catnap cargo duffle (with mini tutorial on how to add a lining)

it’s kid’s clothes week right now, and i normally love sewing for KCW.  in fact, i’m pretty sure i’ve sewn in every KCW since 2011!  the community is so inspiring and it usually makes me feel so good to sew a pile of clothes that my kids will wear throughout the next season.  however, i’m skipping this one because this week i have deemed “baby prep week.”  my kids are pretty good on clothes, but i do not yet feel ready for baby.  so this week i am focusing on changing that, because it seems to have snuck up on me that he’ll be here VERY SOON (like probably in just a couple/few weeks).

DAY 1 of baby prep week: organize, wash, donate, lend out old baby clothes and gear.  spent all evening on that, and now i have clothes for him to wear that aren’t tucked away in bins in our basement.

DAY 2 of baby prep week: sew a hospital bag.

catnap cargo duffle bag

this is one of those projects that made me feel simultaneously so happy and also a little silly/crazy.  i absolutely did not need to make this bag (i have a perfectly good weekend bag) but i also NEEDED to make it (in the way that certain gals NEED to sew tiny Beat it Jackets with 20+ zippers).


(click to keep reading)

catnap cargo duffle bag

a new, custom, just-for-me bag seemed like a really fun thing to sew and something that would be super special to bring to the hospital with me on the big day.  when i sew for someone, i spend a lot of time thinking about that person – how and when they’ll use it, tweaking things to meet their preferences and needs –  i really try to personalize my creations and i sort of meditate on that the whole time.

catnap cargo duffle bag

as i sewed this hospital bag, with myself as the final recipient, i thought a lot about my new labor story and what it might be.  my first two were quite different – my labor with E was 23 hours, painfully natural at first and ending in epidural/stalled labor/pitocin/far too many interventions, a long pushing phase, and a narrowly avoided c-section.  after she was born, i was so exhausted i could barely think or move.

my labor with O was 5 hours total, starting very suddenly and progressing quickly – intentionally natural and my contractions were far less painful due to me being in the right mental state and accepting labor rather than fighting it.  unmedicated birth was wonderful, and i loved it.  it was so much easier on my body (even though he was almost 9 lbs, a pound bigger than E was) and i felt an incredible euphoria afterward.  it made me feel like a superhero – and i fully intend to give birth naturally again (in a hospital with a midwife).  it just works for me.

catnap cargo duffle bag

so anyway, with those thoughts running through my head and my baby kicking away in my belly as i sewed, this duffle came to life.

catnap cargo duffle bag

the fabric is from Lizzy House’s beautiful new Catnap Line (i got it at Bolt, you can get it here), and i paired it with Essex Yarn Dyed in Leather and the chambray from this shirt.  my lining is gray tonal polka dot cotton from JoAnn.

the pattern is the FREE Cargo Duffle Pattern by Noodlehead for Robert Kaufman.  ever since Anna debuted the pattern, i’ve wanted to make it.  i love the quiltiness and the solid boxy structure of it, and the opportunity to play with different fabric combos.  the pattern is more on the intermediate side, i’d say – if you’ve made bags with gussets before or done quilt as you go, you’ll have an easier time than a newbie.  i’d recommend Anna’s Divided Basket or her new Road Trip Case as good learning patterns before you tackle this one if you need to build some confidence.

i also recommend you take her advice and use binding clips (affiliate link).  i poked my fingers a million times because i used pins and the layers are so thick.

catnap cargo duffle bag

i loved sewing it though – it was a project that i had to put down a lot due to everyday life stuff and it’d taunt me from my sewing room, begging me to come finish it!

catnap cargo duffle bag

the pattern guides you to make an unlined bag with bound seam allowances, but i wanted to line mine and add an inner zippered welt pocket.  it was easy to do, too!  here’s the quick tutorial:

