- Click the below link to the period reference and create a full scale pattern. I like card stock because once you make one, you'll want to make more. I usually use for or five in my haversack. They are the exact perfect fit for the hardtack I make, too.
- Make your painted cloth. I use scrap cotton canvas or cotton drill left over from making shelter halves. Cut your fabric blanks slightly larger than your pattern. This will make handling while painting easier. Coat your fabric first with wall paper size and let dry. For a period prep, you can make a thick homemade starch. Then apply two coats of latex paint. I use semi-gloss black, but you can use gloss, or even try a different color.
- Once dry, use your pattern and cut your blanks. I trace the pattern onto the unpainted side and cut by hand and with a rotary cutter and straight edge for the straight sides.
- Cut your binding. The instructions don't specify a size, but I personally like the look of a finished 1" binding. I use 100% cotton fabric and cut my binding the length of the template and just a little bit larger than 2 1/2" wide. This allows for 1/4" seam allowance.
- Attach the binding. If you make the sack like I do in the video, then I iron a 1/4" seam allowance on each long side and then iron in half along the length. Then, with right sides together, I sew one edge of the binding to the top of the sack. I then fold it over the top and use a felling stitch to secure the inside of the binding to the inside of the sack. However, it seems that during the war, the binding was top stitched on after the bag was assembled. This left two unfinished and open ends with which to run the tap through the binding.
- Stitch the bag with right sides (the painted sides) together. I typically start with stitching the long side closed and finish up with sewing the bottom triangles together. I use black cotton thread and increase my stitch length a bit.
- Carefully turn the bag inside out.
- Tape: If you make it like I do with a finished binding, cut two small slits (like tiny buttonholes) a little ways from the seam line. Buttonhole stitch with linen or cotton thread. The holes need to be large enough for the cotton tape you are using. I use 1/4" cotton tape. To run it through the binding, attach a small safety pin to the end of your tape and feed it through. If you are making it according to the instructions. Top stitch your binding and feed your tape through the open ends.
- Fill with rations and cinch snugly.
I'm not sure how well these wash. I keep dry goods in my sacks. At our last bivouac, I kept oatmeal, peanuts, wild rice, cornmeal, and hardtack in mine. I imagine if you kept salt pork or other meat in them, you could turn them inside out and hand wash and air dry after use.
Sanitary Commission Bulletin
Just the ration bag instructions
Burnley and Trowbridge