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.

A 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 1/4 the diameter of the sack plus 1/4” for the edge allowance.

Example: 5-1/2” x 11” stuff sack (5-1/2” diameter x 11” high).

Width = 5-1/2” x 3.1416 + 1/2” = 17-3/4”

Length = 11” + 1-1/2” + 1-3/8” + 1/4” = 14-1/8”

A square 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 1/8 the circumference of the sack plus 1/4” for the edge allowance.

Example: 9” x 22” stuff sack (9” diameter x 22” high).

Width = 9” x 3.1416 + 1/2” = 28-3/4”

Length = 22” + 1-1/2” + 3.5” + 1/4” = 27-1/4”

Fabrication

The color and weight of the thread in the examples are so that you can see the stitching, for the finished product use an appropriate thread and color of your choice.

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For lightweight materials standard Gutermann Sew All is a good thread to use with a 70/10 or 80/12 needle. For heavier materials, extra strength and abrasion resistance use Gutermann Upholstery Thread with a 90/14 needle. For packcloth and webbing use a 100/16 needle.

ESS Drawstring Layout

Fold the material in half along the lengthwise dimension. Calendared side or wrong side out at this point. Mark the drawstring sleeve distance of 1-1/2” and make another mark 3/4” from that. The 3/4” distance will not get sewn to allow the drawstring to enter the sleeve.

ESS Edge Binding

Bind the edge skipping the 3/4” area.

ESS Drawstring Sleeve

Fold the drawstring sleeve over twice using a full 3/4”measurement and pin. You can take a peek inside and see the 3/4” opening centered in the 3/4” drawstring sleeve.

ESS Stitch Drawstring Sleeve

Stitch the sleeve with a standard straight stitch.

ESS Bar Tack

Bar tack above and below the 3/4” drawstring opening.

ESS Bottom Edge

Then bind the bottom edge.

ESS Bottom Squared

Fold and form the bottom equally to the seam.

ESS Square Bottom

Double check before marking the rectangular sides.

ESS Side Layout

Pin the bottom and mark the side lengths 1/2 of the diameter – for a 5-1/2” diameter sack that would be 2-3/4” long. The longways remainder will be close to the diameter of the sack.

To make a square bottom stuff sack the sides and center should be equal lengths [sack diameter/1.414].

ESS Side Sewn Cut

Bind the sides first then cut off the corners.

ESS Drawstring First

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

ESS Drawstring Last

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

ESS Complete

Now you have a completed stuff sack. You can make any size you like once you calculate the dimensions.

Good Luck.

Nick

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Here is a quick reference for some very useful sizes with cut dimensions:

Rectangular Bottomed Stuff Sacks

3 x 5 – .5 L — 10″ W x 7-1/2″ L. Extra-small stuff sack to store coins for parking meters, car washes or small items like sewing kits, repair parts, etc. Make one out of silnylon to carry a bar of soap when traveling.

4 x 8 – 1 L — 13″ W x 10-3/4″ L. Small stuff sack for first aid kits, toiletries, all kinds of uses. Very useful size.

5-1/2 x 11 – 3 L — 17-3/4″ W x 14-1/4″ L. Medium sized stuff sack to store your supplies and gear. It is the size of a brown paper lunch bag which makes it very versatile. Carry your lunch in a silnylon version.

6 x 12 – 4 L — 19-3/8″ W x 15-1/4″ L.

Square Bottomed Stuff Sacks

7 x 15 – 7 L — 22-1/2″ W x 19-1/2″ L. Medium-large stuff sack for many uses. Perfect size. Not too big and not too small.

8 x 18 – 12 L — 25-5/8″ W x 23″ L.

9 x 22 – 18 L — 28-3/4″ W x 27-1/4″ L. Large stuff sack for sleeping bags, tents and other bulky gear. Makes the perfect pillow case in cotton. You will never use a flat pillow again.

11 x 22 – 25 L — 35″ W x 28″ L. Extra-large stuff sack with many uses. Make one out of silnylon for your laundry when traveling.

12 x 30 – 44 L — 38-3/16″ W x 36-1/2″ L.

15 x 30 – 65 L — 48″ W x 38″ L. Extra-large stuff sack for a queen size down quilt or to store a mummy bag when not in use.

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