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!

Update from the Duffel Trenches #1

I've spent the last several days off an on working on my StudioCherie duffel bag. I've officially made it to step 4 of the pattern, strap preparation, so I'm going to share how the first few steps have gone.

Crosshatch quilting in progress

Step 1: Quilting and sizing the quilted pieces
Admittedly, I probably went overboard with the quilting. The instructions regarding the quilting were quite sparse, and I like quilting, so I spent a good bit of time adding lots of quilted flair to the two pieces that were intended to the be quilted. I've got straight-line quilting, I've got cross-hatch quilting, there's some scrolls, some clamshells, some stippling, really a little bit of everything. The quilting went rather well, until I got to the sizing. After quilting, I simply didn't have the size I needed to trim to, so I'm going to have to alter the pattern as I go. Next time (if there's a next time) I make one of these duffels, I will cut my feature fabric, batting, and lining at least 1-2" larger all the way around to allow for some shifting and such on the large piece. The smaller quilt seemed to come out just fine, so perhaps I wouldn't do that with that one, but I've made a note on my copy of the pattern.

Quilting - check!

The instructions then indicate to either serge the edges of the quilted pieces or to add binding to them. I thought (for about two seconds) about binding them, because the way I understand the construction of this bag, the edges will be visible from the interior of the bag, but decided against it and zigzagged the edges with my Viking.

Zigzagging edges

Steps 2 & 3: Marking the big quilted piece and Marking the small quilted piece
Marking was relatively easy and painless. The pattern gives some great visual cues on how to properly mark the pieces, so I think I'm all set on this front. We'll see how it goes when I actually need to see my markings in a few steps!

Next up is the strap preparation. This will be my first time working with jute for bag straps, so it should prove to be interesting. I wasn't able to source my jute webbing locally, I had to buy it online, so the color isn't quite what I would have wanted if I'd found it in person, but I think it will work out okay. Now that I've trimmed up my orange Sketch fabric for my straps, I'm liking it much better, and I think it will be a nice accent to my penguins. Stay tuned for more gory details as I make my way through this bag! Have a great day :)

Up next: straps!