Canvas duffel bags

Canvas duffel bags 1

I love working with canvas fabric, and particularly when I get to add a splash of color with fun zippers and webbing for the handles.  The Overnighter Bag is a well-written, easy-to-sew pattern from the Purl Bee – it can be sewn in an afternoon, and the duffel is the perfect size for, well, an overnight trip :)  Or, in our case, a carry-on bag for the plane – I made one for myself and one for each of my daughters to take along on our impending trip to Turks & Caicos.

Canvas duffel bags 2

I first bought the kit in black, and then when I decided to sew bags for the girls, as well, I bought all of the recommended materials (this is per bag):
* 3/4 yard Big Duck Canvas
* 5 1/2 yards Purl Soho 7/8″ bias tape in Natural
* 3 yards of 1 1/4″ Purl Soho cotton webbing in colors Lime, Purple, and Light Blue
* a 27″ non-separating zipper in Turquoise (there weren’t other matching colors available, so I bought the 27″ separating zipper in colors Global and Neon Green – it doesn’t matter that it separates, because the way it’s sewn in will keep it from ever doing so)
* matching Gutermann thread

Per the instructions, I washed the fabric first – afterwards, at first I regretted doing so, because no matter how much I ironed it, the canvas still had a slightly wrinkled look, and I thought initially that I preferred the smooth appearance of the unwashed canvas.  But after it was done, I decided it looked better after washing – and, in any case, the fabric did shrink appreciably, so assuming that I ever want to wash the bag, it definitely needed to be pre-washed.

Canvas duffel bags 3

After sewing the first one, I made a few modifications:

* I cut the bottom piece 9.5″ wide instead of 8″ wide – it then needed to be trimmed down a little, but at least it wasn’t too narrow, as it was when I went with the 8″ width.

* I used the entire 3-yard length of webbing for the handles, instead of cutting each piece as called for in the pattern – the pattern sizing is just too short, I can’t easily throw it over my shoulder.  You can see the difference between the black handles (first bag completed, per pattern specs) and the blue, green and purple handles.

* I used scraps of canvas instead of scraps of bias tape for the pieces at each end of the zipper – it’s a lot sturdier and less likely to warp or tear.

Otherwise, I stuck to the pattern, which was clear and easy to understand.  The only slightly challenging part was sewing the sides to the bottom, because there are some tricky curves to maneuver.  However, it doesn’t have to be perfect, as the canvas is forgiving and masks a lot of less-than-perfect corners :)

Canvas duffel bags 4

Here are the bags “in action” at the Portland airport, getting ready to head out to Turks & Caicos . . . they all survived the trip admirably, although one had such a heavy load that one of the straps ripped out a little where it connects to the top of the bag, so I had to just quickly re-sew it when we got home.

duffel bags

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One comment on “Canvas duffel bags

  1. I love these bags!!

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