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Canteen Bag in Wool & Corduroy

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Bags come in all shapes and sizes, but this round canteen style is one of our favorites. It has such a great retro feel. You can pretend you're a Boy Scout on a special outdoor expedition or a WWII-era mail carrier delivering an urgent message. What? You don't make up adventures to go with each of your bags? Well where's the fun in that?! We paired two terrific textures to get our signature look: a striking wool suiting and corduroy. A decorative cotton is used for the lining. Bold fabric choices require equally bold accents; we chose a heavy metal zipper, sliders, and rings. 

If you've always been a bit hesitant about sewing circles... especially circles that become tubes, it's time to conquer your fears. Even with all its beautiful curves and professional finishing touches, our Canteen Bag is a project that is so much easier than it seems. We provide a pattern for the front and back exterior circles as well as the pretty front pocket. Even so, you might enjoy reading through our complete step-by-step tutorial: How To Make and Measure a Circle Without a Pattern

The bag features a layered lining with the resulting interior seam allowances covered by fold-over elastic. This construction method is easier than a traditional two-part lining, and the elastic binding is much more forgiving than fabric bias binding. 

Specialty fabrics, like wool blends and corduroys can move quickly in and out of inventory. The exact fabric trio we used for our sample is no longer readily available, but we sourced two additional combinations that would be just as cool for your canteen. Shown wool on top with coordinating corduroy below: 1) Wool Blend Melton Fancy Pinstripe Grey/Black with 21 Wale Printed Corduroy Gray Flower Bomb; 2) Wool Blend Melton – Chartreuse with Michael Miller Printed Corduroy Stitch Floral Navy, both from Fabric.com; and 3) Lana Houndstooth Wool Suiting – Cerulean with Robert Kaufman Corduroy 14 Wale – Black from Fabric Depot. 

                

                

The hardware you select is important. Depending on the fabric weight you select as well as the weight of the front D-ring, you may wish to add a snap to the top of the exterior pocket or even simply hand tack it in place at the apex of the curve. The wool suiting we selected was interfaced and stood up nicely on its own during our photography session. However, given more weight, it could fall open. A snap or hand tack is a fast and easy addition that can be added during construction or even after the fact. 

The bag finishes at approximately 9" in diameter and is 2½" deep. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies


  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide wool suiting or similar for the bag's front and back exterior and the front pocket; we originally used 60" Wool Blend (50% wool/50% polyester) Herringbone Suiting in Brown/Lime - check the intro above for alternatives
  • 1 yard of 54"+ wide corduroy or similar for the bag's side panels, strap, piping and pocket binding: we originally used 58" 21-Wale Corduroy in Olive Drab by Robert Kaufman Fabrics - check the intro above for alternatives
    NOTE: You will have extra yardage left over with this amount. We figured our major cuts with the wale running lengthwise, a better look but one which does require more fabric. 
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton or similar for the bag's lining; we originally used 44" Medallions in Dark Green from the A Year To Crow About collection by Red Rooster Fabrics - check the intro above for alternatives 
  • ¾ yard of 20"+ wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • 2 yards of 3/16" to ¼" piping cord; we used Wrights Cotton Piping Size 2" 
    NOTE: Size 2 is ¼". Size 1 is 3/16".
  • 2 yards of ⅝" fold-over elastic to coordinate with the lining fabric; we used fold over elastic in dark brown, purchased locally
  • ONE 14"+ zipper; we used a 26" metal zipper, purchased locally
    NOTE: Shorter metallic zippers can be hard to find. We simply cut ours to fit, which is simple to do. For the best look on this project, we recommend a metal zipper in a chunkier style. 
  • THREE 1" D-rings to match the style/color of the metal zipper; we used antique brass, purchased locally
  • ONE 1" Tri-Slide Slider to match the style/color of the metal zipper; we used antique brass, purchased locally
    NOTE: As with the zipper, we recommend a thicker/heavier hardware. It gives a much more professional look. One good online resource for hardware is The Buckle Guy.
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the TWO pattern pieces. Print TWO COPIES of Canteen Bag Body. Print ONE COPY of Canteen Exterior Pocket.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out each pattern along the solid line. 
  3. Match up the two Bag Body pattern pieces, using the printed arrows as your guide. Butt together and tape; do not overlap.
  4. From the fabric for the bag's front and back exterior and the front pocket (Brown Lime Herringbone in our sample), cut the following:
    Using the Bag Body pattern, cut TWO circles. If you have a strong motif, such as our pretty woven stripes, make a careful fussy cut to keep the motif straight up and down. 
  5. Using the Bag Exterior Pocket pattern, cut one pocket. Match the pocket pattern so it perfectly aligns with the front exterior circle. 

