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Safari Duffle in Canvas & Faux Leather

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Can't you picture Harrison Ford slinging this amazing duffle over his shoulder as Indiana Jones?! We blended heavy canvas and faux leather with webbing and brass zipper accents for the dashing exterior. Inside is a tough rip-stop nylon lining. Even if you're not a world-renowned archeologist and adventurer, this bag is is great way to pack your stuff, whether you're heading across town to the gym or getting away for the weekend. Father's Day is coming up, and this would make a very nice gift for your personal action hero. The combination of fabrics, colors and textures has the perfect feel – a little bit retro and a whole lot cool (just like Dad).  

Our finished bag looks like you could have grabbed it off the shelf at Eddie Bauer®, but don't let the professional finish scare you off. Achieving a polished end result is often easier than you might think. Read through the project a few times before you start, then if a particular part has you stumped, try doing it with scraps to get the hang of it before moving on to your final fabric. And of course, we offer our trademark S4H details and photos to help you through each step. 

We do strongly recommend the heavy canvas and faux leather combo to insure your duffle has the stability and durability you want for active, on-the-go (safari style) use.

The bag finishes at approximately 22" wide x 11" high.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Getting Started

  1. Download and print FOUR copies of the Duffle Bag Side Pattern.
  2. Download and print TWO copies of the Duffle Bag Side Pocket Pattern.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page.
  3. Cut out the pieces along the solid lines. 
  4. Butt together (do not overlap) and tape the four Duffle Bag Side Pattern pieces to form a circle as shown on the diagram printed on the pattern.
  5. Butt together (do not overlap) and tape the two Duffle Bag Side Pocket Pattern pieces to form a half circle as shown on the diagram printed on the pattern.
  6. From the top exterior fabric (Nutmeg Canvas in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 23" x 12" rectangles
    ONE 10" x 15" rectangle
    TWO 1¼" x 2" strips for the zipper tabs
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  7. From the bottom exterior fabric (Boca Cocoa Faux Leather in our sample), cut ONE 14" x 23" rectangle.
  8. From the lining fabric (Brown Rip Stop Nylon in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 23" x 36" rectangle
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  9. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 23" x 12" rectangles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  10. From the webbing cut the following:
    TWO 36" lengths
    ONE 60" length
    TWO 7" lengths

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: As mentioned above, we used the built-in AcuFeed Flex™ system on our Janome MC8900 QCP with the optional narrow foot VD throughout the entire project. If you don't have a built-in feeding system, attach a Walking foot or similar. It helps keep all the layers involved in this project feeding more smoothly.

Apply the interfacing

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the two 23" x 12" exterior panels, the two exterior side circles, and the two exterior side pockets.

Side pockets

  1. Find the two exterior pocket pieces (with interfacing) and the two pocket lining pieces.
  2. Place one lining piece and one exterior piece right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place along the top edge only.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch along the top edge only.
  4. Press flat.
  5. Fold the lining to the wrong side of the pocket. Press again.
  6. Edgestitch on the right side along the top edge only.
  7. Run a second line of stitching ¼" from the first. 
  8. Repeat to create the second pocket.
  9. Find the two exterior side circles (with interfacing). 
  10. Place a finished pocket on each side circle, matching the curved raw edges. Pin in place.
  11. Machine baste each pocket in place on its circle within the ½" seam allowance, an approximate ⅜" seam allowance is good.
  12. Set the side panels aside.

Front zippered pocket

  1. Find ONE of the two 23" x 12" exterior panels (with interfacing), the 10" x 15" exterior pocket panel, and the 9" zipper.
  2. Place the 23" x 12" panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Orient it properly: 23" wide x 12" high.
  3. Find the exact center of the panel (11½" from either side). Mark this point with a pin.
  4. Using your fabric pencil and see-through ruler, measure 4½" to the left of the center point and mark, then measure 4½" to the right of the center point and mark. Measure 3½" down from the upper edge and make an intersecting mark. Draw a connecting 9" horizontal line.
  5. Draw a second line ½" down from the first line and parallel. Join the lines at each end to create a box.
  6. Place the 10" x 15" panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Orient it properly: 10" wide x 15" high.
  7. Draw a matching box to what you just drew on the top 10" edge, positioning it ½" from the top raw edge and centered side to side. 
  8. Place the exterior panel and the pocket panel right sides together aligning the two drawn boxes. The easiest way to line up the boxes is to place a pin at each upper corner on the wrong side of the exterior panel.
  9. Then, match up the pin points with the pocket on the other side.
     
