Go Team! This soft-sided garment bag is full of school spirit, well, actually it’s full of clothes, but on the outside it’s flying school colors. Send your college kids back to school with this special carrier for their “good clothes.” Sweatshirts and jeans might be daily wear, but they’ll likely need at least a few nicer pieces for events, awards, even a job interview (wouldn’t that be great!). We used traditional canvas duck, which is usually available in dozens of great colors so you’re sure to find the perfect color combo for your favorite student. We’re proudly showcasing the red and gold colors of courage, chivalry, and determination that mark Hogwarts’ House of Gryffindor. Pick your pair, then blend a white or natural for the top and binding.
At this time of year, we’re all starting to think about back-to-school projects, but that doesn’t mean you can only make this for those who are college-bound. Go with more subtle combinations or even a single color to create a garment bag for anyone who’s on the go.
This may look like simple half circles and triangles, but you’d be surprised at the intricate curves and angles that come into play to give this bag its correct shape. The proper fit is crucial, so much so, we created a full pattern with joining dots. Follow our easy steps and helpful illustrations to put it all together.
Our garment bag is based on the same measurements used for commercially available options. These narrow, soft-sided bags are meant for transporting a special outfit or two from point A to point B, such as from home to an event, as a hand-carried item. They are sized for a snug fit across standard hangers. Bulky clothes or jumbo hangers won’t work as well. We successfully tested both women’s and men’s suits as well as a shorter cocktail dress with a full skirt.
A bound opening at the top of the bag is completely finished and wide enough for hangers to slide up and out.
The full-length zipper opens from top to bottom so clothes go in and come back out easily and with fewer wrinkles.
Fold the bag in half to make it more compact to carry. The soft but sturdy canvas folds smoothly and cotton webbing handles at the top and bottom come together to make it easy to hold on to without “smushing” the clothes inside.
You may not have heard, but “smushing” is something that happens all the time in cramped dorm spaces (or any tiny closet). This garment bag can help protect your best outfits from the worst of it.
The bag is made up of single layers of canvas so it’s tough but still lightweight. We used flat felled seams throughout to keep the inside neat and tidy. And, yes of course, we have links below to our step-by-step tutorial on how to make that flat felled seam.
We also added a classic school insignia on the front of the bag. You could do the same or embroider a monogram or appliqué a special design of any kind. It’s a great way to personalize.
Our garment bag finishes at approximately 38” long x 22” wide.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1 yard EACH of THREE 54″+ wide solid canvas duck cloth colors to match your collegiate theme; we used and recommend 9.3oz canvas duck
- 1 yard of zipper by the yard or an approximate 32” standard plastic zipper
- ¾ yard of 1” cotton webbing in a coordinating color for the handles; we used 1” white cotton webbing
- Scrap of ribbon or cording for the optional zipper pull; we used a black grosgrain ribbon
- All purpose thread to match fabric; we used the wine colored thread for our topstitching as a contrasting accent – this is optional, you could use matching thread for all stitching
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out our NINE pattern sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF file to make the download easier.
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.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
NOTE: All our steps are based on using solid canvas, which has no definitive right and wrong side and, of course, no directional motif. This makes cutting and assembling easier. If you work with a print or a directional fabric of any kind, you will need to keep track of the direction of the assembled pattern, flipping it as necessary to insure all your cut pieces are going the right way and, when assembled wrong sides together, will line up appropriately.
- The base pattern is made up of five pieces. There are TWO “A” pieces. The “Curved A” piece is for the outer triangles (the wine in our sample). The “Straight A” piece is for the center triangles (the yellow in our sample).
- Butt together, do not overlap, the five pieces as shown below, following the arrows printed on the pattern. Tape together. Attach the Curved A piece at the top.
- From the fabric for the outer triangles (the wine in our sample), fold the fabric into quarters in order to cut all your pieces at once. Place the pattern NOT ON the fold, as shown below, pin in place and cut FOUR triangles.
- Carefully remove the Curved A piece from the top, replacing it with the Straight A piece. Tape in place.
NOTE: Of course, if you’d prefer not to switch out the top pieces, you can print out two copies of the pattern and create two complete five-piece base patters: one with Curved A and one with Straight A.
- From the fabric for the center triangles (the yellow in our sample), fold the fabric into quarters in order to cut your pieces at once. Place the pattern ON the fold, as shown below, pin in place and cut TWO triangles.
- In the same manner, assemble the THREE pieces that make up the top of the garment bag. Butt together and tape, do not overlap.
- From the fabric for the top (the white in our sample), cut TWO top pieces ON the fold, as shown below.
- Also from the top fabric (the white in our sample), cut enough 2” strips on the bias to equal a finished length of 120”.
- Cut the 1” webbing into TWO 12” lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- You will create the front and back of the garment bag in exactly the same manner. When done, you’ll trim across the top and down the center of the front to create the hanger and zipper openings.
- There are handy joining dots on each of the pattern pieces, such as this bottom corner dot on the center triangle.
- Transfer each of the dots from the pattern to the fabric. The easiest way to do this is to insert a straight pin through the dot on the paper and into the fabric. Then, gently lift up the paper and place a dot where the pin intersects the fabric. Remember to use a fabric pen or pencil that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
Create the base sections
- Place the left outer triangle right sides together with the main center triangle, aligning the dots. Pin place.
- We recommend inside flat felled seams throughout for a strong seam with a clean finish on both sides. We have a full tutorial on Flat Felled Seams if you are new to the technique.
- In summary, first stitch together the layers, right sides facing one another, with a ⅝” seam allowance and press to one side. Our design features the topstitching within the center triangle, press accordingly.
