Cargo Duffle || Crafty Traveler Series

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Crafty Traveler blog hop hosted by Ellison Lane.

*Updated!  I shared the link below to show you how to make the handles.*

For this hop, we were asked to review patterns for handmade travel items.  Since I'm lacking the handmade bag department, I opted for the Cargo Duffle.  It is made by Anna Graham of Noodlehead for Robert Kaufman.   This is a nice bag that can be used for all sorts of things.  I really like how my bag turned out, even with the few adjustments I made.

Skill level: Intermediate

Time commitment:  Plan for several hours or a weekend to construct your bag.

Perfect for:  Day trips, overnight bag, church bag, gym bag, or new mothers

What I changed:

-I opted out of the cargo pockets and made a zippered pocket instead.  This would definitely be intermediate since you have to know the sewing and quilting order in order for it to work properly.  I also added piping, which is an easy addition anyone could do.

-I chose not bind my raw edges, but I think that is something I wouldn't skip next time.  Since it's just for me, the exposed raw edges are no big deal, but I could add the binding on at a later time if I wanted.

-I added a plus in the upper right hand corner for a little character.  I chose to inset this, so I would not have any seam lines in my main fabric.

-I sewed my bag with a size 14 needle and my #37 foot (Bernina).  I used my walking foot for the quilting lines.  I mention this because I know not everyone has a walking foot or size 16 needle handy.  My Bernina was able to handle the work, but I know machines vary.

Helpful tips:

-The "accent" piece is literally an accent piece.  My brain kept thinking this was differential word (even after reading the directions!), so I would know which piece she was talking about in the pattern.  Main fabric (leaf print) and accent fabric (linen).  With that and the combination of my eyes fooling me that there was a seam between the linen and the main fabric print, it made for a really dumb night on my part.  So don't do like me and try to fight with this faux seam.  You ain't going to win.

- Updated!  After receiving emails asking about the handles, I am linking the how-to here.  I personally felt the handle instructions were vague. I did not know which side was referred to as the "raw edge" since both sides were raw, even after sewing the right sides together.  There is one photo of it rolled, but I think it would have helped me to have more photos of how to exactly fold the fabric so you have nice accent trims on the sides.  If I can get around to it, I will snap a few photos how to fold the fabric for the handles, and update this post.

-In the instructions, it states to center the gusset loop, and sew RST.  Eyeballing it, I tried to center the zipper and place the piping correctly, so it wouldn't be wonky.  After repositioning three or four times, my fabric was pulling in either direction, and I knew I was doing something wrong.

This caused tightness to happen on only one side of the bag.  I didn't realize that if I was off even by a little bit with my centering, it would throw the whole thing off causing this tightness.  There are no measurements provided of how far the zipper seam was to the gusset seam, so the distance between my zipper seam and the piping on my gusset is 2.5".   Make sure to lay your gusset flat (zipper side up) and measure the center of that.  Then measure the center of the main front piece of your bag.  Pin those two markings into place, and then continue on as the pattern states.

-Do sew only the top and bottom first, and then on the sides.  I didn't have issues with that, but I am sure someone out there will want to skip that step.

-Do buy a carryall zipper, preferably YKK brand, because it makes such a difference!

-If I were to make this bag again, I would consider adding canvas to the straps to make them a little thicker.  I would also consider adding interfacing to the bag to give it a little more structure when there are few items in the bag.  Both ideas are just a personal preference though and have nothing to do with the quality or integrity of the current bag.

My project used:

- Juliana Horner Modbox
- Essex Yarn Dyed Linen by Robert Kaufman
-YKK zippers, 26" carryall and 18" in black
-Quilted in Aurifil Mako 28 wt #2024

Would I recommend this pattern:  Yes for those who, in general, feel confident in sewing.

Here is the original bag made by Anna.  Isn't it lovely?!

xx nancy

One year ago:  Judy Ross Textiles
Two years ago: Aurifil Crayon Variegated Up close

My quilting book released Sept. 24, 2015 and is on Amazon.  Check it out!


  1. Anonymous2/27/2014

    Love this, Nancy! Great job. :)

  2. Your bag is stunning and so YOU. Love the cross and the piping and special accents you added. Great job Nancy and thanks for the tips! Thanks for being part of the hop friend! Hope you bring this beauty to Sew South! I'd love to see it!

  3. Love your fabric combination and the little patchwork plus. Great job!

  4. Your duffle turned out fantastic!! I love the zipper change too :) Cindy

  5. Wow, you did a great job! Even though I sew bags, I'm not sure i'd have the patience for this, lol!! I absolutely love your zipper pull - gonna borrow idea ;-)

  6. you version of this bag is amasing! thank you for the details on the pattern. I felt the same about almoste evrything you say here!

  7. Love your design, and thanks for your insight. Sometimes reading these patterns is like reading architectural designs! :) Like your choices a lot.

  8. I love it! Thanks for all the tips.

  9. Love your changes! Do you think you could give me some tips on how you made the exterior zippered pocket instead of the cargo pockets (you mentioned having to watch your sewing order)? Also is there anything to watch out for with adding the piping or the zipper accent pieces?

    Your bag looks so nice!

  10. Also, where did you purchase your zippers from? I'm having a hard time finding a 26" YKK carryall zipper.

  11. Nancy, the personality you added to this bag is brilliant. I've been hanging on to a yard of that Juliana Horner print for something special -- I love seeing it paired with the black & white dot. And the cross...genius.

  12. I love your version, the fabrics and straight line quilting are perfect,

  13. The bag you made is amazing! I love the additions you made and thank you for highlighting the tricky parts!

  14. Thanks for your input on the construction! I SO want to make this and am glad to have any tips to smooth my way through. Your bag is wonderful! I really like the zip pocket!

  15. Thank you! You will like the pattern. Best of luck.

  16. i love your fabric choice and the modifications you made. it looks MUCH better with the side zipper than it does with the cargo pockets.

  17. Great bag! Love how you made it your own!

  18. I love your version of this bag so much! I keep pulling it back up to look at it. :)

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  20. Ditto what Marcia said!

    I'm going to make a man-version of this for my husband. I absolutely adore the piping on your bag-- the details make all the difference. Very professional looking. Note to self: Must learn how to do piping!

    Forgive my ignorance, can someone please explain what a carryall zipper is?

    1. Thank you! A carryall zipper has two zip pulls. It's what you'll find on luggage.

  21. Hi Nancy,

    Your bag is beautiful! I love the plus inset you added, but I'm wondering how you did that without getting seam lines in your main fabric? Can you link to any tutorials or provide suggestions? Thanks!

    1. I winged it and used applique techniques to insert the cross. Hope that helps!


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