Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dance Duffle Ruffle Bag + Tutorial

*Edited to add 2016: For an updated look of this bag, check out my latest posts- one made with laminate fabric, and a quilted version. The tutorial is basically the same as the one on this post.

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(I have the wonderful opportunity to be the sewing contributor on the best blog, Lil Luna. This is the first project I posted)... I'm sharing a tutorial on how to make a dance duffle bag, or as I call it, the "Dance Duffle Ruffle Bag." My daugther's current bag is cute, but its too small, has no closure, and is just meant for something else. So shoes are constantly falling out and getting mixed up or lost. My main goal was to come up with something that has a zipper. It is a lined bag, and my favorite part is the ruffle at the top of the pocket. You could adapt this bag to any type of sports or gym bag. It's plenty roomy!

Let's get started!

Supply List: 
*a note about the fabric- 
It should be something heavy duty or even water proof. I used a home decor fabric.

3/4 yard main fabric
3/4 yard accent fabric
3/4 yard fusible interfacing
14" zipper
86 inches of webbing
embroidered embellishments (optional)

Step 1: Wash and Cut
Pre-wash and dry your fabric. Then cut 5 things- webbing straps, webbing pull tabs, pocket piece, ruffle piece, bag main fabric, bag accent fabric, and interfacing. 
Here are the measurements.

Webbing Straps- 80 inches
Webbing Pull tabs- two pieces, 3 inches each

Pocket- one piece of fabric 6.5x16 inches
Ruffle- 2x13 inches

Bag Main Fabric, Accent Fabric, and Interfacing- Refer to the picture below for the shape and measurements (in inches). I would start with a rectangle 32 inches long, and 23 inches wide. Then subtract the portions out of your rectangle. Always make your marks with a fabric pencil (um, ok I used a pen, but technically that is a sewing faux pas!). Be sure to do all your markings on the wrong side of the fabric. The bag's main and accent fabric, and the interfacing will all have the same measurements.
(accent piece will be the lining of the bag)

Step 2: Interfacing and Edge finishing
Iron your interfacing to the wrong side of the accent fabric (not pictured). Then, pin the main fabric and accent fabric together, wrong sides facing each other. Zig zag or serge all the way around.

Step 3: Pocket
Take your pocket piece, fold in half, and press. Then fold the top edges over 1/4 inch and press.
Now iron or sew any embellishments you want to have on the pocket.
Next, take your ruffle piece, fold in half so its 1x13, and press.
Now set your machine stitch length to the longest it will go, and sew 1/4 inch away from the raw edge.  Do not backstitch! To create a ruffle, gather the fabric by pulling on the top thread, and pushing the fabric toward the center. You can work from both ends, but only on the top thread. Once it is about 7 inches wide, set your stitch length back to normal, roll the edges over twice and sew to finish the edges.
Now pin the ruffle to the back layer of the pocket, and sew.
 Now sew the top layer of the pocket to the ruffle. Then zig zag stitch the 2 long edges.
 Now pin the pocket to the bag. Center and place the bottom of the pocket in line with the two right angles of the fabric (about 4.5 inches away from those corners). The top edge of the pocket will be about 4 inches away from the edge of that part of the bag. Sew both sides, and bottom of pocket to bag. I reinforced the bottom of the pocket by sewing it twice, wish a small stitch length. Of course, make sure you don't sew the top of the pocket shut!

 Step 4: Webbing
It is time to melt all the edges of the webbing, to ensure they won't fray. Because your webbing is (most likely) made a of a synthetic fiber, it will not catch fire, but will just melt. Create a flame, and run each end of the webbing through the flame. There are 3 pieces of webbing, so that's 6 sides to melt. Then put your lighter in a safe place.

Now take the webbing straps, and pin to the bag. They will cover the raw edges of the pocket. I put my pins in the middle of the webbing so I could sew around them. Begin and end the webbing just under the pocket. Overlap the webbing by 2 inches. For the handles, I measured 4 inches from the edge of the bag, and placed pins parallel the the edge to remind me where to stop sewing. Create a box with an X at each end of the webbing, where the handles will be.
 Since my thread is white like the webbing, you can't see my box with an X. I placed pins in an X shape so you could see where I sewed the X. When creating the X, keep your needle down, and pivot at each turn, until there's a 4 sided box with an X through the middle. (Look at most sports or back packs laying around your house, and you will see what I'm talking about)!

 Step 5: Zipper
On the top edge of your bag, place the zipper wrong side down (so right sides are together). Pin one side of the zipper to the edge of the bag.
 With the needle moved to the left, and the presser foot following the zipper's edge, sew it to the bag.
Tip- what happens when you get to the zipper pull, and you can't sew a straight line around it? Put your needle down, lift the presser foot, and zip the pull up and out of the way. Continue sewing.
 The zipper is now attached to one side of the bag, but now it needs to be turned right side out and topstitched.
 So line up the presser foot to the edge of the zipper, put the needle to the left, and topstitch. Use the same trick once the zipper pull gets in the way.
 The first row of top-stitching is complete. Now add a second row, by following the first row with your presser foot edge.
 Now it's time to attach the zipper to the opposite side of the bag. Place right sides of the bag together. Pin the unsewn zipper to the edge, and sew like you did the first time.
Now turn right side out and top-stitch twice like you did the other side.
 Here's how everything looks at this point!

 Step 6: Pull Tabs
Fold the pull tab in half, and place the raw edge along the raw edge where the zipper ends. Sew across, perpendicular to the zipper. Make sure you don't break your needle on the zipper or metal! If the metal is in your way, you can sew a small stitch parallel to the zipper instead, on both sides of the pull tab. Repeat for the other pull tab.

