Free Duffel Bag Sewing Pattern and Directions

  • 01 of 06

    Materials and Cutting Instructions to Sew a Duffel Bag

    Gym bag, Duffle Bag
    Free Pattern to Sew this Strong Sturdy Bag. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    You'll find yourself reaching for this versatile duffel style gym bag so many times that you may want to mass produce them. This duffel bag is great as a tool bag in the car and the perfect size for small children to pack and carry as an over night bag to Grandmas house.

    The bag will finished bag is thirteen inches wide, five inches deep, and seven inches tall. This bag is not lined which makes it a relatively easy sewing project.


    • 1/2 yard of 45" Wide Fabric: Denim, canvas, duck, or other strong and durable similar-weight fabrics. Refold the fabric so you are not cutting the fold pattern pieces from the center of the fabric. If your fabric lacks body, consider fusing a layer of craft interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric or fusing two layers of the fabric together.
    • Bottom inside of the bag: Cardboard, plexiglas, shower wall liner, or lightweight wood are all good options. 
    • Thread to Match: Learn how to choose the correct color of thread to match your fabric. 
    • 18" Purse Zipper
    • One package of Maxi Piping
    • Print out of pattern piece

    Cutting Instructions:

    • Cut two on fold of pattern piece
    • Cut two 2 3/4" by 19 1/2" for each side of the zipper
    • Cut one 5 1/2" by 18" for the bottom and bottom sides
    • Cut two 3 1/2" by 19" for the straps
    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    The Handles

    Sewing the Strap Handles
    Sewing the Strap Handles. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Using the fabric to make your handles as described in this step, will create a strong, sturdy handle that can carry a heavy load. Although you could use webbing, the fabric handles are less apt to fray over time.

    Handle Instructions:

    • Fold the length of the 3 1/2" by 19" strips in half with the wrong sides of the fabric together and press well.
    • Fold the raw edges in to the fold line and press once again.
    • With the folds in place, sew close to the folded edges that are separate to sew them in place.
    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Adding Piping to the Bag and Attaching the Handles

    Adding Piping to the Bag and Attaching the Handles
    Adding Piping to the Bag and Attaching the Handles. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Although the addition of piping to the seams is not necessary, it does assist in holding the bag's shape. And if you use a contrasting color, the piping can add to the overall aesthetic. If you decide to include piping, sew it to the side sections starting at the center of the flat bottom.

    Attaching the Handles:

    • Mark the top center of the side pieces with the piping attached.
    • Measure over 5" on both sides from the center marking.
    • Pin the handles in place so that the edge of the side so the outside edge of the handles are at the 5" marks.
    • Sew the handles in place on the piping sewing lines, sewing multiple times for the handles to be securely held in place even if the bag is loaded with heavy tools.
    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Sew the Zipper

    Sewing an exposed purse zipper
    Sew the Zipper. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    This zipper is sewn in so that it's exposed and the seam allowances are top stitched so they will not get caught in the zipper.

    Sewing the Zipper:

    • Place the zipper right side down on the right side of the fabric aligning the long edges.
    • Sew the zipper to the fabric using a 3/8" seam allowance (following a guide on the zipper tape).
    • Repeat for the second side of the zipper.
    • Apply a seam finish to the raw edges, securing the zipper tape to the fabric at the same time.
    • Press the fabric back from the zipper teeth.
    • Top stitch the seam allowance to the fabric so it will not get caught in the zipper.
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Attach the Bottom and Bottom Sides to the Zipper Section

    Creating the side and zipper section of a durable bag
    Attach the Bottom and Bottom Sides to the Zipper Section. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to

    Now it's time for your bag to begin to take shape by attaching the pieces around the zipper. Take your time to make sure everything is lined up correctly, and use as many pins as you like to ensure the seams are secured. 

    Zipper Attachment Instructions: 

    • With the right sides together, align the ends of the zipper with the 5 1/2" ends of the bottom and bottom side sections to form a continuous loop.
    • Sew the sections together using a 1/2" seam allowance.
    • Apply a seam finish to the seam allowances.
    • Press the seam allowances downward toward the bottom section (away from the zipper section).
    • Top stitch the seams in place sewing close to the seam on the bottom section.
    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Assemble the Bag

    attaching the sides of the bag
    Assemble the Bag. Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to
    This is when your project gets really exciting! You are just a few steps away from having a new bag.   

    Final Assembly: 

    • Mark the center of the zipper on both edges.
    • Open the zipper enough that you will be able to turn the bag right side out after you have sewn the attaching seams.
    • Starting at the center top of the sides of the bag, match fabric at the edge of the center of the zipper.
    • Pin the entire edge on both sides.
    • Sew the bottom/zipper section to the sides of the bag using the piping as a seam allowance guide.
    • Apply a seam finish.
    • Turn the bag right side out.

    Reinforce the Bottom:

    • Using any of the suggested materials or something similar, cut the bottom reinforcement to 12 1/2" by 4 1/2"
    • Cover with fabric if desired.