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The Classic Canteen Bag in Denim, Flannel & Corduroy

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Channel your inner Boy or Girl Scout. Our round, canteen-style bag has a great retro look in a classic fall fabric combination: plaid flannel, denim, and corduroy. We even added appliquéd patches on the front. Bold metal hardware for the zipper and the strap adds the professional finish. This time of year there are great selections of all these fabrics in-store and online. We are particular fans of Robert Kaufman's Mammoth Plaid Flannels! Use our free pattern download to create the round exterior panels as well as the matching curved pocket. 

What’s that classic combo again? Plaid flannel, denim, and corduroy! We’ve taken your favorite casual fall outfit and repurposed it as a unique shoulder bag. Not only do the colors make you want to kick through a pile of leaves, the textures of all three fabrics mix together brilliantly. 

Bags and totes are traditionally square and rectangular. Branching out into a new shape, like this distinctive circular design, is a fun way to expand your skills and your wardrobe. An adjustable strap lets you carry it either over the shoulder or cross body. 

If the thought of sewing “in the round” make you dizzy, have no fear! We’ve simplified the steps to allow a layered lining with fewer steps, finishing the inner seam allowances with fold-over elastic (optional – but a nice pro touch).

Our sample sports some pretty patches on the front panel and pocket. Pick a few of your own to best reflect your style. Since these kind of patches are usually iron-on, we recommend fusing each one in place first, but then taking the extra step of outlining each with a small straight stitch in matching thread to insure it really stays put. They are easy to find both in-store and online, but you could also make your own by fussy cutting designs from scrap fabric. Check out our fussy cutting tutorial for some great tips and ideas. 

The zipper on our canteen bag opens nearly half way ‘round, giving you easy access to drop items in and/or pull them back out. A heavy metal zipper is the best look and matches well with the metal hardware for the adjustable strap.

We cut all the corduroy elements on the bias, which takes a bit more fabric but adds a fun diagonal accent to the circular piping, the front pocket binding, and the little inside pocket.

And, we chose a stretch denim for the main exterior panels. This allowed us a little extra “give” to maintain a nice, straight seam when stitching together all the round panels. 

The Robert Kaufman Mammoth flannel is a woven flannel rather than a printed-on motif. This not only creates a richer depth of texture, it also means the plaid itself is straighter and easier to match. If you love it here, you might also love the fringed scarves we made from similar plaids.

Our bag finishes at approximately 9¼“ in diameter (excluding the piping) and 3" deep. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The quantities shown below allow a bit extra for fussy cutting the plaid and bias cutting the corduroy.

  • ⅝ yard of 44”+ wide denim for the bag's front and back exterior, the front pocket, the side panel lining, and the strap; we used 50" 8.6oz Super Stretch Denim in Indigo
  • ⅝ yard of 44"+ wide plaid flannel for the bag's side panels and lining: we used 44" Mammoth Plaid Flannel in Rust by Robert Kaufman Fabrics
  • ½ yard of 44"+ wide corduroy or similar for the bag's piping and pocket binding and the interior pocket: we used 57" 14-Wale Corduroy in Rust by Robert Kaufman Fabric
  • ½ yard of 20"+ wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • ⅜ yard of 20”+ wide fusible foam interfacing; we used Pellon Flex Foam
  • 2 yards of ¼" piping cord
  • 2 yards of ⅝" fold-over elastic to coordinate with the lining fabric (optional); we used black fold over elastic by Dritz
  • ONE 14"+ zipper; we used a 26" metal zipper, purchased locally
    NOTE: Shorter metallic zippers can be hard to find. We got a longer one and cut it to fit, which is simple to do. For the best look on this project, we do recommend a metal zipper in a chunky style to best match the other hardware. 
  • TWO 1" D-rings to match the style/color of the metal zipper; we used nickel
  • ONE 1" adjustable slider to match the style/color of the metal zipper; we used nickel
    NOTE: We used a nickel set from ByAnnie, which includes everything you need plus two swivel clips you can save for later.
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins

