DIY Duffel Bag

This week was filled with three different sewing projects:

  • I made myself a cute relaxed satchel out of curtainsimg_1002.jpg
  • I made a structured satchel for my boyfriend out of some thick canvasIMG_1017
  • I used the same material from the structured satchel and made myself a duffel bag IMG_1039

As many of you know, my boyfriend and I are in BC visiting his parents for the month of August before we move to Halifax at the end of the month. I’ve been shopping with his mum, and acquired a few more things than I probably should have before moving across the country, thus I decided I needed a bigger bag. I had a lot of leftover fabric from making the satchel for Brendan, and loved the material I used so much that I decided to kill two birds with one stone and just make myself a bag tailored to my needs that looks the way I want it to. The Duffel was born!

Here’s how you make your own! 

  1. Figure out what you’ll need for size. Since I’m going to be on and off of planes next week, I decided to make my duffel in accordance to the Air Canada carry on baggage guidelines.  The finished bag is 9.5″ tall, 9.5″ wide, and 21″ long. IMG_1023I was lucky, and found a huge bag of miscellaneous zippers as well as a bag with a snap kit in it for like $5 at Value Village. What you’ll need is about 1.5 Yards of Canvas, and 0.5 yards of a patterned heavy fabric of your choice, two snaps, two zippers about 11″ long for the two zippered side pickets, and one zipper 24″ long for the main part of the bag (I used a metal one so it was more industrial). I rummaged though the kitchen until I found a bowl with (somehow) exactly 11.2″ in circumference, and used that to trace out the circles because fuck circles.
  2. Next you’ll need to measure out your pieces, and draw them out, on your fabric. I used pencil on the wrong side of the canvas, knowing that it would be hidden inside the bag. Make sure to measure twice and cut once; I know it’s an overused saying, but it’s definitely a time saver in the end!img_1021-e1503372443251.jpgAfter cutting everything out, you should have (L x W):
    • Two square pocket pieces (6″ x 7″) with two flaps (2.5″ x 7″) made with patterned fabric.
    • Four round side pieces (11.2″ in diameter), two made from the patterned fabric, and two from canvas.
    • Two strap pieces (8″ x 22″) from canvas.
    • One bottom panel for structure (24″ x 11.5″)
    • One Body piece (24″ x 35″)
  3. Now on to sewing. You’ll want to hem all the raw edges on your square pocket pieces now, this includes the flap pieces as well. I hemmed in about a quarter of an inch on all four sides of each piece. after that, you can put the pieces together, as you want them on your bag (I made sure that my flap overlapped the pocket 1″ then poked a hole though both pieces to indicate where to attach each half of the snap). img_1024.jpg
  4. Now is when you’ll want to put the zipper foot on your sewing machine because it’s zipper time! First, you’ll want cut your two circle pieces, the patterned ones of course, in half (or slightly less than halves like I did). Seeing as explaining how to sew zippers is a little complex, I suggest you watch this tutorial. That should have everything you need to know. I sewed down fabric with a quarter inch hem before attaching the zippers. img_1028.jpg
  5. Next is attaching that remaining rectangular panel to the bottom of our bag. This piece adds structure, and helps keep the bag more durable. I sewed the two long sides (24″) down with a quarter inch hem, then pinned the entire piece down on the body of the bag (be sure to have your bag unzipped for this). Make sure to measure the distance on either side of this panel from the zipper. When finished this step, it should look like this:IMG_1030
  6. Now, it’s time to make the straps! To do this use your 8″ x 22″ strips, and follow this tutorial. I decided to omit the interfacing as the canvas was heavy enough.
  7. Attaching the pockets and straps is a tedious task, so maybe take a breather, grab a snack, or a cup of coffee — Okay, now back to work. First, I placed the pocket where I wanted it to go.  I fiddled with it for a minute, and decided I wanted it to be 4″ down from the zipper (that’s 4″ from the zipper to the top of the flap), and made sure it was centred. I pinned the pocket down while it was snapped up, this ensures the snaps line up when the bag is done. I then pinned on the strap, and lined each end up with the flap for the pocket.IMG_1031Now you’ll want to sew a box stitch with an “x”  into both ends of the handle. Like this:IMG_1033Pocket time! I sewed down the top (only the top) of the pocket flap, then unsnapped the flap and pocket, and sewed down the sides and bottom of the pocket. Repeat step 7 on the other side of the bag. IMG_1032
  8. Aaaaaaaand now we sew the patterned circular pockets down on top of the canvas circles. Make sure the wrong side of the patterned fabric is touching the right side of the canvas. Top stitch the two pieces together.
  9. Then we turn the main body of the bag inside out, and pin the circular pieces on. For this, I inserted a pin into the top middle of the circular piece, put the patterned side into the interior of the bag, and lined the pin up with the zipper, and then pinned the entire thing down around the circumference. They should line up perfectly. Repeat this for the other side, then sew around the circumference with, you guessed it, a one quarter inch seam allowance. Then sew over it again. Do this for both sides. img_1035.jpg
  10. Clip all of your loose threads, if you haven’t done so already. Flip your bag right side out, and there you have it! Your very own duffel!

Be sure to let me know if you used this DIY tutorial, and how it worked out for you!

Until Wednesday,


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