For sewing enthusiasts, getting through thick and thin has a whole different meaning, doesn’t it?! We have to be able to effectively stitch on a variety of fabric weights in order to take advantage of all the incredible project opportunities out there. For this gorgeous bucket duffle, we needed heavyweight power and precision, and we got exactly that with the new Janome Continental M7 Professional. We’ve had the machine in the Sew4Home studios for just a couple months and were excited to finally put it through all its paces on this trendy upholstery and canvas bag.
The Continental M7 has a newly redesigned motor that provides the strength, reliability, and longevity you’ve come to expect from a Janome professional machine. That means the power behind the needle penetration is engineered to handle your toughest and thickest sewing challenges.
To create the perfect shape and structure for this bag, we combined a thick yet soft upholstery fabric for the exterior with mid-weight canvas duck for the strap and band accents, and used a standard quilting weight cotton for the lining. In addition, fusible fleece and lightweight fusible interfacing are layered in between the fabrics, and a plastic canvas insert makes the round base especially stable.
A ring of metal grommets allows the top to cinch closed. You can use our free downloadable placement template to make sure all twelve grommets are evenly spaced so the top will gather in and expand out smoothly and easily.
The duffle features doubled straps that knot at the shoulder. They can be adjusted to be worn crossbody or over one shoulder. Or, grab the straps in one hand and swing it along at your side or against your back like a hobo stick.
We also show you how to make your own matching drawcord and slider. Even though we did use a heavier exterior fabric, we still felt the drawcord needed a little more oomph. To add the proper dimension, we show you how to enclose two lengths of thin, soft cording.
A free pattern download is included for the bag’s circular base panel. It’s Sew4Home, so of course we have steps below for this circle-into-a-tube process as well as a link to our full technique tutorial.
We really enjoyed working with the Continental M7 and it will definitely be making an appearance in future projects. Stop by your local Janome Dealer for a test drive. It has the largest sewing space available on any home use sewing machine! You’ll also want to try out the stitching speeds of up to 1300 SPM, the one-touch needle plate, and the super cool AcuSpark instant on-screen help.
Our Cinch Top Bucket Duffle finishes at approximately 14¼" high with a 10” base. The shoulder straps finish at about 28” in length and are designed to knot at your shoulder; adjust the knot for your best fit.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system we use on many of our studio machines, including the Continental M7
- Zipper foot
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ½ yard of 56”+ wide upholstery weight fabric for the main exterior panel and the exterior pocket; we used Laplander Studio Upholstery Fabric in Cinder
- ⅓ yard of 54"+ wide lightweight canvas for the facing, straps, drawcord, strap tabs, and drawcord slider; we used Duck Canvas in Light Blue
- 1 yard of 44"+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining; we used Kona cotton in Snow
- ½ yard of 45"+ wide fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- 1 yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
- 3 yards of skinny, soft piping cord; we used ⅛” cord
- ONE sheet of plastic canvas or similar stiffener for the base insert; you need an apx. 12” x 12” square from which to cut your base circle
- FIVE Double Cap Rivets; we used Dritz Double Cap Rivets in nickel
- Cutting and Setting tools for rivets; we used Dritz Rivet Tools
- TWELVE extra-large (7/16”) grommets and the appropriate setting tools; we used Dritz Extra-Large Grommets in nickel - purchasing a kit with the setting tools included
- TWO 1” rectangle rings; we used Dritz Rectangle Rings in nickel
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Seam sealant; optional to reinforce the holes for the grommets and the ends of the knotted drawcord; we used Dritz Fray Check
- Small hammer to set rivets and grommets; we recommend a soft leather mallet or a ball peen hammer
- Heavy metal, stone or wooden block to use as a cutting and hammering surface for the rivets and grommets
Getting Started and Pattern/Template Downloads
- Download and print out our THREE pattern sheets (one for the base and two for the grommet placement template), which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
NOTE: You will need to print FOUR COPIES of the base pattern sheet.
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.
- Assemble the four base quarters into a circle, following the drawing on the pattern sheet itself. Butt together the pieces (do not overlap) and tape to create the full base circle pattern.
- Butt together (do not overlap) the four pieces that make up the grommet placement template, aligning the printed arrows. Tape together to create the full template.
- From the fabric for the bag exterior, cut the following:
ONE 32½” wide x 15¼” high rectangle for the main exterior panel
ONE 7” wide x 9” high rectangle for the exterior pocket
Using the base pattern, cut ONE
NOTE: Clip into the very edge of the base panel at the four quarter points (like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on a clock) where the pattern pieces join.
- From the accent fabric, cut the following:
ONE 1½” x 50” strip for the drawcord
FOUR 1½” x 30” strips for the shoulder straps
ONE 32½” wide x 3¼” high rectangle for the drawcord band facing
ONE 4” x 2½” rectangle for the drawcord slider
TWO 3” x 1½” rectangles for the strap tabs
- From the fabric for the lining, cut the following:
ONE 32½” wide x 13” high rectangle for the main lining panel
ONE 7” wide x 9” high rectangle for the exterior pocket lining
ONE 32½” wide x 14” high rectangle for the lining pockets panel
TWO 3” x 1½” rectangles for the strap tabs lining
Using the base pattern, cut ONE then clip the quarter points as above with the exterior fabric
- From the fusible fleece, cut the following:
ONE 31½” wide x 14¼” high rectangle for the main exterior
Using the base pattern, but cutting along the dotted stitch line rather than the outside solid line, cut ONE
- From the lightweight fusible interfacing, cut the following:
ONE 31½” wide x 2¼” high rectangle for the drawcord panel
ONE 31½“ wide x 6½” high rectangle for the lining pockets panel
- From the plastic canvas, use the trimmed base pattern (the same as used to cut the fusible fleece) to cut ONE.
NOTE: It can be hard to pin the pattern to the plastic canvas. It’s better to trace around the pattern and then cut along your drawn line.
- Cut the small cording into TWO 50” lengths for the drawcord.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Assemble the lining and its pocket
- Find the 32½“ x 14” pocket panel. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so it is now 32½” x 7”. Press to set a crease line.
- Open up the panel, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible.
- Find the 31½” x 6½” interfacing panel.
- Center the 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.
- Refold 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 right pencil pocket line, draw two additional parallel lines, each 5” apart. Repeat to the left of the left pencil pocket line.
- The drawing below shows you our measuring diagram. As always, you’re welcome to adjust the pocket widths to best fit what you wish to carry.
NOTE: As always, whenever working on the right side of the fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Find the main 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.
- 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 from the bottom to the top of the pocket panel through all the layers. We recommend working from the center out to one side and then the other.
- 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, pull them through to the back, and knot to secure.
- Fold the lining/pocket panel in half, aligning the 14” raw edges. Pin in place, being very careful to align the top edge of the pocket panel.
- Re-set the stitch length to normal. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together, creating a tube.
- Press open the seam allowance, then press well from both the front and the back.
Insert the lining base panel
- Find the lining base panel. It 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. From the Getting Started section, you should have already marked the four quadrant points of the base circle, like the four points on the face of a clock.
- Flatten the lining tube in a similar fashion to find its four center points. The back center point is the back seam, and the front center point is directly opposite the back seam. Fold in this direction first and insert marking pins. Then flatten in the opposite direction to find the side center points.
- Turn the lining tube wrong side out. Set the base into the lining 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 quadrant 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.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all the way around the base. Go slowly, holding the layers flat with your fingers if necessary to avoid any puckers, especially around the curves.
- Again, if you are new to this technique, check out our circle-into-a-tube tutorial.
Form the main panel into a tube
- Find the fusible fleece panel. Place it on the wrong side of the main exterior panel. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the fused panel in half, aligning the 15¼” raw edges. Pin in place.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top and bobbin.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch to form a tube.
- Press open the seam allowance and press well from both sides.
- As you did above with the lining, flatten the exterior tube in a similar fashion to find and mark its four center points.
Create and place the exterior pocket
- Find the 7” x 9” exterior and lining pocket panels. Place them right sides together aligning all raw edges. Pin in place along both sides and across the top.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and the exterior in the bobbin. The stitch length should still be set at normal.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the top pivoting at the upper corners. The bottom remains open.
- Clip the corners and press open the seam allowance.
- Turn the pocket right side out through the open bottom. Gently push out the corners so they are as sharp as possible. A knitting needle, chopstick or point turner works well for this. Press flat
- Find the exact center point along both the top and bottom of the pocket. Mark with pins.