Getting Started & Pattern Downloads

  1. Download and print out the TWO pattern pieces. Print TWO COPIES of Canteen Bag Base & Pocket. Print ONE COPY of Canteen Bag Top.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files 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.
  2. Cut out each pattern along the solid line. 
  3. Match up one copy of the Bag Base & Pocket with the Bag Top, using the printed arrows as your guide, to create the full circle pattern. Butt together and tape; do not overlap.
  4. From the fabric for the bag's front and back exterior, the front pocket, the side panel lining, and the strap (the denim in our sample), cut the following:
    Using the assembled Bag Base & Pocket and Top pattern (the full circle), cut TWO circles
    Using the individual Bag Base & Pocket pattern (the haf circle), cut one pocket

    ONE 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom section of the side panel lining
    ONE 3½" x 14" rectangle for the zipper panel lining
    ONE 3" x 66" strip for the strap and D-ring loops. Unless you have very wide fabric, you will need to cut two strips and join them together to equal a final length of 66"; the length of each strip will depend on the width of your chosen fabric.
  5. From the fabric for the bag's side panels, exterior pocket lining, and main lining (the flannel in our sample), fussy cut the following:
    Using the assembled Bag Base & Pocket and Top pattern (the full circle), cut TWO circles
    Using the individual Bag Base & Pocket pattern (the haf circle), cut one pocket
    NOTE: We carefully matched the flannel’s plaid for all three pieces. In fact, it might be hard to see the individual pieces in the photo below!

    ONE 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom section of the side panel
    ONE 3½" x 14" rectangle or the zipper panel
  6. From the fabric for the bag's piping and pocket binding and the interior pocket (the corduroy in in our sample), cut the following:
    TWO 1¼" x 30" strips, on the bias, for the piping
    NOTE: Because of the nice, wide width of our corduroy, we were able to cut each of our bias strips as single lengths. If your fabric is narrower, you may need to piece more than one bias strip to equal each finished 30" length.

    ONE 1¼" x 15" strip, on the bias, for the pocket trim
    ONE 6" x 9" rectangle, on the bias, for the inside pocket 
  7. From the foam interfacing, cut the following:
    Trim the assembled Bag Base & Pocket and Top pattern (the full circle) along the dotted seam allowance line and use this smaller pattern to cut TWO circles
  8. From the mid-weight interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 2½" x 15½" rectangle for the bottom section of the side panel
    ONE 2½" x 13" rectangle for the zipper panel
    Trim the individual Bag Base & Pocket pattern (the half circle) along the dotted seam allowance line and use this smaller pattern to cut ONE piece
  9. Cut the piping cord into TWO 30” lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Find the exterior front and back circles and the foam circles. Center a foam circle on the wrong side of each exterior circle so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the foam all around. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  2. Find the lining panels (the denim panels in our sample) for the two side sections (the bottom section and the zipper panel section) and the corresponding interfacing panels. Center an interfacing panel on the wrong side of each lining panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse in place.
  3. Repeat to fuse the pocket interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior pocket panel. 

Optional patches

  1. Find the fused exterior pocket panel. 
  2. Position your chosen patches on the pocket. Remember to account for the ½” seam allowance along the outer curved edge as well as the binding along the top. In other words, don’t put a patch super close to the edge.
  3. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the patches in place. It’s always best to use a pressing cloth with patches. 
  4. We recommend outlining each each with a straight stitch to further secure the patch in place. We used a matching thread (black for the elephant and orange for the star) and shortened our stitch length to 1.8.
  5. Find one of the two fused exterior circles. We added a third patch (another star) to the upper right of this panel so it would appear above the pocket. If you choose this same option, fuse and then stitch this patch in place now. 

Create the strap and D-ring tabs

  1. As mentioned above, you will likely need to piece two lengths of fabric to create the finished 66" length. Find these 3" fabric strips.
  2. Attach the strips as you would multiple lengths of binding. Place the strip lengths at right angles to one another. Pin in place. Draw a guide line corner to corner.
  3. Stitch along the drawn line. 
  4. Trim back the seam allowance to approximately ¼” and press open. 
  5. Fold the completed strip in half, right sides together, so it is now 1½" x 66". Align the raw edges and pin in place.
  6. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the entire length of the strip. The ends remain open.
  7. Press the seam allowance open and turn the strap right side out. 
    NOTE: See our quick tip for turning skinny straps using a hemostat.
  8. Press the long strap flat. 
  9. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch along both sides.
  10. From the finished length, cut TWO 3" lengths for the side D-ring loops. 
    NOTE: Yes, you are cutting through the seam. Don't worry, you'll secure it again when the strap and loops and stitched into position. 

