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Can’t you just picture Harrison Ford (the young version!) slinging this amazing duffle over his shoulder as Indiana Jones?! We blended heavy cotton canvas and faux leather with webbing and brass zipper accents for the dashing exterior. Inside is a tough ripstop nylon lining. Even if you’re not a world-renowned archeologist and adventurer, this bag is a great way to pack your stuff, whether heading across town to the gym or getting away for the weekend. It is a S4H Classic Bag – one of our most popular! It’s also a Great for Guys bag and would make a very nice gift for your personal action hero. The combination of fabrics, colors, and textures has the perfect feel – a little bit retro and a whole lot cool.

Our finished bag looks like you could have grabbed it off the shelf at Eddie Bauer®, but don’t let the professional finish scare you off. Achieving a polished end result is often easier than you might think. Read through the project a few times before you start, then if a particular part has you stumped, try doing it with scraps to get the hang of it before moving on to your final fabric. And of course, we offer our trademark S4H detailed step-by-step instructions and photos to help you through.

We do strongly recommend the heavy canvas and faux leather combo to insure your duffle has the stability and durability you want for active, on-the-go (safari style) use.

The bag finishes at approximately 22″ wide x 11″ high.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • 1¼ yard of 54″+ wide medium to heavy-weight canvas or similar for the top exterior; we originally used 54″ Fabricut 8.5oz cotton canvas in Nutria
  • ½ yard of 45″+ wide mid-heavyweight faux leather for the bottom exterior; we originally used 54″ wide Faux Leather in Boca Cocoa 
  • 1 yard of 58″+ wide lightweight nylon fabric for the bag lining; we originally used 60″ wide Ripstop Nylon in Brown 
  • 1¼ yards of 45″+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond 
  • 4¼ yards of 1½” poly webbing in a coordinating color for the handles and carry strap; we used khaki
  • TWO 1½” wide D-rings; we used black plastic
  • TWO 1½” wide swivel hooks; we used black plastic
  • ONE 1½” slide; we used black plastic
    NOTE: This style of hardware is available from a variety of sources. We purchased our strap fittings from The Rain Shed.
  • ONE 22″ metal separating zipper; we used brass
  • ONE 9″ metal zipper; we used brass
  • ½ yard of thin leather for the two zipper pulls
  • All-purpose sewing thread to match fabric
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Pressing cloth

Getting Started and Pattern Downloads

  1. Download and print FOUR copies of the Duffle Bag Side Pattern.
  2. Download and print TWO copies of the Duffle Bag Side Pocket Pattern.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern consists of ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE OR SHRINK to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page to confirm your printout is to scale.
  3. Cut out the pieces along the solid lines.
  4. Butt together (do not overlap) and tape the four Duffle Bag Side Pattern pieces to form a circle as shown on the diagram printed on the pattern.
  5. Butt together (do not overlap) and tape the two Duffle Bag Side Pocket Pattern pieces to form a half circle as shown on the diagram printed on the pattern.
  6. From the top exterior fabric (the Canvas in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 23″ x 12″ rectangles
    ONE 10″ x 15″ rectangle
    TWO 1¼” x 2″ strips for the zipper tabs
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  7. From the bottom exterior fabric (the Faux Leather in our sample), cut ONE 14″ x 23″ rectangle.
  8. From the lining fabric (the Ripstop Nylon in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 23″ x 36″ rectangle
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  9. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    TWO 23″ x 12″ rectangles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side pattern, cut TWO side panel circles
    Using the assembled Duffle Bag Side Pocket pattern, cut TWO side panel pockets
  10. From the webbing cut the following:
    TWO 36″ lengths
    ONE 60″ length
    TWO 7″ lengths

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: As mentioned above, we used the built-in Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system with the optional narrow VD foot and ED zipper foot throughout. If you don’t have a built-in feeding system, attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or similar. This will help keep all the layers involved in this project feeding more smoothly.

Apply the interfacing

  1. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the two 23″ x 12″ exterior panels, the two exterior side circles, and the two exterior side pockets.

Side pockets

  1. Find the two exterior pocket pieces (with interfacing already fused) and the two pocket lining pieces.
  2. Place one lining piece and one exterior piece right sides together, aligning all the raw edges. Pin in place along the top edge only.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along the top edge only.
  4. Press flat.
    NOTE: Adjust the temperature on your iron or consider using a pressing cloth against the ripstop nylon.
  5. Fold the lining to the wrong side of the pocket so the two pieces are now wrong sides together. Press again.
  6. Edgestitch along the top edge only.
  7. Run a second line of stitching ¼” from the first.
  8. Repeat to create the second pocket.
  9. Find the two exterior side circles (with interfacing already fused).
  10. Place a finished pocket right side up against the bottom half of each side circle, matching the curved raw edges. Pin in place.
  11. Machine baste each pocket in place on its circle within the ½” seam allowance; an approximate ⅜” seam allowance is good.
  12. Set the side panels aside.

Front zippered pocket

  1. Find ONE of the two 23″ x 12″ exterior panels (with interfacing already fused), the 10″ x 15″ exterior pocket panel, and the 9″ zipper.
  2. Place the 23″ x 12″ panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Orient it properly: 23″ wide x 12″ high.
  3. Find the exact center of the panel (11½” from either side). Mark this point with a pin.
  4. Using your fabric pencil and see-through ruler, measure 4½” to the left of the center point and mark, then measure 4½” to the right of the center point and mark. Measure 3½” down from the upper edge and make an intersecting mark. Draw a connecting 9″ horizontal line.
  5. Draw a second line ½” down from the first line and parallel. Join the lines at each end to create a box.
  6. Place the 10″ x 15″ panel wrong side up and flat on your work surface. Orient it properly: 10″ wide x 15″ high.
  7. Draw a matching box to what you just drew on the top 10″ edge, positioning it ½” from the top raw edge and centered side to side.
  8. Place the exterior panel and the pocket panel right sides together aligning the two drawn boxes. The easiest way to line up the boxes is to place a pin at each upper corner on the wrong side of the exterior panel.
  9. Then, match up the pin points with the pocket on the other side.
  10. With the wrong side of the exterior panel facing up, stitch around the marked box through both layers.
  11. Cut through the center of the box, then clip into each corner.
  12. Pull the pocket to the inside through the opening, smoothing the corners and edges of the box as best you can. Press.
  13. Flip over and place the opening over the 9″ zipper, centering the zipper’s teeth. Pin in place.
  14. Edgestitch in place around all four sides.
    NOTE: As with all zipper work, you’ll need to open and close the zipper in order to stitch all the way around without running into the zipper pull. To do this, start with the zipper about half way open. When you get to the center near the pull, stop with your needle in the down position, lift up the presser foot, and gently twist the zipper in order to close it. Re-position, drop the presser foot, and continue stitching to the end.
  15. Run a second line of stitching ¼” from the first along the BOTTOM of the box opening only.

    NOTE: Don’t worry too much about keeping your corner pivots and end stitching super-duper perfect; the ends of the opening will be hidden by the webbing when complete. 
  16. From the wrong side, fold just the pocket layer in half, bringing up the lower raw edge of the pocket so it aligns with the upper raw edge. Pin along the top.
  17. Flip to the right side. Run a second row of topstitching ¼” from the TOP edgestitching along the TOP of the box opening (matching what you did previously along the bottom edge). You are stitching through all the layers, catching and securing that upper edge of the pocket you just folded up and pinned. Press well.

Side handles

  1. Find the two 36″ lengths of webbing.
  2. Fold each length in half to find the exact center. Mark with a pin.
  3. Measure 3½” to the left of the center point and mark with a pin.
  4. Measure 3½” to the right of the center point and mark with a pin.
  5. Remove the center pin.
  6. Fold the webbing in half, matching the long edges.
  7. Edgestitch between the left and right pin points to create the handle grip.
  8. Find both exterior side panels, the one with the zippered pocket and the plain panel.
  9. On the panel with the pocket, lay one handle length in place. The outer edge of the webbing should be positioned 5½” in from each raw side edge. The inner edge of the webbing should just cover either end of the zipper box. The ends of the webbing should be flush with the lower raw edge of the panel. Be careful to insure the handle loop is not twisted.
  10. Measure 2½” down from the top raw edge along each side of the webbing and mark with a pin, placing it horizontally across the webbing. This is where you will stop sewing and turn to go across and back down the webbing.
  11. We used the same color of thread we used for the canvas to give our webbing stitching a bit of contrast. You could also re-thread the machine with thread to best match the webbing for a more subtle look. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
  12. Edgestitch each side of the handle in place, staying as close to the edge as you can. Start at the bottom, stitch up one side, stop at the 2½” mark, pivot, stitch across, pivot, and stitch down the opposite edge to complete. This edgestitching will also finish the side seams of the inside pocket.
  13. At each 2½” point, reinforce the strap with a 1½” X Box.
  14. Position the second webbing handle on the remaining plain panel, exactly matching the front, and repeat the steps to create the opposite side of the bag.

Attach the bottom exterior panel

  1. Find the 14″ x 23″ faux leather panel.
  2. Place one completed exterior panel on either side of faux leather panel, right sides together, aligning the the 23″ raw edges. Pin in place.
  3. Using a ½” seam allowance stitch each seam. Finger press the seam allowance down towards the faux leather. Do not press with an iron. Faux leather doesn’t like the heat of an iron!
  4. Flip over the sewn panel and run two lines of topstitching. One line of stitching should be approximately ⅛” from the seam. Run a second seam ¼” from the first.
  5. Stay stitch both long sides of the assembled exterior ½” from the edge.
    NOTE: Stay stitching is a single line of stitching that simply helps stabilize the fabric to prevent stretching or distortion. In this project, it will also provide us with a seam line to follow later in the instructions.

