"DITTY" OR SEA BAG

The "Ditty" or Sea Bag was a companion piece to the ever important sea chest.

 

Traditionally, the bag would hang from the sailors bunk and it held his sewing gear and sundry articles necessary to "the art of marlinspike sailor-ship."

Some of the more common objects included in a ditty bag were:

 

Needles and Palms - Needles were used to repair the sails and were sometimes stored in animal horns while the "palms" were used to protect the workers actual palm when applying pressure to the needle to penetrate the very think canvas sail fabric. (See below left and center.)

Bench Hooks - These curved hooks were used to secure the canvas in place while sewing, they were often attached either to a chair, bench, or the body of the sailor doing the work.

 

Sail Twine and Serving Mallet - Both used in the repair and maintenance of rope in general, the mallet was used to create sufficient tension while "serving," the final step in creating a stiffer, stronger, piece of rope that would resist chafe.

 

Wax Blocks - Needles were drawn through the wax to make them move more smoothly through the canvas when sewing.

 

Seam Rubber - After both sides of the flat seam of a sail are complete, the length of finished stitching is worked over with the seam rubber to flatten and even out the tension.

 

Fids - These oddly shaped objects (they look like a surveyors drop), both made of wood and steel, were used to pull apart knots when repairing or replacing them.

 

Other objects that were included during later periods are Steel Forms for creating grommets - which until the second half of the 19th century were created by hand.

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