I am really blessed to have wonderful customers. Amy happens to be one of those customers! Before I finish one job she sends me another! After completing several blankets for her, she asked if I could create something out of this Air Force jacket. She wanted to use it as a gift for her son-in-law.

The jacket belonged to his father who served in Iraq. I was nervous about cutting into it but she assured me I would be fine (and that they had another one!)

I’ve created a Pinterest board of memory items that I have made or could make to give my customers ideas. I am especially trying to find ideas suitable for guys. I was inspired by this bag created by Red Bird True. She gives a general description of the process she used. I liked the rectangular look of her bag, but also love the classic look of a cylindrical duffel. There is fantastic duffel bag tutorial on Sew 4 Home that I decided to use.

I used the pattern but made a lot of modifications to handle my special material.  I determined that the pocketed front of the jacket could be used to create the two main panels of the bag. The jacket, at it’s widest, was about 21″ or so but the pattern is 23″ wide. So I pieced a strip to each side of the bag front.

The pattern calls for using a faux leather for the bottom. I had enough material from the back of the jacket to use for the bottom.

I eliminated the front zipper since I was able to retain the functionality of the four pockets. I eliminated the side pockets for the same reason.

I could not position the straps down the entire front of the bag because it would have hidden part of the written patches. I considered first placing a cross-wise strap like I have seen on other duffel bags, but it would have been placed too high. Instead, I removed part of the stitching of the name patches and inserted the strap underneath the patch. I topstitched around the patch’s original stitching. Then, I X-stitched the strap above the patch.

I used the sleeves for the end circles. I removed the patches and re positioned them in the center of the circle.

I interfaced the uniform fabric with Pellon Decor Bond. Because of the pockets, getting a firm bond on all of the fabric was a challenge. I would consider interfacing the lining or using a sew-in next time.

The pattern calls for nylon lining and a duck cloth outer fabric. I was originally going to use the nylon, but the jacket fabric is not as sturdy as duck and I wanted a rugged bag. so I opted for duck cloth lining and I’m happy with the result.

Sewing the end circles was not difficult. One note when sewing on the strap on those circles is to be sure the stitching ends well below the edge because the strap is thick and gets in the way when you are sewing the circular seam.

I am really happy with the end result and can’t wait to hear about how the giftee likes it! This bag would make a great gift for a man or woman and I can imagine it in many different kinds of fabrics. It is a big size and would make a good weekender bag.

I’ve added the Custom Duffel Bag to my Etsy shop or you can contact me at www.MaidenJane.com  to discuss your project.

Thanks, Amy, for entrusting your memories to me!