Friday, April 5, 2013

Update from the Duffel Trenches #2: A finish!

I'm a bit surprised to tell you that I've finished up my StudioCherie duffel! I was fully expecting that it would be a more way more time-consuming and frustrating process than it was. I'm quite pleased with the finished bag, though if I were to make the bag again another time, I would probably use a heavier batting, like upholstery weight, to create a stiffer finished bag. On my bag, I used Pellon Legacy 100% cotton batting, which yields a softer finished bag with less body, but when it's stuffed to the brim, like it is in the photos, there's plenty of body.

Finished duffle - front view

After my last update, I first tackled the straps, which was a relatively painless step. Installing them was equally straight-forward. Even installing the top zipper was a cinch...I didn't get tripped up in the pattern until I got to Step 9 with the zipper stop tabs. I broke one of the cardinal rules of sewing a bag pattern - I didn't read the entire pattern before getting started, so I didn't realize that there were actual pattern pieces at the back at the pattern, as there were rotary cutting instructions for the bag. Whoops! I actually asked another person who blogged about having made this bag, Sara of Knottygnome, who helped me figure out the step 9 instructions before I discovered the pattern pieces. The pattern pieces would have made everything make perfect sense.

Lining up the straps

Step Eleven was the only truly maddening step - lining up all of the bag parts and sewing them together was not exactly fun, but it was also not the horror that lining up all of the pieces of my Weekender was. There's a few less layers in this bag, so it wasn't anywhere near as challenging. I also used my Juki for all of the straight stitching on this duffel, and it sewed right through those layers as though it was just two layers of quilting cotton. No broken needles, no hesitation - this machine is perfect for bag-making!

Pressing the raw edges of the straps under

So, now that it's done, what can I tell you about this bag...well, first off, this thing is huge! I fully expect that I'll be able to pack not only my projects for the Stash Bash retreat next week but also all my clothes in this bag. I tested it out with quilts inside and found that it can easily fit four lap sized quilts, maybe even more. This is a great bag for a weekend trip, and I believe the size is an acceptable carry-on for most airlines.

Installing the side zip

I also love the fabric I used - I wasn't sure about the orange Sketch for the handles, but it really does work nicely with the penguins, so I'm pleased with it. And these penguins always seem to make me smile.

Finished duffle - top view

The main thing I don't love about this bag are the raw edges on the inside of the bag, which I couldn't seem to get a decent picture of. I overcast the edges as best I could with my Viking, but admittedly, I stink at overcasting, so it's not a perfect job. Then again, how often am I going to be looking at the interior of the bag? Probably not very often, so it's definitely something I can live with.

Installing the side zip

Another thing I'd do differently next time is repeat the pockets that are written to be just on two of the four sides of the bag. I would repeat the zipper pocket that is on one short side of the bag on the other short side of the bag, and I'd also repeat the small pocket between the handles on both long sides of the bag. You can never have too many pockets :)

Finished duffle - side view

I've gotten a lot of questions about where I sourced all the materials for this bag, especially the long zippers and the jute, so here's the rundown on where I got everything:
Zippers: Purl Soho

But all in all, I'm going to be a very happy camper carrying this bag around when I travel! I may even make another manly version at some point for my husband, since he travels infinitely more than I do. I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend!


  1. Looks great Elizabeth! Have a fab time at the Stash Bash!

  2. you finished! it looks great. i love the orange handles.

    i am with you on the lining. even though it was a struggle, i'm really glad i lined mine. it adds more body and structure too.

  3. So cute!!! How can you not love those penguins? :)

  4. I made one of these a while back when everyone was making Weekenders. I did not care for the raw edges as well and my plan was to eventually go back and run some binding tape over them. You know what? I have used it a bunch and still haven't done it yet! It really hasn't been an issue. I thought stray threads would get on my clothes but I have yet to see any. I also just picked up my jute at Hobby Lobby. I plan on going back and making another for my daughter. Love your penguins!

  5. I love it! :) Those penguins really do make you smile too! I'm glad you mentioned that it has raw edges inside - My guild friend warned me about that, but I haven't seen many pattern reviews mention it. I'm hoping to line mine similar to the weekender - it's an extra hassle but I think I'll be able to do it. :)

  6. I love the penguins. They are too cute. I was surprised by how big you said it was. It's hard to tell from photos.

  7. Wow ~ that was fast! Love the way the bag looks with those cute penguins ~ looks great!

  8. So, so awesome! I've juuuust about talked myself out of making one for Stash Bash. I really REALLY want to, but I don't think I have time! I'm getting so excited! I have no idea what I'm going to work on while I'm there!!

  9. It turned out just beautifully! I should really try to attempt one, one of these days...

  10. Love your duffel! Thanks for providing all the info, must get some of that cute penguin fabric :)

  11. That IS a huge bag, holy cow!!! I think I should make one for my husband too. He's more of a duffel bag than suitcase guy and travels more than me too.

  12. So cute. Well done you! Love the penguin fabric!

  13. Your bag is so cute and so nicely sewn, I'm loving those handles AND the zipper (I love sport or plastic molded zippers). Maybe bias tape for the raw edges would help? And I love that you are sewing on a workhorse machine! I'm second guessing my modern Janome for a old metal Kenmore, it's a beast.

  14. Awesome you went with the orange handles :) It looks great!

  15. Congratulations on the finish. Your bag looks great. I made one with Annie's Soft and Stable which made the bag keep it's shape really well. However, it was a bit of a struggle to quilt (just wrestling with it because it is such a large piece at that stage) and it also takes up a lot more room to store it. So there are pros and cons whatever you use.
    Linda F.

  16. Looks great! I do love those orange handles. What width is the jute webbing you used please?

  17. It looks amazing Elizabeth! I'm hoping to tackle mine in the next month

  18. I recently purchased the pattern and am looking forward to making my own. I love the penguins.

    Cheers, K

  19. I made this bag for my son a while ago and I completely agree with you on your review. The raw edges were my main issue w/ this bag too. Good job!!

  20. You did a fantastic job! I made two of these bags before Christmas and really want to make another for myself. I didn't like the raw edges either, so I bound them with wide bias tape and that created a nice finish inside.


Thank you for leaving a comment for me! I appreciate each and every one of them and try to respond when time allows. Your comments totally brighten my day :)


Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy nine year old boy and a one year old baby girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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