My Tula Pink Quilted Duffel Bag

Tula Pink Red Queen Fabric

Like many other quilters, I’m in love. I’ll shout it from my balcony: I love Tula Pink! Her fabric designs are too delicious for the soul. I stare at them, dreaming of the quilts I can work them into. But I don’t usually design my quilts with patterned fabric in mind. So I stare, wondering if I could work them in to a funky backing, when I see it: the Red Queen. Inspiration grabs me and I know I’m a goner. I desperately need a new quilted duffel bag for all the activities and travel I get to do during the pandemic, right? Of course!

The Quilted Duffel Bag Pattern

I was all set to design my own simple square duffel bag pattern when I came across Sew4Home. They have a bunch of patterns for bags and more, all completely free. They had a few fresh duffel bag designs and included a technique I had never used before: piping. I always like trying out new sewing techniques, so I started pawing through their patterns and came across two I couldn’t decide between: favorite overnight duffel and quilted travel duffel.


I was immediately drawn to the favorite overnight duffel. It has a simple design with large pockets that would be perfect to display my Red Queens. Except the bag itself was quite small. The height of the entire bag was only 8 inches and that was the size of my queens. The other problem was it didn’t have quilting directions. Since this was my first zippered quilting project, I wanted directions on when to quilt the layers and how to make all the quilted lines match up. These I found with the quilted travel duffel.


The quilted travel duffel was the perfect size for me. I already had the correct-sized purple camo zipper from my strange zipper obsession 5 years ago (thank you, Mardens). but it didn’t have the pockets I liked from the overnight duffel. Not willing to compromise on showing off my queens or on the size of the bag, I decided to wing it and merge the two patterns.

Emily’s Secret Duffel Bag Ingredients


I used Tula Pink’s the Red Queen fabric for the front pocket and a side embellishment. I only got half a yard, and while I made it work, I severely regretted it. First, I underestimated just how big she was. She’s a full 8 inches. I also didn’t realize that she faces the selvedge. This, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. But with how the print was positioned, most of the faces were cut off in some way. Out of a half a yard I was only able to get 4 full faces, and for one of them, I had to use part of the selvedge for a seam allowance.


Tula Pink Red Queen Fabric


I also got one yard of some Tula Pink’s Painted Roses in the lime green. Sew4Home recommended 2 yards for the outside fabric. I figured since I was supplementing with the Red Queen Fabric, one was close enough. Again, I was able to make it work, but if you look closely, the drops falling off the rose drip sideways… I’d follow their recommendation next time.


Tula Pink Painted Roses Fabric


For lining fabric I used some rip stop nylon I had left over from years ago after making some travel cubes. All I can say is that it was a nightmare. Nylon is a stiff, slippery, squirrelly fabric. I had to do a lot of ‘squaring up’ as the slick fabric slid around despite pins and clips. I made it work, but it was a headache and something definitely don’t recommend if you are a newer sewer or have never used nylon before.


Other Supplies

Because I used the nylon, I didn’t use any of the fusible interfacing (the nylon is a much stiffer/thicker fabric than the cotton). And I was much too lazy to get fusible fleece so I just used some leftover batting from a quilt. Though, I now admit that using fusible fleece would likely have made sewing easier as it would help keep the layers from shifting. If you’re not using it, I would recommend pin basting your pieces.


The last comment I have off Sew4Home’s supply list is the nylon webbing/strapping. Since I wanted the handles off the favorite overnight duffel, I bought 3.5 yards (The recommended 2.5+1 yard extra for the larger size). I used every last inch and wished I would have gotten half a yard or even a yard more with how I attached the handles. More to come on that though.

Duffel Bag Construction

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m terrible at following direction. Well, at least reading them. I’m a visual learner so I usually just study the pictures and make something up. There aren’t a ton of pictures in Sew4Home’s pattern, but there is enough to figure out what you’re doing if you have some sewing experience. I followed their directions except for a few changes.


Outer pocket template

The first thing I did was form an outer pocket template. Since I knew my Red Queen were 8 inches tall, I drew a line across the body pattern 9 inches up from the bottom. This gave me a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Then pocket voila! I know the pocket piece for the favorite overnight duffel pattern has an intricate handle insertion with in the pocket, but I didn’t have time for that. I just went plain and simple.


Quilted Tote Duffel Pattern Piece
The pocket line and pocket seam allowance (fyi, this picture was taken after I had cut off the outer seam allowance to cut the batting pieces)


Duffel handles

I sewed the handles directly to the body of the tote. This is why I wish I had more webbing. I would have liked the handles to go down to the bottom of the body piece, but I didn’t have enough webbing for that. My handles only extend down 2-3 inches below the pocket, so be wary if you want shorter pockets. Check out the pictures below. I’m pointing the a flower’s leaf next to the strap, so you can see how far the strap extends below the pocket in the second picture.

Side loop embellishment

To add a little more pizazz, but really because I was out of fabric to fussy cut the side loops (because why would  Tula Pink quilted duffle bag would need more pizazz), I added a little strip of the Red Queen fabric to each end of the base exterior side loop. If you choose to do this, make sure you don’t make you bottom side loop longer. Together, with the embellished strips, the bottom side panel should still be the size in the instructions.


Quilted Duffel Bag Side Embelishment


Making things easier

To make construction easier, I didn’t add any pockets or any other trinkets inside. I’d never use them anyways. But I did add the optional bias tape around the exposed internal seams. It gives the bag a clean, professional finish. I honestly thought this would be one of the hardest parts, but surprisingly, the pipping gave my zipper foot a track to follow and I zoomed through these.


Inside of the Quilted Duffel Bag


Quilted Duffel Bag

This project took me 15-20 hours to make and ~$40 to make (thanks to some sales at JoAnn). It could have gone faster, but my quilted seams were only 1/2 inch apart, it was my first time using piping and the seam ripper made more than one appearance, and the Nylon was a slippery little devil. This wasn’t project wasn’t difficult for someone familiar with sewing and the Sew4Home pattern was well thought out (though I wish there were more pictures). I am now in love with piping and will try to find another project to use it on!

Sew on!

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