- Find the exterior tube. It should be right side out.
- Center the pocket over the back seam of the exterior tube. The bottom raw edge of the pocket should be flush with the bottom raw edge of the tube and the pins marking the center top and bottom of the pocket should be exactly in line with the tube’s back seam.
- Pin the pocket in place along both sides.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the exterior in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
NOTE: We also engaged he Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Continental M7. We do suggest a similar set-up to best handle these thicker layers: a built-in system or at least a standard Walking or Even Feed foot. In addition, if your machine has a free-arm, now is a great time to use it.
- Edgestitch along both sides through all the layers. We also edgestitched across the bottom raw edge to help hold these layers in place when inserting the base.
Insert the exterior base panel
- Find the exterior base panel and its matching piece of fusible fleece. Center the fleece on the wrong side of the base panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- The base panel is sewn in place following the same method you used above to create the lining. As we recommended, if you are new to this type of technique, check out our full step-by-step tutorial. First find the quarter points snips on the base circle, like the four points on the face of a clock, which you should have marked above in the Getting Started section.
- You should have already found and marked the exterior tube in a similar fashion with its four quadrant points.
- Just as with the lining, turn the exterior tube wrong side out. Set the base into the exterior tube so the two pieces are right sides together. 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.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch all the way around the base.
- Press open the seam allowance all around.
Create and place the rectangle ring strap tabs
- Find the exterior and lining 1½” x 3” strap tabs. You should have two of each. Place the exterior and lining tabs right sides together. Pin in place down the center.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the lining in the top and to best match the accent fabric in the bobbin.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch both 3” sides on both tabs. We chain-stitched our two tabs.
- Press open the seam allowances.
- Turn right side out through the open ends. Press flat then press in half so the little folded tabs are now 1” wide x 1½” high.
- Find the two rectangle rings. Slip a tab through each ring. Pull through and align the raw ends of the tab. Pin in place.
- Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
- From the center back seam, measure 7⅞” to the right of center and 7⅞” to the left of center. Mark both of these outer positions with pins.
NOTE: The drawing in the pocket instructions above also shows this tab positioning.
Place a tab/ring at each 7⅞” position. The raw ends of each tab should be flush with the top raw edge of the bag. Pin in place. You could also machine baste the tabs in place for extra security.
Create and place the facing
- Find the 32½” x 3¼” facing panel in the accent fabric and the 31½” wide x 2¼” interfacing.
- Along one 32½” side of the facing panel, press back the raw edge ½”. Unfold so the crease line is visible.
- Place the fabric panel wrong side up on your work surface. Center the interfacing on the panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. This also means one long raw edge of the interfacing is aligned along the ½” crease line. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Align the 3¼” ends, forming a loop, and pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance stitch this short seam.
- Re-fold the facing loop along the original ½” crease line.
- Find the exterior bag, which should have the tabs/rings pinned and/or basted in position.
- Slip the facing over the exterior, right sides together, sandwiching the loops between the layers. Pin through all the layers.
- Using a ½” seams allowance, stitch all the way around the top through all the layers.
NOTE: Again, this is a good time to engage your built-in feeding system, which is what we did, engaging the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system on our Janome Continental M7. You could also attach a standard Walking or Even Feed foot. It’s also a good time to again use a free arm. With the extra large bed on the M7, we stitched flat.
- Press the seam allowance open.
- Press again from the outside. You want this top-edge seam to be very flat.
- Bring the facing around to the inside and press once again.
- Set aside the exterior bag.
Create the shoulder straps and drawcord
- Find the four 1½” x 30 strap strips, the one 1½” x 50 drawcord strip, and the skinny piping cord.
- On the each of the four 30” strips, fold back each 30” raw edge ¼” and press well. Also fold back and press each end ¼” so the strips will be finished on all sides.
- Fold in half, wrong sides together, so all the folded edges are flush. Press well.
- Re-thread with thread to best match the straps in both the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch along the double-fold edges, and pivot to stitch across each finished end
- On the 50” drawcord strip fold back each 50” raw edge ¼” and press well. Fold in half, wrong sides together, so the 50” folded edges are flush. Both ends of this strip remain raw. Press well to set a center crease.