    Then, fussy cut the pocket from the fabric with the same alignment.
  6. From the fabric for the bag's side panels, strap, piping and pocket binding (Olive Drab Corduroy in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 3" x 66" strip (with the wale running lengthwise) for the strap and D-ring loops. You will need to cut two strips and join them together to equal a final cut length of 66"; the length of each strip will depend on the width of your chosen fabric. 
    ONE 3½" x 16½" rectangle (with the wale running lengthwise) for the bottom section of the side panel.
    ONE 3½" x 14" rectangle (with the wale running lengthwise) for the zipper panel.
    TWO 1¼" x 30" strips, on the bias, for the piping.
    NOTE: Because of the nice, wide width of our corduroy, we were able to cut each of our bias strips as single lengths. If your fabric is narrower, you may need to piece more than one bias strip to equal the finished 30" length. 
    ONE 1¼" x 15" strip, on the bias, for the pocket trim.
  7. From the fabric for the lining (Medallions in Dark Green in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom section of the side panel.
    ONE 3½" x 14" rectangle for the zipper panel
    ONE 6" x 9" rectangle for the inside pocket 
    Using the Bag Body pattern, cut TWO circles
  8. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom section of the side panel.
    ONE 3½" x 14" rectangle for the zipper panel
    ONE 6" x 9" rectangle for the inside pocket 
    Using the Bag Body pattern, cut TWO circles
    Using the Bag Exterior Pocket pattern, cut one pocket
  9. Cut two 30" lengths from the piping cord.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Find the exterior front and back circles, the exterior pocket, and the two 3½" corduroy rectangles (the bottom section of the side panel and the zipper panel).
  2. Find the five interfacing pieces that match up with the above fabric cuts. 
  3. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the corresponding interfacing piece to the wrong side of each fabric piece. 

Create the strap and D-ring tabs

  1. As mentioned above, you will need to piece two lengths of fabric to create the finished 66". Find your 3" fabric strips.
  2. Attach the strips as you would multiple lengths of binding. Place the strip lengths at right angles to one another. Pin in place, then stitch across from top to bottom on the diagonal. Trim away the corner to approximately ¼" from the diagonal seam. 
  3. Open out the seam allowance and press flat.
  4. Fold the strip in half, right sides together, so it is now 1½" x 66". Align the raw edges and pin in place.
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the entire length of the strip. The ends remain open.
  6. Press the seam allowance open and turn the strap right side out. 
    NOTE: See our quick tip for turning skinny tubes using a hemostat.
  7. Press the long strap flat. 
  8. Edgestitch along both sides.
  9. From the finished length, cut ONE 2" length for the pocket D-ring loop and TWO 3" lengths for the side D-ring loops. 
    NOTE: Yes, you are cutting through the seam. Don't worry, you'll secure it again when the strap and loops and stitched into position. 

Exterior pocket and front panel

  1. Find the interfaced exterior pocket. Fold it in half to find the center of the pocket's top curve. Mark this center point. 
  2. Find the 2" strap length and one of the D-rings. Slip the fabric through the D-ring and loop it back on itself, aligning the raw ends. 
  3. Place the loop and ring at the marked top center point of the pocket. The raw ends of the loop should be flush with the raw edge of pocket fabric. Pin in place.
  4. Find the 15" length of pocket binding (the 15" bias cut strip of corduroy in our sample).
  5. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press to set a center crease. 
  6. Unfold, wrong side up, so the crease line in visible. 
  7. Align the top edge of the binding strip with the top curved edge of the exterior pocket. Pin in place along the length of the binding. 
  8. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch in place the length of the binding. You are stitching across and securing the D-ring and its loop with this seam. 
  9. Wrap the binding up and over to the back of the pocket. 
  10. Fold the raw edge of the binding in on itself, tucking the raw edge up against the center crease line. Pin in place along the back. The width of the visible binding on the front should be about ½".
  11. Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the binding and hand stitch the binding in place, using small, neat whip stitches
  12. Trim the ends of the binding to match the curve of the pocket.
  13. Decide which of your exterior circles you like best. This will be the front circle. 
  14. Lay one lining circle right side down on your work surface. Lay the front exterior circle right side up on top of the lining circle, so the two are now wrong sides together. The raw edges should be flush all around. 
  15. Place the bound pocket on top of the front exterior circle right side up. Because you did such a great job fussy cutting, you can perfectly align the motif of the pocket with the motif of the front circle. Align the bottom curve of the pocket with the bottom raw edges of the circles. Pin in place along the bottom of the pocket.
  16. Machine baste the pocket in place, stitching through all the layers.
    NOTE: We opted to continue our basting around the top of the circle as well to help keep the layers in place around the entire circle.

