They've served me well here. I've played more this year than ever before, which has been a lot of fun, but all this carting around and handling has taken a heavy toll on the increasing weary-looking resealable baggies I was using to store all my games. I'm loving having the bags, as there's no way that I could take as many games to as many places as I do using the absurdly under-utilised boxes that board games generally come with, but it was becoming clear that if I wanted to keep hold of a reasonable percentage of my game pieces rather than dropping them all over the place, I was going to need some more permanent solutions.
So I ordered a grab-bag of velour off-cuts, and they happened to arrive on my doorstep during a week when I was grappling with a particularly nasty man-cold, so I had nothing better to do with my time than to sit down and make me a bunch of cloth drawstring baggies to house the collection. I started with Dixit, the game that I thought would be easiest since it's just a pack of over-sized cards, and then just kept sewing and found that by the end of the day I'd somehow made seven bags. It was a very tactile and rewarding experience.
I've never sewn before. I've done a bit of cross-stitch during my misspent youth, but that's about it, so I wasn't sure that I'd manage to create anything remotely strong or attractive enough to do the job, but it seems like it's pretty hard to go wrong with sewing as long as you tie enough knots and don't get bored easily. I'm not going to be winning any award for my stitching, but it seems to do the job so far. Spurred on by my success, I thought it might be fun to make a little tutorial for anyone else who wants to replace their boxes and join the game bag revolution.
I need to make a bag for 7 Wonders, as the baggie for the cards split last night and the one for the tokens is heading the same way. The most important thing is selecting a decent colour of velour for the game from amongst my admittedly limited selection (hey, it was cheap!). I've decided to go for this nice rich red colour, because it just screams ancient riches and worldly power, but mostly because I haven't used red yet and it looks like there might be just about enough of it.
Cut the fabric to size, leaving room on each edge (and particularly the top) for the stitching. I'm terrible at estimating how big I need to make the bags, but as long as I tend a little on the generous side it seems to work okay. I don't worry too much about cutting straight or square or anything like that. What do you think this is, a sewing blog or something?
On the backside of the fabric, fold the edges of in about a centimeter and pin them using the pins from your handy pin chicken. The pin chicken bit is very important. Velour doesn't fold very well, but pins are magical things, so I'm sure you can make this work. Remember that pins are for fabric and for chickens, but not for Thomly fingers, I forget that bit far too much. Sew down the side about half-way into the fold, as you need to leave enough room between your stitching and the edge of the fabric to put stitch another row later on if you want you baggie to look nice. You can actually skip this whole 'sewing down the sides' thing if you want to, I have done so on about half my bags so far, but this'll make it look a little nicer and be a lot stronger, so it's probably worth the extra effort, and sewing is surprisingly cathartic, so why exactly would you want to do less of it?
Next off, you fold the top over about 2.5 centimeters, and then back in under itself for about 1 centimeter and pin it in place. When you sew this, you're going to create a nice loop for the drawstring, and you'll be going through the fabric three times to put strength into the seam that's going to be under the most stress when the bag is in use. Since I'm rubbish at pushing the drawstring through without tweezers and my tweezers are in India at the moment, I sewed this bag with the string already in place (if you're going to do this, make sure you don't sew it in, it needs free movement. Go ahead and sew that sucker. If you can, you should try and use a thread that's a good colour to be camouflaged on your fabric, but I only have three colours of thread and none of them are red (what do you think I am, some kind of sewing person?), but this purple one seems to work even better than I'd hoped.
Now you fold your bag over (still inside-out) and sew the sides together, staying more towards the inside of the bag than the other stitch you put in the edges earlier, so that once you turn the bag the right way out all the stitching will be hidden inside (it's the professional touches that show you care). Make sure not to sew up the loop at the top where the string goes, otherwise you've just put a whole lot of effort into sewing up that top bit for no reason at all, and you'll feel a bit silly. Then you sew the bottom too. If you were going to make it nice you'd probably use a new piece of thread for this, but since I always hugely overestimate the amount of thread I need for the sides I generally have a bunch left over and just continue along the bottom as well. Not saying you should, just saying it's an option, m'kay? I mean, another option is sewing with a machine, but I don't think I'm going to be fitting one of them in my luggage allowance any time soon, and I don't think I'd know what to do with one if I had it anyway, so hand-sewing and cutting corners as desired will just have to work for me.
Turn your bag inside-out, and viola! I bought some little stopper thingos to seal the bags up, though you could tie knots in your drawstring if you prefer. These things are pretty fun (apart from threading them, grr!), so it's totally worth getting them, though, especially as they're dirt cheap. Now I have a nice little baggie to keep my copy of 7 Wonders in, a little oversized, but pretty much right, and at least this way I have a little room if I ever decide to invest in another expansion. All I have to do now is make another bag for the boards sometime.
This one goes well with the rest of the collection, and I'm really happy with how it worked out.
Blaugust writing prompts:
1) What skills or abilities do you have that most people would never suspect?
2) What tasks have you set out to do that you found surprisingly enjoyable?
3) What do you own that could really do with more efficient storage?