- Find the two 50” lengths of piping cord. Open up the folded strip and place the lengths of cord, one on top of the other, down the center. As mentioned, this will add some needed dimension to the drawcord.
- Re-fold the strip so the folded edges are again flush.
NOTE: As an option, at each end, you can tape together the ends of the two lengths of cording, then trim off approximately ¾” from each end. This ¾” “dead space” at each end will make it easier to knot the ends, which is the finishing step for the drawcord tails.
- Attach a Zipper foot.
- Stitch down the double-fold edges, running the seam as close to the cording as possible.
Assemble the exterior and lining and stitch the facing in place
- Find the exterior bag. It should be right side out.
- Find the plastic canvas base circle and place it into the exterior bag. Push the plastic canvas all the way down so it sits snug and flat against the bottom of the bag.
- Find the lining bag, it should be wrong side out.
- Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two layers are now wrong sides together. Flatten and align the base panels of the two layers. The plastic canvas is sandwiched between the layers. The grippyness of the fleece keeps the plastic from shifting.
- The top raw edge of the lining should extend up and underneath the folded edge of facing by about ½”.
- Align the back seams of the exterior and the lining.
- Bring the tab/rings up into position so they are standing up and away from the facing.
- Fold the facing into position at the inside of the bag and pin all around.
- Re-thread the machine if necessary to make sure you have thread to best match the facing in the top and to best match the exterior in the bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Edgestitch once all around close to the bottom folded edge of the facing.
- Edgestitch around again ⅛” from the top finished edge of the bag. Again, make sure the tab/rings are up and out of the way of this seam.
Grommets and drawcord
- Find the assembled Grommet Placement Template. We recommend cutting out each placement circle to make it easier to position your marks.
- Place the template in position around the top of the bag. The Template has guide lines for the center front and the back seam so it’s easy to align correctly. Pin the template in place.
- Using one of the grommet tops and your fabric pen or pencil, trace the center hole.
- Do this for each of the twelve grommet positions.
- Remove the Template.
- Cut open each hole with small, sharp scissors.
NOTE: After cutting each hole, you can add a drop of seam sealant, such as Fray Check, to prevent raveling.
- Set a grommet top at a marked point, inserting it from front to back.
- Set a grommet back over the top center stud.
- Use the setting tools to hammer and seal the grommet.
- Repeat to set all twelve grommets. If you are brand new to working with grommets, you can check out our full tutorial on How to Insert Metal Grommets.
- Find the drawcord.
- Starting at the front left grommet, weave the drawcord in and out through the twelve grommets.
Rivet the straps
- Find the four straps. The straps are riveted in place side by side through the open end of the rectangle ring.
- Loop a strap through the ring, pulling it back on itself about ¾”. Make sure you are looping the strap through in the correct direction. You want the end to be facing the inside of the bag. Pin in place.
- Mark for the rivet point, which should be centered within the strap as shown in the photo below. The bottom curve of the rivet should be about ¼” from the rectangle ring.
- Use the cutting tool to make a hole through all the layers at the marked point.
- Insert the rivet top from the front through to the back.
- Attach the cap at the back, and using the tools, hammer to seal and set.
- Repeat to add a second strap.
- Then repeat to add the remaining double straps through the opposite rectangle ring.
NOTE: The steps for riveting are really quite easy and we've included a few photos above, but if you’re brand new to the technique, you can certainly review our general tutorial on How to Install Metal Rivets.
Create the drawcord slide
- Find the little 4” x 2½” strip and one rivet. Fold the strip in half so it is now 4” x 1¼”.
- 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.
- Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along the 4” side and across one end. Clip the corners.
- Turn right side out through the open end. Gently push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A long blunt tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner works well for this. Fold in the raw edges of the open end so they are flush with the sewn seam. Hand stitch the opening closed. Press flat.
- Fold in the ends to the center, overlapping them about ½”. Pin in place.
- Stitch vertically through all the layers, securing the overlap and creating two open channels to either side of the center seam.
- Insert a rivet at the exact center point through all the layers, using the same steps as above for the strap rivets.
- Feed each end of the drawcord through one side of the slider.
- Tie a knot in the end of each drawcord tail.
NOTE: You can add a drop of seam sealant to the raw ends of the knotted tails to prevent raveling.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild