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Make it Now 4 Summer: Beach Duffle

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Our designer beach bag is a wonderfully tall tube, perfect for loading with all your sun and fun supplies. The soft rope handles are woven through grommets to gather the top and make their own shoulder straps. We spotted similar bags at high-end catalog sites with prices tags of $50 and up! This is a fast and easy project: make it today, you're beachward bound tomorrow.

Our bag is lined with PUL (polyurethane laminate), making it water resistant, yet still lightweight. It finishes at approximately 18" tall with a 31" circumference and a 10" diameter base.

Our fabric choices are from the Premier Prints Cotton Twill options available at Fabric.com. These quality fabrics are always popular and often sell out quickly. The Premier Prints Solid Twill in Storm, which we selected for the base of our bag, is currently out-of-stock. But, no need to worry; Fabric.com has many, many more options

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the main exterior (Premier Prints Chipper Twill in Storm in our sample), cut ONE 21" high x 31" wide rectangle. 
  2. From the fabric for the main exterior (Premier Prints Solid Twill in Storm in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 6" high x 31" wide rectangle for the exterior base
    ONE 10½" diameter circle for the base
    NOTE: We used a pan lid to make a circle pattern, because it happened to be exactly 10½" in diameter. If you aren't that lucky, below are the steps for how to draw your own circle pattern.
  3. Fold a 11½" square of pattern or graph paper into quarters. Make sure your original square is even and true.
  4. Place a see-through ruler at the exact center of the upper left 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 5¼" point in three to four spots. You are creating a semi-circle.  
  5. Draw an arc to connect the marks. If you own a large compass, you could also use it to create your 5¼" arc. Cut along the arc, then unfold your 10½" circle. 
  6. Take a look at our Here Comes The Sun pillow and Whimsy neck roll pillow tutorials for step-by-step photos of this circle pattern technique.
  7. From the PUL cut the following:
    ONE 23" x 31" rectangle
    ONE 10½" diameter circle
  8. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 21" x 31" rectangle
    ONE 6" x 31" rectangle
    ONE 10½" diameter circle

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

As we always recommend: start every new project with a new needle. This advice is especially important with this project because you will be sewing through thicker fabric, PUL and heavy interfacing. 

Create the exterior

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse each interfacing piece to the wrong side of its corresponding fabric piece (not the PUL - the cotton fabric). You are stabilizing the main exterior piece, the base exterior piece and the base circle. 
  2. Pin the fused base strip to the main fused exterior panel, right sides together along one 31" side.
  3. Stitch together, using a ⅝" seam.
  4. Press open and finish as a flat felled seam.

    NOTE: If you are new to making flat felled seams, no worries. We have a great tutorial.
  5. We added a Sew4Home label just to the left of the center front below the flat felled seam. 
  6. Fold the panel in half, right sides together, carefully matching the flat felled seam. This will be the bag's back seam, which runs all the way from the top to the bottom. Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.

Create and attach the exterior base

  1. Find the 10½" base circle, which you already fused with interfacing. 
  2. In order to attach the circular base to the bag tube, it helps to make 'quarter-marks' on each piece. To do this, fold the circle piece in half, then in half again. Lightly press at the raw edge to set creases. Unfold and place a pin at the end of each crease. 
  3. Find these same points on the bag tube. Using the back seam as your guide, fold in half first in one direction (with the seam at the side), then in the opposite direction (with the seam in the middle). 
  4. Place the base inside the bottom of the exterior bag tube, right sides together. Match up the pins you put in place on your quarter folds. Then fill in with pins all around. It's okay to use lots of pins!
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew around the circle. Press the seam open.
  6. Turn the bag right side out. Edgestitch all around the bottom of the bag, using a ¼" seam allowance.

    NOTE: We used our Janome Quarter Inch foot to keep a consistent seam line. Very helpful when sewing in a circle. 
  7. Along the top opening of the bag, make a 2½" double turn hem. To do this, fold in the raw edge ½" and press. Fold an additional 2" and press again. Lightly pin to hold in place. 

Create and insert the lining

  1. Find the two pieces of PUL: the 23" x 31" rectangle and the 10½" diameter circle.
  2. Construct the lining following the same steps as you used above to construct the bag exterior. The only difference is that the main lining panel is just one piece rather than two, so it only requires a single side seam - no base seam or flat felled seam on the lining. 
    NOTE: For more information about PUL, take a look at our tutorial: Working with PUL.
  3. When the tube and the bottom are stitched together, keep the lining wrong side out and slide it inside the exterior bag. The two pieces are wrong sides together.
  4. Line up the back seams.
  5. Unpin the top hem of the exterior and slide the top raw edge of the lining underneath it. 
  6. Adjust as necessary to make sure the bottom of the lining is against the bottom of the bag exterior and the walls of the lining are fairly smooth against the walls of the exterior. The lining will be a bit loose; this is normal and correct. 
  7. Pin the hem back into place over the lining.
  8. Topstitch the hem in place. Your seam line should be just shy of 1½" from the top folded edge of the bag.

