The boxy shape of a classic duffle provides plenty of “real estate” for both a dramatic fabric choice as well as a number of professional finishes; like Piping, decorative layering, and unique zipper choices. We checked all the boxes with our Weekender Carry Duffle: the bold cheetah fabric motif is eye-catching and the embellishment choices are spot-on.
A duffle is a bit more challenging than other bags and totes you find at S4H, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tackle it – even if you are new to the world of sewing. The first important thing to remember is to read through our detailed steps not once, but several times before you dive in with fabric, scissors, and sewing machine. We call this “making it in your head.” If there is a section that seems puzzling, try our favorite option: make a little paper or scrap fabric prototype first to walk through the steps. For us, that always results in an Ah-Ha Moment. Not only will you be able to power-through your final project with confidence, you’ll cement the technique in your head for future projects. There are also several links within the steps below that will take you to our full S4H tutorials on specific techniques, such as Piping and adjustable straps. If you’re brand new, give these a read-through before beginning
Our second main recommendation is to make sure your machine, accessories, and notions are the best they can be. The better your tools, the easier any process becomes. S4H is very lucky to be a Janome exclusive studio. We can state, without hesitation, that Janome models provide the strength, reliability, and sheer power to perform flawlessly from start to Finish. Beyond the machine itself, choose the right presser feet for the job. For this duffle, we recommend a Walking or Even Feed foot; it’s a big help when working with the multiple layers. Or engage your machine’s built-in feeding system. We used the built-in Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system throughout construction.
When you have just two flat layers of standard quilting cotton, just about anything will get you through. But when you’re working with thicker layers in multiple substrates to construct a three-dimensional project, you need strong Needle penetration, precise stitching, and a fabric feeding system engineered to handle whatever comes across the Needle plate. Thanks Janome! If you haven’t sewn with a built-in fabric feeding system before, it’s worth a trip to your local Janome Dealer to try the AcuFeed™ Flex.
Don’t forget the smaller notions either! Thicker layers mean starting with a new, sharp Needle – perhaps even a jeans Needle if your chosen substate is quite heavy. You also want sharp scissors or a new rotary blade so your cuts are straight and true.
Speaking of those thick layers, we do recommend using a lightweight canvas, cotton duck or similar for the exterior. We used Cheetah Rainbow in Succulent, a canvas from the Reverie collection by Melody Miller for Ruby Star Society from Fat quarter Shop. This exact fabric came out earlier this season and so is nearly sold-out from most retail outlets. However, we put our heads together with our friends at FQS to find some fun alternatives. We were captivated by the nostalgic prints in canvas from Eclectic Elements by Tim Holtz for FreeSpirit Fabrics, the My Happy Place sewing themed canvas by Lori Holt for Riley Blake Fabrics, and the strikingly graphic Koi Pond canvas by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Ruby Star Society. The duffle’s Lining is standard quilting cotton.
Piping rims the entire perimeter and the pockets, a classic touch on a duffle to outline its pretty shape. And, we chose a layered look for our adjustable strap and the matching double carry handles. The base for both is a thin yet super strong “seatbelt webbing.” This is accented with a skinny grosgrain ribbon. The finished look echos the cool striped rainbows behind the pretty cheetah motif.
You’ll also be surprised by how easy it can be to create the duffle’s center zipper panel. Our zipper is a purse style one with double pulls that meet in the middle. This makes it easy to open the duffle with either Hand. The insertion is not hard at all… the steps are done with flat panels! One of our goals at S4H is to banish your fear of zippers!
As with most commercial bags, for the longest life, this duffle is meant to be spot cleaned. Spraying the outside with a stain repellant, such as ScotchGard or similar is a good protective step. That said, all the elements are machine washable, and on a gentle cycle in cold water, you could likely get away with a full wash. However, tumble drying isn’t recommended. Let the bag air dry after any cleaning.
For the easiest construction, the duffle goes together in a way that creates some visible Seam allowances on the inside. We chose to wrap ours in custom Bias Binding to match the Lining. You could do the same or select your favorite machine sewn Seam Finish. Don’t have a favorite? We have a four-part series on the subject with lots of great options from which to choose.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Zipper Foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful when working with the multiple layers – we used our built-in Janome AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1¾ yards of 42″+ wide lightweight canvas, cotton duck or similar fabric in a bold print for the exterior; we originally used Cheetah Rainbow in Succulent, a canvas from the Reverie collection by Melody Miller for Ruby Star Society from Fat quarter Shop
NOTE: Our chosen fabric was not directional but was quite bold, so the amount recommended above is enough to make sure all panels can be Fussy cut to best position a similar bold motif or best accommodate cutting a directional motif.