- Trim the lower side of the seam allowance (the yellow side) to ¼”.
- Fold in uncut seam allowance edge (the wine) to meet the cut seam allowance edge. Press in place.
- Press the seam allowance back in the same direction you originally pressed, concealing the raw edges. Pin in place.
- Thread the machine with thread to match or contrast with the center triangle. We chose to contrast, threading the machine with wine in the bobbin and yellow in the upper spool (remember, you are stitching from the inside so the colors are reversed).
- Edgestitch along the fold. We used a Triple Stretch Stitch on our Janome Skyline S7 for a bolder finish.
- Repeat to join the right outer triangle to the center triangle. Remember to adjust the direction of your pressing so your topstitching ends up within the center triangle.
Attach the top section
- Stitch the top section to the assembled base section, again matching the dots. Note that there will be excess fabric where all the pieces come together. This is to be expected because of the angles and curves that are aligning. The most important thing is to match up the dots.
- When the top seam is sewn, trim away the excess as shown on the drawing below.
- This top seam is also a flat felled seam, like the others. Remember to check out our full flat felled seam tutorial prior to starting to get the process locked into your brain.
- Repeat to create a matching panel.
Prepare the front panel
- Select one of the panels to be your front panel; it can be either one.
- Using the paper pattern as your guide, slice off the top along the marked line. This will become the opening for the hangers. You are only cutting away this section from the front panel.
- Fold the front panel in half to find the vertical center line. Press lightly to set a crease.
- Slice along this crease line, cutting the front panel into two sections to allow the zipper insertion. We recommend using a long ruler and rotary cutter for the cleanest cut.
Insert the zipper
- Open up the zipper all the way. If you’re using zipper by the yard, make sure you don’t accidentally slide the zipper pull all the way off. Working with one side at a time, center the zipper along the cut opening of one half of the front panel, right sides together. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch the zipper in place. Trim away the excess zipper from the top and bottom
- We recommend finishing the raw edges of the seam allowance with a simple zig zag. The zipper is the one, slightly visible seam allowance inside the garment bag.
- Repeat to attach the opposite side of the zipper.
- Close the zipper about halfway and stitch across the top and bottom to secure the zipper ends.
- Using matching thread (yellow in our sample), edgestitch along both sides of the zipper.
Place the optional school emblem
- If adding school insignia, center it within the top section to the right of the zipper.
- Even though our patch was iron-on, we also stitched it in place for better security.
- To create your continuous length of bias binding, find all the bias strips.
- Place the two ends together at a 90˚ angle.
- Draw a diagonal line corner to corner across the overlapped ends. Pin along the drawn diagonal line.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
- Stitch along the drawn line.
- Trim the seam allowance to ¼”.
- Press open the seam allowance.
- Repeat to add the additional strips to create one continuous length.
- Fold the completed strip in half wrong sides together and press well to set a center crease.
- Un-fold wrong side up. Fold in each long raw edge so they meet in the middle at the crease line and press well.
- Cut an approximate 8” length to bind the top straight section of the front panel.
- Unfold one side of the binding so the crease line is visible. Place the binding right sides together with the front panel. Pin in place across just the straight top section of the front panel.
- Stitch in place, following along the inside crease line.
- Wrap the folded edge up and over to the back, making sure to cover the stitching line, and pin in place.
- Flip the panel to the right side and stitch along the binding, following the original seam, removing the pins from the back as you go. If your back folded edge is below the original seam as described, this seam will catch and secure the binding.
NOTE: If you are new to working with bias binding, take a look at our tutorial on Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, and Attaching Bias Binding as well as our second tutorial: A Complete Step-by-Step for Binding Quilts & Throws.
- Trim the excess binding flush with the edge of the front panel at both sides.
Baste front to back and place the handles
- Zip the zipper closed.
- Place the front and back panels wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges all around. Pin in place.
- Baste the layers together all around.
- Find the two 12” lengths of webbing.
- At the very top and the very bottom, measure 2½” to the left and 2½” to the right of the zipper teeth and mark these points with pins.
- Form a length of webbing into a loop and place one loop at the top and one at the bottom. The raw edges of the webbing should be flush with raw edges of the fabric panels and each end would be centered over a 2½” marking pin. The loops are laying against the front panel.
- Pin the webbing in place and then baste in place.
Finish the binding
- Starting near the bottom of one long side, pin the remaining long length of binding in place. One side is unfolded and pinned right sides together with the front panel, just as you did for the small piece of top binding. Pin in place and then stitch in place, following along in the upper crease line.
- As with traditional binding, stitch into the corner, stopping to pivot at each corner. Our seam allowance for this width of binding is ½”, so we stopped ½” in from the corner.
- Pivot and continue down the next side.
- When you get back to the beginning, finish the ends with your chosen method. We joined our ends on the bias.
- Trimming the excess and finishing the seam within the crease line.
NOTE: Just taking a break again, because we are simply summarizing the binding steps here, to remind you of the two binding tutorials you can review prior to starting if you’re new: Figuring Yardage, Cutting, Making, and Attaching Bias Binding and A Complete Step-by-Step for Binding Quilts & Throws.
- Wrap the folded edge of the binding around to the back of the project, making sure to go beyond the previous stitching line.
- Create a pretty miter at each corner.
- And be careful to maintain a smooth curve around the top.
- Make sure you keep your binding width consistent across the handles.
- Stitch the binding in place “in-the-ditch” of the seam. As you sew, you will catch the folded edge on the back. Go slowly and carefully so you stay in line with the seam. We switched to our AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system for this step. You could also use a Walking or Even Feed foot or a Ditch Quilting foot.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild