Choose Your Fabrics

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, having the right travel bag is essential. Choose durable fabrics with plenty of pockets to keep your belongings organized, and use expert techniques to sew seams that will hold up to heavy use.

In this travel bag sewing tutorial, Annie Unrein walks you through the process of choosing the right fabric and patterns for a travel bag with designer touches, professional construction details and a durable structure. She shows you how to quilt the fabric pieces to foam stabilizer and cut them into their final shapes. She then demonstrates how to sew the outer side strips and zipper strips, as well as a double-slide zip for the main bag opening.

You’ll also learn how to reinforce stress points like handles and heavy-load areas by double stitching or using a reinforcing technique, such as box stitching. Then, Annie shows you how to sew on the carrying straps and handle tabs, and make convenient slip pockets for organization. Finally, she teaches you how to bind the edges of the pocket for a polished finish.

Fussy Cut

Fussy cutting is when you notice a particular design, picture or print within your fabric and cut around it so that it becomes part of a patch or block on a quilt or sewing project. It’s a great way to add interest and detail to your work.

If you’re fussy cutting, it’s helpful to have a clear template to refer to. There are many different types available, from simple see through squares to outline templates with seam allowance marks included. Marking pens, pencils or chalk are also handy as well as a light box.

You may also want to use multi medium on the fabric before cutting to strengthen it and prevent it from tearing or breaking. This is especially important when working with a smaller, detailed image such as thin branches or animals. When you’re ready to stitch your fussy cut element, choose a stitch that will not show through the fabric such as a dense satin or tiny zig zag stitch. Review your sewing machine’s stitch selections before you start. Some machines have specific stitches that are good for Applique and fussy cuts.


Quilting skills carry well over to bag making, as demonstrated by beloved instructor Annie Unrein. She walks you through the construction of a stylish yet functional travel bag with padded carrying strap, quick-grab side handles and a trolley sleeve on the back for secure attachment to rolling luggage.

You can customise this pattern to suit your exact bag size by using the provided blank cutting chart and calculator. Please note that this is not suitable for brand new sewing machine users or those who are unfamiliar with the use of a calculator and/or maths.

To make the main bag body, start by laying the fabric piece flat on your table, RSI and folding the top edge down to create a point. Pin the creased edge to the right side of the bag and sew across with a 3/8″ seam allowance, trimming the seam allowance to 1/8″. Repeat this process to make the Bag Bottom pieces. Then, sew the binding strips to the long edges of each strip. Fold the extra 1/2″ of binding back and tuck under to complete the strap long edge.


Taking the two handles, press each piece so the seams you have just stitched face OUTWARDS and then fold each of the short end pieces down toward the center. Stitch along each of these short edges 1/8 inch (3mm) from the edge, back-tacking at the start and finish.

Next, press the top seam of the large bag piece. Find the center by folding the fabric in half and mark it with a pin or an erasable fabric pen. Then, make a dot with the pen at each of the ends where the handle is pinned in place.

Match the marks with the other bag piece and a final lining piece, right sides together and stitch all the way around leaving an opening in the bottom of the gusset. Clip the curves and turn right side out. Topstitch. This travel bag is perfect for carrying embroidery thread, scissors, a sewing machine needle and a few small projects! It would even work well for crochet or knitting items. Subscribe to our YouTube channel here and follow us on Instagram here to keep up with our latest video tutorials and sew-alongs.