For the past couple months, I’ve been planning to up my luggage game. Over the years, I’ve made do with a fairly old suitcase (handed down from my parents – I’m not sure exactly it’s age, but I know there are receipts in the pocket from when we went to Disney World in 1994, so at least 20 years!) and a really ratty/cheap duffel bag. My travel schedule is starting to ramp up this year, and one thing I don’t have is a duffel bag that is suitable for a weekend getaway. The aforementioned ratty bag was pretty small and difficult to carry comfortably. Also, I broke the zipper while I was in Paris – rather than repair it (it was really REALLY cheap – even down to the hardware, which I also threw away with the bag haha), I decided to make a new set, courtesy of Mood Fabrics.
The Portside Travel Set is the perfect pattern for my casual luggage needs – a roomy duffel bag, plus a matching dopp kit and a small zippered pouch. The pattern is designed so you can really play with color blocking and fabric options, and it’s not difficult at all to put together. The duffel bag is nice and big (20″ x 11.5″ x 12″), and includes both hand and shoulder straps (the shoulder is adjustable, as well as removable!), a zippered top, and two exterior pockets. The dopp kit has both a zippered top and a zippered exterior pocket, plus a small handle. The little zippered pouch is one of the most basic things ever – like the kind of pouch you’d make in a ‘learn to sew zippers’ class – but I can see it being very useful. And it all matches! Yay!
Anyway, let me also point out that making this set gave me an excuse to peruse the home decor section of Mood Fabrics. I rarely sew with home decor fabrics (I know some people love them for clothing, but I’m not much of a fan, unless it’s for a very specific purpose), but I totally jumped at the opportunity! There are SO many cool designs, it was really hard to narrow it down to just 3! I started with this cool turquoise geometric print, matched it to a charcoal grey faux suede, and lined the inside with grey and white polka dots (I’ve been eyeballing that polka dot fabric for over a year now – so glad to finally have an excuse to buy it!).
I went over all this briefly in my post for the Mood Sewing Network; here I’d like to talk a little more about the pattern itself. Overall, it’s a great little pattern – good instructions, the pieces fit together, and I think the end result is really nice. There were a few points in the pattern that I found a bit confusing, though. For one – I completely mixed up the main and contrast fabrics when I was planning my fabrics! I assumed the contrast was the bottom half – i.e., the part I’ve made out of suede. That’s actually the main fabric, as far as the pattern is concerned. The contrast is the top part. This isn’t marked anywhere on the pattern except on the pieces themselves, which meant I ultimately ended up marking the line drawing with a map of what piece was what before I knew what piece to cut from which fabric. The contrast and self changes for the dopp kit and pouch, so I would really recommend at least mapping out the design before you start cutting. I know I would have been PISSED if my bag had ended up with the suede being the top sections, ha.
Speaking of the suede, that wasn’t difficult to sew at all. I used a standard 80/12 needle and my normal machine feet (no need for a special Teflon foot or anything), and since my iron has a shoe, I was even able to press it and fuse interfacing to it. The bag is lightly interfaced – more so to keep the cotton from wrinkling, less for structure. It’s pretty floppy when it’s empty.
The instructions, like I said, are pretty good. The only part that really confused me was assembling the shoulder strap for the duffel bag. I have made plenty of stuff with sliders – hell, even all my bras have adjustable straps with sliders – but this bag uses D-rings for the sliders. I could not figure out how Jen did this, and even googling didn’t really help (turns out everyone else uses sliders too, who woulda thought?). I just ended up playing around with the straps and rings until it worked. Couldn’t tell ya what I did to get to that point, sorry! At least they look good now!
Also, sewing up the little dopp kit was… interesting. Not all the pieces matched up perfectly (I read this in a random google review of the pattern as well – so either we cut it wrong, which is possible, or there’s a minor drafting error. I know Jen is really precise with her drafting so I hesitate to believe that it’s an error on her part, but I thought I would point that out), but I just trimmed off the excess. We are talking about rectangles that form a bag, after all – no crazy fitting or anything. I really struggled to get the bottom sewn on square – it’s passable as it is, but it’s not my best work.
