July 3, 2012

Do It Try It: A Weekender Bag

This is an extra large weekender multi-purpose tote bag, and it's fairly easy to put together.  I made this because of my dislike for my cheap, finicky, carry-on luggage bag, and my inability to spend upwards of $300 on those dreamy weekender bags I see floating around.  This fits my laptop, camera, phone, books, knitting, clothes, sleeping bag, toiletries, wallet, travel documents, and with room to spare.  It would probably work well as a travel-all diaper bag, beach bag, etc.  Basically, it's whatever you want it to be.  I already want to make two more in smaller varying sizes.

Materials: canvas fabric (1.5 yds), sturdy accent fabric (1 yd), lining fabric (1 yd), thread, needle, pins, sewing machine, scissors, iron, interfacing (optional), chalk pencil, ruler, zipper (24")

Pattern piece measurements:
-22x7" canvas fabric (cut 2)
-SHOULDER STRAP: 3.25x72" accent fabric (cut 2)
-HANDLE: 3x11" canvas fabric (cut 8)
                    3x14.5" accent fabric (cut 2)
-POCKET: 9.5x9.5" canvas fabric (cut 2)
                   7x9.5" canvas fabric (cut 2)
-SIDES: 9x11" (cut 2)
-MAIN: 17x11" (cut 2)
-26x26" accent fabric
-TOP: 22x7" (cut 2)
-BODY: 22x24" (cut 2)
 Step One:  Fold over tops of each pocket piece twice and iron.  Sew edge to keep in place.
Place smaller pocket on top of larger pocket, center, and sew down the middle.
Baste down sides and bottom of smaller pockets to attach to larger pockets.
 Step Two:  Center pocket piece on front and back piece.  Baste down edges and across bottom.
 Step Three: Sew handle pieces together.  Keeping right sides together, sew canvas-accent-canvas.  You will end up with four of these.
 Step Four:  Put handle pieces right side together, sew seam, and turn inside out.  Press fabric.
(Tip: I added interfacing to the handle for more structure).
 Step Five:  Fold center handle piece together and sew edges approximately 1.5" from outer fabric.
 Step Six:  Pin down handle pieces in place making sure to overlap and cover pocket edges.
Sew up to 2" below top edge of front piece.
 Step Seven:  Place shoulder strap pieces right sides together, sew sides, turn inside out.
Center should strap ends onto the side fabric piece and sew in place.
Make sure to adjust length to your liking.  I personally didn't need an adjustable strap because I never ever adjust straps anyway.  I also like my straps a little longer.
(Tip: I added interfacing to the back of each side piece to make it a bit sturdier)
 Step Eight:  Sew front and back pieces to side pieces.  Make sure always to sew with right sides together.  Press seams.  End result is the midsection shell of the bag.
 Step Nine:  Sew down each side of folded bottom piece.  Make sure the width still corresponds to width of midsection shell.  Square off corners with an 8" width and trim excess fabric.
Turn right side out.
Step Ten:  Turn midsection shell inside out and slide it over bottom piece so that right sides are together.  The opening of the bottom piece should line up with the bottom of the midsection shell.  Pin around both sections, sew, and flip piece right side out.  Press seams if you can.
(Tip: Optional addition!  My accent fabric (fake leather) isn't the sturdiest of all things, so I sewed a canvas and interface reinforcement rectangle to sit at the bottom.  I probably should have lined that whole bottom section with a sturdier fabric from the start, but that's what happens when you make things up as you go along.)
(Yup, I confess I put this post together as I made this without any real plans to go on...)
 Step Eleven: To start the top layer your canvas right side up, zipper right side down, and top lining piece right side down.  Line up edges and sew.  Repeat on other side of zipper tape with the other top canvas and lining pieces.
 Step Twelve:  Press fabric away from zipper.  I also top stitched a bit to make sure the fabric wouldn't easily get stuck in the zipper.
 Step Thirteen:  Square off corners of top pieces making sure to sew on the wrong side of fabric.
I measured out from the center of each side the measurements that correspond to the top of my midsection body piece.  Fold corners off, much like sewing a dart, sew, and trip extra fabric.
 Step Fourteen:  Do the same for the inner lining fabric corners making sure to sew on the wrong side of the fabric as well.
 Step Fifteen:  Sew down the sides of lining fabric, right sides together, and sew about 6 inches into the bottom on each side, leaving an opening.  Square off bottoms the same way you squared off the out bottom piece with the accent fabric (step nine).
 Step Sixteen:  Line up main lining edges to the top lining edges, right sides together, and pin around the entire way.  (Mine was actually a little bit off and I had to pleat some extra fabric... such is life).  Sew together.
 Step Seventeen:  Open up zippers, flip top inside out, and line up the top opening with the midsection body opening.  Line up corner seams and pin.  You will have to pull the main body of the bag through the inner lining to make sure it doesn't get caught in the sewing machine.  Sew all the way around.  The last step is flipping it right side out, sewing up that bottom lining seam, pressing whatever needs pressing, and marveling at your hard work.
Ta-da!  Now my only suggestion is to take a trip.  Load up the bag and go somewhere.  I'll be using mine in France and will certainly be putting it to the test.


  1. What, wow. You didn't just make a little tote-like-bag... You MADE a damn bag! Its looke so good and like it'll actually last more than one use. Good job. Looks awesome.

  2. Great job! The small and large pockets are definitely very handy. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. I don't often see a tutorial that is smart, concise and makes an item truly worth making. Congratulations! Bookmarked!

  4. I loved making this bag. I used blaze orange tree camo for my canvas and digital military camo for my accent. It came out great! But it is huge. Haha! I didn't realize how big it was going to be. Love it! Planning on making a smaller one for myself as the big one is my new diaper bag. All my husband's hunting friends want one now. Lol! Thank you for a great tutorial.

  5. I've been working on this bag and I feel like a little more explanation or pictures (if possible)would be very helpful. I'm kind of an amateur and have to wing it at times on this bag, which doesn't always work out well. Right now I'm stuck on the corners of the bottom piece. I don't know how to fold and sew the square or how to make the corners.

    On a different note, this is a great guide and a beautiful bag. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  8. Beautifull bag. Good job. Looks awesome.

  9. This bag is too cute! Thank you for documenting and sharing such an incredibly detailed tutorial. You've got the editors here ready to create this awesome bag!

  10. Love, love, love! And this tutorial has been made on my birthday date! :D

  11. I love this but going to do the bottome a bit more sturdy, ty for the pattern