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Thread: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

  1. #1
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    Default Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    I am working on a scheme to make/acquire tools and materials for the ' A Ditty Bag Apprenticeship ' chapter in Emiliano Marino's The Sailmaker's Apprentice.

    I am a neophyte in terms of marlinspike and sewing work other than cushion and covers and a few knots here and there since the Boy Scouts.

    Specific tools: hands, sailmaker's palm, needles, knife, sail hook, fids, seam rubber,
    General tools: mechanical pencil, tape measure, scissors, diagonal cutters, pliers, hot knife, webbing (for batten use), chalk line, seam ripper, drafting compass
    Materials: 13oz canvas, round brass thimbles with 1/4" score , beeswax, three ply spun polyester sail twine, tarred marline, 1/4" manila line, beeswax

    The canvas, thimbles, beeswax, and 3-strand manila rope make sense right off the bat since the dimensions are included and/or it's a commodity. I have most of the general tools and am working on the specific ones

    My question is what would be the proper size for the seaming twine (thread) and the marline (siezing thread). My current stores of thread only go up to V69 and the small spool of twine that are in a stitching awl. I am expecting needles and more thread in a leatherworking kit to be delivered but don't know if they will be large enough for this work.

    Looking at the materials lists for 'Marino's Own Ditty Bag Kit' from the Artful Sailor website only added to my confusion as there less dimensions and more types of line (includes codline and boltrope, the latter I assume is the same as the manila from the book).

    My local lumber yard has #18 nylon twine and 1/4" manila and various jutes, sisals, and cottons.

    Can one just pick a seaming twine to fit the needles and more or less anything for the siezing? Marino advises that 'less salty' materials can be used.

    Thanks!

    PS Feel free to post photos of your favorite examples
    Last edited by Spot; 09-02-2022 at 09:16 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    I believe the WoodenBoat store sells needles and twine. You shouldn't have trouble finding some #10 or #12 cotton duck. Have fun.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    ahhh...the romance of the leather palm, the pinetar stank, the pleasure of the short splice tucking together.
    How many of us have that little canvas bag rotting in the back bottom of the lazarette ,needles rusted,duck mildewed.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Come on Bruce, you dont patch your sails? You dont have a ditty bag?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    of course I do
    my "bag" is a plastic jug with an O ring.
    got the special needle nose with the teeth ground down to not mash up the needles
    got the only pair of sharp scissors on the boat hidden in there
    got the last of the roll of 3M silver waether resistant tape...no longer available
    got the 1 ounce jar of lanolin
    think there is an emergency pack o rolling papers in there too !

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    But Bruce, your boat doesn't leak. How did your ditty bag get so funky in that dry lazarette?

    (just pokin' with a rusty needle )

    Jeff

    PS... the repair kit I keep on my day sailer is housed in a dry lazarette in a dry plastic jar.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    IIRC there should be 7 stitches to the length of the needle, the thickness of the canvas determines the size of the stitches and therefore the size of the needle. You should use the thickest thread that fits that needle. Use double thread, ie pull it through the eye until both ends meet.
    If you're using cotton canvas, I'd suggest you use hemp or flax thread, not synthetic.
    Oh, leatherworking needles are not good for sailmaking, they are made to cut the leather with the sharp edges, while sailmaking needles have dull edges and made to push the fibers apart without causing any damage.

    /Mats

    Diagnosed with autism. Sorry, not much I can do about it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Add annealed stainless-steel wire for seizing shackles and other safety wire jobs.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
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    ♦ George Orwell

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    I don't use nylon thread or twine for anything. It stretches and sun rots. I also don't have a lot of use for natural fiber thread, twine or rope for sail work. Polyester is stronger, UV resistant and has less and more predictable stretching characteristics. If I want the antique look, I stain them dark myself with diluted wood stain. I've been working with the same two spools of heavy sail twine for more than 30 years, but honestly I don't remember what size the stuff is. The quality of the work is much more likely to determine the quality of the finished product than being too obsessed with specifics of the materials, so it is all a matter of practice and repetitionfids-and-cringles.jpg

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Yes, it's very much something learned by experience.
    But before you have that, it's good with a set of rules of thumb.
    One of those I learned early on was Dont mix, ie if you're working with natural fabric, use natural fiber threads; if you're working with synthetic fabric, use synthetic thread. Same with bolt ropes.
    Now, I use polyester thread when machine sewing cotton, so it's not IDK a "law" not to mix between natural and synthetic, but it's a good principle when starting out.
    I agree that nylon should be avoided, I've been told that cotton thread also withers away over time, but I think that that's more due to shafing than UV. I've seen enough 100+ years old sails to disprove that claim.
    In the end, it's a Ditty Bag, don't worry if you use a too large needle or the wrong thread, or the wrong material. It will be OK for it's purpose!
    But if you want to go on and learn, pay attention to how it works, how the seams looks after a year etc.

    /Mats

    Diagnosed with autism. Sorry, not much I can do about it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Thanks Everyone, the input is appreciated! I would have not remembered the difference between sailmaking and leatherworking needles.
    I also very much like those 2-piece fids for the thimbles. Who'd thought that one needed a lathe (to make things for) sewing projects?

