Color coming your way! Our dramatic duffle has a soft, round shape and an easy going, shoulder sling style. Boho patchwork and ribbons adorn the outside, and we haven’t forgotten to add plenty of handy pockets on the inside. The stunning fabric is from the 2022 Fluent collection by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics.
S4H fans know how much we love designing bags and totes. Part of the fun is tempting people who’ve never experimented with shapes beyond the traditional square or rectangle. Stepping up your “shape game” might seem intimidating, but we have the detailed, step-by-step instructions to take you from start to finish with confidence.
Plus, giving credit where credit is due, a great machine makes everything go more smoothly! We’re proud to be a Janome Exclusive studio, and send our thanks to Janome America for sponsoring our Boho Style Patchwork Duffle. For this project, you’ll notice we go back and forth between using a standard presser foot and engaging the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex built-in fabric feeding system – depending on whether we’re sewing thick or thin. This switch is super fast and easy, as are all the functions we love to use on our Janome machines. They really understand the importance of intuitive engineering to keep your sewing frustration-free.
Although it finishes in the round, you’ll work flat during the majority of the duffle’s construction. Both the exterior patchwork, with its ribbon embellishment, and the multi-pocket lining go together first as flat, layered panels.
Boho style is all about being unstructured and artful. No rigid sidewalls or excess hardware, we wanted a casual bag with a slightly slouchy feel. The only structure comes from a single layer of fusible fleece, and the top of the duffle is completely free from interfacing so it gathers up beautifully with just a narrow drawcord channel.
If your machine has a free arm, which nearly all Janome models do, this is a perfect project to put it to use. You’ll move from flat panels to open tubes as construction progresses. Being able to slip the tube over a free arm will make your seaming and topstitching simpler and more precise.
You’ll find a full pattern download below for each of our five unique patchwork sections as well as for the round base pattern. All other pieces are straight cuts. You’re going to love the way the upper drawcord channel is formed: snip, fold, stitch… we get so happy when there’s a clever way to do something that creates a pro finish inside and out.
Because the upper section of the duffle is lightweight, the drawcord can be quite thin. We used a simple twisted cord, adding beads at the knotted ends and fluffing up the bottom of the cording into faux tassels. This embellishment is optional, but boho style does cry out for beads!
We appreciated being able to work with Anna Maria Horner’s Fluent for FreeSpirit Fabrics. The swirling colors and rich motifs are classic Anna Maria and a perfect choice for the bohemian beauty of this duffle. Whatever your choice may be, we encourage you to spend the time – and the bit of extra fabric – to fussy cut all the elements. It will give your bag a stunning finish from every angle.
For more information about how a Janome machine can make your new or continued sewing adventures more fun – and frustration free – visit the Janome America website or contact your local Janome America dealer. If you follow S4H on Facebook or Instagram, be on the lookout for our monthly live video chats with Janome America and Janome Canada.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional, but makes handling the multiple layers easier – you could also engage your machine’s built-in fabric feeding system, such as the AcuFeed™ Flex system we use on many of our Janome studio machines
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: The yardage shown below is based on the Fluent fabric collection we chose and includes extra in order to facilitate precise fussy cuts for all the exterior pieces as shown on our finished sample. If you select another fabric, especially a fabric with a more random motif, and/or choose not to fussy cut, check the pattern pieces themselves as well as the cut dimensions shown below in the Getting Started section. You may be able to use less fabric.
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide of quilting weight cotton for the upper gathered section and PW section #1; we originally used Vestment in Summer from the Fluent collection by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide of quilting weight cotton for the strap and PW section #2; we originally used Raiment in July from the Fluent collection by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44″+ wide of quilting weight cotton for PW section #4 and the exterior base panel; we originally used Rose Tile in Butterscotch from the Fluent collection by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide of quilting weight cotton for PW sections #3 and #5; we originally used Raiment in May from the Fluent collection by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide of quilting weight cotton or a lightweight linen blend in a coordinating solid for the lining; we originally used Essex Linen Blend in Plum from Robert Kaufman Fabrics
- 1 yard EACH of TWO ⅞” wide ribbons; we used two ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons – browse their entire ⅞” ribbon collection for dozens of amazing options
- ½ yard of 45″+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- 1 yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing for the lining pocket; we used Pellon Shape Flex
NOTE: Most lightweight interfacing is available at just 20” in width. We used a full yard in order to cut our pocket strip (31½” x 6”) as one piece, keeping the remainder in our stash. If you wish to conserve, you could get away with just ½ yard, cutting two pieces (15¾” x 6”) and butting them together side by side when fusing.
