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Sew a retro sports bag: free sewing pattern

Retro handmade sports bag, sewing projects at

This makes a big bag measuring 60cm in length… if you want a smaller one, follow the sizing instructions below.

You will need

● Heavyweight fabric - for example, a canvas or denim (we used a heavy denim): 0.5 metre of 150cm wide fabric.
● Heavyweight plastic zip (we used an open ended zip) measuring 60cm from end of tape to end of tape.
● Webbing strap: 2.5 metres

Cutting out

From the denim, cut out 1 rectangle measuring 62 x 88cm (the bag body) and 2 circles with a diameter of 28cm (we used a dinner plate as a template).

How to make a bag to your own measurements  

Decide how wide you want your bag to be (the width along the zipper).
Then decide how big the circular ends of your bag should be. Measure the diameter of the circle (from one side to the other across the widest part).  
Multiply the diameter measurement by Pi (3.14). The result is the length of the rectangle for your main bag body.
For example, you want your bag to measure 50cm along the length of the zip.
You want the circular ends to have a diameter of 25cm.
25 (diameter) x 3.14 (Pi) = 78.5.
Your bag body rectangle will have a width of 50cm and a length of 78.5cm.
The diameter of the two circles is 25cm.

Attaching the handles

Lay the bag body fabric (the rectangle) out flat.

Fold in the rectangle in half along the long edge. Press with an iron so you have a central line.

Then open the fabric out again so it’s lying flat. From each short edge, measure 10cm in and chalk with a line (Lines A). Then measure from short edge to short edge and with a chalk, mark the central line (Line B) – on a rectangle 88cm long, ours was 44cm in from the edge.

Take your webbing handles and find the centre point. Mark with a pin.

Lay one end on Line B, 10cm away from your pressed central line and pin into place.  Then place your handle centre point on point B on the other side of the pressed central line.  This makes sure that your carrying handles both measure an equal amount (image 1).
Lay the handles down flat, pinning as you go, keeping them 10cm away from the pressed central line and stopping when you reach Line A. Overlap the handles’ raw ends.

Starting at the raw ends, stitch into place along both sides of the webbing.  
At Line A, stitch with an X mark – this reinforces the handle where it receives most strain (image 2).

Inserting the zip

Pin the handles onto the bag body so they keep out of the way when you’re stitching the zip.
With right sides together, pin one edge of the zip to the fabric. Stitch into place, moving the zip slider out of the way as you come to it (image 3). Repeat with the other side.

Topstitch: With right side uppermost, top stitch along the edge of the zip. Iif you have used an open-ended zip, it makes sense to separate it at this point (image 4).

Inserting the ends

Take one circular end and fold it in half. Then fold it into quarters. Press.

Open it out – the pressed lines mark the quarter points of the circle.

Repeat with the other circular end (image 5).

Holding one end of your bag body (and using the zip as one quarter point), fold in half and then into quarters. Mark each quarter point with pins. 

With right sides together match the quarter points on the bag ends and the bag body. Pin at these points (image 6).

Then pin each quarter together (image 7).

Stitch into place, easing and stretching the fabric (the circular end will have some give in it so you can stretch it to fit). 

Trim the edges and overlock or zig zag to reduce fraying.

Turn the bag the right way around and book that weekend away!

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