Exterior pocket and front panel

  1. Find the interfaced exterior pocket. Layer with the pocket lining so the two pieces are wrong sides together and flush all around. Pin together.
  2. Machine baste the two layers together, staying close to the raw edge all around.
  3. Find the 15" length of pocket binding (the 15" bias cut strip of corduroy in our sample).
  4. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press to set a center crease. 
  5. Unfold, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible. 
  6. Align the top edge of the binding strip with the top raw edge of the exterior pocket. Pin in place along the length of the binding. The binding will extend beyond the pocket top a bit on each side. This is okay. 
  7. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  8. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch in place along the length of the binding. 
  9. Wrap the binding up and over to the back of the pocket. 
  10. Fold the raw edge of the binding in on itself, tucking the raw edge up against the center crease line. Pin in place along the back. The width of the visible binding on the front should be about ½”. Trim the ends of the binding to match the curve of the pocket.
  11. Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the binding and hand stitch the binding in place across the back, using small, neat whip stitches
  12. Find the front exterior circle. If you applied a patch to one panel, this would be the front panel. If you did not, simply pick the panel you like best. 
  13. Lay one lining circle right side down on your work surface. Lay the front exterior circle right side up on top of the lining circle, so the two are now wrong sides together. The raw edges should be flush all around. 
  14. Place the bound pocket on top of the front exterior circle right side up. Align the bottom curve of the pocket with the bottom raw edges of the circles. Pin in place along the bottom of the pocket.
  15. Lengthen the stitch. Machine baste the pocket in place and adhere the front to the lining, stitching through all the layers around the entire circle. Stay very close to the raw edge

Interior pocket and back panel

  1. Find the 6" x 9" pocket panel (if using interfacing, follow manufacturer's instructions to fuse in place now).
  2. Fold the pocket in half, right sides together, so it is now 6" wide x 4½" high. Pin along all three sides, leaving an approximate 2-3" opening along the bottom for turning.
  3. Re-set the stitch length to normal.
  4. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all sides, pivoting at the corners. Lock your seam on either side of the 2-3" opening. Press open the seam allowance. Clip the corners.
  5. Turn right side out through the opening. Push out the corners so they are nice and sharp. A chopstick, long knitting needleor point turner works well for this. Press flat, pressing in the raw edges of the opening so they are flush with the sewn seam.  
  6. Find the remaining lining circle. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  7. Place the finished pocket on the lining. It should be centered side to side (approximately 2⅞" from each raw edge) and 3⅛" down from the top. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. The folded edge is the pocket's top.
  8. Slightly lengthen the stitch. Edgestitch the pocket in place, through all the layers, along both sides and across the bottom. This secures the pocket and closes the opening at the bottom used for turning. Remember to sharply pivot at each corner.
  9. Find the remaining exterior circle. Place the exterior circle and the lining circle with the pocket wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges all around. Pin the layers together. 
  10. As you did with the front exterior panel, machine baste all around, staying approximately ¼" from the raw edge. Remember to increase the stitch length for basting.