- 1½ yards of thin twisted cord or similar; we used 3/16” twisted cord in deep brown – we wanted to “fluff” the ends into tassels, which is why a twisted cord is important – should you not want this look, you can use a plain cord or or even a simple shoelace
- FIVE small beads to string on the ends of the drawcord; optional – make sure the drilled hole in each bead is big enough to fit your chosen drawcord
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- Monofilament thread for ribbon stitching; optional, but our recommendation for the best finish; we used Aurifil Monofilament in Clear – you could also use all purpose thread to match each ribbon
- ¼” fusible seam tape; optional for holding the ribbon in position while stitching
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Pressing cloth to protect ribbons
- Straight pins
- Safety pin to fit the drawcord channel
- Cellophane tape or similar to temporarily seal the ends of the cord while threading
Getting Started and Pattern Downloads
- Download and print out our Fluent Boho Duffle Pattern Binder consisting of FOURTEEN pattern pages, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier. You will need to print FOUR COPIES of the base pattern sheet (page 1 of the PDF).
IMPORTANT: Each pattern page is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Using the marked arrows as your guide, assemble the individual pieces into the FIVE patchwork sections. Section 1 is made up of three pieces. Section 2 is made up of two pieces. Section 3 is made up of three pieces. Section 4 is made up of four pieces. Section 5 is made up of three pieces.
- In addition, assemble the four base quarters into a circle. In all cases, butt together the pieces (do not overlap) and tape to create each full pattern.
- Using the FIVE assembled patchwork section patterns, carefully fussy cut each piece from each fabric.
- When working with gorgeous fabric and larger motifs, taking the time to fussy cut each piece makes all the difference in the finished project.
- It can help to fold back the paper pattern along the seam allowance line to make sure your reveal will be precise when seamed.
- From the fabric for the upper gathered section (Vestment in Summer in our sample), fussy cut ONE 32½” wide x 13” high rectangle. Again, we very carefully fussy cut to position the stripes within our fabric to simulate the look of cathedral windows.
- From the fabric for the strap (Raiment in July in our sample), fussy cut ONE 22” x 5” strip, positioning the most dramatic motif along the vertical center of the strip.
- From the fabric for the exterior base (Rose Tile in Butterscotch in our sample), fussy cut ONE using the assembled base pattern.
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
TWO 32½” wide x 13” high rectangles for the main body and pocket panels
ONE 13” x 2½” strip for the interior seam binding
Using the assembled base pattern, cut ONE
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
ONE 31½” x 12” rectangle for the main body
ONE 21” x 2” strip for the strap
Using the assembled base pattern, but cutting on the dotted seam allowance line, cut ONE
- From the lightweight interfacing, cut ONE 31½ “ x 6” panel for the pocket.
NOTE: As mentioned above, most lightweight interfacing is available at just 20” in width. We used a full yard in order to cut our pocket strip as one piece, keeping the remainder in our stash. If you wish to conserve, you could get away with just ½ yard, cutting two pieces (15¾” x 6”) and butting them together side by side when fusing.
- The ribbons will be trimmed to length after the exterior patchwork is complete.
- The drawcord will be trimmed and optional beads strung at the very end.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Gather up all FIVE sections that make up the exterior patchwork. Place them right side up and flat, in order, on your work surface so it’s easiest to keep track of what goes where. It might also help to refer to the drawing above in the Supplies section.
- Place Section 2 and Section 3 right sides together. The two sections have one seam that joins them: the bottom right edge of Section 2 and the top left edge of Section 3. Section 2’s corner will extend over the end of Section 3. This is correct. Pin in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the fabrics in the top and bobbin. Use a standard length straight stitch.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. The photo below shows overlapping point mentioned above, which allows for a perfect finish to your ½” seam. Press the seam allowance flat.
