add a fabric loop to the d6, something small and unobtrusive but sturdy and large enough to accommodate a carabiner. I just eyeballed this. I cut out a piece of black canvas that was several inches long and about 2 1/2 inches wide, and sewed it into a tube. Then, I struggled to turn the darn thing inside out for about half an hour, gave up, asked Max for help, and went downstairs to vacuum away my frustrations. About 20 minutes later, he'd managed to force the tube inside out. This was the most frustrating part of the whole project!!! Once the tube was sorted, it was a simple matter to attach it in between two of my panels (the 6 and the 3) and trim off the excess.

The next big thing is to put the zipper in, but to do that, I need my liner pieces. I'd been putting off cutting them out because I noticed my brocade fabric has a tendency to fray at the slightest provocation:

To combat this, I fused thin pieces of Stitch Witchery to the edges on the underside of the liner pieces.

I'm not sure how much of an effect this had, but my liner didn't whittle away into oblivion, so I'm happy with the results.

Next, I sewed three of my number panels together, end to end. These will form the sides of my box:

Then, I sewed three liner pieces together, like so:

At this point, it helps to do some conceptualizing. Imagine the d6 like a box, with the 6 as the lid. The 6 (lid) and the 3 (back) are already sewn together, with the loop in between them. This part will be the hinge. The other three sides of the 6 will be attached to a zipper, which will connect it to the rest of the sides of the box (in this case, panels 2, 4, and 5). The 1 is the box bottom. Also, there is the liner to consider. And of course, we want all the nasty seams on the inside so the finished product looks all spiffy, and not like some crazy cat lady cobbled it together while watching daytime television!

Now that the general idea's been worked out, it's time for the zipper. First, I attached one side of the zipper the side panels. Basically, I made a sandwich of the liner panels, the zipper, and the outer panels, in that order. It is important to note that the zipper should be UNZIPPED and the teeth should be pointing IN, towards the fabric. In other words, when I lined up the pieces to pin them together, the edge of the zipper I was touching was OUTSIDE edge. And of course, the liner and outer pieces should be right side in.

Then, it's a simple matter of sewing a straight line down the side of the three panels. I tried to sew right along the white fabric stiffener pieces, and just to the selvage side of the teeth of the zipper.

It's a good idea right now to check and make sure the zipper moves freely. Mine did. On to the next bit, attaching the zipper to the lid.

The outer lid pieces are already sewn together (6 and 3), so I sewed two liner pieces together and made the zipper sandwich, like before. This is where it gets tricky, though. This time, the zipper is not going in a straight line. I have to sew the zipper along three sides of the 6 panel. The important thing to remember here is that if the 2, 4, and 5 panels attached to the zipper are facing up, the zipper sandwich should be arranged so that the UNDERSIDES of the 6 and 3 panels are also facing up. You can kind of see this in the picture.

If you get this wrong, when you're finished the liner piece will be on the outside of the box lid, and the 6 panel will be on the inside - not good. Ask me how I know...

When sewing the zipper to the lid, it's important not to sew over the zipper teeth. Again, I wanted to sew just to the selvage side of the teeth. It's bulky in there, and those corners are pretty tight, so I had to [constantly remind myself to] work slowly and carefully! When I was done, I removed the pins and turned the lid right-side out:

Now, I have something that looks like this:

And if I zip it together, it looks almost like a d6!

But it wasn't there yet. I decided to sew the bottom onto the side pieces first, and then sew up remaining side seams, which will attach the body of the box (panels 2, 4, and 5) to the back and lid (panels 3 and 6). I started with the liner. First the bottom:

And then the sides:

Looking good!

...well, it looks good from that angle, anyway. What I have now is a complete liner box with an incomplete exterior:

Time to sew this one up! Just like with the liner, I sewed the bottom on first. In this pic, the box is on it's lid, and you can see insides of the box exterior. The bottom (panel 1) is at the far right, the back (panel 3) is in the foreground, and the other three panels are the sides (panels 2,4, and 5):

Sewing in 3D is hard.

Just like with the liner, I sewed the bottom onto the side pieces first.

Now all that's left is to sew the back and lid to the body of the box, by joining panels 3 & 5, 3 & 1, and 3 & 2.

Sides 3 & 5 and 3 & 1 are sewn together normally, but then I had to turn the box right-side out to sew 3 & 2 together. Skipping this step and sewing all the sides together while inside-out will result in a fabric balloon with all the numbered faces of the exterior panels on the INSIDE. Ask me how I know...

So, I turned the box right-side out through the hole created by the unsewn seam between panels 3 & 2. This was tricky because of the panel stiffener, and with all the turning inside-out and back again I'd been doing, I was VERY glad I took the time to actually sew the numbers onto the panels in the first place.

Once the box was right side out, I pulled the lining out through the lid, so it'd be safely out of the way. Then, I just folded the selvage edges down on each other, so all the ragged bits were on the inside, and sewed along the very edge of the outside of the box, like a French seam. I touched up the top of the seam near the zipper by hand.

And voila! It's a D6 of Dice Holding!!!