- 2 yards of 44″+ wide quilting weight cotton or similar in a coordinating print solid for the lining; we originally used Spotted in Succulent, a quilting cotton from the Reverie collection by Melody Miller for Ruby Star Society from Fat quarter Shop
NOTE: We also used our Lining fabric to create custom Bias Binding to Finish the interior seams of the bag. You could also choose to use a purchased packaged wide double-fold Bias Binding; if so, you could likely get away with just 1½ yards for the Lining.
NOTE: As mentioned above, the Reverie collection is from earlier in 2023 and may no longer be readily available. Check our alternate suggestions in the introduction above or, as always, choose your favorite fabric option.
- TWO packages or 3½ yards of narrow bias piping; we used Wright’s packaged Maxi Piping in Black
- ONE 18” coordinating zipper; we used a Coats Purse Zipper in black
- TWO 1” D-Rings
- TWO 1” Swivel Hooks
- ONE 1” Slide Adjuster
- ONE ½” Swivel Hook for the interior lanyard; we used used a Dritz ½” Swivel Hook and D-Ring Set in nickel – you won’t use the D-Ring; keep it in your Stash.
- 2½ yards of 1″ polyester webbing/belting in a coordinating color; we used a thin but super strong “seatbelt type” of webbing in forest green, purchased on Amazon – you’ll find many webbing alternatives in stores and online
- ¼ yard of 1” coordinating grosgrain ribbon for the D-Ring tabs; we used black
- 3 yards of ⅜” grosgrain ribbon in an accent color for the strap and handles as well as for the interior lanyard; we used coral
- ½ yard of 45″+ fusible fleece; we used Pellon Thermolam Plus
- ⅓ yard of 45″+ mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
- All purpose Thread to match all fabric, webbing, and ribbon
- See-through ruler
- Measuring tape
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight Pins and/or clips
- Matches or a lighter to melt polyester belting and ribbons to Finish their ends
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT the Weekender Carryall pattern bundle. We’ve combined the body pattern and pocket pattern and so recommend printing TWO sets of the four pattern pieces. With two assembled patterns, you’ll have one full body pattern and can slice the second for the pocket pattern. You will need to Trim both the body pattern and the pocket pattern along the dotted Seam allowance line to cut the interfacing and Fusible fleece. If you want to keep all your patterns intact, print FOUR sets of the four pattern pieces: one full body pattern, one trimmed body pattern, one full pocket pattern, and one trimmed pocket pattern.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of FOUR 8½” x 11″ sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guideline on each page so you can insure your final printout is to the correct scale.
- Cut out the pattern pieces along the solid line. Using the printed arrows as your guide, assemble the four pieces into one finished pattern.
- From the Lining fabric, cut the following:
ONE 19” wide x 7” high rectangle for the zipper panel
ONE 26” wide x 7” high rectangle for the side/base panel
If making custom Binding for the interior seams as we did, cut enough 2” wide Bias strips to equal 100”, which is 50” per side
Using the assembled body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled pocket pattern (remember, this is sliced from the main pattern as shown in the photo below), cut SIX
- From the exterior fabric, Fussy cut the following – remember, if your fabric is a bold or directional motif like our Rainbow Cheetah selection, pay attention to the proper positioning of each piece:
ONE 26” wide x 7” high rectangle for the side/base panel
ONE 19” wide x 7” high rectangle for the zipper panel
NOTE: If you are working with a directional fabric, cut TWO 13½” wide x 7” high rectangles for the side/base panel.
Using the assembled body pattern, cut TWO
Using the assembled pocket pattern (remember, this is sliced from the main pattern), cut TWO
- From the mid-weight interfacing, using the assembled pocket pattern, but cutting along the dotted Seam line rather than the solid outer line, cut FOUR
- From the Fusible fleece, cut the following:
ONE 18” x 6” rectangle for the zipper panel
ONE 25” x 6” rectangle for the side/base panel
Using the assembled body pattern, but cutting along the dotted Seam line rather than the solid outer line, cut TWO
- From the 1” webbing/belting, cut the following:
TWO 23” lengths for the handles
ONE 44” length for the strap
NOTE: Using a match or lighter, pass each cut end of each length through the flame a few times to melt and seal the ends.
