Easy Stuff Sacks

Stuff sacks are probably one of simplest projects to sew up. The rectangular shaped bottoms on these help keep the stuff sack and it’s contents from rolling down the hill, like the hexagonal shape of a No. 2 pencil. They are quick and easy to make.

The rectangular bottomed stuff sack has this basic design:

To calculate the width of the material; take the diameter of the desired size and multiple by π (3.1416) and add 1/2” for the edge allowance (1/4” per side).

To calculate the length of the material; take the finished length of the sack, add 1-1/2” for the drawstring sleeve, plus ¼ the diameter of the sack plus 1/4” for the edge allowance.

Example: 5”x10” stuff sack (5” diameter x 10” high).

Width = 5” x 3.1416 + 1/2” = 16-1/4”          Length = 10” + 1-1/2” + 1-1/4” + 1/4” = 13”

It’s good idea to cut your ripstop fabrics with a hot knife. I use a propane torch and literally an old knife for the job. Works well.

Fabrication

Fold the material in half along the lengthwise dimension. Calendered side or wrong side out at this point. Mark the drawstring sleeve distance of 1-1/2” and make another mark 5/8” from that. The 5/8” distance will not get sewn to allow the drawstring to enter the sleeve.

ESS Drawstring Layout
Bind the edge skipping the 5/8” area.

ESS Edge Binding
Fold the drawstring sleeve over twice using a full 3/4”measuremeent. You can take a peek inside and see the 5/8” opening centered in the 3/4” drawstring sleeve.

ESS Drawstring Sleeve

Pin and stitch with a standard straight stitch.

ESS Stitch Drawstring Sleeve

Bar tack above and below the 5/8” drawstring opening.ESS Bar Tack

Then bind the bottom edge.

ESS Bottom Edge

Fold and form the square bottom.

ESS Square Bottom

Double check before marking the rectangular sides.

ESS Bottom Squared
Pin the bottom and mark the side lengths ½ of the diameter – for a 5” diameter sack that would be 2-1/2” long. The longways remainder will be close to the diameter of the sack.

ESS Side Layout
Bind the sides first then cut off the corners.

ESS Side Sewn Cut

Install the drawstring with a bent up piece of wire for a threader.

ESS Drawstring First

No. 36 nylon bank line works great for a drawstring.

ESS Drawstring Last

Now you have a completed stuff sack. This one is a 6”x16” which is an unusual size but perfect for an ultralight tarp. You can make any size you like once you adjust the dimensions.

ESS Complete

Good Luck.

Nick

Here is a quick reference chart for various sized stuff sacks:

Size

Width

Length

Notes

3×6

10”

8-1/2”

4×8

13-1/16”

10-3/4”

Utility size – first aid, sewing kits, repair parts . . .

4×10

13-1/16”

12-3/4”

Stake bag – snow and sand stakes fit in this one.

5×10

16-1/4”

13”

Good sized stuff sack. For a fireworks bag use silnylon.

5-1/2×11

17-3/4”

14-1/8”

Standard sized brown paper lunch bag. Use different colors to divide up the food supply.

6×12

19-3/8”

15-1/4”

6×16

19-3/8”

19-1/4”

Good size for an ultralight tarp.

7×14

22-1/2”

17-1/2”

8×18

25-5/8”

21-3/4”

For a sleeping bag or blanket use silnylon.

9×20

28-3/4”

24”

For a sleeping bag or blanket use silnylon.

10×20

31-7/8”

24-1/4”

11×22

35-1/16”

26-1/2”

12×24

38-3/16”

28-3/4”

15×30

47-5/8”

35-1/2”

For a sleeping bag or blanket plus a foot sack for cold weather use silnylon.

18×36

57”

42-1/4”

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