Interior pocket and back panel.

  1. Find the 6" x 9" pocket panel and the 6" x 9" interfacing piece. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. 
  2. Fold the pocket in half, right sides together, so it is now 6" wide x 4½" high. Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 2-3" opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 2-3" opening. Press open the seam allowance. Clip the corners.
  4. Turn right side out. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick or long knitting needle works well for this. Press well, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.  
  5. Find the remaining lining circle. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  6. Place the finished pocket on the lining. It should be centered side to side (approximately 2⅞" from each raw edge) and 3⅛" down from the top. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The folded edge is the pocket's top.
  7. Edgestitch the pocket in place, through all the layers, along both sides and across the bottom. This secures the pocket and closes the opening at the bottom used for turning. 
  8. Find the remaining exterior circle. Place the exterior circle and the lining circle with the pocket wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges all around. Pin the layers together. 
  9. Machine baste all around, staying approximately ¼" from the raw edge. 

Create the piping

  1. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping. We are summarizing the steps below.
  2. Find the two 1¼" x 30 bias strips. If you needed multiple strips to equal your 30" lengths, stitch them together now in the same manner as the strap above. 
  3. Find the matching lengths of piping cord.
  4. Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place. 
  5. Using a Zipper foot, sew close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping. 
  6. Find the front exterior circle with the pocket in place.
  7. Pin piping to the right side of the circle, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the circle, and leaving about 1" free at the head and tail. We put our joining seam along the bottom edge of the pocket.
  8. If necessary, you can clip the piping to better allow it to curve around the circle. 
  9. Using a Zipper foot (and with the needle position all the way to left), start stitching about ½" from the raw end of the piping (you need a loose head and tail to facilitate a clean finish). Stitch all the way around, through all the layers. Run the seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
  10. When you are about 1" from the starting point, stop and lock your stitch. 
  11. Remove the project from the machine.
  12. Lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth. 
  13. With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the 1" head and tail to expose the cording underneath.
  14. Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording. Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric if necessary. Overlap the folded end to conceal the piping cord.
  15. Stitch in place, matching your seam line. Again, check out our full piping tutorial if this is a new process for you. 
  16. Repeat to create and attach piping to the exterior back circle. 

Zipper panel

  1. Find the fused 3½" x 14" rectangle for the zipper opening, the fused 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom of the side, and the two matching lining rectangles.
  2. Pair up each exterior piece with its corresponding lining piece, placing them wrong sides together. 
  3. Machine baste each pair together along their long outer sides, using a ¼" seam allowance.
  4. Set the 16½" strip aside. 
  5. Cut the 14" fused panel exactly in half lengthwise so you now have TWO 1¾" x 14" strips.
  6. Find the zipper. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  7. Place one strip right sides together along the top tape of the zipper. Center the zipper on the strip. If your zipper is longer than the opening, center it so the zipper pull is just over ½" in from the left end and let the extra zipper on the stop end simply extend beyond the right end. 
  8. Pin in place.
  9. Using a Zipper foot, stitch the length of the strip, running the seam as close to the zipper teeth as possible. 
  10. Repeat to attach the remaining half of the strip to the bottom tape of the zipper.
  11. Press the strips away from the zipper teeth.
  12. Edgestitch through all the layers, staying very close to the seamline on both sides of the zipper.

    NOTE: As shown in the photo above, because we used an extra long zipper that would be cut to length, we were able to open the zipper all the way and stitch with the zipper pull completely out of the way. If you use a 14" zipper, start with the zipper half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position and finish sewing to the end. 
  13. Close the zipper and baste across the ends of the zipper to secure.
  14. Trim away the excess tape at the top of the zipper.
  15. If need be, trim away the excess zipper at the bottom. 
    NOTE: It is really quite easy to cut a metal zipper. Simply cut one side and then the other. However, don't use your good sewing scissors!

Complete the center ring

  1. Find the remaining 3" cut strap lengths and the remaining two D-rings. Loop a  fabric strip through each D-ring, folding it back on itself and aligning the raw ends. 
  2. Place a loop and ring at each end of the zipper. The raw ends of the loop should be flush with the raw end of the zipper. Pin in place.  
  3. Find the 16½" strip you set aside above.
  4. Align one end of this strip right sides together with the top end of the zipper panel, sandwiching the loop and ring between the layers. Pin in place. 
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  6. Repeat to attach the opposite end of the bottom rectangle to the bottom end of the zipper panel, forming a loop. Pin in place. Double check that the loop in not twisted anywhere along its length. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  8. Press both seam allowances towards the bottom panel - away from the zipper.
  9. Flip the D-ring loops up towards the zipper and edgestitch along the two short seams within the bottom panel. 
  10. You now have a finished side loop.

