Ditty Bags | UMCM Suncoast

Ditty Bags Project


What Is a Ditty Bag

A ditty bag is a small bag, used especially by sailors and armed forces personnel, to hold sewing implements, toiletries, etc.

At UMCM Suncoast, we're using Ditty Bags to provide an easy way for those who are homeless or in transition to carry their personal toiletries and other small necessities.

Ditty Bags are made for men, women, and children. They are distributed to those who are homeless or in unstable living situations, such as those who live in motels while trying to get back into an apartment or house.

How the Project Works

The Ditty Bag Project originated over 25 years ago in collaboration with the United Methodist Women (UMW) and continues today.

Early each spring, members of the UMW begin stitching together thousands of drawstring bags.  Over the following months, collections of small personal hygeine items and money to purchase them are taken in churches and UMW groups.

The personal hygeine items are packed into the bags, then distributed to the agencies.

But that's not all!

The project isn't limited to the UMW or the United Methodist Church! Many people from the community donate items, sew ditty bags, and volunteer their time to stuff bags. To find out how you can get involved, contact us.

What's In a Ditty Bag

A ditty bag for a man or woman contains:

  • 1 full-size bar of soap & washcloth
  • 1 or 2 disposable razors
  • 1 deodorant
  • 1 toothbrush & 1 toothpaste
  • 2 travel-size shampoos & 2 travel-size conditioners
  • 2 pens or pencils
  • 1 small notebook
  • 1 pair of tube socks
  • 1 small packet of Kleenex
  • 1 comb or brush

A ditty bag for a boy or girl contains:

  • 1 full-size bar of soap & washcloth
  • 1 comb or brush
  • 2 or 3 travel-size shampoos
  • 1 toothbrush & 1 toothpaste
  • 1 pair of child’s scissors
  • 1 box nontoxic washable markers
  • 2 glue sticks
  • 2 pencils
  • 1 notebook
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 stuffed animal or toy


Making a Ditty Bag is Easy 

DittyBag_MakingOneIsEasyAll you need is a 15" x 30" piece of fabric, preferably a medium-weight cotton, thread, 54" of sturdy cord, a sewing machine, and an iron and ironing board. Here's one method for making the bag:

  1.  Fold the fabric in half with the right sides together. Starting at the fold, stitch around two sides, leaving one edge open. That edge is the top of the bag.
  2. Turn down the top edge 1/4" all the way around and press. Turn down another 1" and press again. This makes the casing for the drawstring.
  3. Starting about 1/2" from the side seam, stitch around the top about 3/4" from the top edge. Stop stitching about 1/2" before the seam. This will leave a 1" opening for the drawstring.  
  4. Feed one end of the sturdy cord through the top casing. Tie the ends of the cords together, and your ditty bag is done!



Agencies that receive bags include:

Pinellas County
ASAP Homeless Services, Inc.
Daystar Life Center, Inc.
Faith House Christian Recovery Center
Family Sevice Centers, Inc.
Operation Attack on Poverty
Coalition for the Homeless Cold Night Shelters
Refuge Ministries
Religious Community Services
The Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs
Safety Harbor Neighborhood Family Center
St. Petersburg Free Clinic
YWCA-Family Village Housing

Pasco County
Farm-Worker's Self Help, Inc.
Metropolitan Ministries, Pasco 

Manatee County
First UMC of Bradenton Homeless Ministry
Harvest UMC Ministry to Migrants

Citrus County
Citrus Abuse Shelter Association (CASA)
The Path of Citrus County
The Sanctuary, Homosassa


Ditty Bag Construction and Guidelines 

United Methodist Women Only: Ditty Bag Partners
Minimus Wholesale Pricing Guide
(for bulk purchasing of travel size items)