- From the 1” grosgrain, cut TWO 2¼” lengths.
- From the ⅜” grosgrain, cut the following:
ONE 9” length for the interior lanyard
TWO 23” lengths for the handles
ONE 44” length for the strap
NOTE: Because the ribbon is also polyester, you can again use a match or lighter to seal the ends. As above, just a couple quick passes through the flame should be plenty. No need to catch the world on fire. The ribbon is also thin enough that a tiny Hem could be used instead of melting.
- The Piping will be cut to length during the application process.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Accent the belting
- Find the three lengths of webbing/belting, two at 23” for the handles and one at 44” for the adjustable strap. Find the matching three lengths of ⅜” accent ribbon.
- Center a length of ribbon on each length of belting. Pin in place.
NOTE: You could also use a thin strip of Fusible Seam tape to hold your ribbon in place. Just make sure it is narrower than the ribbon itself.
- Thread the machine, both top and Bobbin, with Thread to best match the accent ribbon. Set for a slightly lengthened Straight stitch.
- Edgestitch along both sides of the accent ribbon on each length of belting. Whenever you’re working with ribbon, it is best to stitch in the same direction along both sides in order to avoid any puckering.
- Also, when stitching long lines such as this, we like to use our Start/Stop button rather than the foot control to keep a consistent speed and, therefore, the most consistent stitch creation. If you have this option on your machine, as we do on the majority of our Janome studio machines, try it for this process.
- Set aside the three stitched lengths.
Fusing the fleece and interfacing
- Find the front and back main exterior panels and the exterior zipper panel. Find the corresponding Fusible fleece panels for these same three pieces. The Fusible fleece for the exterior side/base panel will be applied later.
- Center a fleece panel on each of the three exterior panels so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacture’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Find all the pocket panels: two exterior, and six Lining. Find the four interfacing pocket panels.
- Center an interfacing panel on each of the two exterior panels and two of the Lining panels so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides.
- Following manufacture’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Set aside the other four Lining panels without interfacing; two of these will be used for the interior pockets and two will be used for the exterior pockets.
Make the exterior pockets, inserting the handles
- Find the two exterior pocket panels, which should have interfacing already fused in place, and two of the non-interfaced Lining panels.
- Find the Piping. Cut a length to fit across the top of each exterior pocket panel.
- With the pocket panels Right side up, pin a length of Piping in place across the top of each pocket panel.
- Re-Thread the machine with Thread to best match the fabric in the top and Bobbin.
- Attach a Zipper foot, fully lengthen the stitch, and baste the Piping in place across the top of each pocket panel.
NOTE: You can also use your standard foot, which is shown in the photo below, moving the Needle position to the left.
- This is just a basting stitch, so keep it close to the Raw edge.
- Flip one exterior pocket panel Wrong side up. Find the original paper pocket pattern and cut out the bottom notches of the handle placement guideline. Place the pattern into position on the Wrong side of the exterior panel.
- Trace the cut-out notches onto the fabric.
- Repeat to trace the placement notches on the Wrong side of the remaining pocket panel. Below is a view when the paper pattern is removed.
- Find a Lining panel and place it right sides together with one exterior pocket panel, sandwiching the Piping between the layers.
- Pin along the top edge only through all the layers, but leave an opening at each of marked segments where the ends of the handles will go. Below is a view adding the marking Pins from the exterior side
- And the layers with marks from the Lining side.
- Re-set for a standard Straight stitch, and stitch across the top of the pocket. You should be stitching as close to the Piping cord as possible, but do not actually stitch on the cord. We opted to use our Janome built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system for the best control.
- Remember to stop and lock your Seam at either side of the two marked handle insertion points.
- Fold the two panels wrong sides together and Press flat, revealing the Piping.
- Find a 23” length of belting (a handle), which should already have its accent ribbon completed. Insert the raw ends into the openings in the Seam, behind the Piping. Lightly pin in place.
- Flatten the pocket again, Wrong side up, so you can now see the ends of the belting coming through the openings in the Seam and you can see your originally drawn placement notches. Guide each end into place within your marked template.
- Pin securely.
NOTE: We are going to all this trouble because the angle of the handles is very important — not only for the loop of the handle to form correctly, but also so the “tail” ends of the handle sit to the outside of the pocket divisions. You don’t want to be stitching across a lump when you stitch those divisions.
- Bring the exterior and Lining right sides together again to reveal the original Seam with the ends of the handle sandwiched between the layers. Continue the Seam across each of the openings.
