Making a Koi Pond Duffle Bag 

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Meet my Koi Pond duffle bag!

I recently finished up a Koi Pond duffle bag, and I couldn't be happier with the results. I’ve received so many compliments about it that I thought I should share some of the details with you.

A navy duffel bag hangs on a hook next to some keys and a straw hat, with a pale wooden bench below.

Birth of a pattern

It’s no secret that I love the Patchwork Duffle pattern by Kaitlyn of Knot and Thread. I feel a special connection to it because I witnessed its birth. 🙂

In March 2022, I attended a retreat at the fabulous Stitch Supply Co in Wisconsin and it was MAGICAL! One of the reasons it was so great (other than the food and company) was that it was the birthplace of the Patchwork Duffle pattern.

Over the course of our time there, I watched several sewists create their own version of this simple bag. We all oohed and ahhed at the pretty bags, and at the end of the retreat they asked Kaitlyn to turn it into a real pattern. 

Kait went home, worked her butt off, and created the pattern for the now-famous Patchwork Duffle.

Shortly after, I made a version using Bonnie & Camille scraps from my stash, and I am so in love with it! Since then, I’ve had the urge to make more (so many more!) and I started with this Koi Pond duffle bag.

Overhead view of a navy duffel bag with a purple zipper.

Choosing fabrics

When making this particular bag, I wanted to try a single fabric for the exterior. I thought it would be fun to try sewing with some canvas fabric, so I visited my local quilt shop (the fabulous Fabriculous in Brandon, MB) and asked to see their canvas selection. 

I was immediately smitten with the bold design of the Koi Pond line. Koi Pond was designed by Rashida Coleman Hale for Ruby Star Society. 

There was something about the bold yet simple repeating pattern of arches that just spoke to me. I considered making a bag with the gold metallic canvas print, but decided it might be too light of a colour. I wanted this Koi Pond duffle bag to stand up to years of use, so I went with a darker fabric.

I browsed the shelves for a pretty lining fabric, and I found this AMAZING multi-colour, super detailed print from the same line. I chose the lightest colourway and a coordinating print for the interior binding fabric.

The last time I had made one of these duffle bags, I used poly strapping and covered it in fabric. While the effect is stunning, it is a cumbersome process, so for my Koi Pond duffle bag, I decided to use pre-made cotton webbing. I chose this natural colour and skipped all the way home, ready to get straight to work!

When I looked in my scrap bins, I was happy to see that I had some bits and pieces of Koi Pond that I was able to use as accent pieces (like the zipper binding and the bits of selvedge I used on the pocket bindings).

Navy and multicoloured fabric sits on a white cutting mat
A navy duffel bag with a small fish and the words "just keep swimming" on the top of the pocket.

Batting and quilting

The first step in the pattern is to create your quilted panels. Luckily, I have a longarm machine in my basement so I loaded up my yardage and quilted out the Terra Cotta design using some scrap batting I had laying around my studio. 

I used 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% polyester) batting, but you could use 100% cotton, 100% polyester, bamboo, or truly any batting you have laying around. I would however NOT recommend that you use a double layer of batting. I think it would be too stiff and difficult to sew as you assembled the bag.

As the pattern suggests, you can also use Soft & Stable. I wanted a softer, more floppy bag, so I chose the batting rather than Soft & Stable (although I’m interested in making one with S&S in the future).

A peek inside a navy duffel bag reveals a multicoloured lining fabric.

Making pattern modifications

I followed the pattern with two exceptions:

  1. I modified the binding method, and 
  2. I added an adjustable carrying strap.

Modifying the binding method

The pattern asks you to sew the end panels to the bag body and then attach the bias binding, but I find that step a bit complicated to navigate with all of the bulk of the bag on my sewing machine bed.

Instead, I attach the binding to the end panels and THEN attach the end panels to the bag body. 

Here’s what it looks like right before I sew the end panel to the bag body. Look at my adorable Koi Pond duffle bag all decked out in its Wonder Clips!

A multicoloured end panel is clipped to a bag using 20 wonder clips

Adding a strap (including hardware)

I also knew that I wanted to add an adjustable carrying strap, so I added some hardware to the zipper tabs before attaching them to the bag body.

If you want to add a carrying strap to your duffle bag, you’ll need to decide this BEFORE you finish your bag.

For my Koi Pond duffle bag, I used antique brass hardware from Emmaline Bags. They’re a large Canadian bag supply store, and they have amazing customer service and selection.

