Quilted Duffle Bag

I made this duffle bag for my Daddy for Father’s Day. I didn’t get a chance to give it to him yesterday, though, because I was sick. :-( I used the Simplicity 2600 sewing pattern that I got at Joann’s for $1 (their rotating pattern sales), and the pattern is all travel items that are quilted. I quilted it in a rather large diamond pattern (straight-line quilting on the straps), in an effort to make the quilting look as minimal as possible…I didn’t want it to look feminine like a Vera Bradley bag.

Fabric – Okay, before you get grossed out with my choice of fabrics, let me just quickly explain the significance. My dad has been playing on the same softball team with his high school buddies for some 30-odd years. The team is the Raccoons. It’s funny because every year since I was about 12, he’d tell the family, “Guys, this is my last year. I’m getting too old for this.” That’s hilarious, because this year I’ll be 30. Anyway, my dad has a raccoon tattoo, my parents’ dog has a bunch of raccoon dog toys, they have some of the raccoon beanie babies, I think there’s a street sign in their basement with ‘Raccoon Way’ on it…you get the picture.
Another funny thing about the raccoon fabric was that I found a yard on ebay starting at 99 cents. I figured hey, I’ll get a yard for real cheap! Awesome! Little did I know that there was a diehard raccoon freak out there that drove the bidding up past $8.00. I had to bow out, but I did find 1/2 yard for a bit cheaper. So, I used 1 yard of the blue baseball fabric (which my daughter picked out at Joann’s), and 1/2 yard of the raccoon fabric (for the sides and front pocket). It calls for batting for all pieces (you quilt the pieces individually before assembly).
Pattern Pieces – There were many pattern pieces to cut out. The strap is made from one wider piece, which you quilt and then cut up into 3 pieces (sewing together to make one hula-hoop shaped strap). There were several pieces that I left out (like a pocket for the inside, and an additional pocket for the side of the bag).

Red zig-zaggy straps…does it look like the red seams on the baseball to you?

Illustrations/Instructions – I really hate commercial sewing patterns. I do. I mean, not to sound snarky, but I have sewn up a few sewing patterns before. But I mean, come on. How is someone newer to sewing supposed to make these?? I normally read over my patterns about 5 times before I get to work, just to make sure everything is clear, but I was still confused. The pattern kept directing me to ‘encase’ the seams (since you are quilting it, there isn’t an exterior and a lining, it’s one unit). For the longest time, I thought it meant I would need to make a French seam, which in my head, just sounded like a stupid idea. Finally I realized that I would need to use bias tape, like they do in the Vera bags. Okay, okay.

All in all, once I figured out what they were trying to tell me, I suppose the bag wasn’t entirely difficult to assemble. The straps were a bit tricky to sew on, since (unless I missed this), it doesn’t tell you how high the straps need to extend over the top of the bag (since the strap is one connected piece, like an ‘O’, it’s kind of important to know, otherwise your straps will end up lop-sided; I had to pin and re-pin a couple times until I got it right). I feel sort of half-hearted about it. I’m not sure if it’s the fabric, or just the quilted nature of the bag.

This is a very large bag. It has a zipper across the top. I felt like the bottom would be kind of saggy if you only had a few things inside it (for these photos, I had about 6 blankets stuffed inside), so I made a false bottom with fabric and some cardboard.

I do like how I sewed the straps though…I used red thread to compliment the red lacing on the baseball fabric. When I first attached the gray bias tape that I made, I used a zig-zag pattern, and then when I attached the straps to the bag, I used a straight stitch right through the middle of the zig-zags.

Conclusion – This would probably be best for an intermediate sewer, just because of all the quilting and the stupid instructions. There was one other accessory in the pattern, the small rounded cosmetic bag, that I thought was kind of cute. I’m still on the fence, though, if I should chuck this pattern or what. lol.

P.S. I’m linking this up, against my better judgement, to Sew Modern Monday and Fabric Tuesday!

24 thoughts on “Quilted Duffle Bag

  1. Yeah…that fabric…I get it, but weren’t you still cringing a bit? And the raccoon freak on ebay – how funny!

    But I’m going to be your dad will love it!

  2. LOL – love that there was a raccoon freak on Ebay driving up the fabric. Just goes to show you can sell anything on ebay! :) The bag turned out great.