  10. With the wrong side of the exterior panel facing up, stitch around the marked box through both layers.
  11. Cut through the center of the box, then clip into each corner. 
  12. Pull the pocket to the inside through the opening, smoothing the corners and edges of the box as best you can. Press.
  13. Flip over and place the opening over the 9" zipper, centering the zipper's teeth. Pin in place. 
  14. Edgestitch in place around all four sides.
  15. Run a second line of stitching ¼" from the first along the BOTTOM of the box opening only.

    NOTE: Don't worry too much about keeping your corner pivots and end stitching super-duper perfect; the ends of the opening will be hidden by the webbing when complete. 
  16. From the wrong side, fold just the pocket layer in half, bringing the lower edge of the pocket up so it aligns with the upper edge. Pin along the top.
  17. Flip to the right side. Run a second row of topstitching ¼" from the TOP edgestitching along the TOP of the box opening (matching what you did previously along the bottom edge). You are stitching through all the layers, catching and securing that upper edge of the pocket you just folded up and pinned. Press well. 

Side handles

  1. Find the two 36" lengths of webbing.
  2. Fold each length in half to find the exact center. Mark with a pin. 
  3. Measure 3½" to the left of the center point and mark with a pin. 
  4. Measure 3½" to the right of the center point and mark with a pin.
  5. Remove the center pin.
  6. Fold the webbing in half, matching the long edges.
  7. Edgestitch between the left and right pin points to create the handle.
  8. Find both exterior side panels, the one with the pocket and the plain panel.
  9. On the panel with the pocket, lay one handle length in place. The outer edge of the webbing should be positioned 5½" in from each side. The inner edge of the webbing should just cover either end of the zipper "box." The ends of the webbing should be flush with the lower raw edge of the panel. Be careful to insure the handle loop is not twisted. 
  10. Measure 2½" down from the top raw edge along each side of the webbing and mark with a pin, placing it horizontally across the webbing. This is where you will stop sewing and turn to go across and back down the webbing. 
  11. Edgestitch each side of the handle in place, staying as close to the edge as you can. We also lengthened our stitch. Start at the bottom, stitch up one side, stop at the 2½" mark, pivot, stitch across, pivot, and stitch down the opposite edge to complete. This edgestitching will also finish the side seams of the inside pocket.
  12. At each 2½" point, reinforce the strap with a 1½" "X Box."
  13. Position the second webbing handle on the remaining plain panel, exactly matching the front, and repeat the steps to create the opposite side of the bag. 

Attach the bottom exterior panel

  1. Find the 14" x 23" faux leather panel.
  2. Place one completed exterior panel on either side of faux leather panel, right sides together, aligning the the 23" raw edges. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance stitch each seam. Finger press the seam allowance towards the faux leather. Do not press with an iron. Faux leather doesn't like the heat of an iron!
  4. Flip the sewn panel over and run two lines of topstitching. One seam should be approximately ⅛" from the seam. Run a second seam ¼" from the first. 
  5. Stay stitch both long sides of the assembled exterior ½" from the edge.
    NOTE: Stay stitching is a single line of stitching that simply helps stabilize the fabric to prevent stretching or distortion. In this project, it will also provide us with a seam line to follow later in the instructions.

Add the top zipper

  1. Find the 22" zipper and the two 1¼" x 2" end tabs.
  2. Place one tab on each end of the zipper. The strip and the zipper are right sides together and the raw ends are flush. Pin in place.
    NOTE: We based the width of these tabs on our zipper. Cut your tabs as needed to best fit your zipper; you want the tab to fit within the zipper tape.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the zipper tabs in place. You may need to "hand walk" the foot across the zipper to avoid breaking the needle. 
  4. Press the zipper tabs away from the zipper on each end.
  5. Lay the bag exterior right side up and flat on your work surface.
  6. Place the zipper face down along the top on the side with the pocket, aligning the edge of the zipper tape with the raw edge of the strip. Pin in place along the top half of the zipper tape only. 
  7. Using an adjustable zipper foot or a built-in feeding system (we used our MC8900 AcuFlex™ ED Zipper foot), stitch along the zipper teeth. Your seam should be as close as possible to the teeth. 
  8. Fold the fabric down and away from the zipper teeth. Lightly press. Pin if needed.
  9. Edgestitch in place, approximately ⅛" from the fold. 
  10. Run a second seam ¼" from the first. 
  11. Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the panel to the opposite side of the zipper. 
    NOTE: This second side will be a little more challenging because your bag is now a tube rather than flat. However, both ends are open, giving you the flexibility to maneuver your fabric under the needle. 

