If you're sending someone off to college for the first time this Fall, you're in for a lot of new experiences. There'll be stories of all-night 'study sessions,' complaints about the new roommate who hogs all the closet space, whining about the food or lack thereof. And then... there's the laundry. You will learn The Lesson of Laundry-Deferral. Or, exactly how long one person can go without doing the wash. Often, this can stretch all the way to winter break. So, send your collegian off with this heavy-duty, jumbo laundry duffle. It's nearly three feet tall with a drawstring top that allows for easy stuffing. Then, with its sturdy strap slung over-the-shoulder, he or she can arrive home for the holidays with nearly his or her entire wardrobe in tow. Stock up now on detergent.
Even though those intelligence tests tell you not to attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole, we're doing something similar with this project. The bag body is made from straight-edged rectangles. The base is a perfect circle. In order to match up these two geometric opposites, it is VERY important your cuts are exact. Measure twice, three or four times; cut once. We also outline how to go about cutting a perfect circle pattern.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard of 54" medium-weight cotton duck for the top, pocket and base: we used Premier Prints Bubbles in Black/Chartreuse from fabric.com
- 1 yard of 54" medium-weight cotton duck for the bottom and strap: we used Premier Prints Ele in Chartreuse/White from fabric.com
- 3 yards of ¼" color-coordinated cording: we used bright orange
- All-purpose sewing thread in colors to match fabrics: we used Coats' Dual Duty XP in green and white
- Small scrap of medium-weight fusible interfacing (you'll need to cut a 7" x 7" square)
- 7" plastic zipper to match top fabric: we used white
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- See-through ruler
- Straight pins
- Iron and ironing board
- Large safety pin
- From the fabric for the top, pocket and base (Premier Prints Bubbles in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 41" wide by 19" high rectangle for the bag top
ONE 8" x 8" square for the pocket
ONE circle 13¾" in diameter.
NOTE: To make a circle pattern: Fold a 15" x 15" square of pattern or graph paper into quarters. Make sure your original square is even and true. Place a see-through ruler at the exact center of the upper left corner (the 'all-folds' corner) of your folded square. Swing the ruler from the top to the bottom of the square, like a pendulum, measuring and marking a dot at the 6-7/8" point (half the diameter of your circle) in three to four spots. You are creating a semi-circle. Draw an arc to connect the marks. If you own a large compass, you could also use it to create your 6-7/8" arc. Cut along the arc, then unfold the circle. When attached to the bag, the seamed circumference will be at 12¾". For you math geeks, you'll see that Pi times the diameter (or 3.14 x 12.75) equals 40", which is the finished circumference of the upper part of the bag. Cool huh? Math rocks!
Take a look at our Here Comes The Sun pillow tutorial for step-by-step photos of this technique.
- From the fabric for the bottom and strap (Premier Prints Ele in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 19½" high x 41" wide rectangle for the bag bottom.
NOTE: If you use the same fabric we did, you'll need to carefully fussy cut in order to get three nice rows of elephants. Cut 1" below the feet on the bottom row of elephants and 2" above the backs of the top row of elephants.
ONE 5" x 44" strip for the strap.
NOTE: Again, if you are using our fabric, carefully fussy cut again, this time cutting one row of elephants.
- Cut ONE 7" x 7" piece of fusible interfacing.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Pin the top and bottom rectangles right sides together along one 41" side.
NOTE: If you use the same fabric we did, make sure the elephant fabric is going the right way. You want the elephants on the bottom half with their feet at the bottom edge.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Press the seam toward the bottom half. Topstitch very close to the pressed seam on the bottom half (the elephant half). Then topstitch again ¼" from first line of stitching.
For those industrious souls who actually make it down to the laundry room during the term, our duffle's handy zippered pocket can hold room keys, quarters for the machines and student ID.
- Center the 7" x 7" fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the 8" x 8" pocket piece. Adhere, following the manufacturer's directions.
- Measure 1½" from the top of the pocket piece and make a horizontal cut. You now have two pocket pieces: one at 1½" x 8" and one at 6½" x 8".
- Press back each of the two edges you just cut ½".
- Place the zipper face down along these two pressed edges so the pressed edge of the fabric is ¼" from the teeth on each side. Pin in place.
- Change out your regular sewing machine foot to a zipper foot.
- Sew the zipper in place with contrasting thread.
- Press the edges of the pocket under ½" all the way around.
- Pin the pocket in place on the top half of the bag. It should be centered and the bottom edge should be approximately 1" above the middle seam.
- Edgestitch in place around all four sides of the pocket, pivoting at the corners.
Bag assembly and drawstring casing
- Following the manufacturer's directions for your sewing machine, mark and make a vertical 1" buttonhole, which will be the opening for the top casing. This buttonhole should be centered (use the pocket as a guide for centering) with the top of the buttonhole 2" from the raw edge of the top fabric (the Bubbles fabric in our sample).
- Sew the bag together, using a French seam to create a finished inside seam. To do this fold the bag WRONG sides together and stitch a ¼" seam. Trim the seam allowance back very close to your stitching - to about 1/8". Then, turn the bag inside out and sew the seam again, encasing the first seam, using a 3/8" seam.
NOTE: If you are new to making a French Seam, check out our Finishes tutorial as well as our Birthday Backpacks project.
- To make the casing for the drawstring, fold the top raw edge of the bag under ½" and press. Fold again 1" and press again. Pin in place.
- Stitch all around the top opening ¼" from top fold and again ¼" from the bottom fold.
Make and attach the strap and insert the base
- Find your 5" x 44" strip. Fold the strip in half (so it is now 2½") right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch one end and along the entire long edge, pivoting at the corner. Leave the other end open and raw.
- Turn right side out, poking/pulling out the corners so they are nice and sharp.
- Press flat so the seam is in the center as shown.
NOTE: Take a look at our tube turning tutorial for some handy hints.
- Pin the right side of the strap's finished end to right side of bag just below casing with the strap's seam line matching the bag's side seam.
- Secure by stitching a rectangular box approximately 2" long. Reinforce by stitching an 'X' through the middle.
- Pin the opposite, raw edge of the strap to the bottom of the bag with the seams matching, as above, and the raw edges of the strap and bag flush.
- Find your base circle piece. Fold it in quarters and mark each fold with a pin.
- Fold the bottom edge of bag in quarters and mark each of these folds with pins as well.
- Place the circle inside the bottom of the bag, with right sides together. Match up the pins you put in place on your quarter folds. Pin all around, making sure to catch the unfinished edge of the strap with your pinning.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, sew around the circle.
- Finish the raw edges of this seam allowance with a zig-zag or other finish stitch.
- Press the seam toward the base and topstitch 3/8" from seam. This helps reinforce the base and the strap... so the bag can hold an entire term's worth of laundry (just kidding... sorta).
- Attach a large safety pin to one end of the cording and thread it through the buttonhole and casing.
- Trim the ends to a length you like. Knot each end. Then, melt the ends with a lighter to seal.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Julia Chapman
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna SewFun and the Baby Lock Grace.