DIY Duffle Bag Tutorial

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Who says functional can’t be stylish? Today, we are going to show you this DIY Duffel Bag Tutorial! You know that here at HappiestCamper, we love sharing functional sewing projects that you can make for yourself and others. And when I saw this fabric at Joann’s, I knew exactly how we needed to use it! This bag is perfect for a fun overnight trip with friends or you could even use it for a weekend getaway. Bags are my favorite and this is my first try at a duffle bag. I am super happy with how it turned out and I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did. This duffel bag is an easy to moderate sewing project that only takes about two yards of fabric and a few hours to make. It features sturdy straps (that you don’t even have to turn out!), a reinforced bottom panel, and a zipper that goes all the way to both sides. And I have to confess, mine was originally going to be for a friend, but I fell in love with it as I sewed along, so now it looks like I’m going to have to make another. I don’t think I can bear to part with this one.

So, pick out some fabric that you love and gather your supplies from the list below. I used some fleece interfacing to add some durability to my bag and use cordage to make some piping around it, but those are optional if you don’t want to add them. Let’s get started on this fun sewing tutorial!

DIY Duffle Bag Tutorial

What You’ll Need:

DIY Duffel Bag Tutorial

duffel bag - cut fabric

First, cut out your fabric and fusible fleece. You’ll need:

From Large Flowers (Main Fabric)
(2) Main pieces 19” x 15”
(2) Circles 9.5”
From Small Flowers (Lining Fabric) 
(2) Main pieces 19” x 15”
(2) Circles 9.5”
From Polka Dots (Trim Fabric)
(2) Strap pieces 42” x 2.5” 
(1) Bottom panel 19” x 6”
(2) Cording strips 2” x 30”  
From Fusible fleece
(4) Main pieces 19” x 14.5”
(4) Circles 9.25”
(2) Strap pieces 42” x 1” 
(1) Bottom panel 19” x 5”

duffel bag - fusible fleece

Match up each piece of fusible fleece to its corresponding cut of fabric. The only pieces that shouldn’t have a matching fleece are the two cording strips. 

duffel bag -  fusing fleece

Use an iron to fuse the fleece to the back of the main pieces, the end circles, and the bottom panel. 

check fusible fleece

Double check to make sure the fleece has bonded. Iron again if necessary.

sew panels together

Now we can start sewing our duffel bag! Lay the two main outer panels right sides together. Sew the bottom together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

duffel bag outside pieces

Unfold and press the seam flat.

iron straps in half

Next we will be creating and attaching the straps. Turning out tubing with fusible fleece is a real pain, so we are going to be using an easier method. Start by ironing a crease down the center of each strap.

add fleece to straps

Then place your remaining fusible fleece inside each strap so that it’s butting right up to the crease. Iron in place.

pin down raw edges

Now fold the raw edges inside and pin or clip in place.

sew strap

Then sew several straight lines down the length of each strap. Make sure you’ve caught the raw edges under one of those lines. Don’t worry about closing off the ends. Those will be sewn into the duffel bag’s bottom panel anyway.

pin straps in place

Next you’ll pin the straps in place and sew onto the front panels. Make sure the straps line up on both sides and aren’t twisted before you pin them in place.

sew straps

Sew four long rectangles onto the main panel where each end of the straps lay. Stop about three inches away from the top of the panels. To cover the ends of the straps, fold in and iron down the outer edges of the bottom panel, and pin into place on the center seam.

sew on bottom panel
pin bottom panel

Sew all the way around the panel. I went around mine twice to give it some extra strength.

pin cording

Now for the piping for your duffle bag to give it a nice look. Lay a piece of cording down the middle of each cording strip. Fold over the fabric and clip or pin into place.

sew piping

Sew down the middle to hold the cording in place. It’s easiest to use a zipper foot, but you can also do this with your regular sewing machine foot by moving the needle all the way to the left.

pin piping to end pieces

Next, clip each piece of cording to a circle of the outer fabric like this. If your fabric print is directional, make sure the ends of the cording are at the bottom.

