A duffel bag is a very nice addition to your bag collection – a bag to carry your things wherever you are going; when going to the gym you can keep your towel, phone, gloves, deo, key and water bottle inside, when going for an overnight stay a change of dress and some other paraphernalia you may need there. I can go on. You will have your own uses for your duffel bag, trust me.
Sewing tutorial for Duffel Bag
Cut out your bag components.
You need the main bag piece, the 2 circular side pieces, lining pieces for the main bag piece and the side pieces, handle pieces (webbing), and a long zipper.
Main body bag piece
Cut this in the dimension you want. The picture shows what I cut for my bag.
2 Side circular pieces
Cut this circle in the dimension after calculating using the formula given below.
Circumference of a circle = 2πr ie. 2 * 3.14 * radius of the circle (radius is half of the diameter)
Take the length of your main body piece; minus 1 inch from this(seam allowance). This is the circumference of your circle for your side pieces.
So to calculate the radius of your circle, Divide the circumference with 6.28
Radius = circumference of the circle by 6.28
For my bag, I got the radius as 3.5 inches (22 divided by 6.28)
Diameter = 2 * radius
So cut two circle pieces in the diameter you have go by this calculation – for me this was 2 circles of 7 inches diameter.
Linings and interfacing
Cut lining pieces for the main bag piece and the side pieces. You can also interface the top fabric or the lining piece for added strength and stiffness.
Cut two webbing pieces of 41-inch length; you can make matching handles with fabric also. Follow the tutorial to make different types of fabric handles
Cut the zipper 2 inches longer than the width of your bag body piece
This step is to get the cut edges along the zipper neatly to the inside – no frayed cut edges under the zipper. If you do not mind this, skip the step or just finish the edges of the lining and the main bag body piece together with zig zag stitch or serging.
Keep the main bag body piece and the lining piece right sides together (to the inside). Sew them together along the width edge with a 1/8 inch seam allowance
Turn the pieces right side out. Press neatly along the edges.
If you are zig zag stitching the edges, just treat the lining and the main body piece as one. Understandably, the interfacing will be sandwiched in between the main body piece and the lining.
Join the handles neatly.
Measure carefully and keep them equidistant from the edges and with a 3-inch width in between the two sides. Pin in place and stitch in place.
I kept a patch pocket in between the handles. This is somewhat a decorative piece for me; you can make a real pocket – interfaced and deep enough to fit a small face towel or keys.
Join the zipper.
This is tricky if you do not have a free arm machine – you will have to stitch the zipper through the whole length.
If you have a free arm machine, attach the zipper the way you do normally
Fold the fabric right sides to the inside with the edges together. Join the edges with a basting stitch. Now turn it right side out. Keep the zipper on the back and then sew with a zipper foot. You can see more details on sewing a zipper here.
If you do not have a sewing machine with a free arm, just fold the edges to the inside, press in place, and keep the zipper on the back, baste stitch or pin and then topstitch the zipper in place.
Cut off the extra zipper outside of the edges. Hand stitch the zipper teeth together along both sides. Do not forget this step. Use a contrasting thread for this – do this thoroughly so that it does not come off.
Sew with a zipper foot.
Open the zipper midway. This is important for the next step.
Once the handle and the zipper is done, you just have to attach the side pieces.
Start joining the side. Keep the fabric circle right side down on top of the right side up the edge of the bag body. Sew with a small seam allowance – 1/4 inch. After you reach halfway you will have to get the edge from the inside of the bag and continue stitching.
Join the other side as well.
You can clip the edges of the seam allowance – this will give non-puckered look along the curved seam. After clipping, you can bind the edges with a stretchy bias tape. This will hide the edges inside.
Ok, now take it out; or wait till you can.