Insert the front and back panels into the side loop

  1. Find the front exterior circle. Fold it in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold. 
  2. This halfway point will be about 2" above the bottom curve of the pocket. 
  3. Find the side loop. Flip it wrong side out. Set the front exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together. Align the side pins of the front panel with the horizontal seams of the loop. Pin at these points first, then fill in around the circle. Double check to make sure the pocket opening is right side up towards the zipper.
  4. This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, we simply have a very narrow tube. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial
  5. Using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the circle, running your seam as close to the piping as possible. As above, if your machine allows you to set the needle position, move it all the way to the left.
  6. Repeat to add the back panel. Remember to check again on this side to make sure the lining pocket is facing up towards the zipper. 
  7. This side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed. 
  8. With the bag all the way wrong side out, trim back the seam allowances to ⅜" on both the front and back.
  9. Find the fold over elastic. Cut a length to fit around one complete circular panel seam allowance. Wrap the elastic over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the bag. Leave 1" extra at the tail for an overlap. Pin in place all around. Don't be afraid to use plenty of pins. 
  10. Fold back the tail of the elastic and overlap the head for a clean finish. Pin in place. 
  11. Still using a Zipper foot, stitch the elastic to the seam allowance. You are stitching only the seam allowance; don't stitch onto the main bag itself. 

    NOTE: For a few additional photos, we used a similar technique to attach the sides and finish the seams on our Airstream Toiletry Bag.

Attach the strap

  1. Find the strap and the slider.
  2. Slip one raw end of the strap through the center of the slider. Fold under the raw end ½" and pull it back on itself about 1". Pin in place as shown below.  
  3. Use two lines of stitching to secure the strap against the slider. One close to the folded edge, the second ¼" - ½" from the first seam.
  4. With the strap laying wrong side up (so you can see the folded under end next to the slider), thread the remaining raw end through the D-ring at the zipper stop end.
  5. Pull the strap through the ring so it is now facing right side up and feed the raw end back through the slider, going up and over the folded end. This creates your adjusting loop.
  6. Feed the raw end of the strap through the D-ring at the zipper pull end. Fold under the raw end, pull through about 1", and pin in place, just as you did to secure the opposite end against the slider. 
  7. Before stitching, do a quick check to make sure there are no twists in your strap. And, double check that the folded back side is resting against the zipper not facing out.
  8. As above, use two lines of stitching to secure the strap against the ring. One close to the folded edge, the second ¼" - ½" from the first seam.

    NOTE: If you are new to creating an adjustable strap, you may also want to review our Must Have Messenger Style Brief, our Slim Messenger Bag with Push Locks, and our Unisex Urban Shoulder Bag – all use the same style of strap and have additional photos that may be helpful.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

We received compensation from Fabric.com, and some of the materials featured here or used in this project were provided free of charge by Fabric.com. All opinions are our own.

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Comments (4)

Sally M. said:
Sally M.'s picture

Hi Liz, Thank you for your response.  I was thinking about men (my son) who go camping and would like something manly looking to put their gear in when, say, out in the fishing boat or going for a hike in the woods, instead of lugging along a larger back pack.  They might need to take along a precription med or other personal needs, bug spray, small bottle of hand sanitizer, small first aid items, etc.  Instead of wearing it at the hip like a woman's bag, they could sling it to the back and out of the way.  I agree with your thought of - show the picture first and see what he thinks.  Thanks again.

Sally M. said:
Sally M.'s picture

Question for some readers, if you wouldn't mind answering (and Sew4Home allows me to do this):  Do you think men would like having a bag like this?  What if it were made with silver gray or camo fabric like a real canteen?  (Sew4Home, if this is inappropriate, please just delete it, I don't mean to go beyond the regulations of your site.)

Janet P. said:
Janet P.'s picture

I say yes. I think maybe boys would like it too. Camo is almost always a well-liked fabric for boys. (And our grown-up boys also.)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Sally - Hopefully some of our helpful readers will chime in - that is fine with us. For our part, it really is going to depend on the guy for whom you'd make it. The starting point question is probably: does he wear a bag now or has he ever? Then, you might want to think about size, again depending on the size of the guy you're making it for. Is the bag large enough for his frame? Of course, we love this particular design and can see it working for lots of users. In general, I think I'd just show the guy the picture and see what he thinks 

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