Jul 13, 2011

Kid Size Duffle Bag

 Going anywhere out of the house with kids is pretty exhausting.  Getting all the right "take along" items in the right places plus shoes, coats, sippies etc.  I am usually sweating and tired by the time I get to the car (no wonder I fall asleep almost the instant my husband starts driving).  But taking kids overnight anywhere-well that is tripple exhausting.  I am not the best at packing (which bag should I put this and that in-and where to put the kids stuff).  So I came up with some cute duffle bags for the girls (one for each of them-very different colors).  They are kid sized so the girls can carry them (well pumpkin isn't quite big enough) and they hold just the right amount of stuff for each kid.  This is not a beginner project.  These are not terribly hard but they have a few tricky steps so be forewarned.  I love the outcome however and hope I can share some instructions clear enough so you can try one out too.
1 yard of fabric (for outside)
1 1/2 yards of stiff interfacing (and I mean STIFF)
1 yard of heavy material (I used duck cloth-which I am loving right now.  It is kind of like canvas but I don't think quite as stiff).  This will be for the inside
1 zipper (longer than your bag is wide)

1. The first step is to decide how big to make your bag.  I traced a large mixing bowl on a paper to start.  This is going to be the pattern for your two round side pieces.  The size of these determines the size of everything else.  Mine were 9 1/4" in diameter.  Whatever you choose to trace you will then want to fold the circle in half, measure straight across the middle (giving you your diameter).  When you get this number multiply that by 3.14 and then add 1 inch (because you will be turning under a 1/2 inch on each side to sew on the zipper).   This will give you the length of the piece you will cut for the body of the bag.  I made my width 18 ".  Along with this cut 3 3" by 36" strips for the handles (you will need about 90" of handle for a bag this size so you will end up cutting a bit off, unless you decide to have longer handles).  Cut matching pieces out of the interfacing and duck cloth for the sides and body of the bag.
So you should have:
2 side circles of fabric
2 side circles of interfacing
2 side circles of duck cloth
1 bag body of fabric (mine was 30x18")
1 bag body of interfacing
1 bag body of duck cloth
3 handle pieces.
 2. Now you will assemble the sides and the body of the bag by placing the outer piece right side down, the interfacing on it (iron it one if necessary) and the duck cloth on it.  Pin and stitch with a basting stitch or with a serger.  I did a basting stitch first but then realized that I wanted to have finished edges inside and serged all my edges.  If you aren't going to serge them then you will for sure want to pink them with pinking shears.
Here are all my completed pieces.
 3. On my body piece I folded under a 1/2" on both of the short ends.  These are the two pieces that will attach to the zipper and form the center of the bag.
 4. This is totally the cheaters way of doing zippers.  I take my zipper, match it upso that the top of the zipper is matching with the edge of my fabric and I pin my fabric so that the fold is centering over the teeth of the zipper.  Just do this on one side.
 5. At your sewing machine pull the zipper pull down so that the zipper is open a couple of inches.  Line up your presser foot so that you are sewing about an 1/4" in from the fold of the fabric.  Start stitching and do a backstitch.  Continue sewing.
 When you get close to the zipper stop sewing, put your needle down in the fabric...
 lift your presser foot and pull the zipper pull up to close the zipper.  Put your presser foot back down and continue sewing all the way down.
 If you have a zipper that is longer than your fabric don't worry.  You can cut it off flush with the fabric edge.
 6.  Repeat this process with the other side of the zipper only this time you will have to place your bag around the free arm part of your machine and it is a bit trickier when you get to the end of the zipper.
 Tada-zipper is done.
 7. To assemble the sides you want to start by folding the side circles in half and pressing with an iron to make a crease.
 8. Match the crease with the center top of the bag (the zipper) and the bottom of the bag (may be a good idea to fold the bag and press the bottom to make a crease).  Pin all the way around the edge of the circle and bag.  Notice how the side piece sits inside the bag body piece.  USE LOTS OF PINS.

 9.To sew the two together you will flatten the side edge of the bag on the sewing machine and stitch around the edge making sure the body of the bag is not getting tucked under or folded into your seam as you are sewing.  It is pretty tricky-go slow and steady.
10.  I wanted to include this picture so that you could see the little tucks that happen as you sew.  I don't know if it is possible to sew this with out the tucks but I have found that you actually have to have a few tucks in order for everything to lay nice in the end. (and it looks like I sewed a totally crooked seam at the top but that is just how the fabric is angled in this picture).  If you didn't serge your edges then you will want to clip your edges every 1/2" towards seam and then pink all the edges.
 I serged mine after the fact because I noticed that I forgot this particular piece at the beginning.
 11.  Your half finished project should look like this at this point:

 12.  The last part is the handle.  Take your 3 fabric strips and sew them end to end to create one super long fabric strip (and trust me you will use most of it).  NOTE: if you are making a large bag than my measurements you may need to have one more strip to make this handle piece.
 13.  Now fold that long piece in half lengthwise and sew along the edge.  Measure and cut this to 90" fora  bag this size (unless you want longer handles).
 14. Turn it right side out, press it so that the crease is in the center bottom,  fold under a 1/2" on one end, tuck the unfolded end into the folded end and stitch across forming a giant loop. MAKE SURE YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR HANDLE PIECE TWISTED.

 15. Lay your loop out flat
 then fold it in half (again making sure there are no twists).  Press the folded end with your iron (I call the folded end in this picture the one that is farther from me.  This is actually the center of the loop.  There is technically a fold in the end closest to me as well but that part is going to be my two separate handles while the other end is going to match up with the bottom of my bag and be sewn down.)
 16.  Reopen this handle piece to where is making one giant loop.  The part that you just pressed with the iron should be the center.  Now take your duffle bag and lay it so that the straps are running perpendicular to the bag and the creases on the handle piece match the bottom center of the bag.  You want the straps to come in 4 " from the side of the bag.  Pin in place.   If you were to grab each handle piece and lift up the bag should be in the center now.
 17.  Continue pinning the handle pieces around the bag (making sure they are 4" in from the side).
 The last pin should be 3" from the zipper.  You don't want to sew the handle all the way to the zipper.  Make sure the entire handle piece is pinned on all the way around the bag. 
 18.  To sew on the handles first unpin the pin at the 3" from the zipper edge leaving the pin in the handle piece (just not having it attached to the bag).  Stitch along the edge all the way to the other pin on the other side.  Repeat on the other side of this handle (this gives this part of the handle a finished edge) then repin it to the bag and sew the handle on the opposite side of the bag in this manner.
 19. To sew the handle on completely begin by unzipping the bag.  Starting from the pin (at the 3" from the zipper mark) stitch across the strap (from one side to the other) and then down the side all the way around the bag to other side where you will stitch across at the 3" pin and back down and around to where you started.  Repeat on the other part of the handle. 
 Now find a super cute model to show off your finished project.

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  1. love the duffles. I just bought this fabric the other day. lol


  2. That's really cute and I love how easy you made it! The duffel is a total summer staple. Thanks a bunch, I'll be linking.

  3. I really enjoyed this tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to put in all those great pics. They are so important for visual learners like me. I sew bags for a living, but have never made a duffle. Here is my chance! Please visit my blog. It's very new and all about making bags.
    Ricochet and Away!

  4. The bag is cute and the model holding it is adorable! Great tutorial. My initial response was to run away because it has a zipper but after reading that part, it doesn't seem too scary. I might be brave enough. I've always been intimidated by zippers but you make it look easy. Maybe...

  5. I always do the cheat method on zippers- in fact I learned how to do them really nice when I was in college but have totally forgotten-I would have to dig out an old college sewing binder to remember. Don't be scared of zippers-just remember there are always seam rippers if necessary.

  6. I want to teach myself to sew. I just purchased a cheap sewing machine. If I get good at it maybe I will get better machine.

    I wish I could make things like this..very cute..

    Thanks for the inspiration


  7. Made one this weekend. Thanks so much for the tutorial. Next time though, I think it will be easier to sew the handles on before doing the zipper step. (Just pin them out of the way)

  8. I made one today for my daughter. I added a pocket on each side with piping on the pocket and along the zipper. What a wonderful, fairly easy bag! I also added the handles and pockets before the zipper step.

  9. This has been on my to do list now for a while. Just need to figure out how to modify the size to the vera bradley small duffle size!!!

  10. So cute!! I will definetly be making this bag!!

  11. Thanks for the tutorial. I tackled it today. The handles ended up being crazy insane long, but I was able to trim them to size. I was looking for a challenge (but a do-able one) and this fit the bill perfectly. Thanks!

  12. I'm confused on the handle. It states to cut 3 3x72 strips and sew them together. So in the end, you have one long strip that is 6 yards long?

    1. Julie, I went back and read the instructions and was totally confused too. This is the first time anyone has mentioned it and when I did the math, I have NO idea where I got 3"x72" but it should be 3"x36". I have updated that and added an additional note on the step for sewing the handle. Thank you so much for asking the question. Sorry it took a bit to get back to you.

  13. Thanks for the tutorial, I made one today but i think next time I will do the handle before the zipper but still a great tutorial. i plan on making a few for friends little ones, they are just perfect for boys and girls!


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