- Place Section 4 and Section 5 right sides together. These two sections also have one seam that joins them: the right edge of Section 4 and the diagonal left edge of Section 5. Similar to the pair above, Section 4’s corner point will extend over the end of Section 5. This is correct. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
- Press the seam allowance flat.
- Place assembled Sections 2-3 and assembled Sections 4-5 right sides together. You are aligning the long left edge of 4-5 with the long right edge of 2-3. Pin in place.
- As above, stitch together with a ½” seam allowance and press the seam allowance flat.
- Finally, add Section 1 to the assembled Sections 2-3-4-5. The left edge of the assembled panel should be placed right sides together with the long diagonal right edge of Section 1. As above, the end points of Section 1 will extend beyond the ends of the assembled panel.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
- Press the seam allowance flat and trim away the overlapping points from any of the seams so the final panel is even and flush on all four sides.
Overlay the accent ribbons and add fleece panel
- Find the two lengths of ⅞” ribbon. You’ll place a length of ribbon over each sewn seam, cutting it to fit.
- Place the two ribbons running left to right first (the silver ribbon in our sample) then overlap the ends of these ribbons with the ribbon running right to left (the pink ribbon in our sample). Make sure the ends of the first two ribbons are fully covered by the third ribbon. Pin in place. You could also use a narrow fusible seam tape to hold the ribbons in position.
- The ends can overlap where they cross at the bottom raw edge of the panel.
- Add the final length of ribbon, this one running left to right (another pink ribbon in our sample), along the Sections 4-5 seam. As above, make sure the upper end of this ribbon is underneath of and fully covered by the previous ribbon. Pin or tape in place.
- Re-thread the machine with clear monofilament thread in the top and bobbin. This was our choice; you can also use standard all purpose thread, but make sure it is a very close match to the ribbon.
- Edgestitch along both sides of each ribbon.
- For the best results with monofilament thread, you may need to loosen your upper tension slightly. It’s also a good idea to lengthen your stitch and sew at a slow and even pace. This type of thread does not stretch as well as regular thread and can break more easily under pressure, especially if it accidentally slides off the spool and wraps around the spool pin. Using a spool cap against the spool helps hold it in place on the pin, and again, going slowly and evenly helps the thread to feed correctly off the spool. Finally, always sew in the same direction along both sides of the ribbon. This will help prevent shifting and puckering.
- With the exterior panel complete, find main fusible fleece panel. Center it on the wrong side of the completed exterior panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Create the lining and combine with the exterior
- Find one of the two 32½“ x 13” panels. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 32½” x 6½”. Press to set a crease line.
- Open up the panel, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible.
- Find the 31½” x 6” interfacing panel.
- Center the lightweight interfacing on one half of the pocket panel. The top edge of the interfacing should be flush with the pocket panel’s crease line. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on the sides and along the bottom. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
- Re-fold the pocket in half, wrong sides together, and mark for the six pocket divisions. First find the exact center of the panel. Measure ¾” to the right of center and draw a vertical line at this point. Then measure ¾” to the left of center and draw a parallel line. This forms the center 1½” pencil pocket.
- From the rightmost pencil pocket line, draw two additional parallel lines, each 5” apart. Repeat to the left of the left-most pencil pocket line. These are our pocket division choices; as always, you’re welcome to adjust the number of pockets and the pocket widths to best fit what you wish to carry.
- Find the remaining lining panel. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the folded and marked pocket panel right side up on the lining panel. The bottom and side raw edges of the pocket panel should be flush with the bottom and side edges of the lining panel. Pin in place, leaving plenty of space around the drawn guide lines.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and bobbin. Lengthen the stitch slightly.
- Stitch along each of the six drawn guide lines on the pocket panel through all the layers. For the neatest finish, use a lock stitch to secure the seam at the beginning and end. If you don’t have this feature, leave the thread tails long and knot at the back.
- Place the completed lining panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the completed exterior panel right side up on top of the lining panel. This means the two panels are wrong sides together. All four raw edges of the two panels should be flush. Pin around all four sides.
- Machine baste around all four sides to secure the two layers as one for the balance of construction. We chose to edgestitch with a zig zag rather than do a standard machine basting stitch. This allowed us to both secure the layers as well as to finish the edges to help prevent raveling.
Form the body into a tube and bind the seam
- With the exterior and lining panels layered and secured, fold the main body panel in half, right sides together, aligning the 13” raw edges. Pin in place
- Re-set for a standard stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this one 13” seam. You’ll notice we’ve switched to our AcuFeed™ Flex built-in fabric feeding system since we are now working with thicker layers. This helps keep everything moving smoothly under the needle. You could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot instead or simply stick with your Standard foot.
- Find the 13” x 2½” strip of lining fabric.
- Fold the strip in half, wrong sides together, and press to set a crease line.
- Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible.
- Fold in each raw edge to meet in the middle.
- Fold again along the original crease and press once more. Ta-da … you’ve made a binding strip.
- Unfold one side of the binding strip and align this raw edge with the raw edges of the tube’s seam allowance. Pin in place.
- Stitch the length of the seam allowance, following along the binding strip’s crease line.
- Wrap the binding strip around the seam allowance, encasing its raw edges. Stitch the length of the seam allowance again, this time along the folded edge of the binding strip… but remember, you are still only stitching on the seam allowance – not on the body of the bag.
- Your inner vertical seam allowance is now nicely finished.
Create the shoulder strap
- Find the 22” x 5” strap strip and the coordinating 21” x 2” strip of fusible fleece.
- Center the fleece on the wrong side of the strap so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece top and bottom and 1½” of fabric showing along each side. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the strip in half so it is now 22” x 2½”. Pin along the 22” edge.
- Rethread with thread to best match the strap fabric in the top and bobbin. Keep a standard stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch this one long seam. The ends remain open and raw.
- Press the seam allowance open and flat and roll it around to the back, which means that strip of fleece becomes the front of the 2” wide strap.
- Turn the strap right side out through one of the open ends.
- Press flat again, checking to make sure the seam is still at the center back.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Run two lines of evenly spaced stitching the length of the strap.
- Find the completed body of the bag. Turn it right side out.
- Place the completed strap over the back seam of the body of the bag. Align the top raw end of the strap with the top raw edge of the bag, centering it over the seam. Align the bottom raw end of the strap with the bottom raw edge of the bag, centering it over the seam. This allows the strap to bow out in the middle, creating its shoulder sling shape.
- Machine baste each strap end in place.
Create the top accent band with its drawcord channel
- Find the 32½” x 13” accent band panel.
- Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 32½“ x 6½”. Press to set the center crease.
- Measure ⅜” down from the fold.
- Snip in horizontally just under ½” – a scant ½” – do this on both side edges.
- Just below this first horizontal snip, snip up on a diagonal, creating a little triangle. This will make it easier to fold back the cut-out tab. Again, do this on both sides.
- Unfold so the panel is right side up and flat.
- Fold under each little “tab” you just made, creating a notch at each side.
- Edgestitch close to the fold along each notch. This creates and finishes the opening of what will become the drawcord channel. The edgestitching will keep the fabric from pulling out when the cord is pulled through.
- Fold the panel right sides together, aligning the 13” raw edges, and being especially careful to align the little folded-in notches.
- Pin to either side of the notches.
- Rethread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the accent band in the top and bobbin. Keep a standard stitch length.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch up to the notch. Stop and lock your seam.
- Move your fabric past the notched opening. Drop your presser foot and needle and finish the seam on the opposite side of the notch.
- The top accent panel is now an open tube just like the body of the bag.
- The main body of the bag tube should be right side out with the strap basted in place. The top accent tube should be wrong side out. Slip the top tube over the bottom tube so the two tubes are now right sides together. The top raw edge of the body of the bag should be flush with what will be the bottom edge of the accent band. Pin in place all around.
NOTE: If you used a strong directional motif as we did, double check the top motif is going the right direction. When folded up into place, the “lace stripes” should be facing up like cathedral windows.
- Because you have a tube that is open both top and bottom, this is an excellent opportunity to use the free arm on your sewing machine – if you have one.
