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“A Caterpillar in El Porto” bag

February 18, 2013

I don’t or seldom make bags and accessories. But I fell for this pattern the first time I saw it. And the fabrics were another one of these occurrences where you  know the moment you see the fabric, what you want to turn it into. And since I remembered drooling over Steph’s Hungry Caterpillar Quilt, I snatched these as soon as I saw them here.

Here’s Nancy Langdon’s description of the pattern:

“El Porto” means “the port” in Portuguese, but where I live, it refers to a section of beach north of Manhattan Beach, near the refinery. Because of the topography of the ocean floor at the surf, here is a great place to learn to surf. You can also watch the airplanes taking off from Los Angeles International Airport. I like to think that “the port” to which El Porto is referring to is the door to the rest of the world, either out there over the sea, or up there to where those airplanes are traveling. The El Porto bag will help carry your stuff during your adventures near and far.

This bag is a new take on the classic duffle. We added interesting pockets on either end of the duffle, as well as roomy pockets along the sides. To that, we made a comfortable sling strap, which is both fashionable and functional, as it includes an integrated media pocket. The sling is at a length for a child to wear over a shoulder or diagonally as a sling bag.  For the ladies, El Porto hangs at about elbow length, a length I like, because I can have all my valuables tucked securely under my arm. Before beginning, decide how you would like to design your El Porto: Do you want to include the roomy side pockets? Or leave them off? What kinds of pockets would you like on the ends? The faced cut outs or the circular zipper pockets? Or one of each?

Step-by-step instructions are available here, though I barely had to use them. Other versions of the bag are to be seen here. Here’s mine:

I decided to not separate one of the side pockets and to add a velcro strap instead:

Fully faced pocket end:



Circular zipper cargo pocket and mezzaluna pocket:



Sling strap with media pocket:


Inside with inner security pocket:

I lined all the pieces that could be lined. The pattern comes with two straps, a shorter one for children and a longer one for adults. Should I make it again, I’d definitely use the straps for adults, though I suppose it would make the bag even slouchier. So I might then look for a more rigid interfacing then what I picked here.

This bag disappeared in DM’s bedroom before I had a chance to snap a pic of her with it. She was totally happy about all the pockets and had to go look  for some treasures to put inside.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. lembrony permalink
    February 18, 2013 23:57

    Je l’adore ce sac. DM à bien de la chance. Flo adorerait avoir le même! Félicitations.


  2. Amie permalink
    February 19, 2013 10:12

    Very cool!


  3. February 19, 2013 10:28

    Je suis désolée mon anglais est rouillé! Mais je trouve ce sac très sympa et le tissu est beau comme tout bravo
    À bientôt


    • February 19, 2013 11:52

      Pas grave, je parle francais aussi! Merci!


  4. February 19, 2013 21:57

    SO cute!!


  5. February 20, 2013 18:46

    wahou il est trop chouette!! où avez vous trouvé ce superbe tissu???


    • February 20, 2013 20:35

      Merci! Une boutique ebay anglaise. L’adresse est dans le post 🙂


  6. April 20, 2013 20:41

    I would definitely wear this in big. I would buy this, it’s great! You should make up some Etsy or Dawanda shop stuff.


  7. agentX permalink
    June 14, 2013 18:18

    I want to make ‘duffel’ bags for myself and my 5 year old for our karate gear (light, but very bulky protective foam pads galore plus our gi’s and belts, etc – I’d say it would all just barely fit without crushing, in a typical carry-on roller bag). I purchased a whole bunch of cute 20 x 20″ upholstery fabric sample squares to construct it out of. I love the El Porto design and was going to buy the pattern, but do you think it would size up easily? I was thinking maybe to make the bag deeper, or perhaps add a panel in the bottom to let it expand, or make it a bit longer. Also do you know if the pattern from farbenmix comes with English notation? Do you need it? I see there are instructions available in English online. Thanks!! I love your caterpillar bag! It came out beautifully!!


    • June 14, 2013 23:41

      Thank you! By any other modification then making it longer, you would have to redraft the end pieces. However, it might worth the hassle as the bag is already slouchy as it is so making it longer would make it even slouchier. Or you might want to chose a stronger interfacing than I did. I hope this helps!


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