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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Yesterday I wanted a lathe, today I just wanted a bigger spokeshave...
    Hickory 'short' fid 1-1/8 x 7-7/8". Wood was bought about 25 years ago to make Pittman arms for something else.
    I made a mistake in not leaving 2-3" extra squared up on the end to go into the vice.
    spot_wb_fid1.jpg

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Everyone gets full credit for their answers. To the OP: Emiliano Marino's book, ​The Sailmaker's Apprentice, has a full chapter on making a ditty bag.

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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Brown View Post
    Everyone gets full credit for their answers. To the OP: Emiliano Marino's book, ​The Sailmaker's Apprentice, has a full chapter on making a ditty bag.
    I am aware, thanks, I have the book. Reading the chapter is what raised the questions especially in regard 'seaming twine' and 'marline' as they are not normal items in my location and not fully self-defining in regard to dimensions, materials, stranding, etc... I also appreciate the " don't do that and here's why-" tips as well as given about needles and thread and the pictures...more pictures please...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    You don't really want the "dildo Shape" of a fid.
    These are two that were gifted to me from the Naval Wharf here, they are probably from around 1800.
    IMG_20220903_175229.jpg

    /Mats

    Diagnosed with autism. Sorry, not much I can do about it.

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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    yea, give that dildo a blast with a 24 grit disc not a barbie sized shaver

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by mohsart View Post
    Oh, leatherworking needles are not good for sailmaking, they are made to cut the leather with the sharp edges, while sailmaking needles have dull edges and made to push the fibers apart without causing any damage.

    /Mats
    Just a comment on some leatherworking needles. Saddlers harness needles are blunt tipped and donít have sharp edges for somewhat similar reasons: In saddle stitching, thread passes through the same hole from opposite sides and you donít want to pierce or damage the threads with the needles as they cross, so blunt and smooth is better.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Spot... Emiliano is an individual who is very easy to reach and communicate with. His website: https://www.theartfulsailor.com

    Jeff

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by J P View Post
    Just a comment on some leatherworking needles. Saddlers harness needles are blunt tipped and don’t have sharp edges for somewhat similar reasons: In saddle stitching, thread passes through the same hole from opposite sides and you don’t want to pierce or damage the threads with the needles as they cross, so blunt and smooth is better.
    Interesting, I did not know that.
    When I do leatherwork I pass both needles at the same time, so no such risk.
    Is it to not create a larger than needed hole hole by the needles, or for some other reason?

    /Mats

    Diagnosed with autism. Sorry, not much I can do about it.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by Thad View Post
    I believe the WoodenBoat store sells needles and twine. You shouldn't have trouble finding some #10 or #12 cotton duck. Have fun.
    Thanks, I went with the WoodenBoat store for the twine, needles, and marline. Project is closer to commencing.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by mohsart View Post
    Interesting, I did not know that.
    When I do leatherwork I pass both needles at the same time, so no such risk.
    Is it to not create a larger than needed hole hole by the needles, or for some other reason?

    /Mats
    Old school leather workers used an awl to make the hole, it fitted in a hole on the palm of the "Palm" that they wore, and used boar bristles as needles.
    The guy who told me this said that the last project he built was a golf bag. Four layers of hide, sewn in turn, and the boar bristled always found a way through.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    Spot... Emiliano is an individual who is very easy to reach and communicate with. His website: https://www.theartfulsailor.com

    Jeff
    Thanks Jeff, sorry to have not seen this and said so sooner. It's nice to hear that he is approachable.

    So, in the meantime... I could not find a new spokeshave nearby (50 miles one way) so I went drove just as about as far and bought a vintage wood lathe off Craigslist and a set of entry-level lathe tools from HF. About two weeks later one of the local antique store owners dug and found a wooden shave in his collection and I brought it home, not sure if it will survive a blade removal and slide replacement. He thinks he has an adjustable one somewhere and will call me once he finds it. I turned a couple more fids on the lathe and broke down and bought a metal shave off Amazon. I got some round thimbles in and made a two-piece fid for those over the last two days with a little help from the machinists at work as my lathe does not have boring or jaw chuck capability. They did the hole and post that allows it to disassemble, I glued it together temporarily and turned it as one piece. All that is left to do is get heavy canvas and start stitching and knotting.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope


    Those are nice, but I quite like Swedish Fids.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Thanks Nick. Funny you should mention it, I just got in a small Swedish fid last week.
    I picked up some canvas yesterday at a surplus shop. I think preparations are complete short of setting up a work area with items at hand.
    I will probably save the stitching until I cannot 'play outside' due to winter weather.
    I have a bit of bronze or brass that did not cast well for me on another project, I might try to melt that down again to make a small bar to replace the sole or foot of that wooden spokeshave pictured before.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by Spot View Post
    Thanks Nick. Funny you should mention it, I just got in a small Swedish fid last week.

    I have a bit of bronze or brass that did not cast well for me on another project, I might try to melt that down again to make a small bar to replace the sole or foot of that wooden spokeshave pictured before.
    No Wukkas.
    I have an old woody spoke shave with a brass sole riveted on.
    However, cutting the worn sole flat and gluing on a piece of hard wood would be easier to shape
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Ditty Bags: seamimg twine, marline, codline, boltrope

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    No Wukkas.
    I have an old woody spoke shave with a brass sole riveted on.
    However, cutting the worn sole flat and gluing on a piece of hard wood would be easier to shape
    Looks like they used nails or pins on this one. I think you are right, the wooden one would be easier (!) than getting my mystery metal to melt and flow in a mold and then cleaned up to fit the shave.
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