Create the piping

  1. If this is your first time making piping, see our tutorial, How To Make And Attach Your Own Piping. We are summarizing the steps below.
  2. Find the two 1¼" x 30 bias strips. If you needed multiple strips to equal your 30" lengths, stitch them together now in the same manner as the strap above. 
  3. Find the matching lengths of piping cord.
  4. Wrap the fabric, right side out, around the cord. Pin close to the cord to hold it in place. 
  5. Re-set the stitch length to norma. Using a Zipper foot, sew close to the cord to create your fabric covered piping. 
  6. Find the front exterior circle with the pocket in place.
  7. Pin piping to the right side of the circle, aligning the raw edges of the piping with the raw edge of the circle, and leaving about 1" free at the head and tail. We put our joining seam along the bottom edge of the pocket.
  8. If necessary, you can snip along the raw edges of the piping to better allow it to curve around the circle. 
  9. Still using a Zipper foot (and with the needle position all the way to left), start stitching about ½" - 1" from the raw end of the piping (you need a loose head and tail to facilitate a clean finish). Stitch all the way around, through all the layers. Run the seam as close to the piping cord as possible.
    NOTE: We actually stitched around twice. The first time around, we stitched closer to the raw edge in order to simply secure the piping. We then went around a second time to get closer in to the piping cord. With a smaller, curved shape such as this, it’s easier to get nice and tight against the piping cord when the piping itself is already secured in place. 
  10. When you are about 1" from the starting point, stop and lock your stitch. 
  11. Remove the project from the machine.
  12. Lay the piping against the fabric so it is flat and smooth. 
  13. With a seam ripper, peel back the fabric on the 1" head and tail to expose the cording underneath.
  14. Trim the end of cording tail so it exactly butts together with the head of the cording. Fold under the end of the loose fabric to create a clean edge. Trim away excess fabric if necessary. Overlap the folded end to conceal the piping cord joint.
  15. Stitch in place, matching your existing seam line. Again, check out our full piping tutorial if this is a new process for you. 
  16. Repeat to create and attach piping to the exterior back circle. 

Zipper panel

  1. Find the 3½" x 14" rectangle for the zipper opening, the 3½" x 16½" rectangle for the bottom of the side, and the two matching lining rectangles, which should have their interfacing panels already fused in place.
  2. Pair up each exterior piece with its corresponding lining piece, placing them wrong sides together. In our sample, the flannel is the exterior and the denim is the lining.
  3. Machine baste each pair together along their long outer sides, using a ¼" seam allowance.
  4. Set the 16½" strip aside. 
  5. Cut the 14" panel exactly in half lengthwise so you now have TWO 1¾" x 14" strips.
  6. Find the zipper. Place it right side up and flat on your work surface. 
  7. Place one strip right sides together along the top tape of the zipper. Center the zipper on the strip. If your zipper is longer than the opening, center it so the zipper pull is just over ½" in from the left end then let the extra zipper on the stop end simply extend beyond the fabric to the right.
  8. Pin in place.
  9. Using a Zipper foot, stitch the length of the strip, running the seam as close to the zipper teeth as possible. 
  10. Repeat to attach the other half of the strip to the bottom tape of the zipper.
  11. Press the strips away from the zipper teeth.
  12. Edgestitch through all the layers, staying very close to the seamline on both sides of the zipper.
    NOTE: If you use an extra long zipper that will be cut to length, you should be able to open the zipper all the way and stitch with the zipper pull completely out of the way. If you use a 14" zipper, start with the zipper half way open. Stitch to the middle, where you can start to feel you're approaching the zipper pull. Stop with your needle in the down position. Twist your fabric around slightly and carefully close the zipper. Re-position and finish sewing to the end. 
  13. Close the zipper and baste across the ends of the zipper to secure.
  14. Trim away the excess tape at the top of the zipper.
  15. If need be, trim away the excess zipper at the bottom. 
    NOTE: It is really quite easy to cut a metal zipper. Simply cut one side and then the other, going between the teeth. However, don't use your good sewing scissors!

Complete the center ring

  1. Find the 3" cut strap lengths and the two D-rings. Loop a fabric strip through each D-ring, folding it back on itself and aligning the raw ends. 
  2. Place a loop and ring at each end of the zipper. The raw ends of the loop should be flush with the raw end of the zipper. Pin in place.  
  3. Find the 16½" strip you set aside above.
  4. Align one end of this strip right sides together with the top end of the zipper panel, sandwiching the loop and ring between the layers. Pin in place. 
  5. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
    NOTE: Go slowly. We like to hand walk across the teeth of the zipper.
  6. Repeat to attach the opposite end of the bottom rectangle to the bottom end of the zipper panel, forming a loop. Pin in place. Double check that the loop in not twisted anywhere along its length. 
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place.
  8. Press both seam allowances towards the bottom panel - away from the zipper.
  9. Flip the D-ring loops up towards the zipper and topstitch along the two short seams within the bottom panel. 
  10. You now have a finished side loop that is a complete circle.

Insert the front and back panels into the side loop

  1. Find the front exterior circle. Fold it in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold. Fold it in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. You now have pins at the quarter points of the circle, like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock.
  2. Repeat this process with the side loop to mark quarter points along each raw edge.
  3. Flip the side loop wrong side out. Set the front exterior panel into the loop so the two pieces are right sides together. Align the quarter point pins of the front panel with the matching pins of the loop. Pin through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the circle. Double check to make sure the front pocket opening is right side up towards the zipper.

    NOTE:
    This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat circle into a tube. In this case, we simply have a very narrow tube. If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial
  4. Using a Zipper foot, stitch all the way around the circle, running your seam as close to the piping as possible. As above, if your machine allows you to set the needle position, move it all the way to the left.
  5. Repeat to add the back panel. Remember to check again on this side to make sure the lining pocket is facing up towards the zipper. 
  6. This side will be a bit more challenging to wrangle under the presser foot because you no longer have an open side. However, by making sure the zipper is all the way open and working to flatten the layers, you should be able to go all the way around without a problem. As with all things that may present a challenge, go slowly and stop as needed – with your needle in the down position – to adjust the layers as needed. 

Finishing the interior raw edges

  1. As mentioned above, the method of finishing is up to you. You can leave the interior seam allowances raw if you choose or use a simple machine finish, such as a zig zag or overcast stitch. We chose to wrap our seam allowances with a fold-over elastic.
  2. To do this, turn the bag completely wrong side out, trim back the seam allowances to ⅜" on both the front and back.
  3. Find the fold-over elastic. Cut a length to fit around one complete circular panel seam allowance. Wrap the elastic over the seam allowance, encasing the raw edges to give the seam allowance a finished edge inside the bag. Leave 1" extra at the tail for an overlap. Pin in place all around. Don't be afraid to use plenty of pins. 
  4. Fold back the tail of the elastic and overlap the head for a clean finish. Pin in place. 
  5. Still using a Zipper foot, stitch the elastic to the seam allowance. You are only stitching on the seam allowance; don't stitch onto the main bag itself

    NOTE: For a few additional photos, we used a similar technique to attach the sides and finish the seams on our Airstream Toiletry Bag.

Attach the strap

  1. Find the strap and the slider.
  2. Slip one raw end of the strap through the center of the slider. Fold under the raw end ½" and pull it back on itself about 1". Pin in place as shown below.  
  3. Use two lines of stitching to secure the strap against the slider. One close to the folded edge, the second ¼" - ½" from the first seam.
  4. With the strap laying wrong side up (so you can see the folded under end next to the slider), thread the remaining raw end through the D-ring at the zipper stop end.
  5. Then pull the strap through the ring so it is now facing right side up and feed the raw end back through the slider, going up and over the folded end. This creates your adjusting loop.
  6. Feed the raw end of the strap through the D-ring at the zipper pull end. Fold under the raw end, pull through about 1", and pin in place, just as you did to secure the opposite end against the slider. 
  7. Before stitching, do a quick check to make sure there are no twists in your strap. And, double check that the folded back side is resting against the zipper, not facing out.
  8. As above, use two lines of stitching to secure the strap against the ring: one close to the folded edge, the second ¼" - ½" from the first seam.


    NOTE: If you are new to creating an adjustable strap, check out our full step-by-step tutorial on the process.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand

Section: 

Comments (2)

glassyladyks said:
glassyladyks's picture

Is it possible to use vinyl/faux leather on this bag?  Thank you.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

glassyladyks - We haven't tested this pattern with vinyl/faux leather, but I don't see a particular issue with that as an option. You might want to experiment with your stabilizing layers though as the fusible foam would likely be overkill with a thicker vinyl or faux leather. Let us know how yours turns out - we always love to hear about variations.