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Ditty Bags

During the holidays, the Center provides every seafarer with a ditty bag. Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to participate in the ditty bag project. If you knit or sew, we welcome your hand crafted bags and hats. If you shop, we welcome your offerings of basic toiletries. If you are interested in organizing a ditty bag stuffing party, we can help you plan that. Finally, every November we hold a ditty bag stuffing party. Come join the fun as we finish preparing these great gifts for people.

What is a ditty bag?


Do you use a small travel bag to hold important essentials when you take a trip? If so, you already use a ditty bag, or something like one! Those small bags full of important trinkets are also used by mariners onboard ships. Here’s a handy definition from Ditty bags are receptacles for odds and ends. At the Seattle Seafarers’ Center, we provide about 1,000 of these to merchant seafarers with bags full of all kinds of basic necessities each year.


What goes into a ditty bag?

  • knit hat

  • full size (v. travel size) bottle of shampoo and/or body wash

  • full size can of shaving cream

  • toothpaste and a toothbrush

  • disposable razor or two

  • deodorant

  • deck of cards

  • notepad and pen/pencil

  • some fun thing like candy or something else special you all decide


When and why does the Center give away ditty bags?


We typically give ditty bags to seafarers from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. It is part of the way we welcome and care for seafarers who are berthed during the holidays. It is a wonderful way to give thanks for these essential and often hidden essential workers.


How can you contribute?


There are lots of ways to participate. You can make drawstring bags or knit hats. You can purchase supplies and then drop them off. You can contribute money that is used to buy more supplies for ditty bags. Finally, you can come to one of our “stuffing parties,” when we gather to stuff bags, meet one another, and celebrate seafarers.


If you interested in sewing ditty bags, here are are few rough instructions:


If you are interested in knitting hats, here are a few suggested patterns:

Please note that either wool or some kind of acrylic yarn is just fine:

If you are interested in joining us to stuff bags, the next Ditty Bag Day is scheduled for November 20, 2021 at St. John Episcopal Church in West Seattle. Join us anytime between 9:30-noon that day!