Add the top zipper

  1. Find the 22″ zipper and the two 1¼” x 2″ end tabs.
  2. Place one tab on each end of the zipper. The strip and the zipper are right sides together and the raw ends are flush. Pin in place.
    NOTE: We based the width of these tabs on our zipper. Adjust your tabs as needed to best fit your zipper; you want the tab to fit within the zipper tape.
  3. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  4. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the zipper tabs in place. You may need to “hand walk” the foot across the zipper to avoid breaking the needle.
  5. Press the zipper tabs away from the zipper on each end.
  6. Lay the bag exterior right side up and flat on your work surface.
  7. Place the zipper face down along the top on the side with the pocket, aligning the edge of the zipper tape with the raw edge of the exterior panel. Pin in place along the top half of the zipper tape only.
  8. Using a Zipper foot or engaging your machine’s built-in feeding system, stitch along the zipper teeth. Your seam should be as close as possible to the teeth. If you have the ability to adjust your needle position, now is a good time to use this feature to move the needle to the left.
  9. Fold the fabric down and away from the zipper teeth. Lightly press. Pin if needed.
  10. Length the stitch to match the other topstitching and edgestitch in place, approximately ⅛” from the fold.
  11. Run a second seam ¼” from the first.
  12. Repeat to attach the remaining raw edge of the panel to the opposite side of the zipper.
    NOTE: This second side will be a little more challenging because your bag is now a tube rather than flat. However, both ends are open, giving you the flexibility to maneuver your fabric under the needle

D-rings and tabs for side panels

  1. Find the two 7″ lengths of webbing, the two D-rings, and the side panels with the pockets basted in place.
  2. Slip each 7″ strip through one of the D rings. Fold so one end extends 1½” below the other. Pin in place.
  3. Fold up that extra 1½” on each tab, enclosing the upper end’s raw edge.
  4. Find the two circular end units
  5. Place one tab on each end unit, centering it above the pocket. The bottom of the D-ring should be aligned with the curved top edge of the pocket as shown in the photo below. Stitch the tab in place with a 1¼” X Box stitch. We kept the machine threaded with the darker thread as we did with our other webbing stitching. You can choose this option or re-thread with thread to match the webbing.

Set in the side panels

  1. Find the bag “tube” and the two end panels.
  2. Clip the raw edges of the two open ends of the tube. Clip approximately every ¾”, taking care to not cut through the stay stitching.
  3. Place a pin at the exact center top, exact center bottom, and both ends of the side pocket. Think of it like a clock, with pin points at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00.
  4. On the main tube, the corresponding 12:00 point will be the center of the zipper. Keeping the zipper in the exact center, flatten the tube to find the opposite 6:00 point. Then, flatten the tube in the opposite direction to find the 3:00 and 9:00 points. Place marking pins at all these points.
  5. Place the side panel right sides together with circular opening of the tube, aligning all the pin points. Easing the fabric, fill in the rest of the circle with pins. If you’ve done garment sewing, this is very similar to putting in a sleeve. You can also clip around each of the side panels (again staying well within the the seam allowance) to help with the easing.
  6. Stitch the layers together, following the original line of stay stitching.
    NOTE: If you are new to this technique, we have a full tutorial on inserting a flat circle into a tube
  7. Turn the completed bag right side out.

Create and insert the lining

  1. Find the 23″ x 36″ lining panel and the two lining side circle panels. As you did with the exterior panel, stay stitch each 36″ side of the lining.
  2. Clip to, but not through, the line of stay stitching every ¾” – again as you did with the exterior panel.
  3. With low heat and a pressing cloth, press under ½” along each 23″ edge.
  4. Following the method you did for the exterior, pin the lining to the circles, but leave a ½” gap at what will be the top of the lining. When inserted into the bag, this gap will allow the lining to smoothly straddle the zipper. The other difference is that your lining starts as a flat piece rather than a tube. In this case, sewing the side circles in place is what forms the shape of the lining.
  5. Sew the side circles in place, following along in the original line of stay stitching.
  6. With the completed lining still wrong side out, insert it into the exterior bag. Pin the lining in place along each side of the zipper, covering the lines of stitching with the folded edges of the lining.
  7. Re-thread as needed to make sure your top thread matches the exterior and your bobbin thread matches the lining. Topstitch the lining in place, following along in the existing stitch line closest to the zipper.
  8. The photo below shows how that opening in the lining sits over the zipper. It looks a little messy when you see everything close-up like this, but it’s all actually hidden inside the bag and results in a professional finish. We thought it was important for you to see why that little space is left open in the lining end seams.