- We recommend double stitching across for extra security.
- Turn the pocket panels Right side out once again (exterior and Lining wrong sides together) and pull the handle up into position. Press flat.
NOTE: Polyester webbing is not a fan of a hot iron; it can melt. Keep the iron on the fabric and away from the handle.
- Repeat to Finish the second pocket in the same manner.
Layer the panels and pockets and stitch down the handles
- Find the front and back main exterior panels, which should have their fleece fused in position. Place the panels Right side up and flat on your work surface. There is no Lining layer yet against these main panels.
- Find the two completed pockets with their handles. Place a pocket Right side up and flat on top of each main exterior panel, aligning the bottom raw edges of the two panels. Pin the pocket to the panel along the sides and across the bottom.
- Find the original paper body pattern. Cut out the handle placement area to create a window through which the actual handle is visible as shown in the photo below. Place the paper pattern over the layered main panel/pocket.
- Make sure the paper pattern is correctly positioned, pinning or taping it lightly in place.
- Smooth the handle loop down against the main exterior panel so it exactly fits into the window template you created. Make sure there are no twists in the handle loop.
- Pin the handle in place against the exterior main panel, making sure you note the top of the window – that will be the stopping point of the stitching that secures the handles.
- Remove the paper pattern.
- Re-Thread the machine with Thread to best match the belting in the top and Bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch from the top of the pocket up each side of the handle. Do not stitch across the Piping.
- There is no need to stitch horizontally across the belting; just stitch along each side of the belting on either side of the handle.
- We used the Lock Stitch feature on our Janome machine for a neat start and Finish to each of these four short seams.
- Repeat on the remaining main exterior panel.
Make the Lining pockets and layer with the exterior
- Find the remaining pocket Lining panels: two interfaced and two plain. Break them into two sets of two: one interfaced and one plain. Place each set right sides together; all edges should be flush. Pin along the top edge only.
- Re-Thread the machine with Thread to best match the Lining in the top and Bobbin. Re-set the Stitch length to normal.
- Using a ½” Seam allowance, stitch across the top edge only of each pair.
- Fold the panels wrong sides together with the seamed edge straight across the top of each pocket panel. Press flat.
- Find the two main exterior panels. Place them Right side down and flat on your work surface.
- Find the two main Lining panels. Place one, Right side up, on top of each of the exterior panels, which means the layers are wrong sides together.
- Finally, find the sewn Lining pockets, and place one Right side up on top of each Lining panel, aligning the bottom raw edges of the pocket and the panel.
- Pin securely in place through all the layers.
NOTE: We also opted at this point to machine baste around the entire perimeter of each panel through all the layers: exterior pocket, exterior base panel, fleece, Lining, and Lining pocket. There are a lot layers, and even though Piping will be applied, basting helps to keep all the layers as flat and secure as possible through each step. You don’t want any ripples in any of your layers!
- Flip over the panels so they are now Right side up – exterior side up.
- Mark for the two pocket divisions. We used our original paper pocket pattern to confirm the pocket division lines.
- You could also find the exact center of the panel, then measure 2½” to the right of center and draw a vertical line. Then, measure 2½” to the left of center and draw a parallel vertical line. These two drawn lines should be 5” apart and they should be to the inside of the handle insertion points.
NOTE: As we recommend any time you are working on the Right side of your fabric, make sure you are using a marking tool that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to the air or the heat of an iron.
- Re-Thread the machine with Thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the Lining in the Bobbin. Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Stitch along each of the two drawn guidelines, through all the layers on both the front and back panels.
- Find the 9” length of ⅜” grosgrain ribbon and the ½” swivel hook.
- Loop one end of the ribbon through the hook. Pull the ribbon through about 1″and make a tiny Hem, then pin in place. If you melted the ends of the ribbon, there’s no need for a Hem.
- Re-Thread the machine with Thread to best match the ribbon in the top and Bobbin. Re-set for a standard Straight stitch.
- Stitch across the ribbon where you pulled it through, running the Seam back and forth several time to secure. Keep the stitching as close as possible to the swivel hook.
- Place the raw end of the lanyard against the top Raw edge of back main panel. It should be positioned about 4” out from center on the Right side, against the Lining side of the panel – just to the outside of the handle.
- Adjust the length of the ribbon so the bottom of the hook hangs at the bottom of the panel. Pin in place and then Trim the raw end of the ribbon so it is flush with the top of the panel.