Step 7: Sewing it together!
Put the sides that measure 8.5 inches right sides together. Sew at 1/4 inch. I sewed this seam twice for reinforcement. Then I zig zagged the raw edge again for extra security. Do this to both sides of the bag.
 This is the last part! Where the two right angles meet up, you are going to pull them away from each other to make a straight seam. So, where my finger is, that corner will become the top of the seam, and the other right angle will be the bottom of the seam. The
Here's what I mean. I pulled it away, and the sides line up. You will sew a straight line at 1/4 inch to connect the bottom of the bag, and do the same thing to the top of the bag. Make sure the side seam lays the same way at the top and bottom. Repeat this process on the other side of the bag.
And now you are almost done! Trim all your threads, then unzip the bag to turn it right side out.

 Ta da!
A fun lined bag with a ruffle pocket.


  1. LOVE this! So cute-- and way impressive--it looks like one that you would buy at a store. LOVE it!

  2. I know how much work you not only put into making the bag, but photographing and blogging... excellent job! Nice Blog too!

  3. Holy toledo that is a darn cute bag, Rach! I would love to attempt to make one- you made it look so easy! ;) Thanks for sharing! XO

  4. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this.. So adorable.. I have to make it for a lil dancer I know.. Might be FAR from your's but I'll give it a shot.. AWESOME tutorial.. ;))Thanks for sharing.. xo~

  5. Hi Rachel: I'm Connie at http://hotflashncraftn.blogspot.com/, a new GF friend. I would love for you to stop by and be my friend.
    This bag is awesome. Thanks for sharing the tutorial.

  6. This is just the cutest! I am in love with it! Thanks so much for sharing the tute, I just have to make this for my daughter. She's not a dancer but could definitely use this for her sports gear!

  7. Its such a cutee bag... Just love the way you have expalined it too. Thanks for the tut

  8. I definitely think I can make this - thanks for the great tutorial!

  9. Super good idea! (Oh that was bad grammar!)...but anyway...my daughter just started dance and we defintiely need something like this.

  10. Hi, love your bag so much I featured it on my blog today!

  11. Ouah super bag, I think I will need to change the colors for our girls since pink is not in fashion around here. Will give it a try with a wider pocket to get more shape.

  12. This is an absolutely fabulous bag... And a great tutorial
    Have given it a try for a friend and it is great

    One thing I would like to know is how do u make it a bigger bag, I am only a beginner to the sewing world so don't know this sort of stuff... I would like to use a bigger version of it myself

  13. found your tutorial via google. Thanks so much for a great tutorial. I just made this for my daughter and she is over the moon with it. She is taking it to her 2nd ever dance class tomorrow. she has carried it around with her since I completed it. feel free to check it out http://craftedbymama.blogspot.com/2012/09/for-dancing-queen.html

  14. Hello, Thank you so much for the great and super easy to follow tut
    I hope the links from my blog can help you see the perfect result after following tut.
    Thank youu :)




  15. I love this! Featured it on my blog today!


    281 Fourth Street

  16. Just wanted to let you know I finished my first machine sewing project in about 5 years last night-I made your dance duffle for my 5yo. She is thrilled beyond belief. Now i have to make one for the other daughter and a slightly larger one for myself!

  17. Just made this bag today. Thanks so much for an excellent, clear tutorial. It was easy to follow, set out well and yielded AWESOME results! I am now going to TRY to make a bigger one for myself....if only my brain will be able to compute such sewey things.....hmmm...I will try!!!
    thanks again!!!

  18. Great, simple pattern, for FREE! I wanted to make a weekend bag for my daughter, so I bought an 18 inch zipper, and adjusted the measurements from there. It turned out bigger than expected. Just a few changes in measurements can make a big difference! Now she has a new full size duffel bag, rather than a bag just slightly larger than your pattern creates. I also used more of the outside fabric to make straps instead of the webbing, and appliqued a "P" onto the bag instead of a pocket. Thank you so much for posting this pattern!

  19. how big was the duffel bag when it was completely finished? i would like to know so i can adjust the size if needed. thanks!:)

  20. I LOVE THIS BAG!!! How big was the finished bag? I am going to try this and add a shoulder strap.

  21. just finished this as a Christmas present and it turned out wonderful thank you so much for the details and explaining so good it was my first one and turned out so good.

  22. Love this bag. 2 of my grand daughters just started gymnastics and asked if I'd make them a bag, I found this blog and made 2 bags using your pattern and some tweeking. They love them. Thank you so much.

  23. Hi !! Im from Mexico and found this tutorial through pinterest. Love the bag and I just finished one for my little girl. And I have one more in process :)

    Thanks for the great tutorial and pattern .... here the link to the one I made https://www.pinterest.com/pin/21603273188686747/

  24. THANK YOU wonderful instructions and pattern made 4 of these for my daughters and granddaughters for x-mas they loved them and so do I they are easy to follow.

  25. Muito bem explicado, obrigada!

  26. This was a great tutorial! I am teaching myself to sew and I wanted to make one for my daughter for her gymnastics and dance classes. I made a few adjustments, I put a hard bottom (an old plastic placemat) and I'm going to add pockets to the sides with an elastic top for water bottles. ❤️❤️❤️💜 this bag! Thanks agin!

  27. I have sewed two versions of this bag, I love it ;-)
    beautifulbags.dk on Facebook ;-)


Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H