- Slip the tube over the free arm.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around through all the layers.
- Grade the seam allowance if necessary. Press the seam allowance up towards the accent panel.
- Pull up the top accent panel so it is now right side out.
- Press under the upper raw edge of the accent panel ½”.
- Fold the accent panel along its original crease line, which means that upper folded edge should now cover the horizontal seam on the inside of the bag. Double check to be sure the top original crease is still even all around and the notched openings are in line with one another. Pin the folded edge in place.
- Turn the bag right side out and slip it back over your machine’s free arm (if possible).
- Slightly lengthen the stitch. Re-thread as necessary in the top and bobbin to be sure your thread is a good match to the accent panel fabric.
- Edgestitch all around close to the seam, within the accent panel, to secure the inside folded edge in place.
- Still using the free arm if possible, and still using the slightly lengthened stitch, sew all around, ⅜” down from the top folded edge of the accent panel, to create the narrow drawcord channel.
Set in the base panel
- Find the exterior base circle and the fusible fleece circle.
- Center the fleece on the wrong side of the exterior so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece all around. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Layer this fused exterior circle wrong sides together the lining base circle.
- Machine base around the layered panels to hold them together through construction. As we did above with the main body of the bag, we chose to zig zag around.
NOTE: This duffle’s base panel is sewn in place following the traditional method of inserting a flat base into a tube. If you are new to this type of technique, check out our full step-by-step tutorial.
- Fold the base panel in half vertically and then horizontally to find the four quadrant points of the circle, like the four main points on the face of a clock (12:00, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00).
- Turn the body of the bag (the tube) wrong side out (lining side out). Flatten the body of the bag to find its four quadrant points. The back quadrant point is the back seam, and the front quadrant point is directly opposite the back seam. Fold in this direction first and insert marking pins. Then flatten in the opposite direction and align this first set of pins to find the side quadrant points.
- Set the base into the tube so the two pieces are right sides together (it’s a little like setting a lid upside down into a box). Align the four “clock face” pin points of the base to the matching points on the tube. Pin together at these points first, then fill in around the base. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of pins in order to get the two pieces to lay flat against one another. It’s best to pin in small sections, easing as you go.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to best match the lining fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all the way around the base. Go slowly, holding the layers flat with your fingers to avoid any puckers, especially around the curves.
- Because the duffle is tall and deep, we didn’t feel it was necessary to bind this visible interior base seam allowance in the same manner as we did the vertical seam allowance. This base seam allowance will be barely visible at the bottom of the bag. Instead, we trimmed back the seam allowance to ¼”…
- … then finished the raw edges with a zig zag stitch.
Thread the cord into place and add the optional beads and tasseled ends
- Find the length of twisted cord.
- Wrap the ends tightly with cellophane tape. This keeps them from raveling and makes a tighter, sturdier end for threading.
- Attach a safety pin to one end of the cord.
- Insert the pin into one end of the drawcord channel.
- Work the safety pin through the channel until it comes out the opposite end.
- The steps that follow are a summary of our choice to thread beads onto each end of the cord and unravel the ends of the cord into faux tassels. This is optional.
- To figure the correct length, pull the cording through until the ends are even. Then, cinch the top all the way closed.
- With the top closed, you want the ends of the cord to reach to just below the base seam of the duffle. Trim away the excess beyond this point.
- Tightly re-wrap the ends of the cording with cellophane tape.
- Measure approximately 3” – 4” up from one end and tie a knot. The exact distance is a matter of personal preference and also depends somewhat on the size of your beads.
- Thread three beads onto the cord, snugging them up against the knot. Tie another knot at the base of the bottom bead to secure them in place.
- Repeat on the other end. For our sample, we strung just two beads on the second end.
- Remove the tape from the ends of the cord.
- Un-twist the cord below the knot, working it between your fingers until it begins to separate into individual fibers, taking on the look of a tassel.
- We found it helped to use our fingernails to “comb” the fibers, gently pulling them apart.
- Once your have the ends “fluffed,” wet them just a bit to help tame the fluffs and smooth them into the final tassel shape. You may need to trim the ends flush for the best look. You can see close-up views of our tassels in the beauty images at the top of the article.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild