Chaps' canvas in-flight bag

My other half has been carting around a wrinkly, worn old cotton shopper with a hotel logo on as what he calls his "in-flight" bag. He often travels with a small suitcase as cabin baggage, but has a little bundle of essential stuff under the seat so he doesn't have to open the locker during the journey.

This was a semi-selfish make, as I have been looking for an excuse to get rid of his previous bag for a while....

DIY in-flight bag canvas sewing
I made this up in a navy canvas. He liked the quiet, understated colour of the last one, but this fabric is tougher and doesn't crease, even when washed, so it will looked better for longer.

The straps are made from 25mm cotton twill tape and stitched on at several levels to give some extra strength. The inside seams have been double-stitched, trimmed and "locked" on a regular sewing machine using a narrow zig-zag finish. This works well because the canvas does not fray badly.
MY HACK: Improve functionality with little twists.

I wanted this bag to look as simple as the last one but actually be more functional.

In order to make this bag big enough for an magazine, bundle of papers or A4 folder, I started with five basic rectangles: two main faces of 40x27cm, two sides of 40x10cm and one base of 27xcm.
This left enough for a 2cm folded hem along the top edge, once all the side pieces were sewn together, and approximately 1cm seams.

Next I decided I wanted a quick outside pocket for a book or magazine, which only required a square as wide as the face rectangle, as high as I wanted and with about 1cm for a neat hem edge.

The small pocket on the inside top was constructed from two rectangles slightly larger than a credit card. I sewed a short zip into the front piece first, about 2cm down from the top edge, then seamed the rectangles right sides together around three edges, leaving the top open. Turned right side out, this then just slides under the bag hem as it it sewn, to complete. It is perfect for cards or little bits and pieces like wires and headphones.

DIY in-flight bag canvas sewing zip change card pocket

I made a 1cm wide band by stitching and turning right-side-out, then looped it through a metal claw clasp. Finally I stashed the ends under the top hem in a similar fashion to the card pocket, for somewhere to quickly attach keys (or other things you don't want sloshing around in the bottom of the bag).

DIY in-flight bag canvas sewing key clip clasp

Finally, to add some structure to the inside of the bag, I cut two rectangles 1cm wider than the facing pieces (28cm in this case) and about 20cm high.

I stitched the top seam between these, incorporating a zip, and then basted the side of this "envelope" to one facing rectangle before sewing up the bag seams. The extra 1cm width needs to be eased into the bottom edge, (the top edge will be "suspended" inside the bag). This extra is important to allow this "pocket" to expand and move a bit.

DIY in-flight bag canvas sewing zip secure pocket
TECHNIQUE: Get out your edge stitching presser foot.

There is a lot of simple (but nice!) edge stitching to be done here, along the top hem and around each of the cotton tape handles. Using an edge-stitching presser foot makes this much easier than trying to stay perfectly in line by eye. With a medium weight, stiff fabric like this, the edge will just glide neatly along the presser foot guide. I always go back and watch video tutorials for presser feet I haven't used in a while or can't quite remember the finer points of!

I'm pretty pleased with how this came out and how functional it is. The real verdict will come several flights in, after being thrown under seats and hung off the back of a suitcase... Hopefully the canvas will stand up to the a bit of wear and tear and the internal divisions will prove more useful than the  previous crusty, old cotton tote bag!

DIY in-flight bag canvas sewing


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