Make a Duffel Bag That's Better Than Santa's

Some sturdy fabric and other materials, basic sewing know-how, and the instructions that follow are all you'll need to make a duffel bag.

| November/December 1978

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    Fig. 2. Seam several of the strips together to make one long strip. Then fold the ribbon of material over the welting cord (tie a knot in the rope so it won't slip out), and sew the fabric closed.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    If you think it would be hard to make a duffle bag, here are a few home-grown example.
    PHOTO: JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 1. Take your one-quarter yard of 40"-wide welting-cover cloth and cut it into strips, each 1 1/4" wide.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 5. Then turn the two zipper halves over and stitch 'em down again with the teeth pointed outward.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 3. Cut a 21" x 30" rectangle from your main piece of fabric. Then, with a light pencil or chalk, mark two parallel lines on the cloth.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 4. Separate your long (21") zipper and sew one half to each of the "short" ends of the piece of material, with the fastener's teeth pointed in.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig 11. Turn the circles of cloth with their strap sides "in" and, starting at one of the "east" or "west" marks, match the quadrants of one of the bag's ends to the corresponding sections of its main body and sew the two together.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 6. Place the reinforced strap on the 21" x 30" rectangle of bag material.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig 10. Mark each disc of cloth into quarters (north, east, south and west, with the straps running from east to west) and, using its zipper as "north," divide the barrel of the bag into matching quadrants.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig 9. Cut two pieces of strapping, each 15"-long, and fasten one right across the middle of each circle.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig 8 Note that the doubled fabric which holds the welting cord is lined up with and sewn to the very edge of the material which forms the body of the duffel sack. The enclosed cord itself faces "in" and the welting is attached to the inside surface (the "good" side) of the inside-out "barrel" of material. Fig 8a. If you'd like to put extra carrying loops on both ends of your bag, just cut off two 5"-long pieces of webbed strapping. Then double the tabs and sew them under the welting as you stitch it in place so that the tabs cover the ends of the zipper.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
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    Fig. 7. Now turn the bag inside-out and zip it closed.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
  • Fig 12. First, run a 3/4" hem along one long side of each of the larger pieces of material. Then, beginning at a corner, sew the other long side of the rectangle right around three sides of one of the squares.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
  • Fig 13. Outside pockets are attached before the ends are sewed onto the bag. Cut out an extra 9 1/2" disc of fabric, cut the circle in half, and make a 1/4" hem along the straight cut. Fig 14. Separate a zipper (which is as long as the diameter of the circle) and sew one half across the middle of one of the full bag-ends with its teeth pointing up. Fig 15. And the other half across the top of the half circle, also "teeth up."
    JOAN HYME WHITE
  • Fig 16. Optionally, you can add a storm flap to the carryall, but you must attach it before you do the handle strap. Turn and hem all four edges of a 7 1/2" x 22" rectangle of fabric (which will leave you with a rectangle that's just slightly shorter end-to-end than your bag's main zipper). Sew the "pile" side of your Velcro fastener to the underside of one of the rectangle's long edges and then stitch the fabric's opposite long edge to the bag (so the strip of material covers the zipper and extends far enough across the sliding closure for its Velcro pile to engage the second half of the Velcro fastener on the other side. Then align the Velcro's halves and sew its "hook" section to the bag.
    JOAN HYME WHITE
  • Fig 17. After the duffel bag is completed, sew a buckle onto one end of a yard-long section of webbed strapping. Fig 18. Slide a hook fastener onto the strap's free end. Fig 19. Pull the strap through the buckle. Fig 20. Sew on a second fastener so that you wind up with a strap like the one you see in Fig. 20.
    JOAN HYME WHITE

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Although the Yuletide is just around the corner, there’s still time to whip up this easy-to-make, inexpensive (but valuable) gift for some of the special folks on your list: the do-anything, go-anywhere, kick-it-and-cuddle-it duffle bag!

All you’ll need to make a duffle bag for a favorite traveler are a few materials, some basic sewing know-how, and the instructions that follow. So grab your scissors. Time’s awastin’!

Materials: The Bag-inning

For a 19 1/2" x 8 1/2" duffel bag, gather together one yard of 40"-wide fabric (canvas, cotton duck, coated nylon, Acrilan or just about anything that's durable and won't stretch or shrink too much), one-quarter yard of 40"-wide cloth (perhaps of a different color) for welting cover, two yards of 1/16"-diameter welting cord or rope, three yards of 1 1/2" webbing for straps, one 21"-long strip of zipper (bought off the roll) with slider, and one roll of cotton-covered polyester (or other heavy-duty) thread.

If You Want to Get Fancy

(A word of caution: Some of the following "trimmings" must be attached to a bag before it's completed. You can save yourself some frustration, then, by reading all the directions in this article before you sew that first stitch.)



FOR POCKETS: You'll need all of the above materials plus one foot of elastic or shock cord, one-half yard of extra fabric (the same as the bag material), and two 9" lengths of zipper (with sliders).

FOR A SHOULDER STRAP: Add on 1 1/4 yards of the same 1 1/2" webbing strap material called for above (if you want end straps, too, make that 2 1/4 yards more), plus a buckle that will fit the webbing, two clip or spring hook fasteners, and two D-rings.






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