INSERT the drawing from the original design work order that shows the inside blue panel with the orange lanyard
- Machine baste the ribbon in place.
Add the Piping to the front and back panels
- Place the front and back panels Right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Find the remaining full length of Piping.
- Starting at the center bottom of one panel, pin the Piping to the Right side of the panel.
- The Piping’s insertion tape should be flush with the Raw edge of the panel all around.
- If need be, you can clip into the insertion tape just a bit at each corner to help it curve around the panel.
- When you get back to where you started, overlap the start by about 1” and Trim away the excess. It will be used for the remaining panel.
- Use your Seam ripper to open up the tail end of the Piping and clip back the Cording inside so it butts together against the head end.
- Fold under the free end of the Binding to create a finished edge and pin in place at the overlap.
- Baste the Piping in place around the entire perimeter. We used our Janome AcuFeed Zipper foot. We also love that our Janome studio machines have such a huge bed space. It makes keeping your project flat so much easier!
- Repeat to pin and baste the remaining length of Piping (you’ll need approximately 50”) to the remaining panel. You may need to open the second package of Piping to get a long enough piece.
NOTE: If you are brand new to working with Piping, we have a full step-by-step tutorial on making and attaching it that you can review prior to starting.
Create the top zipper panel and side/base panel
- Find all the elements for the top zipper panel and the side/base panel: top zipper panel exterior with its fleece fused in place, top zipper panel Lining, side/base exterior panel(s) (there is just one panel if working with a non-directional fabric as we did — two panels if you have a directional fabric), side/base Lining panel and side/base fleece panel (just one of each).
- Slice down the center of each of the top zipper panel pieces: the fused exterior and the Lining.
- You should now have two Lining pieces that are 19” x 3½” and two exterior pieces that are 19” x 3½”.
- Find the zipper.
NOTE: Remember, we used and recommend a purse zipper. If following along, make sure the double zipper pulls are at the center of your purse zipper.
- Find one of the two exterior strips. Place it right sides together along one side edge of the zipper tape. The fabric panel and the zipper are right sides together. Pin along the top.
Here’s a view from the Wrong side of the fabric panel.
- Flip over the unit so the zipper is Wrong side up and the fabric is Right side up.
- Find one of the two Lining strips. Place it against the back of the zipper and pin along the same side edge of the zipper tape. The two strips (exterior and Lining) are now right sides together and the zipper tape is sandwiched between the layers. Re-pin, removing excess Pins as necessary so you have just one set of Pins through all three layers.
- Open up the zipper about half way.
- If necessary, re-Thread the machine with thread to best coordinate with the exterior, lining, and zipper. Re-set the stitch length to normal and attach a standard presser foot.
- We continued to use the Janome AcuFeed™ Flex built-in fabric feeding system. It makes it so much easier to stitch through tricky layers like this without shifting. We moved our Needle position to the left.
- Stitch across the top through all three layers, using a ¼” seam.
NOTE: As with all zipper insertions, when you feel you are approaching the zipper pull, stop with your needle in the down position. Raise the presser foot and twist the layers slightly so you can access the pull. Then move the pull out of the way of the presser foot. Once clear, drop the presser foot, re-position the layers, and finish the seam. In the case of a purse zipper, you’ll need to do this twice.
- Fold the lining back so the fused exterior panel and the lining panel are now wrong sides together and the remaining free edge of the zipper tape is sticking up. Press.
- Find the remaining half of the fused exterior panel and the remaining half of the lining panel. Layer the remaining free edge of the zipper, following the same steps as above: exterior and Lining right sides together, sandwiching the reminding free edge of the zipper tape between the layers. Pin in place through all three layers.
- Stitch through all three layers along this second side of the zipper, again using a ¼” seam.
- As you did above, fold the exterior and lining wrong sides together and press. The exterior and lining are now wrong sides together to either side of the zipper. Close the zipper and press well. Remember to keep your iron away from the plastic zipper teeth!
- Pin in place along either side of the zipper teeth.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch and make sure you have Thread to best match the exterior in the top and to best match the Lining in the Bobbin.
- Topstitch along each side of the zipper.
Assemble the center section with the sides/base and add the D-Rings
- Find the two D-Rings and the two 2¼” lengths of 1” grosgrain ribbon.
- Slip a length of ribbon through each D-Ring, aligning the raw ends.
- Place one D-Ring at either end of the zipper, aligning the raw edges of the ribbon with the raw edges of the layered panels and pin in place.