Mark and insert the grommets

  1. Flatten the bag as best you can and place it on your work surface so the back seam is facing up and centered.
  2. Measure 2" to the right and 2" to the left of the back seam. Make a mark at each of these points. These marks will be where the two back grommets are placed.
  3. From the right mark, measure 4" and place a second mark. From that mark, measure 4" and place a third mark. From that mark, measure 4" and place a fourth mark.
  4. Repeat this process to from the mark to the left of the back seam. 
  5. When complete, you should have EIGHT marks. The two marks at the front of the bag will be about 1" - 1¾" apart; this is correct.
    NOTE: Measuring for grommets can be a bit hard to describe because the actual grommet size/shape can be different and your measuring points (center-to-center versus edge-to-edge) may be different than ours. The spacing above should work, but feel free to evenly space for your best look. Simply remember that the grommets at the center front should be closer together than the other grommets. 
  6. Center a top grommet over each mark and trace the inner circle. 
  7. Using a pair of small, sharp scissors, cut out theses marked circles through all the layers. Following the manufacturer's instructions, place all the grommets. You have a number of layers to sandwich between the grommet top and bottom; don't be afraid to whack the setting post with the hammer. You have to put a little muscle into it!
    NOTE: If you are new to working with grommets, check out our tutorial: How to Install Metal Grommets. 
  8. You also need to insert grommets at the base of the bag. These should be placed 2" to either side of the back seam (just as you did above for the grommets in the top hem) and 2" up from the base edgestitching.

Thread the rope into place

  1. Find your 3½ yards of rope. If you got the same soft twisted rope as we used, the ends were likely taped when cut off the bolt. Leave this tape in place; it's the best way to prevent the rope from unraveling, and the ends will be inside at the bottom of bag so you won't ever see the tape.  
  2. Starting at the front of the bag, insert one end through each of the two front, closely-spaced grommets. 
  3. Weave the rope in and out, moving around the side grommets, finally coming out the back grommets to either side of the back seam.
  4. Approximately 8" down from the grommets, tie the two strands together into a knot. 
  5. Continue down the back of the back inserting each rope tail into one of the bottom grommets.
  6. Reach down into the bag and tie a knot in each end to finish.
  7. You want the rope to be loose enough to easily gather up the top and still sling over your shoulder.

Contributors

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

Section: 

Comments (7)

Vicki J said:
Vicki J's picture

To make the pattern a little bit smaller (for a child) would you just cut the main and lining pieces a little shorter and leave the rest of the pattern as is?

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

@Vicki J - It really depends on the child, but if you are okay with the size of the base, then don't mess with that or the width of the main panel - just adjust the height. 

Annie M said:
Annie M's picture

The instructions are so thorough & clear with great pics that things were going breezily...until I came to the measurements for the grommet holes.  I measured & marked 3x, but my last two holes were so much closer than 1 3/4"!  So I sat down & did the math:  the length of a 31" rectangle when sewn & laid flat s/b 15".  Measuring the marks at 2" and then 4 1/4" for the next 3 is 14 3/4" & will leave only a 1/2" between the front grommets.  I thought that might be a bit too close.  So I spaced my 2nd, 3rd and 4th marks at 4" and that left me an inch at the end.  This makes the front two grommets 2" apart!  This worked out so nicely.  Thank you for providing this pattern with instructions (and sources)--my nephew is going to love his new bag & I have pieces already cut out for two more!

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

@ Annie M - I think it's a case of measuring from the edges versus the centers, but I can see the confusion. I'm going to make an adjustment to the steps above to help clarify. Thanks for letting us know and for giving us notes about what worked for you! Glad to hear you're having fun with the project.

Alana said:
Alana's picture

This is an awesome project, but something I think would be even better would be to make the bottom and top separate pieces that zip together. That way, your sunscreen and any small objects can be put in the bottom and would be easy to access rather than having to reach all the way down a tall bag. Love the fabric, contrast and nautical feel of the rope!

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

@ Alana - a circular zipper is quite a bit more complex; our goal is always to create projects that even a beginning seamstress can tackle. But if you decide to do the project and add a zipper, please let us know how it turns out!

Cindy C. said:
Cindy C.'s picture

Oh my word,  I used to one of these when I was a little girl walking to our town's YMCA......many moons ago.  Thank you for the memory, and the pattern!

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