Create the shoulder strap

  1. Find the remaining 60″ length of webbing, the slider and the two swivel clips.
  2. Insert one raw end of the webbing through the center of the slider. Pull it through so it just clears the slider. Turn under the raw end approximately ½” and stitch in place as close to the slider as possible.
  3. With the slider attached, place the webbing wrong side up on your work surface. Thread the opposite raw end through one swivel clip, threading from the bottom and out the top.
  4. Continue feeding the raw end through the slider, pulling it across and over the center bar of the slider.
  5. Finally bring the opposite raw end through the remaining swivel clip, threading it from the top to the bottom. Pull it through as above, turn under the raw end, and stitch in place as close to the hook as possible
    NOTE: If you are new to this process, take a look at our full tutorial on How to Make an Adjustable Strap.
  6. Clip the strap in place on the D-ring tabs to complete.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler

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Sarah Rosengarten
Sarah Rosengarten
2 years ago

I just finished creating my first duffle bag using this pattern. I created my material upcycling some old jeans to create a landscape. Very happy with the result! Thank you so much for the instructions. The only suggestion would be to elaborate more on the lining portion. I was a little at a loss on this one. I would love to share pictures of the finished bag on this post by can’t figure it out. Can you please assist me on this?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago

Hi Sarah – This is one of our oldest projects, but remains one of the most popular bags. We’re happy to hear you love your result. We don’t traditionally update our older instructions as the in-step photos no longer exist, but it sounds like you made it through to a great end. We’d love to see your bag. We don’t allow photos within our commenting, but if you follow us on social media, please post a pic or two so we can all be inspired. We are sew4home on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and sew4home_diy on Instagram. All our social… Read more »

Janice Seefried
Janice Seefried
2 years ago

Is there someone that could help me change the dimensions so the finished bag would be 30 x 14 ?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago

Hi Janice – I’m sorry, but with our free patterns, we can’t offer custom alterations. Although it sounds fairly simple, size adjustments on a bag such as this require re-drafting all the pieces. You could jump into it yourself, re-sizing each piece proportionately to get your desired size. But when doing this, you would definitely need to make one of more prototypes from muslin or other scrap fabric to insure things come together as planned. This is actually how we approach our patterns when starting a new design.

Beth Ruest
Beth Ruest
3 years ago

I have now made 2 of these bags. The first one I adjusted in width as a photography equipment bag for my bestie made from heavy weight canvas with a waxed canvas bottom. Now I just completed a burgundy waxed canvas bag as a cycling equipment bag for my husband. Both turned out great! A very well designed and easy pattern to follow. Thank you for such a great pattern and it is free!

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Beth Ruest

Hi Beth – Thanks so much for letting us know about your successes – this is one of our all-time favorite patterns. I love hearing about making it in waxed canvas.

1 year ago
Reply to  Beth Ruest

Can you iron fusible interfacing onto waxed canvas?

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  ppg677

Using fusible interfacing with wax canvas is not recommended. If you are working on a project that needs the extra stabilization, consider adding the interfacing to the lining instead.

Lisa Holt
Lisa Holt
3 years ago

My mother & I were asked to sew a duffle bag for the client of a friend. Your instructions are so wonderful. Concise & detailed. Thank you for posting this. We have received another order for another.

We recycled old jeans to make our first one even skipped the zippered side pocket & added back jean pockets with Velcro closures. Since we didn’t have any faux leather, we used denim with a sturdier interfacing.

Yeah! For recycling.

We look forward to what further variations we can create.

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Holt

Hi Lisa — We love hearing this!Your adjustments to the design sound like they were a hit! Sounds like this first duffle is already in the hands of its owner, but we’d love to see a picture of the next one. If you follow us in social media, throw up a picture or two so we can all be inspired.

Kay Warcup
Kay Warcup
4 years ago

My lead domesticated daughter told me she wanted to learn how to sew and I was so pleased that finally one of them wanted to follow my interest in sewing. Wasn’t I surprised when this is the pattern she showed up with for her very first project. She persisted with it even after I said she try something easier first. Well she did every little bit of it herself with me guiding and advising as she went along. It turned our beautifully – I’d love for you to see the finished project!

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  Kay Warcup

@Kay – That is fabulous news! We always say we believe our patterns are easy enough for anyone to use, but you’ve helped us prove it (well…. your daughter has!). If you follow us in social media, we’d love to see a photo of your daughter’s duffle. We are sew4home on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, and sew4home_diy on Instagram. Again, thanks for letting us know about your success!

4 years ago

Hello, thank you for another

Hello, thank you for another great pattern – I’m just compiling supplies for this bag. Does the 22″ zipper need to be separating or is it just it’s easier to find separating 22″ zippers? Cheers, Liz

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