If working with TWO directional print side/base panels
- You have two panels if you are working with a directional print. Make sure the panels are will be facing the right way up when stitched in place along either side of the duffle. Place them right sides together and pin along what will be the center of the base.
- Re-Thread the machine if necessary with Thread to best match the fabrics in the top and Bobbin and re-set the Stitch length to normal.
- Stitch the two panels together, using a ½” Seam allowance. Press the Seam allowance open and flat.
- Find the remaining piece of Fusible fleece. Center it on the seamed panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
Standard one side/base panel
- Find the single 26” x 7” side/base panel and the 25” x 6” Fusible fleece panel. Center the fleece on the fabric panel so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the fleece on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Find the finished top zipper panel. Place it Right side up and flat on your work surface.
- Place the side/base exterior panel right sides together with each end of the zipper panel. Pin in place. You now have an exterior loop.
- Carefully flip this exterior loop, keeping it Wrong side out and without disturbing the Pins.
- Find the side/base Lining panel.
- You’ll form another loop with this Lining panel. Place each end of the Lining panel together with each end of the zipper panel, forming the loop. The right side of the Lining loop is against the wrong side of the zipper panel.
- At each end of the zipper panel, when looking at it from the exterior side, your layers are as follows: exterior loop Wrong side up, center zipper panel Right side up (so those top two layers are right sides together), Lining loop Right side up (so the bottom two layers are Right side (Lining) against Wrong side (zipper)).
NOTE: If all this Right side/Wrong side is scrambling your brains, try what we do. Make a little paper prototype, marking each piece with an R or W, then layer and pin together. That might help de-scramble things.
- Using a ½” Seam allowance, stitch across each end of the center zipper panel through all the layers.
- Turn the exterior loop Right side out. Flatten the layers so the two loops are now wrong sides together with the zipper section in the center.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch. Topstitch just below the Seam at each end, within the side/base loop, through all the layers.
- The seams at each end of the center zipper section are now enclosed between the layers. And, to repeat, the exterior and Lining side/base loops are wrong sides together. Here’s a look from the Lining side.
- We also machine basted around the outer raw edges of the loop on each side. This helps keep the layers together during final construction.
Insert the front and back panels into the side loop
- Find the front and back exterior panels. Fold each in half, top to bottom, and place a pin at each edge of the fold. Fold in half in the opposite direction and place two additional pins. You now have pins at the quarter points of each panel, a little bit like the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 points on the face of a clock.
- Repeat this process with the side/base loop to mark quarter points along each Raw edge.
- Flip the side/base 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 or clip through all the layers at these points first, then fill in around the panel. As shown in our photos, when working with thicker layers, clips can be easier than Pins.,
NOTE: This technique is the same as any project where you are inserting a flat panel into a tube. In this case, we simply have a very narrow tube and a non-traditional “circle.” If you are new to this process, check out our full, step-by-step tutorial.
- Stitch all the way around the panel, running your Seam as close to the Piping cord as possible. If your machine allows you to set the Needle position, move it all the way to the left. We switched to the Narrow Zipper presser foot, another foot option on our Janome studio machine when using the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex fabric feeding system.
- Repeat to add the back exterior panel in the same manner.
NOTE: The second 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.
Interior Seam allowances
- We opted to wrap the exposed interior seam allowances with bias binding. You can choose this method or your favorite machine sewn finish.
- You can either use purchased Binding or make your own custom Bias Binding as we did.
NOTE: If you are new to this technique, check out our full tutorial on Figuring, Making, and Attaching Bias Binding.
- To wrap your seams as we did, turn the entire bag wrong side out through the open zipper. Slip the Binding over the Seam allowance and pin or clip in place. Remember, you are only working with the seam allowance – NOT the bag itself.
- With the Binding wrapped around the raw edges of the Seam allowance, stitch in place, through all the layers, to secure. Go slowly and carefully to insure you are catching the front and back of the Binding in this one Seam. Again, you are only stitching on the Seam allowance.
- We started at the center bottom, like you did above with the Piping. To join the ends, we used a simple fold and overlap.
The adjustable strap
- Gather up the remaining long length of stitched belting, the two swivel hooks, and the adjustable slider.
- Remember, we recommend melting the ends of the belting as a Finish. It makes it much flatter and easier to work with.
- The steps for an adjustable strap are always the same. We have a great full tutorial you can check out if you are brand new to the process.
Project Design: Anne Adams
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild