Wow – it’s been a long week! I feel like I haven’t been back at my computer in ages. I’ve used this time away to think about lots of things that are going on over here and re-calibrate. It’s been nice to plan a bit about how best to move ahead. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere – things have just been a bit disorganized lately. I’d like to be scheduling things early instead of writing them at the last minute.

I’ve written up a mini tutorial today! A few people have asked for the measurements I used to make my girls’ Cargo Duffle Backpacks last year.

Before we get to that I wanted to congratulate the winner of the Meerkat Shweshwe Fat quarter bundle! This unique fabric was so well received – I was excited to introduce it and hope you like it as well. The winner of the bundle was Erin A. – who already received it, despite it’s being mailed yesterday! You can head over to this post to find out where you can get the fabric and to find out more about it.

I wasn’t too sure how much to include in the mini tutorial. So I’ve taken some straight forward photos of the bag, and listed the measurements and a few simple instructions below. I can’t put in a full tutorial, since I’m not making another one at the moment, so I’ve left quite a bit up to your interpretation. Please note that the photos are of a bag that’s been used for the past year and a half, so please excuse wrinkles and threads. I’ve also included lovely shots of my super hurried inside binding (yikes, how embarrassing). Lucky you! #justbeingreal

The construction is basically the same as the Noodlehead Cargo Duffle, free pattern from Robert Kaufmann. I’d recommend that you have experience sewing one before tackling this. Either way, please use your intuition, judgement and sewing experience to help you take these measurements and sew up a backpack of your own! I am always available for questions – so don’t hesitate to ask. Just click the envelope button at the top of the blog to email me, or find my email address in the “About” section.

Helpful Notes:

  • Please use the photos as reference. Especially if you use the “Extras” section.
  • Use the Cargo Duffle seam allowance, as noted in the instructions.
  • Cut the batting smaller all around, as noted in the Cargo Duffle instructions.
  • The width of the zipper gussets should be trimmed (once sewn) to match the width of the bottom gusset as noted in the Cargo Duffle instructions.
  • Gusset length measurements are approximate. I’ve re-measured the bags, but without making another one I can’t confirm that the measurements I wrote down when I made them originally are correct. If the gusset loop doesn’t fit around your bag, un-stitch it where the zipper gusset connects to the bottom gusset and adjust it as necessary to fit.

You might find these other posts I’ve written helpful for the construction:

A note about the “lining”:

  • This bag does not have a true lining. I have simulated a different inside print by cutting an extra layer of fabric (the “lining”) and layering it over the canvas before quilting the layers together. My goal was to cover the canvas with something a bit more fun! Of course, you can leave the canvas interior as is – it looks great too.

Main Piece Measurements:

  • Front/Back: (Cut 2 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 2 Lining) –  12″ wide x 15″ tall
  • Exterior Bottom Accent: (Cut 1 Outer) – 12″ wide  x 2.5″ tall
  • Bottom Gusset: (Cut 1 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 1 Lining) – 5″ wide x 28″ tall/long
  • Zipper Gusset Sides: (Cut 2 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 2 Lining) – 2.5″ wide x 22″ tall/long
  • Front Pocket & Flap: (Cut Outer/Lining/Interfacing for each) See printable pattern pieces in this “Add a Pocket” post OR Add a zipper pocket (change the width to fit the backpack)
  • Straps: Make as per the original Cargo Duffle, add strap adjusters etc. as desired
  • Binding: about 3 1/2 yards of double-fold binding (1/2″ wide)
  • Zipper: 24″ or longer (See how to change the direction of your zipper pulls in this post.)


Handle: Cut 2 aprox. 6″ x 1.5″ in outer and interfacing

  • Stitch the two pieces right sides together, leaving an opening. Turn, press the seam allowance along the opening to the inside. Stitch on the back-top zipper gusset after finishing the bag.

Luggage/Name Tag: Cut 1 Outer 5″ wide x 3″ tall, Cut 1 Clear Vinyl 4″ wide x 2.5″ tall

  • Stitch vinyl to outer on 3 sides. Finish edges of tag backing with a zig zag or pinking shears. Stitch to the inside-back of the backpack or mesh back (if using) Note: stitches will show on back of bag/inside of the mesh

Mesh Back Pocket: Cut one layer of a zippered mesh laundry bag to 15″ x 12″ (same size as the back of the bag). Baste to the backpack back before stitching the gusset. Finish stitching when finishing the gusset and adding the bias tape.

Water Bottle Pocket(s): Cut 1 piece 8″ wide by 8″ high for each pocket.

  • Hem the bottom edge & gather to 5″ to match the gusset width. Match the width of the top edge to the 5″ gusset by applying fold-over elastic to the top edge (or create a casing and insert 1/4″ elastic). Stitch the bottom of the pocket to the gusset at the bottom corners of the bag. Stitch before the gusset is sewn to the front/back. (Note: stitches will show on the outside of the gusset) Baste the sides of the pocket to the gusset. Finish stitching when stitching the gusset to the front/back and adding the bias tape.

I hope that helps! I love these bags and we’ve used them so much that the bottom gusset is wearing through on the corners. Time to make some new ones perhaps?! (Or maybe try something new this time!)