Sewing for men: Safari duffle bag

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Brandon asked me to make him a duffel bag about two years ago. It seemed like a pretty boring project, so I kept putting it off. Finally, for Christmas, I surprised him with a bag as a present.

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This is the Safari duffel pattern from Sew4Home. It’s a free pattern with a tutorial complete with step-by-step pictures. I strongly considered making the Grainline Portside Travel Bag, but decided to try out a free pattern instead. I’m glad that I did, as this project turned out great. It is fully lined, with an outside zipper pocket, a pocket on each end, and handles as well as a shoulder strap. I highly recommend giving this pattern a try if you want to make a bag of your own.

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I used a hodge podge of different fabrics for this bag. The outer fabric is some sort of upholstery fabric from Joann’s. It is a little fuzzy and almost feels like a car seat. I used some scrap canvas as interfacing throughout. At times, all of the layers got really thick and hard to handle, particularly around the outer zip pocket. The bottom of the bag is a black faux leather, also from Joann’s (clearance rack this time), and the lining is a mystery slinky black fabric from my stash.

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It’s hard to tell how big this bag is from the pictures, so let me fill you in on a secret. I stuffed it full with two pillows from the bed to make it hold its round shape in the first picture. It holds a surprising amount of stuff. Brandon used it when going home for Christmas for a week, and didn’t bring any extra clothes. For me it would be more of a weekend bag.

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I really wanted this present to be a surprise, so I did it all in secret. I pretended to be working on a dress (which hung on my dress form for the month of December, and is still there) while I was really working on this project. At one point, Brandon actually saw the lining fabric on the floor of the sewing room. I claimed that it was “decoy fabric” so that the dog would lay on the floor on it and off of the fabric I was supposedly working with.

Brandon seems really happy with his new bag. His only request was a little velcro loop to hold the two handles together. That should be easy enough to make. Finally, a successful make for Brandon!

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Pattern: The Safari Duffle by Sew4Home
Fabric: 1.5 yards grey upholstery fabric from Joann’s @ $7.20/yard, 0.5 yards faux leather @ $9.00/yard , black lining fabric from stash, scrap canvas as interfacing from stash
Notions: 2 metal zippers, webbing, sliders, swivel snap hook, d-rings
Cost: $15.71 fabric + $20.68 notions + thread from stash  = $36.39
Time: 10 hours

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