Catnap Cargo Duffle, Some tips, and a Sew Along

Sorry for forcing you to see yet another Cargo Duffle that I made.  I truly love each one I make and wouldn’t do it if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it.  Another reason for more is that I was able to teach two Cargo Duffle classes at my local quilt shop (Olive Juice Quilts) recently!  And whew, it was tiring, but super fun! This duffle isn’t a quick sew, but so worth it in the end.

I thought I could share a few of my tips after making 9 of them myself (eek!), I feel like each time I made one I found some little tip or trick.

I think the most confusing part for my class students was understanding what and how the bottom accent piece worked.  It’s the bottom of the front and back of the bag (denim blue color in this duffle).  The accent piece plays two roles, one being decorative, the other is a way to finish the bottom edge of the cargo pockets on the front of the duffle.

For the front and the back you’ll want to quilt everything except the bottom 3.5”, leave that un-quilted. It’s easiest to use a water soluble pen and mark a horizontal line all the way across the front and back pieces. Then you’ll place the bottom raw edge of the cargo pockets centered on that 3.5″ line. Sew edges and down the middle of the pockets, but keep the top part of each pleat out of the way, just folding it back as you sew works for me.  After attaching the pocket, layer the bottom accent piece over top of the bottom edge of the pockets.  The bottom and sides of the bottom accent piece will align with the bottom edge and sides of the front/back pieces.  And finish by quilting the bottom accent piece.

Attaching the flaps can be done several ways.  After folding the top raw edge of the pocket pieces to the wrong sides by 1/2″, place each flap about 3/4″ above the top finished edge of the cargo pocket.  (this has been updated in the newest file available for download).  Sew along the fold.  Trim excess fabric away from stitching line, leaving about 1/4″. Fold flap down and then topstitch a small rectangle on top.  The way I write it in the instructions is slightly different, but also another good way to try. Do what works for you!

For the interior binding I place the completed zipper gusset and bottom gusset pieces right sides together aligning each short edge.  Then layer a 6.5″ wide strip of double fold binding right side down (I like to do this with the zipper in view just in case I would run into the metal parts of the zipper).  Sew along the first fold of the binding.  Wrap the binding around the raw edge.  And stitch down on the bottom fold of the binding through all layers.  Repeat for other side, thus making a loop.

For the last construction tip, on the final assembly.  Place the straps (with accent piece facing down) on top of the front/back pieces.  Mark the center and place handles 5″ apart.  Pin and baste in place.

I recommend marking a dot 1/2″ in from each corner on the canvas of the front/back rectangles.  Mark the center of the top and bottom as well.  Find and mark center of loop by folding zipper gusset in half and marking, this folding bottom gusset in half and marking.  Align the zipper gusset center right sides together with the front center marking.  Pin.  Sew from corner dot to corner dot.  Repeat for bottom edge and bottom gusset.  Next, sew each side, just pull and align the raw edge of the sides.  Pin in place and sew.  Repeat for other side seam and then open zipper and attach the back exterior piece using the same method!  Whew!

If you wanted to add a lining (instead of binding the interior raw edges, my good friend Kristin (Skirt As Top) wrote up a mini tutorial on how to.  I’ve seen quite a few with linings now and it’s just another great way to finish things off!  Check it out!

More importantly than all these tips, I think it’s wonderful to add and change the duffle to fit you and your needs.  There’s no wrong way to go!  If you find something works better for you, please go ahead and do just that.  I love that about sewing and always will.

Lastly!  There’s a Sew Along happening by the very kind Sophie of C’est la Vie!  She’s even doing it bilingually.  How awesome is that?  Do stop by and follow along with her, I think she has a lot of great advice.  Her first post is already up!

Free Pattern: Cargo Duffle (design by me!)
Fabrics: Lizzy House Catnap, Lush by Moda, Interweave Chambray in Slate by Robert Kaufman

38 thoughts on “Catnap Cargo Duffle, Some tips, and a Sew Along

  1. Ann says:

    Awesome! I want to make a small travel bag and I’ll certainly use your tutorial 🙂

  2. Lovely version! It’s not likely that you run out of travel bags any time soon!

  3. christina says:

    it never gets old looking at these bags! i love them!

  4. sophie says:

    Hi Anna! this is such a gorgeous version!! love love that yellow fabric! great post:) very helpful. and thank you for mentionning the sew along!

  5. Blue Moth says:

    Still slightly puzzled about the layering of the exterior panel. Are you saying that the lower 3.5 inches of the main exterior gets hidden under the accent piece? I’ve got stuck here…..

    1. Anna says:

      yes! that’s right, just like I have it in the picture.

    2. Blue Moth says:

      Thank you so much!

  6. Steph Zerbe says:

    I’ll never get sick of seeing this bag in another fabric. Love all the new photos and tips. Thank you much! You have a great eye for fabric/color combos.

  7. mle says:

    This is really fantastic Anna! I just finished picking out my fabrics so now I can’t wait to get started. Very helpful tips!

  8. Sanja Matina says:

    It’s beautiful! Thanks for the instructions for sewing!

  9. aangto says:

    Seriously every one of your cargo duffles is awesome!

  10. gpc says:

    Love love LOVE it! 🙂

  11. kristin says:

    Yay for catnap cargo duffles, I love this one and nope, not sick of seeing them here at all. I want to make one for each of my kids for weekend trips but I feel like that might be a little ambitious. Ha. And thanks so much for linking to my lining tute post! 😉

  12. Yep…still gorgeous!

  13. Lily Razz says:

    Oh it’s so pretty! I have to sew a LOT of beginner projects before I’ll be able to tackle this one, but one day I will! * dream*

  14. Jody Herbert says:

    I love this duffle bag! Thanks for sharing these extra points of advice and the great pictures too.

  15. These extra instructions are great! Thanks. Can’t wait to get started.


  16. kitty0313 says:

    Thanks so much – the photographs and additional comments are very helpful. And thrilled about the ‘sew-along’ (it will be the first I’ve ever participated in – but the cargo duffle is great incentive!)

  17. honeymadeit says:

    Still a great looking bag. I have plans to make it for my niece. Not sure I’m up to it yet. I think a few more totes under my belt first. Your bags are the greatest.

  18. Sandra Smith says:

    Hey, lovely bag! I wanted to mention, I have a very detailed how-to on my blog for the lining! Check it out! Smalltownthread.wordpress.com


  19. bobbingirl says:

    You may have shown this bag a few times before but this is the first time I’ve seen it and I love it !

    Thanks for sharing it

  20. Ines says:

    Unbelievable Anna!
    And thank you for all the helping pictures.

    Greetings from Germany

  21. Thank you for the explanation about the bottom part, Anna 🙂 I sewed this lovely bag the other day and thought I was going crazy when things didn’t line up; turns out I attached the bottom front and back too low! I still love how it turned out and it’s actually a great size to use as carry-on luggage. You can see my version on Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/kvViE4nZce/

  22. Really want to make this bag! But I don’t have a walking foot to my sewing machine. 🙁 Is it possible to make without the walking foot? Would this be a good project for someone who hasn’t sewn in a while?

  23. Terri says:

    Thank you so much Anna for this, I am at the ‘binding’ stage & was beginning to scratch my head & frown a lot – now all is made clear!!

  24. Terri says:

    Oh dear. Having reached the ‘attach gusset’ stage more head scratching ensued 🙁 try as I might said gusset would not fit 🙁 I downloaded the revised pattern & now I see why! Oops! Oh well, patience is a virtue as they say 😉 lol

  25. Martha says:

    I don’t get tired of looking at your beautiful cargo duffle bags. Each version you’ve made is gorgeous. I definitely need to make me one.

  26. Cindy says:

    I too will never tire of looking at your beautiful duffle bags!!:) Love them all!!!!!!!

  27. Toby says:

    This bag is adorable. I wonder if one could make it taller? Suppose you’d just have to compensate and lengthen the bottom side pieces?

    1. Anna says:

      yep, totally do-able! Just like you said. 🙂

  28. ofelya says:

    thank you for this lovely pattern, i just love my new bag !

  29. Anonymous says:

    would it be possible to use a 24″ zipper instead of a 26″ without having to make changes to the size of the zipper gusset? Thanks!

  30. Linda says:

    Made this bag and love it! Thanks for the tutorial.

  31. Keami Terrill says:

    Is there any way possible you can do a video on this? PRETTY PLEASE! It’s still a little confusing for me.

  32. Laurie says:

    I’m just about to make my own bag for my grandson. He can use it for his visits to me. The only thing I’ll do different is attach the handles in the opposite way, with the main fabric facing the bag as I attach it. Every time I look at one of the finished duffles, it just looks like someone made a mistake with the handles. I hope when I do mine, it gives me the look I want. I think this will give me the perfect size for 4 year old boy to carry his clothes and his favorite stuffed toy.

  33. Julie says:

    Hi Anna,

    I am interested in making this bag for my daughter. She is 4 and I was wondering how this bag sizes up next to someone so little??

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve made them for both my daughters as overnight bags and they love them! My youngest was 5 when I made hers, you can see pics in this post:

      Hope that helps!

  34. Heather says:

    I made this for my brother. It turned out so well everyone is asking me if I could see one for them. I did add an interior liner with a zipper pocket. I also added D ring tabs for for a shoulder strap. I can’t wait to see mine for my upcoming trips this year.

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