  3. First of all, I hope you’re feeling better now!

    I have to say, that’s certainly an interesting fabric combo, but it’s got wonderful meaning, so I hope your dad loves it. I like the added detail of the red stitching. I didn’t automatically connect it to the red stitching on the baseballs (still thrown off by the racoons!), but once you mention it, I can definitely see that.

    Overall, looks like it turned out great!

  4. The bag looks fantastic. I made one of those buggers too,but used a different pattern. Still. It was a huge process to figure out the directions over and over just as you mentioned. They really do need to call some patterns what they really are!

    Love,love,love how you personalized the whole bag. Your dad will feel pretty darn special to have it:)

  5. These are the best kinds of presents: lovingly handmade that reflect the interests of the recipient. You would never find such a perfect bag at the store. I know your Dad is going to flip when he sees it (as much as Dad’s flip, that is). Thanks for sharing the story behind it!

  6. I agree about the commercial bag sewing patterns. I do consider myself a good sewer. I make lots of bags. So last year I splurged on some very expensive designer fabric and bought a McCall’s pattern that I thought was going to be perfect. Got it all cut out, and I just could not figure out even step one of how they wanted me to insert the zipper ends. I felt so stupid. I never did get it nor did I try to figure out a way to make it work other than what the pattern said. I still have all that expensive fabric cut up in a corner in my closet. Sometime I’ll salvage what I can and make a make-up bag or something.

    Anyway… I love the story behind the fabric choices and especially the red stitching on the handles! I have made things for people before and thought the fabric choices were crazy, but by the time I was done they just made sense. So baseballs and raccoons can go perfectly well together.

  7. This is completely stunning work. I truly love the post! Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful bag. I love the shots but especially the last one. Congratulations on the successful move.

  8. “diehard raccoon freak” LOLOLOLOL!!! That gave me a good laugh. BTW, i just stumbled upon ur blogs this morning and i really like all that u do. it’s very inspiring to me! I too am a mama in my late 20′s and i love making bags, but have no idea how to use patterns. i bought em while on sale at joanns in the past but when i go to get started, i get overwhelmed and just put it away. i just kinda wing it and make my own patterns with newspaper usually. I am self taught and have been sewing since i was about 15 or 16. I really wanna learn and just do better and better. so anyways…i love ur blog and all ur work…very very cool!

  9. Great bag! Im a beginner and my teenanger want to mae this bag, we purchased quilted fabric. We missed up the handles, we ended up doing our own little fix. ;) The part that drove me crazy was sewing on the sides. I cant figure out the corners? Its all one big piece, and they are rounded. Ugh.

  10. I love your fabric choice no explanation needed whn u said daddy tht covered it my daddys bag would been motorcycle deer theme lol.could u share the pattern number so i can purchase it? I want to make one to take with me whn i have to go to tge hospital.i keep a bag packed for tht “u emergency” but its a tote n it aint big enough. Lol
    thnk u
    mooneyes68

  11. I made this same bag for my husband about 8 months ago. I didn’t quilt it because I didn’t want that Vera Bradley look either. Instead I used Pellon 987F to give it some loft but then I fused the exterior and interior together with applique fuse. I can’t remember what kind but it was in a roll from Joann’s. It gave it a sturdy stiff finish which was awesome for a gym bag. That strap made me crazy though. Between the strap and the “encasing” I have never made so much boas tape in my life. I was definitely sick of this bag by the time I was done with it. It turned out beautiful though. If I could post a pic here for you I would.

    Store bought patterns and directions are awful. The number of pieces is extreme and that tissue paper!!! Ugh! It makes me angry to work with that stuff. I don’t know how people use it for garments.

  12. I love your fabric choice no explanation needed whn u said daddy tht covered it my daddys bag would been motorcycle deer theme lol.could u share the pattern number so i can purchase it? I want to make one to take with me whn i have to go to tge hospital.i keep a bag packed for tht “u emergency” but its a tote n it aint big enough. Lol thnk u mooneyes68 my email address is hokeshelato@gmail.com

  13. I love the fabric! Lol What would you say the dimensions are for this bag? I’m trying to find a good pattern, and I like the look of this one, if it were as big as I’m looking to make.

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