Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sew-Along: Schedule and Supplies


The Cargo Duffle Sew-Along is an event that was held in March 2019. The sew-along is over and the prizes handed out, but you can still make your own beautiful bag!

The Cargo Duffle Bag, designed by Anna Graham of Noodlehead, will take you several hours to complete; it’s doable in a single weekend. The sew-along breaks the process down into six days of instruction. Here’s all you need to know ...

Free Pattern Download from Robert Kaufman

Necessary Supplies and Optional Notions

Day 1: Cutting the Pattern Pieces

Day 2: Making the Cargo Pockets

Day 3: Quilting and Assembling the Exterior Panels

Day 4: Making the Gusset, Tabs, and Handles

Day 5: Assembling the Bag and Installing the Snaps

Day 6: Lining the Bag

Please note: As I make my Cargo Duffle, I alter the pattern by adding tabs at either end of my zipper, to aid in opening and closing it, and by lining my duffle instead of binding the raw interior edges. These changes affect the materials list, as noted below.



In my opinion, the most difficult part of bag making is finding the needed hardware! This has gotten easier as I now can find almost anything online, but I still purchase my hardware first and then match my fabric to it.

Luckily, the required zipper and snaps for the Cargo Duffle are readily found at big-box craft stores. I bought my 26-inch coverall zipper, for example, at Joann. It comes in two colors—black and dogwood—with brass teeth. Either one matches Dritz’s #5/size 24 snaps in gold, also available for purchase as Joann.

There are two options for installing your snaps. You can buy pliers to do the job, but they are over $30 a set. I use the less fancy tool here.

Anna herself offers a limited selection of bag hardware on her site. She offers a metal spring snap starter kit, which is cool because it contains four snaps in each of three finishes. As of this posting, however, it is out of stock.


The Cargo Duffle Bag is designed for quilting cotton. You will be layering that fabric with batting and canvas, so your bag will have nice structure in the end. I have used a home dec denim-linen blend as my bottom gusset and exterior bottom accent in each of my four Cargo Duffle Bags because I really love the color and look of it. I wouldn’t say my finished product is any sturdier as a result, though.

The fun thing about bag making is that you can use fabric you might not put in a quilt. A large-scale design that would be unrecognizable cut into little bits and sewn in a quilt can be enjoyed in all its glory on a bag. My first two Cargo Duffles used Amy Butler fabric for that very reason—I loved those fabrics but couldn’t find a quilt project to use them in. My third Cargo Duffle used a print from Denyse Schmidt created for chain stores. Since it wasn’t a quilt-shop-quality fabric, I would hesitate to use it in something that would be washed over and over again, but it was perfect for a bag that would only be spot-cleaned now and again.

I have also used a home dec print for the main exterior fabric. This worked well. It did affect how I constructed my handles, however. If you choose to use a home dec fabric, be sure to check out the suggestions here.  


I have lined each of my Cargo Duffle Bags instead of binding the raw interior edges, as the pattern recommends. It’s not a perfect solution, but I like it. If you choose to follow my lead, this will affect your materials list:
  • You’ll need a yard of fabric for the lining. (This assumes a 44-inch width of fabric. If you’re a careful cutter, you can get away with three quarters of a yard.) I recommend a quilting cotton. Something with a soft hand, like Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture or an Art Gallery fabric, would be especially nice, but any quilting cotton will work fine. 
  • You’ll still need a yard of cotton canvas, but the color of it is less important because it will be mostly hidden by the added lining. (You can see my natural canvas just peeking out in the picture below.)
  • You will not need the quarter yard of double-fold binding.  

Zipper Tabs

I also add what I am calling “zipper tabs” to each end of my zipper gusset. I think they make opening and closing the zipper easier. If you also want to add these to your bag, you’ll need a scrap of quilting cotton that is at least 4 inches by 7 inches.


In addition to the size 16 needle and walking foot that Anna recommends in the pattern, I suggest you have the following on hand:
  • Starch—My top-stitching is neater when I sew well-starched pieces. (I will clue you in on when I use starch in the individual steps of the bag-making process.)
  • Clover Wonder Clips—If you haven’t used Wonder Clips in your quilt making, buy some. They’re essential for keeping bulky layers together while sewing bags, and they’re pretty kick-ass for sewing down your quilt bindings, too. A small package will suffice.
  • Water-soluble pen—Any one that can be removed with a spritz of water will do.
If you own a Clover Hera marker, have that on hand, too. I wouldn’t buy one specifically for this project, though. Another optional notion is Steam-A-Steam 2 in the quarter-inch size. This is double-stick fusible tape that I use to install zippers.

To see the finished bags from the sew-along, check out the linky here or the hashtag #cargodufflesewalong on Instagram!

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  1. I'm not sure if I will have time to participate this time around, but I did share a link to this post in my FB group!

  2. This is so helpful, as I was struggling. I see the coverall zipper is a separating zipper. The pattern says coverall or closed end. I can't find a coverall one, but we have separating that size. I had no clue what the snaps looked like, so the picture is very helpful. And I didn't know you'd need a tool to install. I picked up the canvas and interfacing. Now to decide on fabric. Thanks for the tips!!

  3. I don't need another QAL but I *need* to make another bag. I am joining in. Thank you for showing your hardware. Makes it easy for me to get something similar. Some of the terminology in the pattern is new to me - so I will be following your blog for that.

  4. I've been wanting to make this bag, but the pattern has always seemed daunting to me. Depending upon the time, I might try to participate!

  5. Still so undecided... I "googled" a few more pictures and ideas and of course I love the versions with zippers and a gazillion more pockets to worry about lol

  6. Looking forward to sewing along. I've just started making a couple simple bags and this one looks like fun and some new techniques.

  7. From Instagram ...

    Q: I've never sewn with cotton canvas before. Should I be looking for a fabric like that used in reusable grocery bags? eg near me, Trader Joe's sells cotton canvas reusable bags. Or is that too heavy for this project?

    A: The canvas you find at a big-box craft retailer may even be a little heavier than the TJ bag. (All my TJ bags are made of a different material, so I can’t say for sure!) The purpose of the canvas is to provide structure to the bag. For an example, go to and search for “bottomweight canvas”—something like that would work fine.

  8. From Instagram ...

    Q: I've wanted to make one forever so I'm jumping in! Any tips for using Soft and Stable instead of batting?

    A: Glad to have you join us! Have you used Soft and Stable before? It’s a pretty great product, and I think it quilts up nicely. I think if you use Soft and Stable, you’ll want to quilt it denser than I’ve quilted my Cargo Duffle Bags (I’ve been doing horizontal lines about an inch apart). You might consider still having the layer of canvas, just for added structure.

  9. From Instagram ...

    Q: I don’t have canvas yet for the interior. Maybe I should just use quilting cotton? Has anyone done that?

    A: I would recommend canvas. It provides nice structure.


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