How to Sew Sheet Bags


I bought a Sailrite sheet bag kit and modified the design to suit my tastes.  The project is fairly simple and it is not necessary to drill holes in the boat to attach the bags to the cockpit. 


My boat had been suffering from chronic TMDR/TMDL syndrome, which is of course the traditional diagnosis of “Too Much Damn Rope / Too Many Damn Lines” in the cockpit.  This condition for all/most lines-led-aft boats is common.  One solution is to make a mostly permanent cloth bag to hold the working end of the lines.  

Sailrite sells kits of canvas and thread and accessories to make such a sheet bag.  If one follows the Sailrite process, the end result is a bag that lays flat against the cockpit wall.  It looks like this: 

The back is made from Sunbrella Canvas and the front is a vinyl mesh. 

If one wishes to skip the fabrication process and buy something off the shelf, one of the commonly-carried options is from Ronstan.  Rather than a flat format, the Ronstan bag is more of a flexible box: 

I liked the idea of more of a box shapes with sides vs a flat pouch, so after I received my SailRite kit, I came up with a hybrid design:  

Here’s the how-to video from Sailrite: 

I watched it and then kind of free-styled my way through my construction process.  Sewing the vinyl mesh bottom in was like sewing on the tops of my winch covers.  The other seams were straight and easy.

In my design I used a ⅜” wood dowel on the front of the bag so that if you lift open the leading edge with your pinky finger, the entire bag opens up.  I put elastic on the top sides.  In one bag I used ¼” shock cord, but it is too stiff and does not offer adequate elasticity.  In the second bag I used the elastic band material that came with my kit from Sailrite

I was relatively happy with how they turned out: 

The last step is to install snaps to attach the bags to the boat.  The kit comes with YKK snap pads “snads” (ooof, that word gets me right in the snads) and with a snap installation tool.  I had to separately purchase a cloth punch to make hopes in the canvas to install the snaps.  I found a set of leather/cloth punches on Amazon  for $5.  My wife donated an old cutting board to serve as a backing for my hole punching.  She doesn’t know this yet. 

Back to the boat, ready to install.  Clean the surface where the snads will adhere with 3M VHB adhesive (also used to stick chromed car model name badges onto cars).   

End result, slightly less craziness in the cockpit.  Maybe a little matronly, but I think they will allow me low-hassle organization.