D-rings and tabs for side panels

  1. Find the two 7" lengths of webbing, the two D-rings and the side panels with the pockets basted in place.
  2. Slip each 7" strip through one of the D rings. Fold into place so one end extends 1½" below the other. Pin in place.   
  3. Fold up that extra 1½" on each tab, enclosing the upper end's raw edge.
  4. Find the two circular end units
  5. Place one tab on each end unit, centering it above the pocket. The D-ring should be aligned with the curved top edge of the pocket as shown in the photo below. Stitch the tab in place with a 1¼" "X box" stitch. 

Set in the side panels

  1. Find the bag "tube" and the two end panels. 
  2. Clip the raw edges of the two open ends of the tube. Clip approximately every ¾", taking care to not cut through the stay stitching.
  3. Place a pin at the exact center top, exact center bottom and top edge of each side pocket. Think of it like a clock, with pin points at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.
  4. On the main tube, the corresponding 12:00 point will be the center of the zipper. Keeping the zipper in the exact center, flatten the tube to find the opposite 6:00 point. Then, flatten the tube in the opposite direction to find the 3:00 and 9:00 points. Place marking pins at all these points. 
  5. Place the side panel right sides together with circular opening of the barrel, aligning all the pin points. Easing the fabric, fill in the rest of the circle with pins. If you've done garment sewing, this is very similar to putting in a sleeve.
  6. Stitch the layers together, following the original line of stay stitching. 
  7. Turn the completed bag right side out.

Create and insert the lining

  1. Find the 23" x 36" lining panel and the two lining side circle panels. As you did with the exterior panel, stay stitch each 36" side of the lining. 
  2. Clip to, but not through, the line of stay stitching every ¾" - again as you did with the exterior panel.
  3. With low heat, press under ½" along the each 23" edge.
  4. Following a similar method as you did for the exterior, pin the lining to the circles, leaving a ½" gap at what will be the top of the lining. When inserted into the bag, this gap will allow the lining to smoothly straddle the zipper.
  5. Sew the side circles in place, following along in the original line of stay stitching. This will be a bit easier than stitching the exterior since you are working with the lining panel as a flat piece.
  6. With the completed lining still wrong side out, insert it into the exterior bag. Pin the lining in place along each side of the zipper, covering the lines of stitching.
  7. Topstitch the lining in place, following along in the existing stitch line closest to the zipper.
  8. The photo below shows how that opening in the lining sits over the zipper. It looks a little messy when you see everything close-up like this, but it's all actually hidden inside the bag and results in a professional finish. We thought it was important for you to see why that little space is left open in the lining end seams.
     

Create the shoulder strap

  1. Find the remaining 60" length of webbing, the slider and the two swivel clips.
  2. Insert one raw end of the webbing through the center of the slider. Pull it through so it just clears the slider. Turn under the raw end approximately ½" and stitch in place as close to the slider as possible.
  3. Place the slider end, with the webbing attached, wrong side up on your work surface. Thread the opposite raw end through one swivel clip, threading from the bottom and out the top.
  4. Continue feeding the webbing through, pulling it across and over the portion laying flat, then threading it back through the slider.
  5. Finally bring the opposite raw end through the remaining swivel clip, threading it from the top to the bottom. Pull it through as above, turn under the raw end, and stitch in place as close to the hook as possible 
  6. Clip the strap in place on the D-ring tabs to complete. 

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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Comments (8)

Krista said:
Krista's picture

HI!  I'm working on printing out the Side and Side Pocket pieces--and I'm having some challenges with the 8" line.  I was wondering, am I supposed to measure the line from arrow tip to arrow tip?  If I do, the line is 8"--if I measure just the line, it's 7 7/8".  I am choosing the "actual fit" option from Adobe, and I've tried downloading the pattern piece through two different browsers and received the same results.  I just want to make sure I'm doing it right! :)

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

@ Krista - the line should be 8" point to point, so it sounds like you are good to go. Have fun!

cathymichels said:
cathymichels's picture

What a great project!  I will have to give this a try.  I've made several of your bags for gifts and they are a big hit!  Thanks for including the product info, cause I love the look you've achieved here.

Denise R said:
Denise R's picture

This is an absolutely amazing bag! Your instructions are more than amazing! I can't wait to make this! I've pinned it so my friends can see it and will be following you!

vickit said:
vickit's picture

What a great looking duffle bag and instructions. Thank you

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