If you’re looking for bag hardware in the USA, you may want to check your local shop for ByAnnie’s hardware.

In order to complete a carrying strap, you’ll need the following:

  • An extra 60” of 1.5” wide webbing
  • Two rings (either triangle or D style)
  • One slider
  • Two snap swivel hooks

You’ll want your hardware to match the width of your webbing (1.5”)

If you want to see a quick video of me assembling one of these straps, you can check out this little reel I made

A woman in overalls stands framed in a wooden mirror, modelling the carrying strap on a navy duffle bag


Because I know you might be curious, I’ll let you know that I used a 30” double slide handbag zipper from ByAnnie’s in the colour Wild Plum. I think it adds a nice little pop of colour, and the nylon coil zippers are a dream to sew with.

Navy fabric, a purple zipper, cotton webbing, and antique brass hardware.

Matching Holland Pouch

When I finished my Koi Pond duffle bag, I wanted to keep on sewing, so I grabbed some of my leftover fabric, a piece of Soft & Stable, plus a zipper and I made a coordinating Holland Pouch. Kristina’s pouch pattern is super fast to make, and creates this adorable bag!

A hand places a yellow pouch inside a navy duffle bag

Intro to bag making 

Maybe you’re reading this and are worried that you don’t have the skills to make a bag like this? If so, I can assure you that the Patchwork Duffle is an excellent beginner bag project!

It’s a simple pattern without any unnecessary pockets, bells, or whistles, and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I promise you can do it!

However, much like quilting, bag making is made easier by having a few tools on hand.

Wonder clips, a wooden stiletto, a pink pen, and a blue zipper on a pink background

Bag making tools

Here are my top 4 notions that I’d recommend for anyone about to make a bag.

1 - Wonder Clips

Give me alllll the Wonder Clips! They hold everything in place as I prepare to sew my pieces together.  Just get the 100-pack and you won’t be sad!

Need a place to store them? I made a small Hello Pouch for this exact purpose (the small version holds 150+ Wonder Clips).

2 - Stiletto

My favourite tool that I never knew I needed! A friend gifted me one of these, and now I have no idea how I ever sewed without one! I have the By Annie stiletto and pressing tool and I love that it’s light and feels nice in my hand.

If that one’s out of stock, here’s a good alternative.

3 - Sewline Air Erasable Pen

This pen is magic in that it *just works*. I’ve tried so many different fabric pens that either ran out of ink (or whatever’s inside them) when I needed them most, or refused to leave a mark on my fabric.

This pen leaves a very visible line, glides easily over fabric, and the marks disappear within a few hours to a few days. I’ve used it on white fabrics and dark ones, and it’s the first thing I reach for when I need to mark the center of a panel!

4 - Handbag Zippers

If the thought of sewing a zipper gives you anxiety, I first want to tell you that they’re not that scary. You can definitely do it!! And when you learn this skill, you’ll feel like you’ve unlocked a whole new universe of patterns.

But if you want the best advantage when learning this trick, I’d recommend that you use a handbag zipper. They have extra wide tape, which makes inserting them a breeze. Plus, they have these large pulls that make it easy to grab (or attach a cute zipper pull).

Hot tip: Because they’re made with soft vinyl teeth, they can be cut down to make smaller individual zippers. If you purchase a 30” handbag zipper, you can make two 15” zippers, or a 20” and a 10”, etc. Or, the very best bang for your buck is the Zipper By the Yard. Imagine all the projects you could make!

A navy duffel bag hangs on a hook and is opened slightly to reveal a multicoloured lining fabric.

Canadian source for bag making supplies

Did you know that we have a fabulous, one-stop-shop for all of our bag-making needs right here in the Great White North? (I’m currently sitting here in the middle of a multi-day April snowstorm)

Emmaline Bags is based out of Edmonton, and they have everything you could ever need for dipping your toe into the world of bag projects.

They have the Wonder Clips, Stiletto, and all the handbag zippers you could ever want, including Zipper By the Yard. Unfortunately they don’t carry my favourite pen, but they do have:

  • A million bag patterns
  • The cutest hardware you’ve ever seen (rainbow iridescent? yes please!)
  • Fabric including cork and canvas
  • Their own interfacing that is better and less expensive than Pellon products, and
  • A great learning centre that will show you some fundamental skills

Happy shopping!!

Have you ever made a Patchwork Duffle or a Holland Pouch? Or are you dreaming of making one? Let me know in the comments below!

A navy duffel bag hangs on a hook next to a straw hat and set of keys

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