For Christmas I made my boyfriend the Dopp Kit from the Grainline Studio Portside Travel Set. I used a waxed canvas for the top half and ticking fabric for the inside. I used leather for the bottom half. I bought 2 12″ by 12″ squares of leather off of Etsy. My pattern pieces just barely fit on to the squares and in fact the handle didn’t quite fit but since I ended up not sewing inside out I didn’t actually need the seam allowance for the handle.
For the most part I didn’t run in to too many issues. I used a leather needle on my machine and a walking foot for the leather. I ran in to two areas that I had trouble with. Sewing over the zipper was a bit difficult as was stitching around the bottom of the bag. I’d recommend leaving out the stitching around the bottom of the bag step if you are using leather. I ended up taking it to work and sewing it there. (Advertisement: If you are making this bag and you do run in to issues on your home sewing machine you can take it in to your local cobbler and have them finish up the stitching for you. They probably have gotten much much weirder requests.)
I think this is the perfect gift because even though most people have some sort of travel bag for their toiletries it probably isn’t a bag that they really love. You also don’t need the person’s measurements and you don’t need to worry about fit.