Then again, it’s a dopp kit. I’m not unpicking that shit hahaha.
I love all the neat details in this tiny bag, though! The front zippered pocket is a personal favorite – also love that little leather zipper pull! And check out that print-matching at the top zipper! That was actually unintentional, but it worked out amazingly well. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super impressed with myself haha.
Like I said, the pouch was really easy – like, sewn up in under 20 minutes easy. Since it’s unlined, I serged the inside with matching aqua thread (it was almost navy because I didn’t feel like re-threading the serger, until I reminded myself that I paid for this serger specifically because it self-threads haha). The zipper pull – as well as the pulls for the dopp kit – is loosely based on the pattern included in the travel kit. I had to change it up a bit to get it to fit my smaller-than-normal zippers.
One thing I did not anticipate when I started this project was how much all the materials were going to cost me – and how difficult they’d be to source. The fabric wasn’t terribly expensive (and since it’s a project for the Mood Sewing Network, it was free for me), but all those little extras add up! I found my swivel hooks and D-rings at Joann’s – not in the sewing section, but in the… dog-leash making section? Joann’s, keepin’ it weird as usual. I bought my cotton webbing from A Graff Supplies on Etsy. This was after shopping around quite a bit – Joann’s didn’t have the right colors and widths, Mood was sold out of most everything, and any other supplier I found only carried one of the two widths I needed. A Graff Supplies had both widths, with a great selection of colors – and while I did spend $15 on JUST WEBBING, I can’t imagine it being that much cheaper anywhere else. I would have loved to find nylon webbing, but cotton was much more prominent in my searches. All my zippers are from my stash – the black zip on the duffel bag is new (I bought it for a dress, which I obviously never made haha), the rest are vintage. Been looking for a use for those turquoise zippers :) Oh, and the little leather scrap for the pulls is from a shop on Goldhawk Road in London. I bought it because I loved the color, bonus that it matches my bag!
The bag is REALLY floppy when it’s empty (to get these photos, it’s stuffed with every pillow from my couch, plus a couple of blankets), so it was hard to get an inside lining shot! The lining is all polka dots – the self fabric at the bottom is actually a fabric-covered removable piece of thin plastic, to keep the bottom from sagging open.
This isn’t in the instructions (hence why it’s self-fabric – I ran out of lining!), but it’s a trick I learned when I made one of those Amy Butler Weekender bags years ago (which I still have, and yes, it’s too small for a weekend! More like an overnight bag haha). You cut the plastic the same size as your bottom, remove the seam allowances, and make a fitted sleeve to cover it. I like that it’s removable because now I can roll the duffel up if I need to. As far as sourcing plastic – I ended up buying it on Amazon. The EZ Quilting Template Plastic is 18″ x 24″, which I needed (anything sold at a craft store is usually 12×12) for the base. It’s quite a bit flimsier than what I wanted – I doubled up and bought two, but it’s still not as rigid as my Weekender. Still, it’s better than nothing. Plus, I have quite a bit left that I can use for bra pattern templates, yay!
So, in case you couldn’t tell – this bag is pretty big. Like, I could probably squish myself into it if I tried hard enough:
But, like I said – it folds down pretty flat for storage (or putting in a suitcase, which is what I usually do – then I have a bag for all the fabric I buy hahahahaha):
Anyway, I’m happy to check this off my to-do list – and I can’t wait to put it to good use! It’ll definitely come in handy for my trip to Philly at the end of this month. Now I guess I just need to start looking for a new suitcase – mine is starting to give signs of wearing out (wires poking out, the zipper is struggling, corners are threadbare – I told you it was old! And very well-used ;) ).
Just look at that unintentional print-matching. If that doesn’t make you want to run out and SEW ALL THE DUFFLES, then I don’t even know who you are anymore.
** Note: All fabrics for this project were provided to be as per my involvement with the Mood Sewing Network. Notions and pattern were purchased by me!