Overlap the ends and cut off any excess.

sew piping in place

Sew the cording in place with at least a 1/4″ seam allowance. Set these aside and we will move on to shaping the duffel bag.

pin zipper

Start by sewing the zipper across the top of one front panel with right sides together.

sew zipper to first outer panel

Each time you sew along a zipper (four times total in this project) start with the zipper in front the needle. Then once you’ve gone down a fair amount, lift the foot up with the needle down, and slide the zipper pull behind the needle.

sew zipper to second outer panel

Then flip the bag so the fleece is on the outside, and sew the top of the second panel to the other side of the zipper.

At this point you should have an inside out tube.

add ends to duffel bag

Next, we will be pinning and sewing the end circles in place, but before we do that, it’s very important that the zipper stays at least 1/3 of the way open for the rest of the project.. Otherwise, you won’t be able to flip the bag right side out at the end. Line up the end circles so that the cording overlap at the bottom lines up the middle seam at the bottom of the bag. Pin and sew into place.

finished outer layer

Now you should have a fully finished inside out tube of outer fabric. Now we need to repeat these steps with the inside fabric.

sew first inner panel to zipper

Next, pin and sew the first inner panel to the zipper so that when the bag is facing up, so is the inner fabric. Repeat with the other inner panel.

sew second inner panel to zipper

Do not sew the bottom together.

sew inner circles

Now align and sew the inner circles into place the same as before. Only, this time, the tube is not closed on the side. I used a couple clover clips to hold the tube “closed” while I added the inner circles. That way I could make sure they would line up correctly when I was done.

finished inside out duffel bag

Now you should have two tubes connected by the long zipper. (With one side still open.)

flip bag right side out

Flip the bag right side out through the opening, so that the outside of the bag is right side out, but don’t tuck in the lining just yet.

sew bottom closed

While the lining is still out, tuck in the ends and sew the gap closed. (You can also do this part by hand if you want less up a bump in the lining seam. I prefer it this way because I know it will hold when I shove too many shoes in my new duffel bag.)

tuck lining into bag

Tuck the lining into the bag and it’s all finished!

finished duffel bag

Now you know how to sew a beautiful duffel bag! This simple duffel bag can be dressed up even more if you add some pockets but works great as is. It would also make a great gift for any occasion. Whip up one for yourself and for a friend. The whole thing only takes about three hours to make and just looks so much nicer than a plain black duffel bag.

How To Sew A Duffle Bag

If you liked this diy duffle bag tutorial, make sure to pin it to your favorite Pinterest board or share it with friends on social media. If you decide to make this simple project on your own, make certain that you take a picture afterward and tag us on social media as we love seeing the fabrics and color choices that people use!

Yield: 1 Duffel Bag

DIY Duffle Bag Tutorial

DIY Fabric Duffle Bag Create Card
Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Difficulty Moderate

Instructions

  1. Cut out fabric and fusible fleece.
  2. Match up each piece of fusible fleece to its corresponding cut of fabric.
  3. Use an iron to fuse the fleece to the back of the main pieces, the end circles, and the bottom panel. 
  4. Sew the bottom of the two main panels with the right sides together.
  5. Make straps by folding strap fabric in half and ironing a crease down the center. Fuse the fleece inside, tuck in the raw edges, and sew several straight lines down the length of the straps.
  6. Pin straps in place and sew onto front panels.
  7. Press in the edges of the bottom panel and stitch into place.
  8. Create piping by sewing cording into the remaining strips of fabric.
  9. Sew piping onto outer circles, making sure there is some overlap at the bottom and trim off any excess.
  10. Sew zipper to top of first panel. 
  11. Sew zipper to top of second panel. Make sure zipper is at least ⅓ open from here on out. 
  12. Sew outer circles in place on both sides so that you have an inside out tube. 
  13. Sew first inner panel to zipper. 
  14. Sew second inner panel to zipper.
  15. Sew inner circles in place the same as before. You should now have two inside out tubes connected by a zipper with a gap across one side.
  16. Flip bag right side out and sew bottom gap closed.

Notes

Cut List:

From Large Flowers (2) Main pieces 19” x 15”
(2) Circles 9.5”

From Small Flowers
(2) Main pieces 19” x 15”
(2) Circles 9.5”

From Polka Dots(2) Strap pieces 42” x 2.5”
(1) Bottom panel 19” x 6”
(2) Cording strips 2” x 30”  

From Fusible fleece(4) Main pieces 19” x 14.5”
(4) Circles 9.25
(2) Strap pieces 42” x 1”
(1) Bottom panel 19” x 5”

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