  1. when you’re cutting everything out, cut an extra front, back, 2 zipper gussets, and bottom gusset out of your lining fabric with the same dimensions as the pattern states
  2. add a pocket to the back piece (i drafted my own zippered welt pocket using a 9” zipper and what i learned from making the Envelope Clutch; Delia Creates has a great free tutorial if you’d like – or just add a patch pocket!)
  3. press one long side of each zipper gusset to the wrong side by about 1/4”, then line up the unpressed outer edges with the bottom gusset outer edges to form the loop as you did with the outer (with an open rectangle in the top middle to accommodate the zipper).  press the side seam allowances toward the bottom of the bag.
  4. assemble lining as you did the main bag, shove it into the bag, and pin it in from the zipper’s right side.  make sure you’re matching the folded lining edge to the canvas edge on the inside.
  5. machine or hand stitch the lining (i topstitched mine in by machine).  you’ll probably need to hand sew the short ends of the lining where the zipper terminates – it gets pretty tough/impossible to maneuver there.
  6. hand tack the lining to the bag at the top corners and the top edge above the pocket to keep the lining from falling down into the bag.
  7. add a pretty zipper pull (i like using foldover elastic) and you’re done!

catnap cargo duffle bag

to me it feels a bit more finished this way; the canvas duck i used on the inside wasn’t the prettiest.  oh and i’m excited to someday use this as a airplane carry on bag too!  the outer pockets are the perfect size to hold my phone on one side and wallet/boarding pass on the other for easy access, but the snaps keep them secure.  the duffle size is perfect for snacks, a couple magazines, a sweater, etc.

and for now, it’s perfect as an overnight hospital bag!

catnap cargo duffle bag

okay longest post ever.

catnap cargo duffle bag

time to PACK this thing!!  😀


36 thoughts on “catnap cargo duffle (with mini tutorial on how to add a lining)

  1. Meghan says:

    The duffle came out great! I love the fabric combinations you used. I have this pattern on my (neverending) list of things to sew and thank you very much for the lining tutorial! I love the idea of an inside pocket and lining. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! I hope your labor/ delivery is even quicker and less painful than with O 🙂

  2. Lori says:

    I hope you will forgive me the non-sewing comment here. I am 38 weeks pregnant, which I believe is similar to where you are now. My first labor was very similar to what you have described for your first. I am also planning a natural birth with a midwife for my second, and just as you described, feel in a much better place mentally and emotionally to deal with and accept this next birth, however it needs to unfold. Thank you for sharing your birth stories with us; our births, the difficulties and the euphoria, are something we should talk about more (though perhaps not on a sewing blog ;). I wish you all the best with number three!

    • kristin says:

      oh i could talk labor stories all day! we are all more than just sewing bloggers, eh? 😉 i’m so excited for you and wish you the best with your natural delivery. i can honestly say it’s the thing i’m most proud of doing in my life and gave me so much confidence and i wish you the best! if you haven’t already, check out ina may gaskin’s guide to childbirth – i read it twice before i gave birth to O and it gave me the resolve and the tools i needed to embrace labor and really be excited about it. no joke – while i was in transition and nearly complete, i looked up after a contraction and said “this is so cool!” it only felt crazy and out of control basically as he was coming out. the rest of it was very powerful and intense, but if i focused and stuck with my mantra (“relax”) it never got overwhelming. you can do it! 🙂

  3. shino says:

    Beautiful! I really NEED to sew that bag… instead I don’t have any plan to use it… My first delivery was in Japan since most of deliveries there is done naturally, I had sooo long and painful labor. So when I knew I got pregnant after moving to the US, I got excited that I could have epidural. Then, my second delivery ended up in a emergency c-section. I’m not planning third one, well, yet, not sure about which was better.
    Sorry for long comment! Good luck on your labor!!

    • kristin says:

      thank you for your comment, and interesting to hear about Japan! sorry both of your births were less-than-ideal. labor is no joke, for sure, but i learned a lot about the mind-body connection as i prepared for my natural delivery and it helped me so much.

  4. amchart says:

    Love it! And YOU are beautiful! I wish I had your courage. Due with #8 in April, I took the epidural route once babies got 9lbs+! Good luck to you.

  5. gail says:

    i love everything about this! i think the best kind of projects are the ones that are totally unnecessary but totally necessary at the same time, like you said. sewing with urgency! it’s a great feeling. and the bag is just beautiful, i love the fabric combo and the fact that you lined it. with a pocket! all at 36+ weeks! you’re a superstar and i’m sure that will translate into the delivery room one more time!!

  6. Andrea says:

    What a great bag! I’m so excited to meet him and hold him and hear your birth story! It seems like the only thing we can ever count on is each birth being a little (or a lot) different from the last, right? So many unknowns. However and whenever he makes his debut, I’m so excited to meet him! Love you!

    • kristin says:

      that’s totally the exciting part – absolutely no way to predict! some days i wonder if it will all start with my water breaking like yours did this last time. WHO KNOWS?!?!?!?!!

  7. Kelly says:

    Oh wow, this turned out just perfect, it’s a beauty!! You know you are a true sewist when you are sewing your own hospital bag 😉 I can imagine you will get tons of use out I this. I’ll definitely be coming back to this for the lining tutorial when I make one of these!

  8. Anna Graham says:

    it’s so so beautiful. And so awesome you wrote up instructions on adding a lining. Perfect. can’t wait to hear your newest birth story. You’ll have the other moms on the floor wanting your bag. 🙂

  9. busyquiltmom says:

    Love the duffle bag! I hope all goes well with your labour and delivery. I just had my babe last week and everything went very well. He’s my sixth… Things haven’t always gone so smoothly, so I was extremely thankful!

  10. Crystal says:

    That bag is gorgeous! I love that catnap fabric! We have very similar birth experiences, only I didn’t avoid the c – section with my first. I remember that euphoric wonder woman feeling after natural birth with my second, best.feeling.ever!! Good luck to you!

  11. Brienne Moody says:

    Love this post, Kristin. Thanks for sharing your birth experiences – I know that it can be contentious. It’s brave of you and brought tears to my eyes. And that bag – I love the story of how it came together. I hadn’t seen that fabric yet… Must get some! Happy birthing, mama!

  12. Cherie says:

    Ack! I love this bag so much! And I love your birth stories and can’t wait for the next one!!! Thanks for the lining tutorial. Definitely adding this to the “to do” list 🙂

  13. Ms Lottie (@madquiltlady) says:

    I’m sewing in the binding on the inside raw edges right now and not happy with the job I’m doing (I’m used to binding quilts and can make a really neat job of that). So the next one it make will have a lining and an internal pocket. Thanks! And by now I’m sure you have a gorgeous baby to cuddle!

  14. Toby says:

    I love the Noodlehead bag and I too wanted a lining so was glad to find your blog … I plan to make this soon … my kids would love them .. when I was expecting my daughter my ob said because I’d had lazer before I wouldn’t dilate and would need a section .. I didn’t attend any birthing classes because of that so when my water broke and I got to the hospital, the dr was there and said I was too far gone to section .. and I knew nothing about breathing! Of course that made me panic even more .. they gave me an epidural and had to use forceps to get her 7 lb 2 oz self out … however, I lived to tell about it and she’s now 24 .. best of luck with your new little bundle. 🙂

  15. toyboxplaygroundBrandi says:

    Love your bag! This has been on my “to do” list for a while. I finally downloaded the pattern and it confused me so much 😦 So back on the list it goes until I feel confident I can complete it. But now your tutorial has helped me with the finishing since I wanted a lined bag as well.

  16. Sarah says:

    What types of fabric do you recommend for the lining? I’m thinking something thicker like duck cloth in order to strengthen the bag. Would that work or is it too thick?

  17. kathyh says:

    A good midwife is worth her weight in gold. First babies are notoriously longer in labor and the 2nd and 3rd are that much easier. All of my pregnant friends during my first time had OBGYN’s and did not have as good of an experience as I had with my midwife – who held my hand – or was that me squeezing her hand for many hours. I had my two in the hospital and my midwife went to bat for me many times over the delivery room nurses/doctors. I felt so energetic afterwards too. Bonus: Midwives rarely do episiotomies.

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